Daenerys Will Be The Queen Of Ashes, Whether She Likes It Or Not

9.5
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
2011-04-17

We’re now two episodes into Game of Thrones Season 7, and after many long years of waiting, Daenerys Targaryen is finally back in Westeros, if still just on Dragonstone for now. Her goal is to claim the Iron Throne that was once her father’s and to restore Targaryen rule over Westeros. But she wants to do it without becoming “the queen of ashes,” a kingdom in ruins. She will claim the Iron Throne—barring an assassination, there is almost no way for her to fail. But the most recent episode proves that she will fail to avoid a terrible, bloody war. She will turn half of the kingdoms to ash, whether she likes it or not.

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Daenerys and Tyrion strategize how to conquer Westeros. Photo: HBO

The Cost Of Taking The Iron Throne

What is the plot arc of Game of Thrones Season 6 in King’s Landing? It’s the key to Daenerys’s forthcoming and imminent victory: The near-complete collapse of Baratheon-Lannister rule. With the death of King Tommen, Queen Cersei took the throne… but she has no legitimate claim. Moreover, she has no strong base of power, at least not outside of Lannister lands on the other side of Westeros, and few are legitimately loyal to her. She has scared a few great lords into joining her side for now, but she’s betrayed huge numbers of powerful men and women who want to see her downfall.

But Qyburn’s new anti-dragon siege machines prove that Queen Cersei won’t go down without a fight—and, more importantly, nor will Euron Greyjoy, who just smoked a solid portion of Daenerys’s fleet without any serious resistance. Euron also likely has other plans—most notably, stealing a dragon and perhaps even playing a role in bringing down the Wall.

Daenerys’s plan is to besiege King’s Landing with Westerosi forces while taking Casterly Rock with the Unsullied. She hopes to make peace with Jon Snow, by forcing him to bend the knee—which won’t be an easy sell. Still, it’s far more likely than her hope to take King’s Landing without involving the dragons and possibly torching the city. Cersei’s armies are weak, but she’ll do anything to survive, and Randyll Tarly may not be the only lord who grimacingly switches sides.

Here’s the flaw with Daenerys’ and Tyrion’s war plans: they assume that everything will go as planned. The assault on her borrowed fleet, and the capture of Ellaria Sand and Yara Greyjoy, already shows that her enemies will think for themselves just as well as she does.

In the end, Daenerys can’t lose. Her forces are unparalleled in Westerosi history: She has three full-grown dragons, the armies of the Unsullied, and the Dothraki, the most destructive force in Essos since the Doom of Valyria. She is more powerful than Aegon the Conqueror. Her navy is middling and sufficient, but her land forces cannot be stopped. Right now, she plans to hold off on using all of her most powerful forces. But every setback will bring Olenna Tyrell’s viewpoint closer to fruition. Two or three more losses like the attack on her fleet and Daenerys will have much a harder time saying no to deploying the Dothraki and the dragons in full force (where exactly are her endless horsemen hordes, anyway?). And with that will come total devastation.

Daenerys hopes to come in peace, to be welcomed by the people, and she is right to want to hold the Dothraki in check. But mark my words: it won’t be so easy. She’ll have the Iron Throne soon enough, but it will be by fire and blood—and she’ll be the Queen of the Ashes.

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