This is a character review of Daenerys Targaryen. The purpose of this re-read section 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 The Winds of Winter spoiler chapters, throughout this entire site. Additionally, between the ASOIAF series and all of the other works of our favorite author, there is no reasonable way that I can paste every quote that links to the theories on this website and still have each page readable. Please feel free to ask me for additional quotes if you like.
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, in addition to Daenerys being a necromancer, and mind controller (religiously and with her binding to her shadow-Drogon).
I would also suggest keeping this character development idea of GRRM’s in mind when reading about the progression of any ASOIAF (main) character. Some may start as entitled twits, but then proverbially get their head rung like a bell, to which grounds them and makes them more sympathetic. While others start with an innocent naivete, but over the course of their arc, they grow more angered and harsh.
GRRM: Too often, he said, a fantasy story or a fairy tale might begin with a king on the throne, without us knowing what made him the way he is. “If he’s a noble king, why is he noble? If he’s a selfish king, why is he selfish?” Martin asked. “So you go back to his parents, and their parents, and their parents. Everything leads to everything else.”
Folk god worship/religion ethnic or regional religious customs under the umbrella of a religion, but outside official doctrine and practices. This is going to be the biggest plot thrust in Daenerys’ arc. People in Essos (Dothraki/Dosh Khaleen mainly) are going to start worshiping Daenerys as a god/dess, despite what Daenerys wants or makes claim. The spin on Daenerys is that she fits the aspect of the death gods we know of: The Black Goat of Qohor, the dragon-like gender shifting Stranger (which is drawn from Simon Kress, below), Bakkalon the Pale Child, Lion of Night, the Merling King.
- The Winds of Winter- Tyrion
She 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.”
The Riverlands quickly accepting R’hllorism will allow Daenerys to take over with ease from Aegon/Young Griff after she defeats him as the mummer’s dragon. All the signs are there from the rise in red fire god, to the searching for (Rhaegar‘s) rubies, to the warning for Daenerys to beware the Sun’s son (Jon Snow).
A Clash of Kings – Catelyn IV
Catelyn studied the faces. The Father was bearded, as ever. The Mother smiled, loving and protective. The Warrior had his sword sketched in beneath his face, the Smith his hammer. The Maid was beautiful, the Crone wizened and wise.
And the seventh face . . . the Stranger was neither male nor female, yet both, ever the outcast, the wanderer from far places, less and more than human, unknown and unknowable. Here the face was a black oval, a shadow with stars for eyes. It made Catelyn uneasy. She would get scant comfort there.
A Feast for Crows – Brienne VI
That interested Ser Hyle. “Rhaegar’s rubies?”
“It may be. Who can say? The battle was long leagues from here, but the river is tireless and patient. Six have been found. We are all waiting for the seventh.”
“Better rubies than bones.” Septon Meribald was rubbing his foot, the mud flaking off beneath his finger. “Not all the river’s gifts are pleasant. The good brothers collect the dead as well. Drowned cows, drowned deer, dead pigs swollen up to half the size of horses. Aye, and corpses.”
“Too many corpses, these days.” The Elder Brother sighed. “Our gravedigger knows no rest. Rivermen, westermen, northmen, all wash up here. Knights and knaves alike. We bury them side by side, Stark and Lannister, Blackwood and Bracken, Frey and Darry. That is the duty the river asks of us in return for all its gifts, and we do it as best we can. Sometimes we find a woman, though . . . or worse, a little child. Those are the cruelest gifts.” He turned to Septon Meribald. “I hope that you have time to absolve us of our sins. Since the raiders slew old Septon Bennet, we have had no one to hear confession.”
A Storm of Swords – Daenerys III
That night she dreamt that she was Rhaegar, riding to the Trident. But she was mounted on a dragon, not a horse. When she saw the Usurper’s rebel host across the river they were armored all in ice, but she bathed them in dragonfire and they melted away like dew and turned the Trident into a torrent. Some small part of her knew that she was dreaming, but another part exulted. This is how it was meant to be. The other was a nightmare, and I have only now awakened.
She woke suddenly in the darkness of her cabin, still flush with triumph. Balerion seemed to wake with her, and she heard the faint creak of wood, water lapping against the hull, a football on the deck above her head. And something else.
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. This is very much explored in the early GRRM story Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark.
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 previous stories. Many of these archetypes also spurred details for secondary characters like Selyse, Melisandre, Andals+Faith of the Seven = fire people, 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. Cyrain currently resides on Croan’dhenni (pronounced cro~hn-denny) which is very much like Asshai, Asshai by the Shadow, or the Ash River. I will write more on this in a different essay, but for now there is this:
- And, at very long last, in my castle built on stilts, in my house of pain and rebirth where the game of mind is played, amid the swamps and stinks of Croan’dhenni, far from all humanity save those few lost souls who seek us out- it was there too, my glass flower.
Only Kinds Are Afraid of the Dark in Saagael.
Sandkings as Simon Kress, with lightbringer and folk god worship, and so so many other thematic parallels. This combination of Simon Kress and Daenerys follows a passage from the bible almost exactly. The bible hints that Armageddon starts with an invasion of “kings from the East”. This would be the Sandkings/Dothraki which will be lead by Daenerys:
- A Clash of Kings – Daenerys III
Dany’s wrist still tingled where Quaithe had touched her. “Where would you have me go?” she asked.
“To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”
Asshai, Dany thought. She would have me go to Asshai. “Will the Asshai’i give me an army?” she demanded. “Will there be gold for me in Asshai? Will there be ships? What is there in Asshai that I will not find in Qarth?”
- Revelations 16:12-16; the “three evil spirits” are the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet (the “another” beast from Revelation 13:11-18). The “frogs” are not real frogs, rather symbolism for the unclean spirits of the demons.
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
“Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” (Rev 16:12-16)
And Seven Times Never Kill Man as Bakkalon the Pale Child in conjunction with the Steel Angels. This follows the repeating ASOIAF plot of the Faith of the Seven/Andals always joining up with the fiery Targaryens. I believe we will first see the Riverlands bow to Aegon, but then bow or burn to Daenerys later in the story after she burns Aegon as the mummer’s dragon.
Nightflyers with the Mother and the ship combo.
Fevre Dream. The antagonist (Daemon) Damon Julian, “Blood Master”, slavery dialogue included. This story very much gives a glimpse of the Daenerys/Euron “demon reaver” bond they will have, and this includes the protoype to Daenerys and Jon Snow battling on the Trident as foes. Both Daenerys and Euron are “demon reavers” who crave the throne. This Daenerys section will cover the ‘reaving’ as Dany is the Pale Child Bakkalon, as the Ironborn are battle reavers.
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. Damon Julian even goes so far as to enthrall the main protagonist of the story, Joshua York, among other human peoples. 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. 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.” There is a battle on the river, an “Eclipse”, a berserker moment, a Katherine (Catelyn Tully-Stark for sure!) female who hates Josh York and betrays Josh to go back to the dark and fiery Damon, a special white suit made just for Josh York (as Val does for Jon)… and so much more.
Daenerys will bind the people to her as this bloodmaster does, they will worship her as godlike, 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:
- Daenerys the Silver Coin Queen
- The She of Daenerys
- Bakkalon the Pale Child and Flames
- Daemon Reaver… and Roads
- Lilith: Lullaby, Beauty, Gardens
- Dany is the Night Lion
- Lilith the Leviathan and Asteroid
- Lilith tail ends…
I welcome discussion in the comments section, but I do ask you show respect for alternative ideas and that you stay on topic. As this is an ever evolving site, any new information and credits will be given when credit is due.