*Editing in progress. The links are coming!*
This is a character review of Daenerys Targaryen. The purpose of this re-read thread is to take a look at the author’s intent when he created this character. GRRM is clearly drawing on his own preferred stylings, while mixing them in with real world figures to create something that is unique to his own work. Part of the purpose of this particular re-read thread is to use the author’s own works to show the repeated themes, as opposed to various sources that have little to nothing to do with the author’s objective. There is a lot of information to share, therefore, quotes will be kept short. I will update this essay as needed with links and information.
Forewarning: there will be open spoilers from all of GRRM’s work, including the released TWOW chapters, throughout this entire site.
In this section, we will go over the details as to how Daenerys is the bride of fire wedded to the flames, and how her and Bran’s arc are the most parallel to each other.
The Winds of Winter- TyrionShe listened. “What is it?” she said as she was strapping a pair of mismatched greaves onto his stunted legs.
“War. On either side of us and not a league away. That’s slaughter, Penny. That’s men stumbling through the mud with their entrails hanging out. That’s severed limbs and broken bones and pools of blood. You know how the worms come out after a hard rain? I hear they do the same after a big battle if enough blood soaks into the ground. That’s the Stranger coming, Penny. The Black Goat, the Pale Child, Him of Many Faces, call him what you will. That’s death.”
Links to information that will be useful as the folk god aspect that Daenerys will be raised to is propelled by the followers of fire who believe in R’hllor, which is primarily based on real world Zoroastrianism:
Folk god worship/religion ethnic or regional religious customs under the umbrella of a religion, but outside official doctrine and practices. People in Essos (Dothraki/Dosh Khaleen mainly) are going to start worshipping Daenerys as a god/dess, despite what Daenerys wants.
Zoroastrianism George acknowledges this ancient religion as being the primary influence for R’hllorism. Zoroastrian priests engage in rituals at fire temples, and face veils were used to avoid contaminating the holy fire with breath or saliva.
R’hllorism and the god called R’hllor, also known as the Lord of Light, the Heart of Fire, the God of Flame and Shadow
GRRM has developed archetypes of a Daenerys-type in various stories. Many of these archetypes also spurred details for secondary characters like Selyse, Melisandre, Andals/Faith of the Seven, and Euron, for example, but they are mainly Daenerys in character and her different plot arcs. The recommended story re-reads that work in conjunction with the ASOAIF story are (but not limited to):
The Glass Flower in his characters Cyrain born on Ash, and also comes from the planet Lilith. Much more on Liltih to come, including slavery of a different style.
Only Kinds Are Afraid of the Dark in Saagael.
Sandkings as Simon Kress, with lightbringer and folk god worship.
And Seven Times Never Kill Man as Bakkalon the Pale Child in conjunction with the Steel Angels.
Fevre Dream. The antagonist (Daemon) Damon Julian, “Blood Master”, slavery dialogue included.
Nightflyers with the Mother and the ship combo.
Damon Julian from Fevre Dream. Damon is the antagonist that is clearly against slavery (the way humans “own” and control each other), however, Damon is not above using mind control on his own subservient group of vampires in his clan- he enthralls them as, “blood of my blood,” and they worship him as godlike. This tale of GRRM’s, as well as The Glass Flower, show that just because someone is against slavery, and frees certain slaves, that does not mean they are the savior of the story. It means they are not one-dimensional characters. This Damon goes against, and even enthralls, the main protagonist, Joshua York. The amount of pre-ASOAIF archetype themes in this story is staggering. Well worth its own thread to be able to cover all of it. For instance, Damon Julian is the clan “Bloodmaster”, and Danaerys is the Khaleesi leader and her followers are “blood of her blood.” Daenerys will bind the people to her as this bloodmaster does, and she will burn those who are against her:
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys IV
A small army of slaves had gone ahead to prepare for Khal Drogo’s arrival. As each rider swung down from his saddle, he unbelted his arakh and handed it to a waiting slave, and any other weapons he carried as well. Even Khal Drogo himself was not exempt. Ser Jorah had explained that it was forbidden to carry a blade in Vaes Dothrak, or to shed a free man’s blood. Even warring khalasars put aside their feuds and shared meat and mead together when they were in sight of the Mother of Mountains. In this place, the crones of the dosh khaleen had decreed, all Dothraki were one blood, one khalasar, one herd.
A bit of the same with Cyrain of Ash. She is in a relationship with her slave provider, Khar Dorian, and also is now using the slaves as “prizes” for her game of mind… but she twists the meaning to excuse the practice and to validate enthrallment in her mind. But what can you say, because Cyrain is just so “cute” in her nine year old silver-haired girl body.
The Glass Flower: Khar Dorian calls himself a slaver, and points out to me that we do, indeed, deal in human flesh. He can call himself what he likes. I am no slaver; the charge offends me. A slaver sells his clients into bondage and servitude, deprives them of freedom, mobility, and time, all precious commodities. I do no such thing. I am only a thief. Khar and his underlings bring them to me from the swollen cities of Lilith, from the harsh mountains and cold wastes of Dam Tullian, from the rotting tenements along the canals of Vess, from spaceport bars on Fellanora and Cymeranth and Shrike, from wherever he can find them, he takes them and brings them to me, and I steal from them and set them free.
A lot of them refuse to go. (sidenote: folk god)
They cluster outside my castle walls in the city they have built, toss gifts to me as I pass, call out my name, beg favors of me. I have left them freedom, mobility, and time, and they squander it all in futility, hoping to win back the one thing I have stolen.
I steal their bodies, but they lose their souls themselves.
And perhaps I am unduly harsh to call myself a thief. These victims Khar brings me are unwilling players in the game of mind, but no less players for all that.
Compared to this scene in A Song of Ice and Fire where we see another step in Daenerys becoming a folk god in regional popular belief.
There is no doubt the word for mother, “mhysa“, was derived from the Latin/Catholic term for “missa”, which means mass… as in a composition setting several sung parts to prayer. Dany has a religious experience akin to the smallfolk prostrating themselves to Jesus Christ:
A Storm of Swords – Daenerys IV
On the morning of the third day, the city gates swung open and a line of slaves began to emerge. Dany mounted her silver to greet them. As they passed, little Missandei told them that they owed their freedom to Daenerys Stormborn, the Unburnt, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and Mother of Dragons.
“Mhysa!” a brown-skinned man shouted out at her. He had a child on his shoulder, a little girl, and she screamed the same word in her thin voice. “Mhysa! Mhysa!”
Dany looked at Missandei. “What are they shouting?”
“It is Ghiscari, the old pure tongue. It means ‘Mother.'”
Dany felt a lightness in her chest. I will never bear a living child, she remembered. Her hand trembled as she raised it. Perhaps she smiled. She must have, because the man grinned and shouted again, and others took up the cry. “Mhysa!” they called. “Mhysa! MHYSA!” They were all smiling at her, reaching for her, kneeling before her. “Maela,” some called her, while others cried “Aelalla” or “Qathei” or “Tato,” but whatever the tongue it all meant the same thing. Mother. They are calling me Mother.
The chant grew, spread, swelled. It swelled so loud that it frightened her horse, and the mare backed and shook her head and lashed her silver-grey tail. It swelled until it seemed to shake the yellow walls of Yunkai. More slaves were streaming from the gates every moment, and as they came they took up the call. They were running toward her now, pushing, stumbling, wanting to touch her hand, to stroke her horse’s mane, to kiss her feet. Her poor bloodriders could not keep them all away, and even Strong Belwas grunted and growled in dismay.
But what does GRRM say are his intentions when writing his stories?
“Before you can fight the war between good and evil, you need to determine which is which, and that’s not always as easy as some Fantasists would have you believe.”
Saagael and his fire worshipers are from the planet Corlos, the same planet were the Steel Angels later develop, and he is, among other things, a “great shadow” that can fly across the land and it sits on an ebony bench. His worshipers (try to) sacrifice a young child just to force his prophesied return because they are tired of waiting for him. And there is a sub-plot with rubies that sorta summons this Saagael character, who is a replacement of the last deity that dies out, just as Daenerys is the “last dragon” that replaces Rhaegar (not Viserys).
Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark: The servants of Saagael ruled supreme on earth, and their dark lord hunted for men’s souls. The gates of Corlos were opened, and a great shadow descended over the land. Not in a thousand generations would it be lifted.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon III
“Westeros has but one king,” said Stannis. His voice rang harsh, with none of Melisandre’s music. “With this sword I defend my subjects and destroy those who menace them. Bend the knee, and I promise you food, land, and justice. Kneel and live. Or go and die. The choice is yours.” He slipped Lightbringer into its scabbard, and the world darkened once again, as if the sun had gone behind a cloud. “Open the gates.”
“OPEN THE GATES,” bellowed Ser Clayton Suggs, in a voice as deep as a warhorn. “OPEN THE GATES,” echoed Ser Corliss Penny, commanding the guards. “OPEN THE GATES,” cried the serjeants. Men scrambled to obey. Sharpened stakes were wrenched from the ground, planks were dropped across deep ditches, and the stockade gates were thrown wide. Jon Snow raised his hand and lowered it, and his black ranks parted right and left, clearing a path to the Wall, where Dolorous Edd Tollett pushed open the iron gate.
A Clash of Kings – Daenerys IV
“Long have we awaited you,” said a woman beside him, clad in rose and silver. The breast she had left bare in the Qartheen fashion was as perfect as a breast could be.
“We knew you were to come to us,” the wizard king said. “A thousand years ago we knew, and have been waiting all this time. We sent the comet to show you the way.”
“We have knowledge to share with you,” said a warrior in shining emerald armor, “and magic weapons to arm you with. You have passed every trial. Now come and sit with us, and all your questions shall be answered.”
Nightflyers is a very good story. The 80’s movie, eeh, not so much. What we do have in the this story is basically a “Jon in the Night’s Watch at the wall and mutiny” kind of story, Fevre Dream is a Jon/NW/mutiny type of story set on the water. Royd Eris is the cloned inter-sexed copy of his mother whose consciousness now lives within a crystal aboard the main command center of the ship Nightflyer. The ship is described as “three eggs” and a behemoth of a thing- rather dragon-like. The mother is a very jealous being, hates the touch and company of people, and therefore created this ship as her own private vessel. There are many recurring ASOIAF themes within this story (Val, Bran, Bloodraven, Ghost, a wall, control, rejecting incest as abomination, the use of drugs and touch to psionically link to others, etc), but this “mad” mother ship is the main antagonist and she kills lots of people that get in her way.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon III
The heat from the fire pit was palpable even at a distance; for the wildlings, it had to be blistering. He saw men cringing as they neared the flames, heard children cry. A few turned for the forest. He watched a young woman stumble away with a child on either hand. Every few steps she looked back to make certain no one was coming after them, and when she neared the trees she broke into a run. One greybeard took the weirwood branch they handed him and used it as a weapon, laying about with it until the queen’s men converged on him with spears. The others had to step around his body, until Ser Corliss had it thrown in the fire. More of the free folk chose the woods after that—one in ten, perhaps.
But most came on. Behind them was only cold and death. Ahead was hope. They came on, clutching their scraps of wood until the time came to feed them to the flames. R’hllor was a jealous deity, ever hungry. So the new god devoured the corpse of the old, and cast gigantic shadows of Stannis and Melisandre upon the Wall, black against the ruddy red reflections on the ice.
George loves his dangerous, fiery, people of “progress” that end up scorching the earth. Fear not, we will have balance by story’s end and it will probably come from a psychic mind war with Bran (whom GRRM has said is the “most magical”).
The next parts of the of the character review are: