Please note that this biography was written back in 2000, before the fourth book in the series (A Feast for Crows) was released in 2005. It covers Dany's story from A Game of Thrones (first book) to A Storm of Swords (third book), and does not take the storyline in the 2011 TV series (Game of Thrones) into consideration.
Daenerys Targaryen of House Targaryen.
Also known as:
Daenerys Stormborn, Princess (later Queen) of Dragonstone. Called The Unburnt and Mother of Dragons by her khalasar. Her freedmen call her Mhysa, Maela, Aelalla or Qathei (Mother).
Queen in exile (heir to King Aerys II).
15 years. Born in 283-284 A.L.
Place of Birth/Home:
Born on Dragonstone. Spent her childhood travelling between the Free Cities on the eastern continent.
Silver-pale hair and purple eyes. She has a pale complexion, but her skin has become sun-browned after her travels over the warm eastern continent.
Daenerys Targaryen was born in 283-284 A.L. (1), on Dragonstone a small island in the Seven Kingdoms. She was born on a fierce, stormy day (2), and she's also known as Daenerys Stormborn.
Nine months earlier, her mother (who had died birthing her) and her brother Viserys (who was eight at that time) had sailed to Dragonstone at midnight to escape the advancing armies of Robert Baratheon, The Usurper.
Rhaegar, her eldest brother, had been killed in battle against the Usurper, on the Trident, north of King's Landing. King's Landing was later sacked by Lord Tywin Lannister and Lord Eddard Stark, and Rhaegar's heir had been murdered before the eyes of his mother, Princess Elia of Dorne. King Aerys II, Dany's father, was killed by the Kingslayer.
Stannis Baratheon, Robert's brother, sets sail for Dragonstone with his new fleet and the garrison prepares to sell them to the Usurper. However, Ser Willem Darry and four loyal men steal Dany and her brother from the nursery and set sail for the distant Braavosian coast on the eastern continent.
Dany and her brother lived in safety in Bravoos until Ser Willem died. After his death the servants stole their money and put them on the street.
They wandered between the cities of Bravoos, Myr, Tyrosh, Qohor, Volantis and Lys, but never stayed long in one place, fearing that the Usurper's hired men would find them. Viserys hoped to gain support for his cause as the rightful king of the Seven Kingdoms, but their lives grew meaner in the following years, as the Usurper continued to reign, although at first, they had been welcomed as the last Targaryens by the archons and merchant princes. They were forced to sell their last treasures, and in Pentos Viserys earned the nickname The beggar king.
In Pentos, they are eventually taken care of by a wealthy dealer named Magister Illyrio Mopatis. He supports their cause, offers them protection and lets them live generously in his house for almost half a year. But Viserys is determined to retake the Seven Kingdoms, and in a desperate move, he lets Illyrio sell Dany to Khal Drogo, a Dothraki horselord, in the hope that the khal will provide him with an army in return.
Dany weds Drogo in a field beyond Pentos, and the khal's entire khalasar attends. The morning after they break camp and start on their long journey to Vaes Dothrak, the sacred city of the Dothraki. They're accompanied by Ser Jorah Mormont, an exile knight from the Seven Kingdoms, who had offered his services to Viserys the night Dany had been sold. Illyrio had urged Viserys to stay in Pentos, but he decided to stay with Drogo's khalasar until the debt had been paid. Dany had passed her fourteenth name day and was with child by the time they had reached the far side of the Dothraki sea.
In Vaes Dothrak, Dany eats the heart of a stallion, a custom which the Dothraki believe will make her son strong. Dany decides to call her unborn child Rhaego, to honor her late brother.
A feast is arranged later that day but Viserys arrives armed with a sword and in a drunken state, although it's forbidden to carry weapons in the sacred city. He draws the blade and threatens Dany, but is seized by Drogo's bloodriders and soon afterwards he's killed when Drogo upends a pot of molten gold over his head (3).
Later, Dany tries to persuade Drogo to help her retake the Seven Kingdoms, but the khal isn't convinced and plans to lead his khalasar further east after Rhaego is born.
One day Jorah brings Dany with him to the Western Market in Vaes Dothrak, after the arrival of a great caravan under command of Merchant Captain Byan Votyris. Mormont seeks out the captain, hoping to hear from Illyrio, who may have sent a letter with the caravan (4).
In the meantime, Dany and her party come upon a wine merchant who offers her a cask of wine. But Mormont arrives and senses that something is wrong and it turns out that the wine is poisoned. Mormont tells Dany that she feared for her life after reading Illyrio's letter, which reveals that Robert Baratheon offers lands and lordships for her and her child's death. After hearing about the assassination-attempt against his khaleesi and her unborn child, Drogo swears to take his khalasar west, sail across the sea and sack the Seven Kingdoms.
His khalasar leaves Vaes Dothrak two days later but during their journey, in Lhazareen, they encounter Khal Ogo's khalasar, who is about to attack a town. Drogo defeats Ogo and takes thousands of captives which will be sold later in order to buy ships and men for their journey across the sea. As they ride through the devastated town, Dany witnesses several girls being raped. Dany tells her khas to stop the men and she claims the girls as her servants (5)
Drogo was badly wounded during the battle and a healer called Mirri Maz Duur, binds his wounds, despite the reluctance from Drogo's bloodriders who believe the healer is a maegi. A few weeks later Drogo becomes seriously ill, weakened by the festering wound, and he falls from his horse. Jorah urges her to flee with him before it's too late, but Dany won't leave her khal and asks Mirri for help. Before Mirri starts on her bloodmagic ritual, she warns Dany that "only death may pay for life". Drogo's bloodriders try to kill Dany and the maegi, who they believe are responsible for the khal's illness, but is killed by Dany's khas and Jorah in a fierce fight.
Soon after, Dany is about to give birth and is sent to Mirri, but Mirri slays Dany's child (6) in an act of vengeance over the Dothraki for what they did to her, her town and her people. Dany becomes sick after the miscarriage, and when she finally recovers from her fever she's told that Drogo is now more dead than alive, and his khalasar has left him except a small band of old, weak and young people. Dany bids her khas to bind Mirri and take her away. Next dawn she suffocates Drogo with a cushion, to put an end to his misery.
Dany prepares a funeral pyre for Khal Drogo and tells the remaining people from Drogo's khalasar that they will be her khalasar if they wish. She also asks her khas to take their oath as her bloodriders. They refuse and Jorah is the only one who accepts her offer. He subsequently becomes the first of her Queensgard.
Dany puts her dragon's eggs on the pyre, despite protests from Jorah who is unsure of her intentions. Mirri is bound to the pyre and Dany lights it as Jhogo, one of her khas, spot a burning red comet on the sky. Seeing her destiny in the flames, she walks into the pyre and is engulfed by the inferno. Three loud cracks are heard as her dragon's eggs hatch, and when the fire dies Jorah finds her amidst the ashes, unhurt, nursing three young dragons. Stunned by the miracle that has unfolded before their eyes, her khas swear their oaths and become her bloodriders.
Dany and her khalasar cross the red waste, believing that the comet has been sent by the gods to show her the way. Many of her people perish in the harsh, barren climate, including her handmaiden Doreah. They finally make camp in a desolate, dead city, which they name Vaes Tolorro. Ser Jorah tells Dany about his long-lost love, Lady Lynesse, and after he tells her that she resembles Lynesse, Dany starts to realize that Jorah loves her and wants her.
The next morning she sends her three bloodriders on scouting missions, asking them to explore the wasteland and look for signs of life and civilization. Jhogo is the last one to return, but he brings with him three strangers from the City of Qarth: Pyat Pree, the Great Warlock, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, a Qartheen merchant prince and Quaithe, a shadowbinder.
Dany brings her khalasar to Qarth, hoping to obtain a fleet there to win back her throne in the Seven Kingdoms. Xaro Xhoan Daxos offers the hospitality of his home during her stay, and Quhuru Mo, captain of the Cinnamon Wind, brings news that Robert Baratheon has died (7). After several failed attempts to get hold of a fleet and an army to bring her home, she asks Xaro for help, but she realizes that Xaro only wants to marry her so he can claim one of her precious dragons.
As a last effort, she seeks warlock Pyat Pree and is led to the ancient House of the Undying. Jorah, Xaro and her bloodriders warn her not to enter the house, believing that there is evil inside. Dany ignores the warnings, hoping to find guidance and words of wisdom from the Undying Ones. She brings Drogon with her. Inside, she sees many visions, both beautiful and terrifying, behind the doors of wisdom. However, in the chamber of the Undying the visions turn into a nightmare, but Drogon intervenes and she barely escapes the burning house. Pyat Pree realizes that the Warlocks have failed to kill Dany, and tries to stab her, but Drogon and her bloodriders stop him.
After the destruction of the Warlock-house, the hospitality of Qarth turns colder. The merchant princes call openly for her expulsion and death, and she learns that Pyat Pree has gathered his surviving Warlocks to seek revenge. Finally, Xaro tells her to leave his house and she takes her khalasar to the Qartheen port in order to find ships so they can leave Qarth.
At the waterfront a Sorrowful Man, sent by Pyat Pree, tries to assassinate her, but she is saved by an old man and an eunuch, who present themselves as Arstan and Strong Belwas. They claim that they have been sent by Magister Illyrio to serve her and bring her back to Pentos (8). She brings her khalasar and new companions aboard the three ships that Illyrio had sent for her, and changes the name of the ships to Vhagar, Meraxes and Balerion (Rhaegar's dragons).
Captain Groleo is nervous about letting dragons aboard his ship Balerion, and wants them caged, but consents when Dany insists that they are to be set free. As they sail across the ocean, Dany's tiny khalasar chooses to remain below decks because the Dothraki fears the sea. The wind is fickle, and for seven days there are no wind to fill their sails.
Jorah doesn't trust Arstan and Belwas, and warns Dany that these men could be traitors. He also believes that Illyrio could be a traitor as well, and urges her to change course for Astapor, where she can sell the trade goods found aboard the ships and buy Unsullied. Dany agrees, after a bit of hesitation. Suddenly and without leave, Jorah kisses her, and he tells a startled Dany that he wants to marry her (9).
In Astapor she meets Kraznys mo Nakloz, a slaver. A thousand Unsullied have been marched out on the Plaza of Pride for her inspection. She learns more about the Unsullied and their training, but is disgusted by some of their methods, which require them to kill puppies and newborns. Arstan repeatedly advises against purchasing them, and tells her that there is no slavery in the Seven Kingdoms and using slaves will only do harm to her cause. She withdraws to her ship to consider the slaver's offer.
Next day, Jorah starts talking about the Unsullied, but Dany is emotionally exhausted and slaps him in the face. Later that day she returns to the deck and is convinced by Jorah to go on and buy the Unsullied.
Dany brings her closest companions with her to negotiate a deal with Kraznys and the Good Masters of Astapor. She tells Kraznys that she is willing to sell all her ships, goods and a dragon of their choice if they give her all the Unsullied, even the raw recruits, in return (10). After the deal is made, Kraznys gives her a slave named Missandei as a gift.
Later that day, Dany summons Jorah and her closest companions. They plan to kill the slave-traders and free the slaves after they've paid for the Unsullied (11). The next morning Dany and her khalasar arrives at the Plaza of Punishment, where her 13.600 Unsullied (12) stand on parade, ready for sale. After the trade goods are delivered, and after she receives the slaver's whip, she suddenly lets loose her dragons and commands the Unsullied to slay the Good Masters, their soldiers and slavers. The Unsullied obey their new owner, kill their former masters and set the slaves free.
Dany's khalasar, freedmen and her Unsullied march north along the coast, heading for Yunkai, but three leagues from the city they encounter a Yunkish slave army, supported by two mounted sellsword-companies: the Stormcrows and the Second Sons.
In order to avoid a direct confrontation, Dany invites the slavers and captains of the sellswords to her tent, hoping that they might join her. But Prendahl na Ghezn, Sallor the Bald, Daario Naharis, the three captains from the Stormcrows, and Mero, the commander of the Second Sons, decline her offers. The envoys from Yunkai, led by Grazdan mo Eraz, are enraged by her terms but brings the terms to the Wise Masters in Yunkai. Later that night, Daario Naharis returns with the heads of the other Stormcrow-captains and joins her with his Stormcrows.
After a successful surprise night-attack on the Yunkish host, the remains of the Second Sons join Dany's army. Three days after arriving outside the walls of Yunkai, the Wise Masters fulfil her terms by setting the slaves free.
Dany's host now numbers over 80.000 men and women, of which almost 20.000 are soldiers (13). They head northeast along the coast, towards the large city of Meereen, sister city of Astapor and Yunkai. Captain Groleo and the other ship captains take the sea route to Meereen..
Forewarned by her approach, the Great Masters of Meereen withdraws before Dany's host, harvesting all they can and burning the rest, in order to starve out her host. The masters also burn down the woods and nail 163 slave-childs along the coast road, their arms pointing the way to Meereen (14).
Upon reaching the city-walls of Meereen, they're met by Oznak zo Pahl, a hero who mocks them and challenges the besiegers to send forth a champion. Strong Belwas is picked by Dany, and he decapitates Oznak in single combat.
After assessing the situation, Jorah realizes it will be difficult to take the city, and urges Dany to march west to Pentos and save her army for the Seven Kingdoms. But Dany insists on taking the city, because it offers precious food for her host and because she wants to avenge the slave-children. Brown Ben Plumm, the new commander of the Second Sons, suggests that there may be a way in through the sewers.
Dany tells them that she will consider Ben's suggestion, and sets out along the shoreline together with her close companions. As she enters the camp of her freedmen, a tall man attacks her but Arstan comes to her rescue. The assailant turns out to be Mero, former commander of the Second Sons, who fled the battle of Yunkai. Arstan strikes him down with his staff and Mero is killed by Dany's angered freedmen.
After the incident, Arstan reveals his true name and Jorah recognizes the man as Ser Barristan Selmy, former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. But Barristan also hints that Jorah has been an informer, selling secrets about her to Lord Varys back in the Seven Kingdoms. Jorah admits it, but claims that it was only at the beginning, before he fell in love with her. Furious and deeply hurt, she commands them to join Belwas and twenty other men to find a way into the city through the sewers, hoping to never see them again.
Dany commands her army to disassemble the ships and use the wood to build siege machinery. Later that night, they finally manage to break through the main gate. At the same time, Jorah and the other men enter the city via the sewers and release the slaves. Soon after the last resistance is crushed and the city is sacked. When Dany enters the city, she commands that 163 Great Masters shall be nailed, to avenge the nailed slave-children.
Ghael, an envoy from Astapor, seeks audience the next morning. She learns that King Cleon now rules Astapor, after having eliminated the council Dany had left there (15). The envoy tells her that Cleon proposes a pact between Astapor and Meereen against Yunkai, and to prove his faith he offers to marry her. Dany replies that she will consider the proposals.
Later, the Qartheen captain of Indigo Star seeks audience and asks for slaves in exchange for goods. Dany decides to let him buy those people who want to sell themselves, and asks for gold or silver in return.
After the audience she summons Jorah and Barristan, intending to offer them a pardon. Although she feels betrayed, she doesn't forget that they have saved her life in the past, nor their brave efforts during the siege. Humbly, Barristan swears his oath, but tells her that he wanted to make sure she wasn't mad like her father, before pledging his sword (16). Jorah, however, takes a protective stance and an argument ensues. Dany can't forgive him as she intended, she feels emotionally confused, and commands him to leave her service and the city.
The next morning she summons her captains and commanders. Dany tells them that she's been more khal than queen, now she wants to rest and let her people heal and let her dragons grow. She won't let Meereen share the destiny of Astapor. She intends to "stay, rule. And be a queen.".
(1) The fall of King Aerys II occured 9 months earlier, in 283 A.L. Thus, she was born in 283 or 284 A.L., but the latter date sounds more likely due to the 9 month interval.
(2) "The Targaryen fleet was smashed while it lay at anchor, and huge stone blocks were ripped from the parapets and sent hurling into the wild waters of the narrow sea." (1p25)
(3) Inalchik, the governor of Otrar, suffered a similar fate after he killed one of Ghengis Khan's envoys. After the mongols seized Otrar in 1220 A.D, they executed Inalchik by pouring molten silver into his eyes and ears until he died (p82, How Great Generals Win, B. Alexander).
(4) I don't know for sure what Jorah actually did there, but he was probably up to something because he didn't want Dany to follow him. The later assassination attempt might have been staged to win Dany's trust.
(5) One of the girls is named Eroeh. She's later raped and killed by Mogo and his bloodriders when Khal Drogo's khalasar disintegrates.
(6) "[The child was] monstrous. Twisted. I drew him forth myself. He was scaled like a lizard, blind, with the stub of a tail and small leather wings like the wings of a bat. ... He had been dead for years." Mirri (1p632). "Rhaego, her stillborn son by Khal Drogo, slain in the womb by Mirri Maz Duur." (3pAppendix).
(7) Jorah believes that Robert's death won't change anything, because "his son rules in his place". Dany disagrees, believing that the Seven Kingdoms will disintegrate like Drogo's khalasar did.
(8) Later, when Arstan (whose real name is Barristan) swears his service to Dany, he tells her that "I told you before that I used a false name so the Lannisters would not know that I'd joined you. ..." (3p811).
(9) Jorah is only slightly rebuked by Dany after the incident, perhaps because of Dany's ambivalent feelings towards him. But later she tells him: "You have been a better friend to me than any I have known. ... I honor and respect and cherish you - but I do not desire you, ... , and I'm weary of you trying to push every other man in the world away from me, ..." Dany (3p484).
(10) "The Unsullied are well trained, but even so, many will fall in battle. I shall need the boys as replacements to take up the swords they drop." Dany (3p305).
(11) What they actually did on that meeting is only hinted at in the book, but the hints strongly suggest that they were figuring out the details for a surprise attack on the slavers next day: Dany only summoned those she truly trusted, and her bloodriders were preparing their weapons later that night. Jorah tells her: "Tomorrow will be hot and hard, I promise you. You'll need your strength." (3p310) Dany probably formed the idea of misleading the Good Masters as a last-resort, before her negotiations with them: "She had considered long and hard and found no other way. ..." (3p306).
(12) Of those, 8.600 were fully trained. The remaining 5.000 were boys or bareheaded, armed men still in training (3p312).
(13) Her sellswords and heavy infantry totals about 14.000-14.500 men. The remaining soldiers are freedmen from Yunkai and Astapor. The figures seem to be a bit inconsistent though, because Dany says that "... and Jorah had organized the fighting men into four strong companies, ..." (3p649). A company usually consists of a few hundred men (but companies may vary widely in size), and adding these numbers to the first total still leaves a few thousand men unaccounted for. However, if each company is 1.000 man strong, the grand total is closer to 18.000-18.500, which is consistent with the grand total of almost 20.000 mentioned in the book.
(14) Because a child was nailed on every milepost along the coast-road, we can assume that the road distance from Yunkai to Meereen is close to 163 miles (~262 km). Because the large host was slowed down by its size, kids, weak and older people, it probably took about a week to reach Meereen.
(15) The ruling council consisted of a scholar, a healer and a priest. The envoy claimed that "... those sly rogues betrayed your trust. It was revealed that they were scheming to restore the Good Masters to power and the people to chains. Great Cleon exposed their plots and hacked their heads off with a cleaver, and the grateful folk of Astapor have crowned him for his valor." Cleon was a former butcher in Grazdan mo Ullhor's kitchen.
(16) "The truth is, I wanted to watch you for a time before pledging you my sword. To make certain that you were not ... mad. But I see no taint in you. ... every child knows that the Targaryens have always danced too close to madness. Your father was not the first. ...", Barristan (3p811).