Dothraki: Horse Warriors from the East
The Dothraki are miles apart from the Houses of Westeros, in both location and culture. Their land lies across the sea, in a continent to the east of Westeros. The profile of the Dothraki is that of a fierce, nomadic warrior tribe with their own customs and traditions. They are unfamiliar with the Common Tongue and instead, use their own language.
There are numerous Dothraki, who are divided into tribes called khalasars. Khal Drogo, with whom the House Targaryen made an alliance through marriage, is the leader of a large khalasar consisting of 40,000 warriors.
A Typical Khalasar
A khalasar is led by a khal, a ruthless warrior known for his military feats and bravery. The khal is safeguarded by his bloodriders, who are as close to him as brothers. Ancient tradition holds that should their khal die, his bloodriders shall only live long enough to avenge him. Some khals even choose to share their wives with their bloodriders. A khal’s wife is known to the tribe as the khaleesi. A khaleesi’s role in the tribe is little more than seeing to her husband’s needs.
Nomadic in nature, a khalasar has no fixed territory and lives by raiding nearby settlements, including other Dothraki tribes. The only permanent fixture in Dothraki culture is Vaes Dothrak, their capital city. This is a place where khalasars may gather to meet and trade. No fighting is allowed within the city, hence, weapons are forbidden. When a khal dies, his khaleesi retires to Vaes Dothrak as part of the dosh khaleen, a group of holy women respected by all Dothraki.
Khal Drogo was a rich and powerful Dothraki warrior, renowned for being the khal of a large khasalar at a young age. While in Pentos, the merchant Illyrio Mopatis arranged a marriage between Drogo and Daenerys “Dany” Targaryen, in exchange for providing her brother, Viserys, with 10,000 warriors to help him retake the Iron Throne in Westeros. Drogo agreed, but following the profile of the Dothraki tradition, would only show his gratitude to Viserys in his own time. The wait did not sit well with Viserys, who insulted Drogo and his khalasar, leading to his death at Drogo’s hands. Despite these unfortunate events, Drogo had developed a sincere affection for his wife, whom he treated well and lavished with gifts. He was initially unsure as to whether or not he would support his Dany’s claim on the Iron Throne, but this uncertainty was quelled when an assassin attempted to kill her to claim a bounty set by the current King of Westeros.
Determined to aid his wife in conquering the Seven Kingdoms, Drogo launched an attack on a rival khalasar. He was wounded during the battle, which prompted Dany to seek help from Mirri Maz Duur, a healer captured during one of their previous raids. Unknown to Dany, Mirri thought only of avenging her own tribe. Mirri’s magic killed Dany’s unborn child and put Drogo in a near-comatose state. Dany took pity on Drogo and decided to put him out of his misery by smothering him with a pillow. She bound Mirri to his funeral pyre and walked into the flames herself, along with her three dragon eggs. Dany survived the flames unscathed, and was discovered cradling three newborn dragons.
Most of Drogo’s khalasar had fled after his death, but the remaining warriors proclaimed Dany as their new queen and leader. Dany ventures on with her new khalasar, the desire to reclaim her birthright still burning deep within her.
The Dothraki are seen mostly from Dany’s point of view, making her chapters one of the more unique and entertaining ones in the series. Drogo is an intriguing character himself, the epitome of a fierce, barbaric leader – yet one who manages to openly care for his child bride. Other Dothraki characters of note are Dany’s handmaidens, Jhiqui and Irri, as well as her bloodriders, Jhogo, Aggo, and Rakharo.
These warriors have no sigil, but if they did, a horse would most likely represent the profile of the Dothraki. They dare not cross the sea because they do not trust something that a horse will not drink. A khal may share his wife with his bloodriders, but to share his horse is unheard of. Furthermore, if a khal cannot ride, he cannot lead.