Expect Fire and Blood from Daenarys Targaryen in The Winds of Winter
Warning: the following article contains spoilers from A Dance With Dragons. For those of you that haven’t read the books yet, you have been warned.
After firmly establishing herself as a fan favourite in A Storm of Swords, Daenerys Stormborn’s storyline seriously stagnated in the latest instalment of the Asoiaf series. Throughout A Dance With Dragons the politics of Meereen weighed heavily upon the young Queen and a result her character began to lose touch with that Targaryen identity that had made her so loved in the previous books. Her mantra of “if I look back I am lost” became a central part of her makeup which led to her forgetting her words “Fire and Blood” as well as her true destiny as the ruler of Westeros and even the loss of her Dragons. However, after the destructive return of Drogon in Daznak’s Pit and a long absence of Daenerys viewpoints we see her reappear in the penultimate chapter of ADWD with the most important development of her character yet.
When we encounter Dany after a long hiatus from her POV, she finds herself on a “stony island in a sea of green” after being spirited away amidst the fire and chaos of Drogon in the Meereenese fighting pits. From here, she begins her descent from the hill and in doing so begins one of the most important journeys of self-discovery of any ASOIAF character. All throughout A Dance With Dragons, the young queen has insisted “if I look back I am lost.” Yet here, in this penultimate chapter, she begins to do just that and begins to reconnect with her forgotten past. She takes to naming the hill that Drogon has made his lair on “Dragonstone” after the place where she was born and admits that she “too knew the lure of home” when she sees Drogon returning to his new lair. From here we see the first glimpses of her beginning to understand her own identity as she admits that when she rode Drogon she “felt whole.” Drogon as well as Rhaegal and Viserion represent Daenary’s true self, showing a clear understanding of her even when she does not. The shackling and suppression of them represent Dany doing the exact same to her Targaryen identity in favour of her new artificial one as Mother to the thousands of liberated slaves in Meereen. We see her clearly disregard her Targaryen nature when, despite her admission of feeling whole upon Drogons back, she still insists that “she was a woman grown, a queen, a wife, a mother to thousands. Her children had need of her. Drogon had bent before the whip, and so must she.”
Yet we know that these are not truly Danys children as Drogon’ refusal to return to Meereen despite the wishes of the Dragon Queen, in addition to her acknowledging that she felt strangely happy upon ‘Dragonstone’ and “would do it all again.” Despite all her fighting and internal struggles, her identity as the last true Targaryen will always be a key part of her character as shown by ‘Dragonstone’ looking as if she could “reach out and touch it” no matter how far she journeys away from it in the hope of returning to her false life in Meereen. No matter how embroiled in the politics of Essos Dany gets, she will never escape that her destiny lies across the Narrow Sea in Westeros.
The catalyst for her journey of self-discovery comes in the form of three visions and epiphanies Daenarys has whilst attempting to get back to Meereen. The first comes in the form of Quaithe who reminds Dany of her original warning from A Clash of Kings that “To go forwards you must go back” and she must remember who she really is before adding that “The Dragons know, do you?.” This in my opinion validates my idea that her Dragons represent who Daenarys truly is and she must go back and discover this identity rather than attempting to move on from it with her artificial duties to her ‘children’ in Meereen.
From here Daenarys Stormborn journeys on before encountering the second manifestation of her self-conscious in the form of her dead abusive brother Viserys. Angrily he states that if he had a dragon he “would’ve taught the world the meaning of our words.” Whilst this is not true as we saw Viserys to be an incompetent leader earlier in the series, it serves to remind Dany of her true identity as a Targaryen, which is the logical result of her journey of self-discovery. When Dany awakens from this vision, she is startled to find herself covered in her own blood: she has just suffered a miscarriage. Whilst it is disputed amongst fans as to whether this really was a miscarriage or not, I contend that it is exactly that as the idea fits in with thematically with the abortion of Daenarys artificial identity as the mother to the people of Meereen. She has just been reminded of her Targaryen identity by her vision of Viserys and now we see the physical manifestation of the abortion of this idea. This is further backed up by the fact that we know her and Daario have been lovers for quite some time now whilst also she fails to remember the last time her moon’s blood was upon her nor “ever having such a heavy flow.” In addition, she fails to recall the name of the little girl Drogon had killed earlier in the novel, symbolising that she is no true mother to the people of Meereen and that her true people lie across the narrow sea. Thus we see that alongside Dany’s miscarriage as a result of her second vision, so too has her Meereenese identity been aborted.
This leads the young queen to the profound recognition that “Meereen was not her home and never would be” which is cemented by the final vision of her journey. She sees an image of Jorah Mormont, her exiled knight, who confirms that she is “the blood of the dragon… and dragons plant no trees” before adding that she needs to “Remember who you are, what you were made to be. Remember your words.” To which Daenarys emphatically replies “Fire and Blood.”
Thus, the transformation of Daenarys Targaryen is complete. She is no longer the girl inexperienced in the ways of war, who plays ruler to the people of Meereen but instead is a woman grown, fully aware of her identity, her destiny and her words. This change is shown through her now being able to call and ride Drogon using only her voice and the magic of Old Valyria after encountering the Dothraki scout, in comparison to Drogon not returning to Meereen as Dany wished earlier in the chapter when she still believe that she truly belonged there. The whip, her tokar and all pretence of being the mother to the Meereenese people has been abandoned, and the Dragon Queen is fully in control of her true destiny now. This is how she is found by Khal Jhago and his khaleesar at the end of the chapter. This will provide the perfect opportunity for Daenarys Targaryen to remind us all of why she came to be a fan favourite in the series, as she has previously promised that, for the rape of Eroeh at the end of Game of Thrones “Before I am done with them, Mago and Ko Jhaqo will plead for the mercy they showed Eroeh.” And the new Daenarys is in a position to deliver on that promise. There is much uncertainty in the universe of A Song of Ice and Fire, but there is one thing we can be sure of and that is that there will be Fire and Blood. It is known.
What do you think? Leave a comment.