Game Of Thrones Season 8: Who Is Daenerys’s Father, The Mad King Aerys Targaryen?

If you’re a little fuzzy on who the Mad King is, and why he matters so much, you’re not alone.

One of the quirks of Game of Thrones: Season 1 (rewatch it, if you haven’t) is that the show never stoops to obvious, expository dialogue, where the characters explain the context of their actions for the audience’s benefit. This is immersive, but it can also be confusing.

The show forces its viewers to be attentive and infer necessary information from the conversations we do hear. And it trusts the actors to fill in the rest through non-verbal language and facial expressions.

It’s from various sources like this that over the years, we’ve learned about the Mad King, who once sat on the Iron Throne and ruled over the Seven Kingdoms. He is one of the most significant characters on the show, despite being dead before the series premiere; it was his disastrous reign that precipitated the current chaos in Westeros.

Now we’re in Season 8, and with the Mad King’s daughter, Daenerys, poised to take the Iron Throne, you’ll be hearing a lot more about him. Here’s an explainer on Aerys II Targaryen, Mad King of the Seven Kingdoms and an objectively horrible individual. We’ve supplemented information in the show with information from the books to provide some additional, interesting context.

Targaryen Madness

Prior to Robert Baratheon, the Mad King reigned supreme. His derisive nickname was well-earned, especially because Aerys was not always mad. Targaryens, on the whole, had a very good track record as monarchs; Aerys was the sixteenth member of his family to sit the throne. And Aerys’s first decade of rule was marked by prosperity.

The young king (20 years old when he ascended) was aided greatly by his Hand, Tywin Lannister. Tywin was coldly objective and efficient–everything that Aerys was not. Aerys talked big and charmed people, while Tywin went about the sordid, detail-heavy business of actually running the realm. It was an arrangement that worked out for everyone at first.

But Aerys was insecure, and over time, he went mad. Perhaps his mental instability was the product of incest; generations of Targaryens intermarried to keep the lineage pure and consolidated.

Aerys alienated Tywin over a period of years; while drunk, he made a crude sexual remark to Tywin’s wife and cousin, Joanna. He also made Tywin’s eldest son, Jaime, a member of the Kingsguard. Since Kingsguards are not allowed to marry, have children, or hold property, this was an insult disguised as an honor; he deprived Tywin of an heir to Casterly Rock.

Tywin resigned as Hand. And without a mediating influence in King’s Landing, things quickly went off the rails. Administrative positions were increasingly occupied by a rotating cadre of yes-men and charlatans. And the king himself grew paranoid, fearing that his subjects were out to kill or usurp him. He tortured and killed entire families of those he suspected, and laughed while doing it.

He allowed his physical appearance to degrade; he no longer cut his hair or bathed, and his nails grew long and yellow. He developed an unhealthy fascination with wildfire and with burning people alive. The Targaryen family had always been closely associated with dragons and fire, but this was a step too far.

The Tipping Point

The situation became untenable when Aerys’s son, Rhaegar, “kidnapped” Lyanna Stark. Lyanna’s father Rickard and brother Brandon protested, as did Robert Baratheon, to whom Lyanna was betrothed. In response to their righteous anger, Aerys burned Rickard and Brandon alive in the throne room for their “treason.”

This triggered an uprising known as Robert’s Rebellion, during which the Starks, Baratheons, and eventually the Lannisters all united to overthrow the king. And in the midst of this coup, Jaime Lannister slit Aerys’s throat. For this, and for doing so as a member of the Kingsguard, his enemies tagged him with the derisive nickname “Kingslayer.”

What most people didn’t know was that Jaime had saved King’s Landing with his actions. Aerys had wildfire planted all over the city in its underground tunnels, so that in the event of a rebellion, he would reduce the city (and its inhabitants) to ash. This plan never came to pass, thanks to Jaime betraying his vow.

It’s also important to note that Rhaegar never actually “kidnapped” Lyanna. In reality, the two had eloped and were in love. But no major player on either side knew this.

The Fallout

Aerys’s pregnant sister-wife, Rhaella, fled to Dragonstone with Aerys’ second son, Viserys. She gave birth to Daenerys and died shortly afterward.

Robert Baratheon ascended to the Iron Throne. He pardoned Jaime and married Jaime’s twin sister, Cersei. He allowed Eddard (Ned) Stark, Lyanna and Brandon’s younger brother, to remain as Warden of the North.

Rhaegar Targaryen, Aerys’s first son, died during Robert’s Rebellion. And Lyanna Stark died after giving birth to his son, Aegon Targaryen. Lyanna made Ned promise to keep the boy safe; had Robert known that Aegon existed, he would have killed him. So, Ned renamed him Jon Snow and presented him to the world as his bastard.

And the wildfire that the Mad King had planted all over the city was used by Cersei in Season 6 to destroy the Great Sept of Baelor and kill the High Sparrow and the Tyrells. This ultimately resulted in Tommen Baratheon’s suicide, and Cersei ascended to the Iron Throne in her son’s place.

The Mad King’s other caches of wildfire are presumably still scattered throughout the city. Should Cersei choose to light them, she may fulfill Aerys’s plan after all.

The Future

The reason why Aerys is still important, all these years later, is multifaceted. As the saying goes, “The North Remembers.” Aerys burned Rickon and Brandon Stark to death. And remember: As far as the North knows, the Targaryens raped and killed Lyanna Stark as well. Some of this distrust and anger naturally manifests itself toward Daenerys.

Daenerys, to her credit, consistently disavows her father, conceding that he was a bad man. She promises to her doubters that she will be better, fairer, and more just. But there is darkness in Daenerys. Like her father, she’s demonstrated, on occasion, an uncompromising desire for power. And when Randyll and Dickon Tarly initially refused to bend the knee, Daenerys had them burned to death by her dragon Drogon, much to Tyrion’s alarm and dismay.

There’s an interesting parallel here; just as Aerys was advised by Tywin, Aerys’s daughter is advised by Tywin’s son. This might foreshadow that she is following in her father’s “mad” footsteps. After all, Aerys didn’t get that way overnight.

As of Season 8, Episode 2 of the show, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen are together, and in love. Jon has just told Daenerys his true lineage; his claim to the Iron Throne is stronger than hers. And Dany didn’t have time to react; the horn sounded three times, which meant that the White Walkers were imminent.

Assuming Dany (Aerys’s daughter) and Jon (Aerys’s grandson) survive the battle against the Night King, they’ll have a lot to talk about and negotiate. How do they take down Cersei? Who rules the Seven Kingdoms? And will there be a power struggle between them before the show airs its final episode? The Mad King may be dead, but his influence, and the fear and resentment he sowed, live on.

from GameSpot – All Content

Author: Adventures Gate

Hey everyone, I'm Jonathan but people will know me as Jon... I enjoy hiking and exploring the outside world as well as getting to see fantastic views. It can bring you to the most beautiful places on earth and into contact with amazing plants and wildlife and can be done all year round which is why I enjoy it so much despite it being challenging sometimes due to the weather - it has allowed me to meet a lot of new people and experience things I wouldn't have before. I also find it relaxing and interesting. I also really enjoy blogging and sharing my experiences with similar people. Hopefully you will read mine. My company Adventures Gate displays my other hobby - gaming! I love collecting items to do with gaming and playing in general. I guess I am a bit of a geek when it comes to this. Adventures Gate now offer free postage options when you spend more than £20 (there may be a small additional charge for larger items). That`s free 1st class post in the UK and free airmail to Europe.

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