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So I'm re-reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series and I was reading A Game of Thrones when I noticed something I didn't pick up on before. Daenerys was conceived near the time of Robert's Rebellion and the Battle of the Trident. I can't remember any canon expressing doubt, but around this time it would seem that perhaps Aerys might have been otherwise preoccupied to actually do the deed with Rhaella.

Do we have any reason to believe that Daenerys's father is anyone except Aerys Targaryen II? Is there any reason for us to doubt that she is his?

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    Targaryens have been lacking the capacity to breed dragons for generations. Now Daenerys has that capacity. Why? Is there any blood coming to her by her father, who would not be Aerys? GRRM is known to have good knowledge about genetics and to use it in his novels. youtube.com/watch?v=4aoFCZGr3LY – Bourdu Mar 24 '16 at 12:09
  • Well... Mostly good. The hair color thing is a touch plot-driven rather than science-driven. – Paul Apr 30 '18 at 11:18
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No.

As far as I remember, no one ever doubts that. All of the children of the Mad King were legitimate children. That's why Rhaegar was supposed to be the next king.

Also that is the reason why Robert sent assassins to kill Viserys and Daenerys from the moment they escaped to Essos; because he was afraid they might come back to Westeros. Since they have the right claim to the throne, Robert was afraid they might find some supporters and rebel against him.

That is also the reason why Robert had many spies on Daenerys

like Jorah.

No, I don't think we have any reason to doubt that Daenerys is the rightful queen to the Iron Throne. The Mad King might have been mad, but he wanted his family to keep the throne. Thus, he must have wanted to have children.

From A Feast for Crows, we know that when Aerys became more and more insane, he started to abuse/rape his wife.

(A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime)

In later years, as Aerys's insanity began to set in, he grew sexually abusive toward Rhaella. He developed a sexual fetish for fire and death, only sleeping with Rhaella after he had executed someone by burning. The final time, just before the queen was sent to Dragonstone to escape the coming siege of King's Landing by rebels during the Robert's Rebellion, Ser Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard recalls listening to Rhaella cry as the king raped her; when Jaime protested that the Kingsguard were sworn to defend the queen as well, Ser Jon Darry replied, "We are, but not from him". In the morning, the queen's maids reported seeing scratches, bruises and bite marks all over her body

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    Thanks. I guess I should rephrase, is there any reason for us to doubt that she is his? – Nicholas Jun 12 '14 at 19:38
  • I agree that he may have wanted children, but towards the end he seemed pretty preoccupied in his madness. I didn't know if there was a case for Rhaella to have sought comfort in another, or perhaps she was raped. – Nicholas Jun 12 '14 at 19:51
  • @Nicholas I added a quote from the 4th book/wikia – Shevliaskovic Jun 12 '14 at 19:54
  • That's good enough for me. Thank you for putting up with my incessant digging. – Nicholas Jun 12 '14 at 19:55
  • @Nicholas - Aerys has been known to take Rhaella against her will before. – System Down Jun 12 '14 at 20:46
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I agree that the timing of her conception may be a little murky, but given that she displays every attribute of the Targaryen bloodline, there is very little reason to think she is only half-Targaryen (which would be the case were she fathered by another).

She is strong of spirit, heart, and mind. She is graceful and beautiful. She has silverish-white hair. And, lastly, she has a bond for dragonkind.

All of these are legendary attributes of the Targaryen line, although other bloodlines from Valyria show some of these characteristics as well. IIRC it's only a few recent generations that showed madness due to inbreeding - the rest of the line could almost be described as the perfect humans, and Dany certainly fits that bill. By every indication, she is of pure Targaryen descent.

In-universe, I haven't read anything that lead me to believe someone doubts her bloodline. I think as far as anyone is concerned, she is definitely the last Targaryen. Although...

as we later learn, she is NOT the last one. But she definitely IS a Targaryen.

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  • I'm also assuming that gestation in their universe is the same as ours. The book said "I was born 9 moons after the flight to dragonstone", which IMO means 9 months after the sacking of Kings Landing. – Nicholas Jun 12 '14 at 20:10
  • Yep - it's probably safe to assume that her conception was the result of the incident Jaime referred to. If that's the case, the queen wouldn't have even known she was pregnant until well after King's Landing fell to the rebels. – Omegacron Jun 12 '14 at 20:13
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    And by no means forget the Targaryen violet eyes. – WhatRoughBeast Jul 15 '15 at 18:39
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    Immunity to fire isn't a Targaryen thing or Human thing for that matter. It was a one-time magical event according to GRRM. – Aegon Sep 20 '16 at 8:59
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    @Omegacron Not really. Velaryons do as well. So do Celtigars. Targaryens didn't come alone to Dragonstone when they left Valyria under Aenar the Exile. – Aegon Sep 21 '16 at 12:45
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The entire plot of the books relies on the idea that Cersei's children all having blonde hair is enough to cast suspicion on their paternity. Bearing in mind that the Baratheon characteristic of black hair is far commoner than the Targaryens' unique phenotype, anyone possessing those traits ought to be a "full-blooded" Targaryen from both sides. From a meta POV, that is.

Now, I can agree that the circumstances of her birth seem tailored for this type of plot twist - in their own merit. The rape followed by the Queen's immediate departure, plus the devotion of the man who would eventually raise Daenerys, would, in a different story, be a perfect setup for a successfully concealed affair. Certainly I as a reader would consider an affair to make more sense - if you don't count the bloodline's special characteristics.

As it is, I would say casting doubt on Daenerys' paternity would look less plausible than the alternative, from both an in-universe and a meta perspective.

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The dragon has three heads (Daenerys, Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister). All three children caused their mothers immediate death after giving birth to them (R + L = J assumed), at least two of the three are bastards (again R + L = J assumed as well as the theory that Tyrion's actual father is Aerys II and not Tywin Lannister which I thoroughly believe). Thus I am inclined to believe the Mad King may not in fact be Daenerys' real sire.

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    Do you have any evidence to support this? It seems highly speculative. – bon Nov 3 '15 at 16:59
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Here's an admittedly tenuous literary argument in favor of the original questioner's theory:

  1. It's often posited that Tyrion, Dany and Jon are the "three heads of the dragon"

  2. Jon's mother died in childbirth and he is mistaken about the identity of his father. (Rhaegar v. Ned)

  3. Tyrion's mother died in childbirth and - if we take all the foreshadowings at face value as opposed to red herrings - may be mistaken about the identity of his father (Aerys v. Tywin)

  4. Dany's mother died in childbirth - so it would fit nicely if she were also mistaken about her own sire.

Aside from the symmetry (and there are many other symmetries among these three characters), the broader literary theme that would be served by this is the utter fallacy of the concepts of noble blood and bastards versus true-born. If this is what GRRM wants to say, he has a whole cast of characters who base their lives on mistaken notions about their birth status. Tyrion and Dany would be bastards, but not Jon (the Kingsguard behavior supports the idea that Rhaegar married Lyanna). Joffrey is also a bastard.

So it fits thematically for Dany to be Rhaella's bastard and what we know of Aerys and Rhaella supports the idea that she might have had a lover (after all, she's a Targaryen - we don't know her personality, but she's probably pretty wild), but who would the father be?

And in response to the genetics comment - Preston's theory places much more chromosomal weight on the female parent and no one is disputing that Rhaella was Dany's mother. As for a lover for Rhaella with a "drop of dragon blood", I don't know - Arthur Dayne? The only textual references to a possible lover for her point to Ser Bonifer Hasty.

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  • She had a lover named Ser Bonnifer Hasty prior to her wedding. Afterwards, there appears to be no indication that Rhaella was unfaithful unlike her Brother-Husband who openly made, quoting TWOIAF, "Whores out of her ladies". – Aegon Sep 20 '16 at 9:48
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I think there is some evidence that Daenerys might be a bastard. For starters, she was born nine months after their flight to Dragonstone, that's a pretty tight schedule, but not definite proof, I'm aware of that.

However, Targaryen features might be misleading, after all Jon is half Targaryen and he has dark hair like his mother Lyanna Stark (assuming R+L=J, which isn't 100% certain yet, we only have Bran's vision of the ToJ).

And even though Jon is only half Targaryen he takes to Drogon, so that isn't as clear-cut either.

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  • Hello and welcome to SFF! Your first point merely seems to suggest she could be or could not be. Your second and third paragraphs then seem tangential at best and contradict each other at worst. Could you edit to be clearer for what you mean? Lastly, adding sources to back up your claims is always best! – TheLethalCarrot Apr 30 '18 at 11:21
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AGOT Jon III. Mentions his name day passed a fortnight before. He was 14 when he arrived at Castle Black so that makes him 15.

AGOT Daenerys III. End of chapter. They've reached the opposite side of the Dothraki Sea. Her slave tells her she is pregnant. It is her 14th name day.

Dany's chapter is several chapters and several hundred pages after Jon's chapter.

Jon Snow appears to have been born after Aerys' death.

So yea, I'd say there's questions about who Daenerys' father is.

It's been 20 years since AGOT was published. Has no one else noticed this?

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    Mmmm. Are we assuming that the books follow chronological order when switching between characters, though? I'm not sure that's an accurate assumption. Also, in light of the other answers it seems you might be pointing out a plot hole at most. – Adamant Jul 31 '16 at 18:10
  • Nice correlation. I agree with Adamant assessment, but I think you've down at least there is a plausible reference – Nicholas Aug 3 '16 at 23:38
  • If you check the fan made timeline you'll see that lots of chapters are out of order. – curiousdannii Aug 7 '17 at 15:24
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When Viserys sold their mother's crown, the last joy had gone from him, leaving only rage.
- Daenerys Targaryen's thoughts

Whenever Aerys gave a man to the flames, Queen Rhaella would have a visitor in the night.
Jaime Lannister's thoughts

The queen your mother was always mindful of her duty.
Barristan Selmy to Daenerys Targaryen

Jaime says she was seeing other men. So Daenerys could be another person's child. Beside this, her mother was Aerys's sister AND wife.

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  • Does that mean she slept with other people? – Edlothiad Aug 7 '17 at 2:29
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    Jaime says she was seeing other men. This is incorrect, Jaime is alluding to Aerys only doing Rhaella when he had burned someone. – Möoz Aug 7 '17 at 2:34

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