The Game of Thrones franchise and the Targaryens are back in the spotlight thanks to HBO’s House of the Dragon, and it was Daenerys Targaryen who helped popularize the dragonlord family. Emilia Clarke’s performance made the character an icon of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire adaptation by showing her determination to reclaim her family’s throne.
And with the exception of the canceled final season, the flagship show was widely acclaimed, but even so it was done with a few tweaks to the source material. From the age of the character’s iterations from both continuities to an entirely new blood relative, there were notable differences between Daenerys in the books and the live show.
Daenerys was younger in the books
One of the big changes in Game of Thrones was the age of the characters. Like the Starks and the Lannisters, Daenerys has notably aged since her character in A Song of Ice and Fire.
It might have been a creative choice to make the cast more palatable, as it might have been even harder to see the events of the live show unfold with a cast of so many children as the main characters. In the books, Daenerys is presented as being around 13 years old, while the series starts her at around 17.
Targaryen’s Purple Eyes
One of the most popular facts Game of Thrones fans will know is the omission of the Targaryens’ purple eyes. It was never strictly purple, but the Targaryen family had eyes that varied in different shades of purple. Even now, with House of the Dragon illustrating a time when the Targaryens were prominent in Westeros’ hierarchy of power, it’s a shift that has stuck in the live-action canon.
It would have been a nice visual touch to see in the series for longtime fans, but it’s admittedly minor. However, as noted by Den of Geek, this was a logistical choice as the purple contacts were deemed too uncomfortable to wear.
The other Targaryen nephew
In a far more dramatic departure from the source material, Game of Thrones was known to leave out entire characters that played significant roles in the stories of the books. Many fans will also point out the likes of Lady Stoneheart, Catelyn Stark’s reincarnation as a vengeful undead, but the show also cut another Aegon Targaryen.
Another Targaryen nephew of Daenerys named Aegon, this version came before fan-favorite Jon Snow (who is technically Aegon VII, not VI) and would actively challenge his claim to the Iron Throne. Nicknamed “Young Griff”, he was the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, and although he was killed before the events of the show, he was smuggled out of Westeros in the books.
His vision in the house of immortals
In Game of Thrones season 2, Daenerys finds herself and what remains of her support from the Dothraki desperate for help in the city of Qarth. The most notable event to arise from this story is when the wizard of the House of Immortals kidnaps his dragons to lure him into a trap. In the books, however, the context and substance of his visions were different.
Daenerys is officially invited to visit, and she gladly accepts, entering the House of Immortals with Drogon by her side. Likewise, the visions she sees are even more disturbing than seeing a ravaged throne room. For example, she alludes to the Red Wedding, sees Rhaegar make a prediction regarding the prophecy of the prince who was promised, and alludes to the relationship between Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark.
How she tamed Drogon
Daenerys flying on Drogon for the first time was one of her best moments as a Game of Thrones character, but the context around how it happened in the books was different. The crux of this event in the show was the Sons of the Harpy’s attack at the Fighting Pits.
The books did not describe such an attack, and it was the smell of blood that drew Drogon to the pits. After a fighter tries to kill him, Daenerys leaps to his aid, but the dragon turns on her as if she were his next meal. It was then that she realized she had to tame him, which led her to crack a whip on Drogon until he understood.
His immunity to fire
Something that is noted in the books and lore that was exaggerated in the series was its fire resistance. In Game of Thrones she is portrayed more than once as completely immune, most notably in the Season 1 finale when she emerges from the funeral pyre with three freshly hatched dragons.
But in the books, Daenerys and the Targaryens in general aren’t immune to fire. On the contrary, they specifically have a high resistance there. Daenerys being able to walk away from the pyre unscathed in the books was the result of blood magic cast by the witch Mirri Maz Duur. So while fire is something low on the list of Targaryen worries, it’s not something to ignore either.
The Khalasar Abduction
After Daenerys escapes from the fighting pits of Mereen on dragonback, she ends up being kidnapped by a traveling Khalasar. She was left exposed when Drogon was recovering from his wounds. In A Dance with Dragons, a scout from Khalasar fails to notice Daenerys as she is hallucinating in the grass after eating a bad batch of wild berries.
She then sees a vision of Ser Jorah Mormont which inspires her to rise, call Drogon back and fly to the Khalasar herself in a show of power where she reminds them of who ate the horse’s heart and hatched three dragon eggs. Rather than a kidnapping, this turn of events was much more assertive from Daenerys in the book. This is an example of the overall source material portrayal of Daenerys as an aggressive survivor.
Varys was not around Daenerys
Since Game of Thrones removed the book series’ version of Aegon VI entirely from its respective canon, some of the source material’s allegiances were understandably changed in the series. The reason Aegon VI survived The Mountain’s death in book continuity is because Varys traded him in with a commoner’s baby to be sacrificed, smuggling the Young Griff into Essos.
Varys is a Targaryen loyalist, but specifically because he supports Aegon’s claim to the Iron Throne rather than Daenerys’. He is a direct opponent of her instead of an adviser and supporter. Somehow Daenerys has less of an edge in the books than her series counterpart.
She was deeply in love with Daario
While the show portrayed Daenerys and Daario Naharis’ relationship in a much more casual way — namely with the former — the dynamic was heavily reversed in the books. Likewise, Daario isn’t presented as the charming swordsman the TV adaptation is looking for. Instead, Daenerys was deeply smitten with him, thinking about him obsessively more often than not.
Meanwhile, Daario was more troubled as a character and disconnected from her outside of superficial reasons. Daario represented Daenerys’ darker impulses since he encouraged her to be more tyrannical.
She was more consciously pacifist
Game of Thrones depicted Daenerys trying to opt for peaceful resolutions to conflicts when she felt she could. At the same time, however, there were other instances where she was quick enough to choose the violent option – even before her drastic transformation into outright authoritarian in Season 8.
Daenerys is almost obsessively aware of her violent impulses in the books, fearing that she will become like her father Aerys II, the “Mad King”. This mindset is what led her to be much more pacifist (for better and for worse) in the face of a sensitive issue.
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Game Of Thrones: 10 Things From The Books About Daenerys The Show Changed | Pretty Reel
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