The article contains spoilers from ASOIAF.
The world hadn’t seen a dragon in centuries until my children were born. The Dothraki hadn’t crossed the sea, any sea. They did for me. I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms, and I will.
Daenerys Targaryen is one of the few Season 1 veterans who is still in the lethal game of thrones. The Iron Throne already could’ve been hers, if it wasn’t for that tiny undead problem up North.
Her journey in the TV adaptation has been mostly faithful to the A Song of Ice and Fire source material with major differences only starting to show up in later seasons.
Among the changes we can mention are how two of her handmaids are still around in the books: Jhiqui and Irri. The former only appeared in a single episode of Season 1, whereas Irri was murdered by Doreah, who was turned into a traitor working with Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Pyat Pree.
The reasoning behind this alteration seems clear: Missandei would be introduced in Season 3 as Dany’s advisor and handmaiden, making the roles of the Dothraki girls redundant.
In A Clash of Kings, Doreah, who was from Lys, dies in the Red Waste. The show had Rakharo dying instead.
Dany’s journey through the House of the Undying wasn’t the same as in the novels, either. The show has been low on prophecies and visions, only keeping a handful of them, but I won’t delve much into it in this article – that’s a discussion for another time.
In the case of Daenerys, however, we got to see a vision of Rhaego, he who would have been the Stallion Who Mounts the World. He was sadly part of an illusion made by Pyat Pree, but nevertheless an interesting glimpse of what could’ve been, had Drogo survived.
The vision of the destroyed Red Keep remains most intriguing. Now that winter has come to King’s Landing, it’s possibly safe to assume that we see snow (and not ash) falling from above. But what destroyed the ancient castle? Was it the Night King and his undead mount? Or Cersei’s wildfire?
In the Season 3 premiere, “Valar Dohaeris”, Ser Barristan Selmy joined Dany’s Queensgard after saving her from a manticore. In the books, he adopted the name of “Arstan Whitebeard” and grew a beard so as to be unrecognizable, the reveal of his true identity meant as a twist. In the screen adaptation a beard wouldn’t have been enough to hide Ian McElhinney, so the “secret identity” element was understandably dropped.
Strong Belwas, who played a part in Selmy’s disguise, was entirely cut from the show and his most important role so far (his fight for Daenerys against the champion of Meereen) was given to Daario Naharis instead. Considering that Belwas remains mostly a comic relief character, and the sellsword captain doesn’t see much action (serving instead as an ambassador, and later becoming a hostage), the change seems fair. The show’s Daario needed a moment to shine and to prove his loyalty and skills, and we got to see that in the third episode of Season 4, “Breaker of Chains”.
Many of the characters who interact with Dany after she conquers Meereen in A Dance with Dragons are absent in the screen adaptation: Skahaz mo Kandaq, Reznak mo Reznak, and Galazza Galare, among others. The weird names could be seen as a reason (I mean, Asha’s name was changed to Yara so people wouldn’t confuse her with Osha), but I feel it was a consequence of streamlining. The cast is already big, and there was no need to have more counselors around Daenerys.
Hizdahr zo Loraq was kept, albeit as a very different person than his book counterpart. While the literary Hizdahr agreed to marry Dany only as a means to get the crown, the show version seemed to genuinely care about his people and traditions, despite being understandably frowned upon by the Westerosi.
He did try to advise Daenerys and didn’t move against her, despite having every reason to do so, and as a consequence he later met his demise at the hands of the Sons of the Harpy.
The involvement -if any- of Hizdahr with the Sons of the Harpy in the novels remains unclear, though there’s enough evidence to be suspicious.
But the most significant difference between the novels and the show, in regards to Dany’s arc, has to be her meeting with Tyrion during the fifth season. I already covered the god of tits and wine in a past article, but it’s worth mentioning again how big of a milestone it was. George R.R. Martin has stated that their paths will eventually intersect “in a way”, but for most of the sixth book they’ll remain apart.
This was rather surprising for me, because with only one book remaining after The Winds of Winter, it indicates that Tyrion’s role as Dany’s Hand and counselor will be significantly smaller. He wasn’t present at Daznak’s Pit after all, and though he’ll play a part in the Siege of Meereen, he isn’t directing the defense of the city and never cut a deal with the Good Masters.
Last time we saw Dany in the books, she was in poor shape, sick with dysentery (a moment that was mercifully cut from the TV adaptation). She was then found by a Dothraki khalasar, and we were left on a cliffhanger.
If Dany’s Season 6 arc was any indication, this is the setup for her eventual defeat of the khals and taking of their khalasars. What’ll happen after that is less clear. Will she arrive in time to join the Siege of Meereen or after it’s all over? Who will be left in charge of the city? Daario in the show seemed like a reasonable choice, but I’m less sure about the book version of the character.
Will she set sail to Westeros in The Winds of Winter, or will that moment not happen until A Dream of Spring? It’s not too crazy to imagine that moment getting pushed back to the final book.
As for a romance with Jon Snow (I mean, Aegon Targaryen. It’s hard to get used to it), I do think it’ll happen in the books as well. The when and the how are complicated matters, though. If Dany will remain apart from Tyrion for the most part of the sixth book, then I doubt she’ll get to meet Jon before A Dream of Spring.
But then we’re left with just a handful of chapters to set their meeting, their interactions and falling in love. And that’s not taking into account the showdown with the Others and its aftermath, which surely will take a good chunk of the book.
Books don’t have the same limits as a TV show, but a volume can only grow so big before it needs to be split in two. And while the show has already offed plenty of its characters, most of them are still alive and kicking in the novels. There’s a lot of wrapping up to do, indeed.
In the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones (how time flies! I can’t believe there’s only one season left!), I expect some trouble to arise after Bran reveals the truth to Jon, how Dany is…well, his aunt. And also how he’s the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Jon doesn’t seem all too interested in having power. He already bent the knee to Dany. And if they do love each other, there shouldn’t be a problem in reigning together.
How they’ll react to the incest is another matter entirely. Historically, Targaryens were cool with it, so maybe there won’t be too big of a fuss over it. It’ll all be irrelevant when the Night King knocks on Winterfell’s gate, however.
I predict that Jon will die in the battle against the Night King. As Beric Dondarrion said, maybe that’s the purpose for which he came back to life.
The Targaryen dynasty will live on with the son (or daughter) he’ll have with Daenerys. Surely the moment they shared on the boat during the Season 7 finale wasn’t for naught.
Maybe it won’t happen, and D&D and/or George will surprise us all, but I think Dany will be the one who takes the Iron Throne in the end. I doubt we followed her all this road only to see her falling against Cersei and the Golden Company.
Her dragons, much as it pains me to say it, will likely die, marking the end of magic and the existence of mythical creatures (like the giants and the Children). I’d be happy if Drogon makes it to the very end, but there can be no victory without sacrifice, and the Throne will surely claim the lives of Dany’s children.
Her experiences as queen of Meereen, and hopefully the company of good-natured advisors like Tyrion and/or Davos (if they make it out alive) will help her to rebuild and to heal the Seven Kingdoms after the inevitable destruction the Night King will leave in his wake.
I’d be satisfied with that ending, even if it’s not the most surprising. But what do you think? Do you envision a different fate for the Mother of Dragons? Do share your theories in the comment section!