|A Song of Ice and Fire character|
|First appearance||A Game of Thrones|
|Created by||George R. R. Martin|
|Portrayed by||Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)|
Mother of Dragons
|Family||Aerys Targaryen (father, deceased)
Rhaella Targaryen (mother, deceased)
Rhaegar Targaryen (brother, deceased)
Viserys Targaryen (brother, deceased)
Khal Drogo (husband, deceased)
Rhaego (son, deceased)
|Nationality||Westerosi (of House Targaryen)|
Daenerys Targaryen is a principal character in the fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. She is played by Emilia Clarke in the television adaptation Game of Thrones. The role was originally portrayed by Tamzin Merchant in the pilot, but the first episode was re-shot with Clarke.[S 1]
Daenerys Targaryen, the 'Mother of Dragons', is the daughter of King Aerys II Targaryen and is one of the last surviving members of House Targaryen. She serves as the third-person narrator for thirty-one chapters throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Dance with Dragons. Thirteen years before the events of the series, she was born on Dragonstone in the midst of a storm, earning her the nickname Daenerys Stormborn. Shortly after, Dragonstone fell to the forces of rebel Robert Baratheon, and Daenerys and her brother Viserys were smuggled away to Braavos, where they spent the following years wandering the Free Cities looking for help to retake the Iron Throne of Westeros.
In A Game of Thrones, shy and meek while terrified of her brother's temper, Daenerys was brought to Pentos as both a guest of Illyrio Mopatis and forced into an arranged marriage to Khal Drogo, a powerful Dothraki warlord who has gained his power by continuously winning in battles. Viserys set up the wedding in the hopes of buying Drogo's Khalasar of 40,000 strong to conquer of Westeros. At first Daenerys feared her new husband and his people, but came to learn their language and embrace their custom as she accepts her new role as Khaleesi, Drogo's queen, and gains enough confidence in herself to stand up to Viserys. At that time, Daenerys befriends Jorah Mormont, an exiled Westerosi knight who becomes one of her most trusted companions. Daenerys eventually conceives a child with Drogo, believed to be the long-prophesied Dothraki conqueror, and she plans to name him Rhaego after her brother Rhaegar. After Drogo eventually kills Viserys for threatening her and their unborn child, feeling no sadness for her brother's death, Daenerys sees herself as the blood of the dragon and true heir to the Targaryen dynasty, and is thus responsible for reclaiming the throne for herself.
Shortly after, while Drogo's Khalasar were raiding a village, Drogo is wounded in a fight with one of his warriors who challenged him over Daenerys saving the women from being ravaged. Daenerys requests Mirri Maz Duur, a Maegi or priestess of a temple the Dothraki have just sacked, to heal him. However, the wound becomes infected and, as the dying Drogo's Khalasar begin deserting, Daenerys asks the maegi to use blood magic to save him. However, learning too late that Maz Duur knew what was to happen yet acted out of revenge, Daenerys learns that the magic killed the unborn Rhaego and left Drogo in a catatonic state. Realizing that this form of 'life' is not worth living, Daenerys smothers Drogo and has a funeral pyre prepared for him with the three petrified dragon eggs she received as a wedding present placed on him. Having Maz Duur tied to a pyre pole to die, Daenerys climbed up the pyre with her dragon eggs to join Drogo. However, when the flames burn out, Daenerys emerges alive and unharmed with three hatched dragons, which she names Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. Because of this, the remainder of Drogo's Khalasar swear allegiance to her and she becomes the first female Dothraki leader.
In A Clash of Kings, Daenerys's Khalasar follows a comet into the Red Waste, a stretch of barren land. On the journey, she learns that Jorah, who has become her adviser, has fallen in love with her, and she is saddened by the fact that she does not return his feelings. She and her Khalasar eventually make it to the merchant city of Qarth. As the Qartheen are more interested in her dragons than her conquest of Westeros, she visits the House of the Undying in the hopes of gaining wisdom from knowing her future. But, though she sees visions of various things past and future, Daenerys learns that the Warlocks of the House of the Undying intend to keep her prisoner. Luckily, having brought her dragon Drogon with her, it defends her and burns the tower to the ground. Eventually deciding to follow the advice of a masked woman to go east to reach west, Daenerys searches for a ship and is saved from an assassination attempt by an older Westerosi man called Arstan Whitebeard, who was sent by Illyrio. Illyrio also sent three ships to take Daenerys back to Pentos. Instead, she claims the ships as her own.
In A Storm of Swords, she goes to Slaver's Bay to purchase an army of Unsullied, highly trained slave soldiers. She agrees to buy every Unsullied in Astapor in exchange for her dragon Drogon. However, she reclaims Drogon and uses the Unsullied to conquer the city. She frees every slave in Astapor and decides to end the slave trade. She sets out for the slave city Yunkai, and conquers the city with the help of Daario Naharis, a mercenary who betrays the Yunkish. As she marches on the slave city Meereen, she learns that Arstan is actually Barristan Selmy, a knight who betrayed her father, and discovers that Jorah had been spying on her for Robert Baratheon. She feels betrayed and sends them on a near-suicidal mission to capture Meereen, nearly hoping that they will die in the attempt. The two survive, and the mission succeeds. When Barristan asks to be forgiven, she pardons him and names him Lord Commander of her Queensguard. Although Jorah defends his actions and believes he has committed no wrong, Daenerys cannot find it in herself to forgive him, and banishes him. With the fall of Meereen, she decides to make for Westeros. However, she learns that Astapor and Yunkai cannot maintain the peace she hoped to bring and decides to stay in Meereen and learn to be a queen.
Throughout A Dance with Dragons, she struggles to rule. There are nightly killings, the Free Cities march against her to restore the slave trade, and the armies outside her gates have brought a plague. In addition, Drogon has allegedly killed a little girl. She is forced to lock her dragons away; Rhaegal and Viserion are captured, but Drogon escapes. Her advisers suggest she marry Hizdahr zo Loraq to bring peace, and she agrees to the marriage if he can stop the killings for ninety days. During those ninety days, she takes Daario as a lover, knowing she cannot marry him because of his low birth and uncontrollable temper. Hizdahr successfully ends the killings, and Daenerys marries him. At his request, she reluctantly agrees to stop disrupting the slave trade on the condition that those already freed are not enslaved again. She also agrees to reopen Meereen's fighting pits and attends the opening day's fights. The blood and noise of the pits attracts Drogon, who is immediately attacked. She realizes that the fighters are trying to kill Drogon, and she climbs onto him and flies away. She lives with Drogon, who has made a lair in the Dothraki Sea. She decides to return to Meereen and sets off toward the city. On the way, she falls ill and begins to hallucinate. Through the hallucinations, she realizes that she has been ignoring who she was. She manages to remount Drogon, and she is taken to the Dothraki Sea. There, she is found by Khal Jhaqo, formerly a captain of Drogo's Khalasar.
Daenerys has been recognized as a feminist icon in A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as in the HBO adaption Game of Thrones. Beginning as a character "denied her humanity, physically and verbally abused, and traded as a piece of property[S 2] she learns to take control in a male-dominated world. After being mistreated and "infantilized"[S 2] by her brother, she finds strength and leadership in taking the time to understand and show compassion for those around her.[S 3]
After saving several women who are being raped during a Dothraki raid on their village, Daenerys chooses to trust one of the women she saved, a "godwife" named Mirri Maz Duur. This maegi ends up the downfall of Daenerys's husband Khal Drogo, and when Daenerys asks why she betrayed her, Mirri Maz Duur responds that after watching her village destroyed and being raped several times, she was never really saved. This speech "criticized the entire framing of race relations" and "is a reality check for Daenerys and her savior complex."[S 2]
- "George R. R. Martin talks 'Game of Thrones' as the HBO show's 'Daenerys' departs". Chicago Tribune. April 29, 2010.
- Keyhan, Rochelle (May 29, 2013). "Danaerys Targaryen: Feminism for the Iron Throne". HBO Watch. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
- Potter, Alison (July 2, 2013). "Game of Thrones inspiration: Why Daenerys Targaryen is a feminist icon". sofeminine.co.uk. Retrieved November 30, 2013.