|World of Westeros - People|
|Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:02|
3rd Level (Noble 3)
There was only her and the dragon. Its scales were black as night, wet and slick with blood. Her blood, Dany sensed ... She could hear it singing to her. She opened her arms to the fire, embraced it, let it swallow her whole, let it cleanse her and temper her and scour her clean. She could feel her flesh sear and blacken and slough away, could feel her blood boil and turn to steam, and yet there was no pain. She felt strong and new and fierce.
Among the major players in the game of thrones, many struggle to maintain a position of security and many flirt with power; only two are learning how to rule. One of these is Robb Stark of Winterfell. The other is a far less likely candidate for a crown: Daenerys Targaryen.
At the outset, Daenerys seems to be no different from any other noble girl; indeed, for all her royal birth, her position is the weakest of all. She has less training and protection than Sansa Stark, less influence and experience than Catelyn Stark, less self-assurance and allure than Cersei Lannister, and less resolution and resourcefulness than Arya Stark. All she has is her blood and a past coloured by her brother’s childhood memories. The downfall of the royal house of the Dragon happened while she was growing in Queen Rhaella’s womb. The treachery of the usurper, the return to Dragonstone, her birth and her mother’s death, the flight and exile ... all these are woven together into a tapestry of grand and bloody saga by Viserys. She has no memory of it, but it is the only truth she knows.
Her own memories are more wistful: a red door and a lemon tree, nostalgia for a childhood ended too early. Daenerys could have been happy as an ordinary girl, but this is a choice never to be hers. Her silver hair and lilac eyes betray her heritage as a princess with a destiny, but the only person who seems to have no stake and no say in forming that destiny is Daenerys herself. In common with almost every other woman of Westeros, Daenerys is principally a possession and breeding stock for the family, owned in this case by her brother Viserys. Daenerys’s early memories of her brother are full of love for his colourful stories. Through him, she sees the Sunset Kingdoms and relives all the old adventures. Had Viserys had been her bard, they might both have been happier. But as Daenerys grows up, the wonderful storyteller diminishes into something else. In the old ways of Targaryen, Viserys would be her prospective husband. Instead, with Magister Illyrio’s help, he becomes her pimp.
At the time Viserys strikes up the trade of his sister for Drogo’s khalasar, Daenerys is a girl with little self confidence. She is very young, only slightly older than Sansa. She knows almost nothing except a craving for some gentle, safe place. Her brother’s comments and commands to her are such a haze of threats and contradictions she barely knows what to do or how to behave. He beats her and abuses her when he feels stressed or senses rebellion from her, warning her not to “wake the dragon.” The pressure is on Daenerys to be an amalgamation of princess and prostitute, to be proud yet servile, to stand straight yet be ashamed of herself. While she is fearful of the future, it is not impossible to believe she might view her impending wedding as a chance to be free from her brother’s rages.
Advice and friendship comes neither from her brother nor Illyrio, but from a relic of home, the exiled knight Ser Jorah Mormont. He provides wise counsel about the world she will soon marry into, and yet is a treasure trove of knowledge of her old home.
As yet, Daenerys cannot guess that this will go beyond the perfunctory mating envisaged by her brother. Khal Drogo is not going to be her gaoler. Instead, Daenerys finds that marriage does not have to bring servitude and sacrifice — for her it brings freedom and power.
The wedding is the first sign that Daenerys and the Khal can find happiness together. Khal Drogo’s gift of a silver grey filly is a turning point for her. She has never taken the reins before, and her clear delight translates itself to her husband. She is doing more than accepting a gift, she is accepting his way of life as her own. The fear hasn’t gone, but she is prepared to face it and learn. The same readiness to adapt shows itself on her bridal night. The Khal is a kind man who wants a wife as well as a bedmate. He takes his time and lets her have the power. He doesn’t just want her body, but also her desire, her will to become intimate with him. Much of Daenerys’s fear comes from lack of physical confidence. When the Khal accepts her and lets her express her sexuality freely, she does more than become his lover: she grows up. Adulthood with all its trials is far richer than the dreams of childhood.
The filly, however, is not the most important gift she receives. At her wedding, Daenerys receives three dragon eggs — a reference back to the three-headed dragon, symbol of her House. The eggs seem to be no more than valuable ornaments and yet they swirl with colour and texture. There are times when she places them among the flames of braziers or cauldrons, not knowing what to expect or even why she is doing it. With so much to learn and do, however, the eggs are not so much an obsession, more a nagging, almost formless idea. She puts them to the back of her mind, but she never forgets about them.
Daenerys develops great depths of bravery and kindness. If fate would have it so, she showed all the makings of a great khaleesi, happy to ride beside her husband for the rest of her life. The growing bliss between them is enhanced by her pregnancy. They both know the child will be the greatest khal of all, the “Stallion Who Mounts The World.” Even as Daenerys grasps how to make decisions and move forward, so she learns how to dismiss the unnecessary. Daenerys cares for her brother with much more tenderness than he ever returns, but she has to recognise him for what he is — or rather, what he is not. She knows he is not a true dragon, and begins to suspect that she is the thing he can never be. Neither gentleness nor discipline work with Viserys. To feel strong and cope with the fear and uncertainty in his life, he must have someone to grind underfoot. When neither the Khal, nor the khalasar, nor Daenerys will allow him to resume his hold over his sister, he only grows more unstable. By the time he is crowned with a cauldron of boiling gold, memory can only make him more pathetic. She tries to warn him away from his deadly course of action, but when she fails, even in his last agony, she cannot mourn him.
If life among the Dothraki has taught Daenerys how to be a lover and a khaleesi, she has yet to learn how to become a queen. There are some lessons for which the gods exact high payment. Daenerys’s life changes forever during a Dothraki raid on the Lhazareen, the lamb people. During the raid, Daenerys takes pity on one of the raped lamb women, Mirri Maz Duur. When the Khal suffers a terrible wound, Mirri offers to heal him. The riders of the khalasar murmur against this, but Daenerys wants to
When the Khal’s wound turns putrid, Daenerys becomes desperate to save him. She turns again to the lamb woman, who reveals herself to be a maegi, conversant with blood magic. Mirri Maz Duur informs Daenerys that “only death can pay for life.” Ostensibly, the life of a horse will pay the price, but Mirri has something else in mind. The rite goes ahead, but Mirri Maz Duur gives nothing and takes all. Daenerys goes into labour during the ceremony, and despite her struggles, Ser Jorah takes her into the tent where Mirri is performing the dark ritual. The child dies before it is born, and Daenerys finds herself with a shattered husk for a husband, no son, and swiftly diminishing status among the Dothraki. In an effort to hold onto her husband in the face of death, Daenerys’s stubbornness may have cost her everything.
The same tenacity that made her give Mirri Maz Duur chance after chance, however, keeps Dany steady in the face of tragedy. This shamble of existence is no life for Khal Drogo, so she smothers him with a pillow, sending on her sun-and-stars. This strength of will is what keeps the fragmented remains of her khalasar behind her, and lets her begin her life anew.
Rebirth may be far from her thoughts when she orders the building of Khal Drogo’s pyre. She knows she is preparing herself, though she does not know for what. “If I look back I am lost,” are the words crackling like flames through her mind. The maegi is tied
The cracking of the eggs and the hissing of the newborn dragons signal the beginning of a new life for Daenerys. She has grown from girl to woman, from woman to khaleesi. Now it is time for her to step higher, to become a queen — and more than a queen. Just as she could never become a strong khaleesi with Viserys beside her, so she could never have completed her destiny if Khal Drogo had lived. If she had become the mother of the Stallion Who Mounts The World, she would never have found the fire and
|Last Updated on Friday, 15 April 2011 20:18|