WARNING: SPOILERS ARE COMING
If you haven’t caught up with the latest episode of Game of Thrones (S6 E4) then I strongly suggest you leave this place and don’t come back until you’ve thought long and hard about what you’ve done.
Oh, and when you’ve watched the episode of course.
Daenerys Targaryen, known affectionately amongst her gigantic fanbase as “Dany”, and bearing such titles as “Mother of Dragons” and “Breaker of Chains”, is a strong favourite to be the eventual ruler of Westeros when the series finally wraps up.
She’s got a good claim to the Iron Throne too, as the sole surviving member of the Targaryen dynasty (that we know of) she is well within her rights to topple the usurpers that killed her father and her brothers and directly contributed to her forced exile in Essos.
So what’s she been doing about it?
Early on in the story she was sold as wife to Khal Drogo of the Dothraki warrior-nomads, got some serious Stockholm Syndrome, fell in love, then convinced her husband that it would be in his best interests to use his not-inconsiderable army to cross the Narrow Sea and help her retake the throne. She gets her throne and Drogo gets to go down in history as the first Khal to do it.
Long story short:
- Drogo died
- Most of his riders left
- Dany hatched 3 fricking DRAGONS
- She goes on a rampage across Slavers Bay, freeing slaves (getting a loyal following of them) and taking control of one of the most disciplined and skilled mercenary armies on the Continent.
- Takes the city-state of Meereen by force, moves in, frees slaves.
- Uprising of former masters under the banner of Sons of the Harpy kills a lot of people, causes her to flee on Drogon the dragon.
- Drogon dumps her in middle of nowhere.
- Dothraki find her, take her to Vaes Dothrak.
- She kills all the Khals with fire, the 100,000 Dothraki in the town bed the knee to her.
Whew… I think we’re caught up now. Safe to say that with her shiny new GIANT ARMY there is little that can stand in the way of Dany achieving her goals and taking the Iron Throne by force.
Well, the Sons of the Harpy did burn all her ships in Meereen harbour but I’m sure she’ll find a plot device that will give her a way around it.
But is she suited to rule?
She was just a baby when she was forced into exile in Essos so she has spent most of her life divorced from the culture that she is determined to be Queen of, completely unaware of the labyrinthine politics of the great houses of Westeros, their strengths and weaknesses, and the little quirks of their leaders.
It’s doubtful she is even aware of the threat that the Wildlings hitherto posed to the North, the decline of the Nights Watch that opposed them, and definitely not the looming threat of the Others/White Walkers as a new Winter inexorably draws near.
The lass has probably never seen a flake of snow in her life.
Ok, so does it really matter if she’ll be seen as a cultural outsider? After all, her ancestor Targaryens left their homeland in Essos and conquered the Seven Kingdoms before, ruling for three centuries before they were overthrown. Maybe one can do it again?
Let’s see how she fares in terms of temperament then…
Thus Dany has made her subsequent decisions from a purely emotional perspective, freeing a shit-load of slaves and killing a bunch of people in retaliation for the murder of some slave kids. Naturally.
However, as Tyrion later pointed out, it wasn’t very good politics. Despite the obvious justification of abolishing slavery, you can’t just tear down a millennium-old economy by force and expect everything to work itself out afterwards. If she ends up on the Iron Throne in a country where politics are very nuanced, she could end up on the wrong side of another rebellion.
She’s taken Tyrion as her advisor and the silver-tongued exile has already set to work smoothing over her past mistakes. With him as Hand of the Queen making her rulings a bit more practical then things might not be so bleak after all. Not to mention the fact that Tyrion is already incredibly famous in Westeros so it would soften her status as an outsider (for some, anyway).
Right, so we have a moral queen with an intelligent, politic-savvy adviser on the throne of Westeros. Not so bad, eh?
Let’s take a wee look at her approach to killing, then...
It’s no secret that Dany has no qualms about killing people who she believes deserve it. She immolated the witch who poisoned her husband, roasted the warlock who tried to take her dragons, and carved her way across Slaver’s Bay without a shred of diplomacy. Not to mention her burning alive of EVERY KHAL to gain control of their followers.
Westeros has seen a lot (and I mean a lot) of death recently. Everyone is fighting each other, there’s trouble brewing in the far north, and most people are frankly quite sick of it. Would yet another bloodthirsty conqueror go down so well?
This trait of Danerys is even more pronounced if we compare it to another fan favourite for the Iron Throne, Jon Snow (potentially Dany’s nephew).
John has always been a follower of his father, Ned Stark’s, obsession with honour. He does what he believes to be the right thing even if it goes against popular opinion and they both kept this going right up until their deaths.
In the latest episode, after being resurrected, Jon stated he was sick to death of death. He only ever killed because he had to:
- Wildlings because he was at war.
- His fellow Watchmen because they broke their oaths.
That last one is a sticking point. Ned always said “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword”, which is something that Jon and his half-brother (Rob) both strictly adhered to. It meant that they both assumed full responsibility for their followers, for their own actions, and the weight of their rulings. It was intended that they be careful not to just dish out capital punishment whenever they feel like it.
As opposed to Danerys who has never killed someone by her own hand (fire doesn’t count) and ordered the deaths of so many more.
That brings us neatly to how she intends to take the Iron Throne…
She’s determined to take Westeros with her gigantic horde of pseudo-Huns and I doubt people will just let her do it, so there’ll be another war.
A long, bloody war.
And what if she wins by overwhelming numbers plus three dragons?
The Dothraki are notorious plunderers, pillagers, and rapists (at least even more so than the average Westerosi army) so inflicting them on the average citizen will not be something she is thanked for.
And what happens when she’s got her arse on the Throne and the Houses firmly in line? I hope she doesn’t think that the Dothraki will adapt to the humdrum feudal life of the Seven Kingdoms. The Dothraki live for the thrill of killing other people and taking what’s theirs so after a while of inactivity they would get very, very bored.
What will happen then is that the formerly-united Dothraki will re-fragment into rival Khalasars and resume their favourite pastime, just on a different set of people, and Queen Dany will have one hell of a time sorting them out.
Jon, however, is inevitably going to kick some Bolton bottom, retake Winterfell, and become Warden of the North, thus putting him in a better position to mobilise forces against the White Walkers and defeat them (as you all know will eventually happen).
If theories about his parentage are true and he does turn out to be half-Tagaryen along with half-Stark then he may pursue his claim of the Iron Throne (if Tommen dies or goes full Joffrey).
Who do you think the people would back?
- The great-but-humble hero who saved the realm.
- The foreign woman who took the kingdoms by force and unleashed her horde of murder-hobos on the land.
p.s. I have one of those twitter things. Why not come tweet your own thoughts about this at me? Or whatever.