Daenerys the Unready: Advice and Ruling in Meereen
Daenerys’ storyline in A Song of Ice and Fire is one of the most politically dense in the series, with Daenerys attempting to sort out the best thing to do for multiple factions while still holding on to her sense of self and principles. From Galazza Galare and Hizdahr zo Loraq to the Shavepate to Barristan Selmy, she struggles to find a balance between the needs and wants of all those whom her advisors represent. As she gives in more and more to the Meereenese advisors, she loses herself and her convictions, represented by her inability to control her dragons, locking up two of them, and ultimately rejecting Meereenese culture and embracing her true self by riding away on Drogon. Her constant struggle to be a fair, wise, and even-handed leader ultimately causes chaos in Slavers Bay, not least because many of her advisors are attempting to use her to reestablish Meereenese slavery and the noble houses, not actually helping her be a good ruler. Similarly, in Anglo-Saxon history, Æthelred Unræd, popularly known as Æthelred the Unready, took the throne under suspicious circumstances and struggled with a council whose members tended to fight amongst themselves and advance their own agendas rather than providing him with the best advice. Like Daenerys, Æthelred attempted to appease his enemies (in his case, outside invaders rather than internal insurgents) and lost the throne to one of said enemies for a time. This chapter examines the various advice, including prophecies, Daenerys has available to her while attempting to rule Meereen, with some comparison to Æthelred Unræd. It also examines how the adaptation in the television series spin-off Game of Thrones radically oversimplifies the politics in Slavers Bay and loses much of the nuance behind Daenerys’ actions, pushing her character towards the “madness” side of the Targaryen heritage. These oversimplifications ultimately make her into a stereotypical female leader: indecisive, irrational, and ruled by her emotions rather than by logic, a characterization that Martin seems determined to avoid.
- Anders, Charlie Jane. “George R.R. Martin: The Complete Unedited Interview.” Observation Deck. 23 Sept. 2013. http://observationdeck.kinja.com/george-r-r-martin-the-complete-unedited-interview-886117845. Accessed 24 Feb. 2016.
- “The Bells.” Game of Thrones. Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Miguel Sapochnik. HBO, 2019.Google Scholar
- “The Dragon and the Wolf.” Game of Thrones. Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Jeremy Podeswa. HBO, 2017.Google Scholar
- “Eastwatch.” Game of Thrones. Written by Dave Hill. Directed by Matt Shakman. HBO, 2017.Google Scholar
- “George R.R. Martin on Machiavellian Plots in Game of Thrones.” BBC, 2 Dec. 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mtExw7fbVM. Accessed 18 Jan. 2018.
- Higham, N.J. The Death of Anglo-Saxon England. Gloucestershire: Stutton Publishing, 1997.Google Scholar
- “The Iron Throne.” Game of Thrones. Written and directed by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. HBO, 2019.Google Scholar
- ———. “The Declining Reputation of King Æthelred the Unready.” Ethelred the Unready: Papers from the Millenary Conference. Ed. David Hill. Oxford: BAR, 1978. 227–253.Google Scholar
- “The House of Black and White.” Game of Thrones. Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Michael Slovis. HBO, 2015.Google Scholar
- “Kill the Boy.” Game of Thrones. Written by Bryan Cogman. Directed by Jeremy Podeswa. HBO, 2015.Google Scholar
- Martin, George R.R. A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Spectra 1996. Mass Market Reissue Edition, 2005.Google Scholar
- ———. A Clash of Kings. New York: Bantam Spectra, 1999. Mass Market Reissue Edition, 2005.Google Scholar
- ———. A Storm of Swords. New York: Bantam Spectra, 2000. Mass Market Reissue Edition, 2005.Google Scholar
- ———. A Dance with Dragons. New York: Bantam Spectra, 2011. Mass Market Edition, 2013.Google Scholar
- “The Mountain and the Viper.” Game of Thrones. Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Directed by Alex Graves. HBO, 2014.Google Scholar
- Roman, Christopher. “The Ethical Movement of Daenerys Targaryen.” Studies in Medievalism XXIII (2014): 61–68.Google Scholar
- “Sons of the Harpy.” Game of Thrones. Written by Dave Hill. Directed by Mark Mylod. HBO, 2015.Google Scholar