A Storm of Swords

by: George R. R. Martin

Daenerys Tagaryen

In the first book of the series, Daenerys was timid and unsure of herself. Now, with three dragons and a band of loyal followers, Daenerys has become a strong and spirited leader, and in this novel she continues to grow bolder as she adds liberator and conqueror to her titles. Her feelings of disgust and revulsion toward slavery, and her empathy for and desire to protect the slaves, prompt much of her behavior in the novel. She initially goes to Slaver's Bay to buy an army of slaves so she can retake Westeros, but her plans change as she sees how the slaves are treated. Her original intent of finding an army becomes a mission to free the enslaved men and women in the region. Once they're free, she feels obligated to care for them, and she becomes a maternal savior figure to the freed slaves. She even begins referring to them as her “children.” The role is notable because, where in the first novel of the series Daenerys felt completely helpless, she now feels she is strong enough to act as caretaker for legions of men, women, and children. Beyond just empathy, her behavior demonstrates a great deal of self-assurance. Clearly she feels not only capable but powerful as she and her new army march lastly on Meereen.

Daenerys's actions also stand her in direct contrast to the rulers we've seen in Westeros, suggesting she might possibly be the best choice to rule Westeros. Thus far in the series, two kings have sat the Iron Throne: Robert Baratheon, who spent a great deal of his time drunk and cared little for the actual duties of ruling; and Joffrey Lannister, who is cruel, arrogant, and immature. Moreover, we've heard stories about the king that Robert Baratheon replaced: Aerys Targaryen, who was Daenerys's own father. Known as the Mad King, he was arguably insane and definitely brutal, given to roasting his enemies alive. Daenerys, on the other hand, comes across as reasonable, kind, and genuinely concerned with the well-being of those she leads, making her potentially an ideal ruler.