|A Song of Ice and Fire character|
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
A Game of Thrones (1996)
"Winter Is Coming" (2011)
"The Sword in the Darkness" (2015)
|Created by||George R. R. Martin|
|Portrayed by||Emilia Clarke
Game of Thrones
Hizdahr zo Loraq
|Significant other(s)||Daario Naharis|
Daenerys Targaryen (also referred to as Dany or Daenerys Stormborn) is a fictional character in the series of novels A Song of Ice and Fire by American author George R. R. Martin, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones. In the novels she is a prominent point of view character. Daenerys has been called one of the author's "finest creations" and most popular characters by The New York Times.
Introduced in 1996's A Game of Thrones, Daenerys (along with her older brother, Viserys) is one of the last confirmed members of House Targaryen who ruled on the Iron Throne for nearly three hundred years until fifteen years before the events of the first novel take place. She subsequently appeared in Martin's A Clash of Kings (1998) and A Storm of Swords (2000). Daenerys was one of a few prominent characters that were not included in 2005's A Feast for Crows, but returned in the next novel A Dance with Dragons (2011).
In the story, Daenerys is a young woman in her early teens living in Essos across the narrow sea. Knowing no other life than one of exile, she remains dependent on her abusive older brother, Viserys. The timid and meek girl finds herself betrothed to Dothraki horse lord, Khal Drogo to ensure Viserys gains an army to return to Westeros and take back the Iron Throne. Despite this, her brother loses the ability to control her as Daenerys finds herself adapting to life with the khalasar and emerges as a strong, confident and courageous woman. She becomes the heir of the Targaryen dynasty after her brother's death and plans to reclaim the Iron Throne herself, seeing it as her birthright. A pregnant Daenerys loses her husband and soon her child while retaining members of the Dothraki at her side. When she climbs on top of Drogo's funeral pyre with the dragon eggs gifted at her wedding, she awakes unharmed with three hatched dragons. Over time, she struggles to maintain the control of her dragons who become dangerous. Later, she becomes determined to bring justice as a conqueror as she leads a military campaign to bring an end to slavery in Slaver's Bay, liberating the occupied cities of Yunkai, Astapor and Meereen with an army of Unsullied. Despite her strong moral compass, she is capable of dealing ruthlessly with her enemies, particularly the slave masters.
Emilia Clarke received Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance as Daenerys in the HBO series in 2013 and 2015. She has earned numerous nominations and accolades for her portrayal.
Daenerys Targaryen is the daughter of King Aerys II Targaryen and his sister-wife Rhaella, and is one of the last survivors of House Targaryen. She serves as the third-person narrator of thirty-one chapters throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Dance with Dragons. She is the only monarch or claimant of such given point of view chapters in the novels. Thirteen years before the events of the series, she was born in the midst of a storm, earning her the nickname 'Stormborn'. Shortly thereafter, Daenerys and her brother Viserys fled to Braavos. They spent the following years wandering the Free Cities.
Casting and development
The role of Daenerys was originally played by Tamzin Merchant in the pilot, but the first episode was re-shot with Emilia Clarke. Clarke, in reflection of the character's evolution in the television series, stated: "Throughout the season she’s had an insane transformation from someone who barely even spoke and timidly did everything her brother said into a mother of dragons and a queen of armies and a killer of slave masters. She’s a very Joan of Arc-style character."
A Game of Thrones
In A Game of Thrones (1996), Daenerys is forced to marry Khal Drogo, a Dothraki warlord, in exchange for Drogo providing an army to her brother Viserys Targaryen. At that time, Daenerys befriends Jorah Mormont, an exiled Westerosi knight and is given three petrified dragon eggs as a wedding gift. Though initially terrified of Drogo, Daenaerys grew to love him and began to take to Dothraki customs, finding strength for the first time. After Drogo kills Viserys for threatening his wife, Daenerys sees herself as the heir to the Targaryen dynasty, and responsible for reclaiming the throne for her family. Shortly thereafter Drogo is wounded in a fight, and the cut festers. Drogo's warriors abandon him shortly after. Daenerys recruits a witch to save Drogo, but the witch betrays her, killing Daenerys' unborn child and leaving Drogo in a catatonic state. Daenerys does not want her husband to suffer any longer and smothers Drogo. She climbs on top of Drogo's funeral pyre with her three dragon eggs, and awakes unharmed with three hatched dragons.
A Clash of Kings
Leading the remnants of Drogo's khalasar through the Red Waste, Daenerys arrives in the city of Qarth. There she begins appealing the rulers of the city for aid in reclaiming the Iron Throne, though she meets little success. She eventually accepts an invitation from a group of warlocks to discover her future. At their tower, Daenerys sees several visions and learns that the Warlocks intend to keep her prisoner, but she escapes after Drogon sets fire to the Undying. Before departing, she is nearly assassinated but is saved by Arstan Whitebeard, who arrives with three ships as a gift.
A Storm of Swords
Seeking an army, she sails to Astapor in Slaver's Bay to purchase an army of 'Unsullied' slave soldiers, in exchange for a dragon; but betrays the slavers and uses the Unsullied to sack the city. She later conquers the city of Yunkai, and gains the service of Darrio Naharis who commands a large mercenary company. As she marches on the Meereen, she learns that one of her companions is actually Barristan Selmy, a knight of the Robert the Usurper's Kingsguard, and that Jorah had previously spied on her. Disgusted, she sends the pair on a suicide mission to capture Meereen. When the mission is successful, Barristan asks to be forgiven for his deception, but Jorah refuses to ask forgiveness so she exiles him. Unwilling to abandon the slaves she freed back into bondage, Dany decides to stay in Meereen.
A Dance with Dragons
Throughout A Dance with Dragons (2011), Daenerys struggles to maintain order in the city in the face of growing unrest as well as the chaos she left behind in the other cities she conquered. Furthermore, Yunkai has rebelled and is gathering forces to besiege Meereen. When Drogon is accused of homicide, she is forced to chain her dragons Rhaegal and Viserion, but Drogon escapes. Her advisers suggest she marry Hizdahr zo Loraq to bring peace, and she agrees to the marriage if he can bring peace for ninety days. During those ninety days, she takes Daario as a lover. Hizdahr successfully negotiates an end to the violence, so Daenerys marries him. At her wedding feast, the blood and noise of the fighting pits attracts Drogon, who is immediately attacked; Daenerys rescues her dragon by riding off with him. After several days in Drogon's lair, she falls ill and begins to hallucinate, and is later found by Khal Jhaqo, formerly a captain of her Khalasar who betrayed her former husband.
Family tree of House Targaryen
|Family tree of Maekar Targaryen|
Emilia Clarke's performance has garnered critical acclaim. Her acting as she closed Daenerys's arc initiated in the first episode from a frightened girl to an empowered woman was praised. On his review for "A Golden Crown," Todd VanDerWerff for The A.V. Club commented on the difficulty to adapt such an evolution from page to screen, but concluded that "Clarke [...] more than seal[s] the deal here. IGN's Matt Fowler also praised Clarke and noted that Daenerys' choice to watch Viserys die was "powerful" and an important shift in her character. Time 's reviewer James Poniewozik complimented Daenerys's storyline, while other reviewers complimented Clarke's acting. Clarke's performance, and the character's final scene, in "Baelor" was praised, and the final scene of the season received widespread acclaim.
The Boston Globe called the Daenerys scenes "mesmerizing" and praised Clarke's performance as the character, stating that "Clarke doesn't have a lot of emotional variety to work with as Daenerys, aside from fierce determination, and yet she is riveting." The Daily Beast referred to Daenerys as the "closest thing the series has to a protagonist".
Kate Arthur of the website BuzzFeed criticized the character's story line in the television show's second season, stating that she was too "weak-seeming". Arthur, however, praised the character's "purpose coupled with humanity and even some humor" during the third season, opining that Clarke was "eating the screen alive as a result". Nate Hopper of Esquire magazine, when speaking of the television series, argued that the character did not face enough conflict, characterizing her conquering of cities as "cut and dry", stating that "She needs to be emancipated from her own easy, comfortable, mundane victory."
Rolling Stone ranked Daenerys Targaryen at No. 1 on a list of "Top 40 Game of Thrones Characters", calling her story a "non-stop confrontation with complex ideas about sex, war, gender, race, politics and morality". The website Mashable recognized her as one of the five most popular characters on the series.
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- A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
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