Game of Thrones/ASOIAF Rant – Dany Targaryen
This is a departure from my usual blogging and I don’t often do this but I really do feel the need to right now. The argument I’m about to make references both books and series (so spoilers if you’re not up to date) but most of the points are common to both and I’ll specify any ‘TV only’ references.
Here’s the thing – I am fast becoming convinced that if Viserys Targaryen had lived and succeeded in his aims, he would have been a better ruler of Westeros than Dany has demonstrated she could be (assuming as most do that she eventually crosses the sea and does so). Now Viserys was an arsehole, there’s no two ways about that, but as a choice for that nation’s ruler he is streets ahead of our Dragon Queen; here’s a quick rundown of our candidates:
Like it or not and justified or not, by law Robert did usurp the Iron Throne from the Mad King, and with Rhaegar dead (and assuming that R+L=J is kept secret), Viserys is the rightful king as far as the world and the law is concerned.
Viserys is arrogant, short-sighted and cruel, but has never shown any sign of actual insanity like his father.
Had he crossed the sea with the Dothraki, the plan was always to do so via Pentos and Magister Illyrio. Before he left, Illyrio would have revealed to him the Dornish Conspiracy (Doran Martell had secretly agreed to support a Targaryen restoration in revenge for the death of his sister, and in exchange for Viserys marrying his daughter). With this, Viserys would have crossed the sea with a Dothraki army, supported by the Dornish and with any Houses who were tired of Baratheon/Lannister dominance. Thus if Viserys won, it would be only ½ a conquest and ½ a civil war.
Chronology-wise, the king he would displace would be Joffrey and few enough people would miss him
In all likelihood Viserys would then make his new father-in-law and closest supporter (Doran Martell) the Hand of the King. Viserys, for all his arrogance, has shown himself to be easily manipulated by clever men (Illyrio) and cowed by stronger men (Mormont/Drogo). With clever Doran Martell to advise him and bold Oberyn Martell (also in on the original plot) as an image of strength, the kingdoms would essentially be run by them. (Viserys is a man of little patience – like Robert – and like Robert would have left the running of his kingdom to his council).
With the Dothraki settled in the territory of defeated Houses or else well paid off and sent back to Essos, Westeros would have carried on contentedly enough under their restored royal family. There would certainly be problems, but nothing unsolvable.
Assuming death of Viserys and R+L=J remaining secret, she is indeed a legitimate heir
Chronology-wise, the king she would displace would be Joffrey and few enough people would miss him.
That’s pretty much all she has going for her.
Unlike Viserys she has never been to mainland Westeros (she was born on Dragonstone) and thinks of ‘home’ as the house with the red door in Braavos. She sees the Iron Throne as an abstract concept – something she’s entitled to and must therefore have. She has no investment at all in the people there and no understanding of the culture or traditions of her own people.
Having decided to go her own way and use only the Dothraki/Unsullied/Second Sons, she would be arriving purely as a conqueror which the Westerosi would, quite rightly, see as the invasion of a foreign power and unite against her.
She has demonstrated time and again that she has no gift for planning and relies heavily on Mormont, Selmy, Daario and (presumably in TV world) Tyrion, yet she consistently ignores their advice and acts on gut instinct, something that generally makes a situation worse and not better.
While Viserys can indeed be cruel I’m pretty sure he can also be persuaded to good policy if it means keeping his crown and the loyalty of his people. Dany on the other hand crucified large numbers of people simply for owning slaves, which was perfectly legal in their culture. Our own views on it aside, in Mereen/Yunkai slave-owning was a standard part of their society/economy and Dany indiscriminately kills the Masters based on her own sense of morality because she saw evidence that some of them were cruel to their slaves. She had no evidence against the vast majority and simply killed to make a political point. Not good.
In double-crossing the Masters who sold her the Unsullied, she has shown that a bargain made with her in good faith cannot be trusted, and that her word is meaningless if she thinks it’s in her best interests to break it. The Masters might be the bad guys but they struck a bargain with her and she ignored it, murdering them in the process.
She has dragons but does not understand them, cannot control them, and is afraid to use them because of this.
(TV world) She delights in making grand speeches full of meaningless rhetoric but has no real plan of how to make any of her dreams actually work. Again, that’s left to cleverer people to work out and when they do it in a way that is too pragmatic for Dany’s extreme beliefs, they are ignored.
I’m sure there’s more but that’ll do for now!
In short, Viserys wouldn’t make a particularly glorious ruler, but Dany would be sooo much worse.
Now a lot of people will say – ‘ah yes, but in the grand scheme of things the story will probably end with her and Jon marrying and ruling (Ice and Fire) and that they will offset each other and compliment each other to achieve balance.’ Wrong! Jon does not need her to be a balanced ruler. Jon has shown time and again that;
- He is a natural leader,
- He has a strong sense of justice,
- He can hear sage advice and actually listen to it without assuming he knows best,
- He can run something efficiently (Castle Black) with sensible delegation and policies based on a mix of pragmatism and his own sense of right and wrong (not his fault the N/W took issue with it!),
- He is a proven soldier, both as a commander and in personal combat
And he has learned all this the hard way
Add in to this that (assuming R+L=J) he has a better claim to be king and the automatic loyalty of the North from his Stark blood
He has no need whatsoever of a ranting brat whose only plus point is that she has dragons. That’s a plot gift to make her worthwhile. Dany may have a hefty share of courage (personal and moral) but she is otherwise completely useless and superfluous – the dragons are the only things that make her relevant.
So long live King Jon or – failing that – long live King Viserys, but never let Daenerys near our shores!
Fire and Blood!