After the death of Khal Drogo, Daenerys leads her Khalasar further. Why didn't anyone in her Khalasar inform her that she has to return to Vaes Dothrak and be part of the Dosh Khaleen? As is the Dothraki custom for the widow of a Khal.

I know she would have rejected the idea, but it seems it came to her as a surprise when Khal Moro captures her (Season 6) and his wife informs her about this.

I have not read the books but if plot does not differ vastly in books answers from books are also welcome.

  • Are you accepting TV show only answers? – Edlothiad May 15 '17 at 12:04
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    @Edlothiad I would presume so, as she clearly is aware of the fact even before Drogo dies in the books. – BMWurm May 15 '17 at 12:06
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    Hmm TV only it's probably just a missed point – Edlothiad May 15 '17 at 12:12
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    Didn't all the warriors that would care about that tradition split? That was the point of her leading them across the desert I thought, they no longer had protection against any random warband. – Radhil May 15 '17 at 12:23
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    Well, she had just walked into a roaring fire and come back out unharmed with three baby dragons. I suspect that no-one really felt like trying to tell her what to do at that point. – Paul D. Waite May 15 '17 at 15:27
up vote 15 down vote accepted

Daenerys Targaryen need not be told to do anything

Since you asked, in the books Dany is well aware that she needs to go and join the Dosh Khaleen:

A procession followed them out onto the godsway, the broad grassy road that ran through the heart of Vaes Dothrak, from the horse gate to the Mother of Mountains. The crones of the dosh khaleen came first, with their eunuchs and slaves. Some supported themselves with tall carved staffs as they struggled along on ancient, shaking legs, while others walked as proud as any horselord. Each of the old women had been a khaleesi once. When their lord husbands died and a new khal took his place at the front of his riders, with a new khaleesi mounted beside him, they were sent here, to reign over the vast Dothraki nation. Even the mightiest of khals bowed to the wisdom and authority of the dosh khaleen. Still, it gave Dany the shivers to think that one day she might be sent to join them, whether she willed it or no.
-A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One - A Game of Thrones, Chapter Fourty-Six (Daenerys V). [emphasis mine]

However, when the time comes, she chooses not to as she has an epiphany and realises her true mission.
In fact, Ser Jorah even tells her that he won't let her go to the Dosh Khaleen if she doesn't want to:

“My... queen,” Ser Jorah said, going to one knee. “My sword that was his is yours, Daenerys. And my heart as well, that never belonged to your brother. I am only a knight, and I have nothing to offer you but exile, but I beg you, hear me. Let Khal Drogo go. You shall not be alone. I promise you, no man shall take you to Vaes Dothrak unless you wish to go. You need not join the dosh khaleen. Come east with me. Yi Ti, Oarth, the Jade Sea, Asshai by the Shadow. We will see all the wonders yet unseen, and drink what wines the gods see fit to serve us. Please, Khaleesi.
-A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One - A Game of Thrones, Chapter Seventy-Two (Daenerys X). [emphasis mine]

He says this because he thinks that Dany is about to walk into Drogo's funeral pyre to commit suicide:

“I understand that you loved him,” Ser Jorah said in a voice thick with despair. “I loved my lady wife once, yet I did not die with her. You are my queen, my sword is yours, but do not ask me to stand aside as you climb on Drogo’s pyre. I will not watch you burn.”
“Is that what you fear?” Dany kissed him lightly on his broad forehead. “I am not such a child as that, sweet ser.”
“You do not mean to die with him? You swear it, my queen?”
“I swear it,” she said in the Common Tongue of the Seven Kingdoms that by rights were hers.
-Ibid.

Kuhleesi is dumb

The problem arises when you bring the show into the mix. Unfortunately, with such a huge production, it's viable that someone might forget this minute details of the story.

Unfortunately, the show version of Dany tends to be depicted as knowledgeable, young and even naïve, as opposed to the fiercely strong and well-informed Daenerys of the books.

The scene you mention in Season 6 happens to be filled with inconsistencies of show vs. books:

Books:

  • The Dosh Khaleen are respected and revered
  • The Dosh Khaleen are not treated as washed up bed slaves
  • Vaes Dothrak is a majestic and large city comprised of buildings and cultures of hundreds of civilisations
  • Vaes Dothrak has buildings which match the grandeur of the captured civilisations of the Dothraki, featuring buildings with 200 rooms
  • Vaes Dothrak is a common place where all Khalasars are considered one

Show:

  • Vaes Dothrak is depicted as basically a wasteland with one main "hut" as its central point
  • The Khals seem to be in contention and tend to follow the orders of Khal Moro
  • The Dosh Khaleen are bound to the "hut" and treated as washed up bed slaves
  • The Dosh Khaleen are not respected

So it's easy to see how they've added in this small tid-bit of Dany being surprised or whatever at the thought of having to be taken to Vaes Dothrak to join the Dosh Khaleen.

The only reason I can think of for this is that when she was told she'll be taken back, it's not really a surprise to her per se, rather that she realises the gravity of the situation and is terrified or dismayed at her outcome.

I do think Dany should have been told this at some point. Even if only tangentially.

However, there is some justification that I can find in the TV show. I'm omitting the books as I haven't read them.


Danaerys' followers are comprised of many different groups. Westerosi, Dothraki, Unsullied...

However, their followers all share a common theme: They were rejected by their "home" and were in need of a second chance. Dany gives these people a second chance.
Jorah and Selmy are the clearest examples of this, but it applies to most involved parties. The one exception I can think of is Daario, who follows Dany out of love, not necessity.

There were Dothraki who refused to follow Daenerys after the death of Khal Drogo. Logically speaking, these will be Dothraki that still swear by traditional Dothraki values; e.g. not considering a woman as an equal, let alone a leader.
This means that the Dothraki who stay with Daenarys choose to forego Dothraki tradition, and choose Daenerys instead. Everyone could have their own reason, but I think the general recurring incentive for the remaining Dothraki is that they need a home, which Dany is willing to provide.

Informing Dany that she should become a Dosh Khaleen goes directly against that idea. This would make Dany unavailable as a leader, and therefore unable to (personally) provide the refuge that most of her followers are seeking.

So there are many possible reasons why Dany did not join (nor know of) the Dosh Khaleen, until the topic was raised by Khal Moro. I'll try to list them as understandably as possible:

Note: The reasons listed below are possibilities. Not facts. Just making sure...
If anyone has corrections that exclude possibilities (based on the TV show), please do comment!

1. She was never told about this tradition.

As a general comment, I think this is unlikely, but not impossible. Dany is young and naive, and she has her hands full with ruling her people. Her advisors may have shielded her from this.

  • Her followers do not want to lose their leader, and have no reason to suggest she joins the Dosh Khaleen.
  • No Dothraki (other than Dany's followers) would respect Daenerys' rule anyway, so no one was hoping to visit Vaes Dothrak anytime soon. There was no reason to comply with Dothraki customs if they avoid the Dothraki altogether.
  • Her followers did not think that the same rules would apply to Daenerys, a Westerosi. She was already an exception to most Dothraki customs (e.g. ruling as Khaleesi alone), so why not this one?
  • Daenerys' general pro-feminist attitude is interpreted by the Dothraki as a complete rejection of Dothraki (gender) tradition; and no one expected her to comply with these traditions anyway.

2. She was told that this is Dothraki tradition

This seems much more likely to me. Even if she was never directly told that she is expected to join the Dosh Khaleen, she probably would have heard about the custom at one point or another.
If she hasn't even heard of her own people's traditions, that shows a lack of interest in their culture. Which doesn't seem like the Daenerys that we see on the show (although she is woefully naive at times, so it's not impossible).

  • Daenerys does not think woman are lesser to men. Following that idea, why should she give up her throne and follow traditions that she thinks are outdated? She has already chosen to ignore Dothraki customs by leading her people without a Khal; why not break this tradition too? However, to shield her from Dothraki punishment (for breaking tradition), she simply chose to play dumb. She knew of the tradition, but had no intent to actually follow it. Rather than defy the tradition, she plays the role of the dumb foreigner. Especially since she is not Dothraki herself, and the Dothraki look down on non-Dothraki; Khal Moro is likely to believe that she is "stupid enough to not even know about this tradition!".
  • Daenerys honestly thought this rule would not apply to her as she is not Dothraki.
  • Daenerys thought the Dosh Khaleen was optional. Since Dothraki women accept (publically, maybe not in their minds) that they are considered lesser than men, Daenerys could have interpreted that the Dosh Khaleen are there for ex-Khaleesi who don't have anywhere else to go anymore.
  • Nice. +1 for detailed answer but I certainly cant agree to few points. – HBhatia May 16 '17 at 8:21
  • @HBhatia: I'm open to your feedback :) The list I made is the best I could come up with. If you have additions or argument against something being on the list, fire away and I will update :) – Flater May 16 '17 at 8:23

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