Drogo’s party reaches the edge of the Dothraki Sea. Daenerys is riding with her entourage, including Ser Jorah, Irri, her khas(bodyguard), and Viserys. Illyrio had counselled Viserys not to make the journey and offered the comfort of his manse, but Viserys refused to leave Drogo’s side until he receives his promised crown. A sudden impulse takes Daenerys, and she decides to ride out into the grasses of the Dothraki Sea, leaving orders with Ser Jorah for no one to follow her. Daenerys thinks back on her journey thus far. The journey was not easy for Daenerys at first. Riding on horseback all day has left her sore and bloody. Drogo’s lovemaking at night made it even worse. She was almost ready to kill herself when she had a dream of being purified by dragonfire. From that point on, she became stronger and more confident. She also took an interest in the beauty of the land around her. The party made their way through the hills around Norvos, past villages of white stucco, forded four rivers, travelled down ancient Valyrian roads, and passed through the Forest of Qohor.
Daenerys’s reverie is interrupted when a furious Viserys rides out to scold her for having Ser Jorah command him not to intrude, but Daenerys stands up for herself and shoves him away. Viserys is about to respond when Jhogo rides up and coils his whip around Viserys’s neck. When Daenerys sees him on the ground red-faced and sobbing, she realizes what a pitiful creature he really is. She orders his horse taken away, a dreadful insult and humiliation amongst the Dothraki. Daenerys is afraid afterward that she has woken the dragon and that Viserys will hurt her later, but Ser Jorah tells her that Rhaegar was the last dragon and Viserys is merely the shadow of a snake. She realizes that he would make a terrible king and that he will never retake the Seven Kingdoms. Back at camp, she notices that her stone dragon eggs are unusually warm. As Irri, Jhiqui, and Doreah bathe her, she asks about dragons, but they tell her they are all gone. Daenerys recalls that Viserys told her the last Targaryen dragons had died a century and a half ago during the reign of Aegon III, who was given the epitaph Dragonbane. That night she talks with Doreah late into the night about sex, and when Drogo comes, she pleases him so thoroughly that he calls out her name at his climax. When they are on the far side of the Dothraki Sea some time later, Daenerys, now fourteen, realizes she is pregnant.
This particular chapter went on a lot longer than I expected it to. I think in my mind, this particular chapter was broken up into several scenes and even in the text I think it’s easier to handle in three separate sections. The first section of real note is the hell that Dany’s life was in the early days of her marriage. The Dothraki hardly seem like a forgiving people but even by their standards Dany seems to have had it rough. It’s probably a good thing that we did not see those painful days first-hand because as horrible as the ordeal sounds, I think it’s a lot worse when you know it happened to a fourteen year old child. That’s something that I’m still not entirely sold on – I don’t think it was necessarily a good idea to make the children so very young. Yes, on one hand, it does make the world of Westeros seem a lot more brutal but on the other hand, it tends to create unnecessarily uncomfortable situations like a grown man (Drogo) essentially raping a little girl (Dany). The whole thing makes me decidedly uncomfortable and honestly, aging the characters up doesn’t really solve the issue but it does make it a little less uncomfortable. From a plot point, I think one of the really interesting things is that Dany’s days of living terror seem to turn around when she has an interesting dream. Now, I don’t know if this particular dream is all that significant in the long run but the way it is written leads me to think that there is something supernatural going on. Beyond that, the image of black dragon (Drogon?) wet with Dany’s blood reminds me very forcibly of Dany’s final chapter in ADWD. I don’t know if the connection is significant, but that chapter does reintroduce the Dothraki after a very long absence and such similarity is rarely coincidental in fiction. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens next.
It’s interesting though that after the dream had come, Dany seems to be almost spiritually reborn. It’s like she had this new lease of life and was a lot more enthusiastic and involved in her own life. One particular line stood out to:
All her life Viserys had told her she was a princess, but not until she rode her silver had Daenerys Targaryen ever felt like one.
I thought it was just a nice way of summing up Dany’s own acceptance amongst the Dothraki and in some sense it also reflects their acceptance of her. Dany gets more and more authoritative here as she learns to accept command for the first time in her life. Unfortunately, there is no one there to teach her how to rule properly. She learns a little from Drogo and later on she has able advisors but she never truly learns where good rule ends and abuse of power begins. Since that’s not an issue that’s going to rear its head for a long while, I’ll hold on to it for a while. Meanwhile, Viserys continues to be a giant dick, but there are no surprises there. What is noteworthy of course is that this is the first time that Dany has had the courage to stand up to him. Beyond the obvious implication that she is growing and coming into her own, I think it’s probably better to see it as a sign that she finally feels like she has found a safe place where she can assert herself without fear of physical retribution. Despite her newfound self-confidence, which is of course, delightful to see, we see that she still worries about Viserys and his happiness. I don’t know whether this is genuine affection for the abusive brother who took care of her all these years, or if it’s just a sign of Stockholm Syndrome manifesting itself, but it is a sign that she does still have some way to go before she is fully independent of her life before the Dothraki. Of course, we know that she will never fully reach that stage but at least she can shrug off the demons from her past life.
I guess all in all this chapter is really about Dany’s transformation from child to woman, from shy maiden to confident soon-to-be mother. She begins to take pride in her role in the Dothraki society which is, honestly, little more than brood-mare but nevertheless I think it is a sign of increasing maturity that she is able to accept the reality of her situation and make the most of it. Having said that, however, I still don’t know how I feel about her being pregnant so young. The last line of the chapter seems written to shock and by my nature I have this stubborn streak that will fight any author’s blatant attempt at manipulating my emotions but despite all of that I must say that I am still rather unsettled by Dany’s age and I do think that the HBO adaptation was right to age the characters up a little.