While Daenerys definitely makes mistakes (most of them in ADwD), I'm afraid I have to come to her defense here.
Now eventhough I may be a fan of her, I would never say that Daenerys is some tactical mastermind. Nonetheless, considering her youth and inexperience, the chances of her suffering from Targaryen madness, general Targaryen hubris, and the fact that she's a girl (not that women are inferior, but as a woman in such a male-dominated world, she would've had even less of a chance of being taught any military strategy than Viserys), Daenerys has handled herself and the people she's responsible for remarkably well prior to ruling Meereen.
Her instinctive decision regarding Drogo's funeral pyre and the dragon eggs is the same kind of decision that would've been seen as madness, but she trusted her feelings and it paid off. She led her people out of the Red Waste, survived Qarth, but rather than blindly trusting Illyrio, Dany was smart enough to take Jorah's advice and build up an army of her own. Granted, trusting Illyrio and heading back to Pentos immediately would've probably been even more advantageous, but given Illyrio's motives and intentions are still uncertain (even to us readers), jumping in bed with 'Aegon' (who probably isn't legitimate, Blackfyre or no) might not have been something Dany would want.
Then we come to Astapor and that seems to be the first major point of contention for fans: was it ultimately a smart move to turn on the slavers, free the Unsullied and, generally, 'take what is hers with fire and blood?' (if I may borrow the phrase) Well, it seems to depend on what exactly Dany's real goal is and this
is where I believe the real issue with Daenarys lies from that point on: Daenerys doesn't know what she wants.
In my opinion, Daenerys' biggest mistake is the fact that she can't make up her mind. Does she want to go to Westeros and take the Iron Throne as the last Targaryen (for as far as she knows)? Or does she want to save the suffering people around her from slavery?
So many people may decry her character for wasting so much time in Slaver's Bay, trying to end slavery, but try and put yourself in the position of a slave and you can't help but argue that, even if she's made mistakes trying to change the system, the fact that she's doing so at all is a noble thing. One may argue that this is simply the way of the world when it comes to Essos, but while there's a fine line to tread when it comes to interfering with differing cultures, I highly doubt anyone on these forums would actually support slavery. You need only look at how Tyrion, Penny and Jorah ended up in the same situation to know that anyone could be unlucky enough to end up as a slave in Essos. If slavery was never abolished in the US, would that somehow make it morally right? Of course not. Another option would be that slaves should stand up for themselves, but until Daenerys came along, they had no chance of doing so.
Considering that Daenerys has basically been sold off by her own brother, it was almost inevitable that she would end up sympathising with slaves and would feel like a hypocrit for honestly buying the Unsullied. This way, she also gathered a huge popular following that might actually work out for the best for her in the end, such as the potential uprising in Volantis: what she lost among the elite of Essos, she gained in the support of the people, which is never a small factor when it comes to winning wars.
Dany's problem, however, is that she tries to please everyone. Or rather, she keeps doing what she thinks will be for the best to as many of her people as possible, something that any caring ruler would intuitively believe to be the 'right' course of action.
But by trying to have everything and refusing to make sacrifices, Dany can't get anything done and, ironically, rather than doing what's right, she does what's worst.
When Daenerys decided to steal the Unsullied, she should have immediately planned ahead and decide what she was going to do: was she going to become a freedom-fighter or would she steal the army simply to take Westeros?
In the case of the former, Dany didn't nearly go far enough. She should've sacked every city in Slaver's Bay she came across, kill or scatter the slavers and build up momentum until her movement was almost unstoppable. If she still chose to stay in Meereen, Dany should've taken up some of Daario or the Shavepate's suggestions and show the Meereenese nobility that she meant business: preferably, Dany should've fed either the nobles she suspected to be working with the Harpy or the hostages to her dragons, solving two birds with one stone - she would've instilled fear in everyone thinking of opposing her and kept the dragons loyal to her.
In the case of the latter, she should've taken the Unsullied, not because she declared them free, but simply because she was willing to take what was hers, and continue on her way to Westeros. She would've shown up with three dragons and 8,000 Unsullied on Illyrio's doorstep, leaving her to choose freely whether to side with 'Aegon' or not.
I guess my ultimate point is: Daenerys' failures at Slaver's Bay are not the result of stupidity, but indecision. She wasn't willing to do what, deep down, she knew was necessary. Was
being the keyword of that sentence. It seems that Daenerys has made her choice at last at the end of ADwD and since Drogon appears to submit to her at last, I wouldn't want to be Khal Jaqo right now. Or anyone that tries to stand in Dany's way, actually. She has taken the Targaryen words to heart and realised that she can only get what she wants, both the end of slavery AND the Iron Throne, through fire and blood.
Edited by Caelestis, 11 June 2012 - 01:09 PM.