|World of Westeros - People|
|Thursday, 20 May 2010 01:25|
Khal Drogo stood over her as she ate, his face as hard as a bronze shield. His long black braid was shiny with oil. He wore gold rings in his moustache, gold bells in his braid and a heavy belt of gold medallions around his waist, but his chest was bare ... Towards the end, Dany thought she glimpsed a fierce pride in his dark, almond-shaped eyes, but she could not be sure. The khal’s face did not often betray the thoughts within.
— A Game of Thrones
Of all the characters likely to be met across the lands, Khal Drogo is the most complete in himself, the most centred and grounded in the world around him. A mind too lodged in the ways of Westeros would consider him a savage on first appearance. His skin is deep copper, his heavy moustache is ringed with gold, and his braided hair reaches far down his back: the braid is more important to him than the gold. Among his people, the Dothraki, a warrior cuts his hair when he loses a battle. Drogo has never lost.
It is this amazing prowess in battle that earned him his vast khalasar of 40,000 horses and swords and a reputation so fearsome that the magisters of Pentos offered him a great manse within their city. Khal Drogo’s prowess in battle also brings him his rarest prize: Daenerys Targaryen, a princess of High Valyrian blood.
The Targaryen bride is not to be bought with anything so vulgar as money. Her brother Viserys needs troops for the retaking of the land his forefathers once ruled, and so the deal is struck. Viserys presumes that the Khal wants a highborn woman to ride and enjoy, but neither he nor Daenerys really understand what the Khal is looking for. The Khal wants a khaleesi, a woman fit to grace his side, bear his children, and be a queen among his people. At first, Daenerys might not seem the best choice, for all her royal birth. She cannot speak Dothraki and her husband speaks little of the common tongue. One might expect the Khal to disregard Daenerys as a person and silently drag her through endless nights of marital rape, but there is more to the Khal than the weapons of sex and war. If Starks are wolves, Lannisters are lions, and Targaryens are dragons, Drogo would surely be a stallion — the heart of his people. It would be easy to dismiss a stallion as a rutting, fighting animal, but horses have pride and beauty, especially when they are free. They are also capable of great affection.
The Khal’s wedding gift to Daenerys is a perfect symbol of this allegory: a grey filly, fleet as the wind and easy to guide. “Silver for the silver of your hair,” are his words, interpreted by Illyrio to his bride. There is a simplicity and a poetry to this most ferocious of warriors. Perhaps because Khal Drogo is the one character with nothing to prove, he can truly be himself. The politics of the khalasar mean only that he must succeed in battle. Given that, he is their leader and his word is their law.
Because Khal Drogo is perfectly at ease with the power at his command, he knows when not to use it. He does not force his bride because he wants her to accept him. Their initial encounter together is slow and in the end, she instigates their coupling. Their intimacy deepens when Daenerys shows that she is ready not only to be his love but to take his culture into her heart and truly become his khaleesi. Khal Drogo brings his bride a new freedom, and she in turn brings him fertility. Her pregnancy is a delight to them both. They know the child in her womb is going to be a boy — the “Stallion Who Mounts the World.” For all their limits of language, background and culture, these two are perhaps nearer true love and happiness than any around them.
Khal Drogo can be very cruel when the need arises. Punishment among the Dothraki is harsh, as both Daenerys’s potential assassin and her brother Viserys discover. At the Khal’s behest, boiling gold is poured over Viserys’s head for daring to threaten his khaleesi and the Khal’s unborn child with a sword in the sacred Dothraki city, where all steel is forbidden. It is typical of the Dothraki chieftain that Viserys’s death, while brutal, has the ring of poetic justice to it. After all, the Khal keeps his promise — Viserys gets his golden crown.
The Khal reflects the casual brutality of his people’s culture. Remorseless in war, his khalasar butcher the Lhazareen. This is the way of the plains. The lamb people farm, the nomads take with brutal force. When Daenerys protests against the rape of the lamb women, the Khal gives way because he likes to see her fierce, a true khaleesi with a warrior prince in her belly. There is never an indication that he feels for the sufferings of those he conquers. It just doesn’t occur to him.
Khal Drogo never questions the way things are. He never seeks a justice beyond strength, because he has never needed to. Might truly does make right on the plains beyond the cities. When the Khal takes a wound that turns putrid through magic and betrayal, though, his might begins to fail. The end is close when he falls off his horse, a sign of great weakness among the Dothraki. In the end, Daenerys frees him from pain and pity by smothering him to death. She knows it is what her beloved husband, the strongest and wildest of men, would have wanted.