Daenerys Has Awoken As A Tyrant

Daenerys Has Awoken As A Tyrant
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Daenerys and Tyrion strategize how to conquer Westeros.
Daenerys and Tyrion strategize how to conquer Westeros. HBO

Well folks, there ya go: As of Game of Thrones Season 7, episode 4, Daenerys has finally become what she was born to be: a tyrant. Spoilers follow, to be sure. Disregarding the advice of rebellious vassal and/or King in the North Jon Snow, Daenerys has begun a full-scale invasion of Westeros, and she’s pulling no punches: She’s already unleashed the Dothraki and one of her dragons, devastating Lannister forces just a stone’s throw from King’s Landing. And thus begins her long march towards becoming Queen of the Ashes.

Daenerys The Conqueror, Tyrant Of Westeros

Game of Thrones Season 7 has made a big show of setting up Daenerys as a kind of benevolent despot, a divinely chosen monarch (because of the dragons) who was nevertheless also chosen by the people. This latest episode likewise emphasized how everyone who follows her does so by choice. As Jon Snow points out, that sounds very good in theory, but in practice, it’s not such an absolute. Since coming into her own in Slaver’s Bay, Daenerys has always balanced loyalty with the extreme coercive force behind her: the Unsullied, the dragons, the Dothraki, three of the most powerful forces in the known world. The Dothraki bowed to her—not just because she convinced them of her worth, but because she slaughtered all of their leaders.

Daenerys has always had a dark side to her. That’s the side that crucified hundreds of slavers, slaughtered Dothraki khals, left Xaro Xhoan Daxos in a vault to slowly die in darkness… and now, it’s the side of her that decided to burn the Lannister army to ash. Her impatience in some ways is justified; she’s putting her life on the line to save her own warriors. But as Jon Snow warned her and as Tyrion has advised her before, if she conquers Westeros with her dragons and her horde, she’ll be no different than any of the terrible Targaryen kings or queens before her.

And that has now transpired. Daenerys has given up her always-threadbare intention to somehow conquer Westeros peacefully. She’s going all out. And you know what? She’ll win on the battlefield, every single time, even if all the dragons stay grounded after that ballista proved itself effective. The Dothraki and Unsullied together are stronger than any other force in Westeros. Together, they can burn Westeros to the ground even without aerial support.

This was Daenerys’s choice, and a choice only she could make: To turn her war for Westeros into the brutal invasion it was destined to be. She has, at last, become Aegon the Conqueror come again, asserting a right to the throne by conquest with fire and blood. With these tactics, she can conquer Westeros easily enough—but what will be left by the time she’s done? She will leave only devastation in her wake, and turn all the lords of the realm against her—and, if she does not change her course, she will pave the way for the Night King’s final victory.

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