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King Viserys

Viserys - Dastardly Villain or Misunderstood?

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I ranted about this a while back on a separate thread and thought it was more suited to be addressed in its own separate thread. Was Viserys truly a villain or was he simply misunderstood? I take the position that when you look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding his storyline and his past, that he was simply misunderstood. Don't get me wrong...he wasn't a cuddly character (not that any characters in this story are); but of all the characters in the story, he had the most tragic background story which is overshadowed by his extremely short arc in A Game of Thrones.



Think about his story: at a young age, he witnesses/learns that his older brother (whom most of the realm revered and/or loved) was slain at the hands of a lusty usurper, his niece and nephew were murdered in a brutal fashion, and his father was stabbed in the back by one of his protectors. At this point Viserys had nothing to do with his fathers' reign, madness and persecution of commoners and nobles alike - he was by all means an innocent child. At the tender age of six or seven, he had to flee his home with his mother...why you ask? Because that lusty usurper wanted him dead for no reason other than the fact that he was the rightful heir to a kingdom that he never asked for. What happens while he is escaping Westernos? HIs mother, the only person in the world that probably loves him, dies in childbirth. Thereafter, he and his little newborn sister are smuggled into Braavos.



Now think about this: as a child, Viserys knew that he was being hunted by assassins and lowlifes hell-bent on winning lands and riches. As a child he had the acumen to keep not only himself safe, but his little sister. When they ran out of money, how did he feed his little sister and himself? He didn't steal. He sold the only things he had. And for that - they called him a beggar. I call that a survivor.



For years and years, he continued to evade the usurpers hired knives and keep his sister safe. Did he have a bad temper? Yes. Was he an abusive a-hole to his sister? Undoubtedly. Can you blame him given his past and the crap he had to endure? Not at all. He went through more in the first fifteen years of his life than most could endure throughout a lifetime.



Now imagine this. You're a young 15 or 16 year old boy. You've been telling your little sister who, in your view, killed your mother about this wonderful home that you once lived in that was taken from you for no fault of your own. Wouldn't you want some revenge? Wouldn't you have a little bit of blood lust? Wouldn't you do anything you could to sleep one night in a house without worrying about someone slitting open your throat and raping your little sister? Could you possibly understand why a young boy would develop sub-psychotic episodes of rage?



But when we are presented with Viserys, we never see the story through his eyes. No....we see it through his little ungrateful sister. Because we never see the story through his eyes and the backdrop of his tragedy, we never empathize with him - we hate him and we revile him. Danny refers to him as abusive and quick with a temper...so we hate him.



Then one day, you are given a proposal: an army will aid and assist you in winning back the kingdom that was rightfully yours, and kill the usurper who murdered your brother, tore your kingdom apart, and has been hunting you down since you were a child. All you have to do is marry off the little ungrateful sister whom, without you, wouldn't have seen the age of nine months. I'd take that offer in a heartbeat - you'd be dumb if you didn't.



But wait...what happens after you marry off your little sister? The leader of the army, your new brother in law, decides that he wants to take his sweet a$$ time making good on his end of the bargain. Then a little while after, someone whispers in your ear, "psssh...he'll give you a gift, when he feels the time is right and when he chooses." Given that your entire life at this point has been nothing but lies, dodging murder attempts and scraping for the bottom of the barrel, wouldn't you be frustrated and a bit skeptical?



Then one night, you decide to have a little bit of Dornish wine to soak your sorrows. You have one drink, then you say, "Jesus that was good, let me have some of that stuff from Mereen." Then you want some of that "stuff" from Pentos. Before you know it, your tipsy and you start saying and doing stuff you ordinarily know you wouldn't.



Now you have what I call "beer balls". You go up to the guy who did you wrong and confront him...I respect that. Now, what does your brother-in-law who owes you a debt do? Does he say, "Ohhh man, you know what, I did promise you that kingdom, my bad Bro...give me a few months. And by the way, I love your sister to death - thanks for hooking us up. She's the world to be homie." No, he has his mafia goons hold you down and pour gold over your head. All the while, the little ungrateful sister whose life you saved watches in utter amusement.



To make a long story short, Viserys was the most villainized character in the book. Does his background story change your mind about him?


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I think you can view it both ways.



I partly believe he was a psychopath, due to incest, but also think he was a victim of circumstance.



'When Viserys sold his mother's crown the last joy had gone from him, leaving only rage.'



He became bitter, lonely, angry, lustful for revenge, and I think it turned him into a monster. But, I feel sorry for him.


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I think you can view it both ways.

I partly believe he was a psychopath, due to incest, but also think he was a victim of circumstance.

'When Viserys sold his mother's crown the last joy had gone from him, leaving only rage.'

He became bitter, lonely, angry, lustful for revenge, and I think it turned him into a monster. But, I feel sorry for him.

Well put, ser

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I can see where Viserys is coming from, but he did do a lot of bad things along the way, believing the end justifies the means.



And now I know what the phenomenon of "beer balls" is.


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To make a long story short, Viserys was the most villainized character in the book. Does his background story change your mind about him?

To make the answer short: no.

We knew Viserys' backstory from the start. There's nothing to be "misunderstood". He was, to use a quote about another ASOIAF character, a vicious idiot.

And Daenerys "ungrateful"? For what? For having been physically and emotionally abused by her brother for years? He would have even

raped her

if it hadn't been for Illyrio. For selling her, as one would a slave, when she was just 13, in order to get his army and his crown? For telling her he would let 40.000 men and their horses rape her if it gave him his crown? For treating her like his property and continuing to insult and try to denigrate her even after her marriage? For threatening to cut the baby from her belly?

He was a horrible brother and an awful human being, and it's really lucky for everyone he never got a taste of real power, or he would have probably started abusing everyone the way he did Dany (the only person he ever had power over) and Westeros would have been graced with another mad, vicious king.

As for his death, he brought it on himself. It's not the fault of the Dothraki that he was too stupid and arrogant to learn their customs before trying to trade with them - or he would have learned that they don't have trade, only people exchanging 'gifts'. He could have started to treat his sister with respect. He could have tried to show a minimal respect for the Dothraki. Dany gave him a chance, prepared gifts for him and he could have accepted and tried to get accepted by the Dothraki, but he kept on treating both her and the Dothraki with contempt - apparently, they're good enough for his sister to get married to one of them, but not good enough for him to dress like one of them. Nobody forced him to go to their holy place and threaten the wife and future baby (aka his own sister and future nephew) of the khal. What did he think was going to happen?!

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A little of both. I felt really bad for him at times, but I would never forgive him for some of the things he did (Which he had to be punished for).


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I was actually surprised that when I watched GoT on DVD, I felt more sympathy for Viserys than I did by reading the book. His actor wasn't spectacular, but for some reason, it helped me to see the character in a different light. I think what got to me the most was that after Daenerys ate the stallion's heart (which weighs on average of 8-10 lbs, imagine eating a steak that size! I have a beef heart in my freezer which is about the size of a volleyball) and receives acclamation from the Dothraki and Viserys gets jealous, I honestly felt bad for him at that point. Dany hadn't done a whole lot at that point other than look pretty and conceive a child. Maybe because I have a younger brother who always managed to outdo me in everything, but even though Viserys was being a jerk, I did sympathize with him.



What I noticed is that there is a recurring theme of "it's all about me!" Robert Baratheon figures he can do whatever he wants, he's the king. Joffrey can so whatever he wants, he's the prince. Viserys can so whatever he wants, he's the rightful heir. I think GRRM's trying to tell us something here


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I feel a little bit sorry for him, but at the same time he was a horrible, condescending, self-entitled person who would've helped himself had he not been so cruel to his sister.



I agree with the OP on some points. In his youth, he almost seems quite admirable. He did all he needed to in order to survive, and did an admirable job of doing so with a younger sister who would've needed a lot of caring as well. Unfortunately, he was probably inflicted with the typical Targaryen madness, meaning that his bitterness and anger drove him into insanity.



Still, he was a bit of an idiot. He just didn't understand the Dothraki and their customs. Perhaps they should have done what he asked immediately, however he shouldn't have been so confident that they would before he pawned off his sister to Drogo with little regard for her.


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Truly, you can't really be surprised as to why Viserys went insane. Everything he went through, also considering he was just a boy with a baby girl to take care of. They were all alone in the world, they hadn't anything to their names. I felt sorrow for him, he was such a pitiful man with dreams just like the rest of us, he really just wanted to go home. He did bad things, he did cruel things, but I can see why he became the way he was.



Though if he said "wake the dragon" one more time I was going to throw the book across the room LOL


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First of all, Viserys is nothing close to Joffrey.



Let's examine a few facts about him:



1) Never killed another human being


2) Is the rightful king


3) raised and educated his sister


4) provided for his sister



[some Spoilers Below]



Regarding #1, what other characters have never killed anyone? Sansa? Rickon? Anyone else? Almost everyone else has innocent or near innocent blood on their hands. Who would you rather have at dinner - a "jerk" like Viserys or a killer like Arya or Tyrion or Dany or Jamie or Theon. Viserys may act like a ass, but at least I wouldn't fear for my life when I got up to go to the kitchen.



Regarding #2, look at all the other kings and queens in the story: Robert, Stannis, Renly, Robb, Dany, Mance, Balon. Other than Renly and Dany, who else would tolerate the treatment that Viserys gets from Dany, Mormont and Drogo? Viserys tolerated mistreatment for six months walking around the Dothraki Sea. All the other kings would have protested and died even earlier (except maybe Renly).



Regarding #3, think about how much time and effort Viserys put into educating Dany. He raised her as a single dad and taught her everything. From how to ride a horse, to how to read and write, to the history of Westeros, to a bunch of foreign languages.



Regarding #4, think about how Viserys earned their keep for all those years. The begging, the dealing, the selling of goods, the negotiating, the evading of assassins. It's amazing really. How many of us could go door to door in the rich area of town and convince strangers to take us in? Some readers even theorize that Viserys had to perform sexual favors for people. That may explain why he was so willing to make Dany do them for Drogo.



Now, yes, we have witnessed some bad things about him. He arranged a marriage to Drogo (although that's par for the course in Westeros. Even Ned arranged Sansa's marriage to Joff). And, yes, he certainly beat his sister and said some mean things. And one night drunk and desperate he claimed he was going to cut the child out of her belly.



But, honestly, look back at everything he did for Dany and how she mistreated him. He was the true king and provided for his sister for years and years. And she betrayed him. She sided with the monster Khal Drogo - a man she could barely communicate with who enjoyed murder, rape, plunder and slavery. She allowed Drogo to kill her brother and her king. She watched and then barely mourned. Cold. Very cold.



Give the guy a break.


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"I would let his whole tribe fuck you, all forty thousand men and horses too, if that's what it took."



To me he is absolutely a villain. There is no excuse for his bullying manner, for his greediness, for forcing his sister to a marriage she didn't want to further his aspirations, then for being insistent and rude to a foreign culture demanding they attack Westeros when he wants it, while his sister (and wife of the Khal) is pergnant (it's not like Drogo was taking it easy for no reason). He got his just deserts.



Yes, of course I felt sorry when I watched the show and saw how low he had fallen, how weak he was, how he was humiliated.I felt pity, but still felt it was justified.



He had a tough upbringing, but other people have tough upbringings too and they don't end up such horrible people. Character is not bulit when life is easy - it means to rise out of adversity and clearly he didn't have a strong character to begin with. So instead of becoming, say, wiser and more cautious or cunning or diplomatic etc due to his experiences, he became conceited, a bully and unwise.


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"I would let his whole tribe fuck you, all forty thousand men and horses too, if that's what it took."

To me he is absolutely a villain. There is no excuse for his bullying manner, for his greediness, for forcing his sister to a marriage she didn't want to further his aspirations, then for being insistent and rude to a foreign culture demanding they attack Westeros when he wants it, while his sister (and wife of the Khal) is pergnant (it's not like Drogo was taking it easy for no reason). He got his just deserts.

Yes, of course I felt sorry when I watched the show and saw how low he had fallen, how weak he was, how he was humiliated.I felt pity, but still felt it was justified.

He had a tough upbringing, but other people have tough upbringings too and they don't end up such horrible people. Character is not bulit when life is easy - it means to rise out of adversity and clearly he didn't have a strong character to begin with. So instead of becoming, say, wiser and more cautious or cunning or diplomatic etc due to his experiences, he became conceited, a bully and unwise.

He said a jerky thing to his sister, yes.

But, what creepy services did Viserys have to perform when he was going around trying to find a place for the two of them to live? There is a good chance Viserys performed sexual favors to keep Dany alive. To him, it was now time for her to return the favor.

Respecting a foreign culture? This is a culture that admires and condones rape and slavery.

Plus, the Dothraki were not living up to the end of the bargain. Khal Drogo took Dany (and Dany's virginity). It was the last valuable thing Viserys had. He had protected her for years. He suffered for her for years. And now he had nothing. Some raping savage took his last possesion.

And where was his army? He was promised an army. Do you think Drogo would have ever really gone across the sea? Nah.

After six months of walking around the Dothraki Sea smelling like horse shit, Viserys snapped.

Now, yes, it's wrong to think about Dany as a possession, but let's think of this as an analogy:

Imagine you have no family or friends. And imagine you spent your life crafting the perfect book that will make you a world-class author. Countless hours. In fact, years went into it. You spent all your money and time on it. Your entire life has been for this book. Now, you give your only manuscript to a publisher who promises you $10 million. You wait in the waiting room for days and days. Every time you peek in to see what's going on, the publisher is using your book as toilet paper. You ask, "hey, where's the publishing? Where's the money?" That publisher just grins at you and tells you to piss off.

Your whole life right there, being used an toilet paper.

That's Viserys' mind set.

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snip

Hm, I don't agree with anything you said. What I mean is that I view things completely differently so I guess we can agree to disagree. That's the beauty of interesting, well-drawn, ambiguous characters - their actions and personality can be interpreted in many ways.

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Viserys didn't have the grace to be a ruler, whereas Deanerys does

She has a kind heart, but once you finish reading book 5, I'd be willing to say that she isn't fit for rule. Some other people come to mind before she does.

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