In the next episode of the Game of Thrones season 8, we will witness the Last War, where two powerful queens, Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen, go head to head in a battle to claim the Iron Throne.
Even as the rival queens lock horns, they have a lot more in common than we realize, apart from the fact that they are willing to go to any lengths to become the queen of the seven kingdoms of Westeros, of course.
Cersei and Daenerys are two of the most powerful women on the show, and even though their characters and motivations are very different from one another, they have been living parallel lives. And looking back it looks like George RR Martin made a deliberate effort to put similar incidents into their storylines. This has become clearer as the current (and the final) season of the show has progressed.
Before going into the battle next week, lets take a look at the list of the uncanny similarities between these two characters.
Forced to marry kings
After the conclusion of Robert’s Rebellion, a marriage was arranged between Cersei and the new king, Robert I Baratheon, by her father Tywin Lannister, in order to seal the new royal house’s alliance with House Lannister.
Cersei’s father saw it as a great opportunity for the Lannisters to stay close to the iron throne.
On the other hand, Daenerys was married off to Dothraki King Khal Drogo by her elder brother Viserys so he could raise a strong army and stake his rightful claim to the Iron Throne as the Targaryen heir.
First child’s early death
Cersei had only one child with her lawfully wedded husband Robert. While in the books, Cersei aborted the child because of her resentment towards her husband, on the show, she is said to have lost the unnamed baby to a fever.
Daenerys lost her first and only child with husband Khal Drogo too. Her son Rhaego was stillborn.
A ‘J’ relative for a lover
While Cersei's lover is her twin brother Jaime Lannister, who has been by her side through thick and thin until the end of the last season (and now he’s left to join her again), Daenerys is in love with Jon Snow, her nephew, who is the only loved one that’s still alive and fighting by her side.
Cersei and Jamie have obviously been together since a young age, Daenerys has met Jon just recently and only found out about Jon’s true parentage after falling in love with him.
Interestingly, the names of both their lovers also starts with a ‘J’.
Cersei had three children with Jaime - Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen, and all three died. While Joffrey, her favourite child, was poisoned to death by Lady Olenna Tyrell and Lord Petyr Baelish, Myrcella was poisoned by Ellaria Sand’s kiss as revenge against Cersei for the death of her lover, Oberyn Martell. Tommen, on the other hand, committed suicide by jumping from the castle window after Cersei killed his wife and thousands of innocent people.
Cersei lost her children in the pursuit of the crown.
Daenerys had three children too. The dragons that were hatched when she walked through Khal Drogo's funeral pyre - Drogon (named after Khal Drogo), Rhaegal (named after Rhaegar Targaryen) and Viserion, (named after her brother Viserys Targaryen).
She has already lost her two dragons, Rhaegal and Viserion, during her pursuits in Westeros, and could probably also lose her favourite child, Drogon, in the upcoming battle against Cersei.
Responsible for husband’s death
Cersei comes up with a plan to get rid of Robert so a Lannister could take the throne. She orders her henchman/lover Lancel, who was also Robert's squire, to give Robert plenty of wine in order to dull his senses and slow his reactions during a hunting expedition in Kingswood. Lancel, obediently following Cersei’s orders, keeps offering wine to Robert.
A drunk Robert gets injured by a boar during the hunt, and accepts that too much wine played a part in it.
Daenerys’ part in Drogo’s death though was unintentional. Despite being forcefully married to the Khal, Daenerys had eventually fallen in love with him.
Drogo ransacks several towns in Lhazarto to harvest slaves that he could exchange for warships that will take him and his people across the sea. While in Lhazar, Drogo’s khalasar defeats the rival khalasar, and Drogo himself slays Ogo, but he takes a wound to the chest in the process.
Daenerys convinces Drogo to let Mirri Maz Duur, a Lhazareen maegi she had rescued, make him a poultice. The poultice itches, and Drogo tears it off, causing the wound to fester.
She then convinces Mirri Maz Duur to use her blood magic to preserve his life by sacrificing his stallion. The maegi betrays her in revenge for the attack on her village, and the ritual causes Drogo to go into a catatonic state.
Use of fire
Both Cersei and Dany have used fire, leading to mass killings.
Cersei burned down the Sept of Baelor with wildfire in season 6 to take back control of King’s Landing and get rid of her enemies - the High Sparrow, Ser Loras Tyrell and Queen Margarey Tyrell.
Daenerys has used dragon fire on several occasions through the show. From swooping in on her dragon to open fire on the Night King’s army in ‘The Long Night’ and saving Jon Snow at the Frozen Lake to wielding her fire power for the liberation of Slaver’s Bay and roasting the Khals to free the other Dothraki during her conquest in the East - Daenerys has used fire to do a whole lot of good.
But she also displayed a tendency to use fire quite brutally when she executed Randyll and Dickon Tarly for not bending the knee.
Whether she will go the Cersei way by using dragon fire to kill several innocent people at the Red Keep in King’s Landing remains to be seen.
Ever since Melisandre came back in season 8 episode 3 and reminded Arya Stark (and us!) about the prophecy that Arya "will shut many eyes. Brown eyes, blue eyes and green eyes", speculation has been rife among fans of the show whether the green eyes she’ll shut belong to Cersei or Daenerys.
Daenerys’ eyes are green too. Several super close-up shots towards the end of episode 4 were definitely there for a reason.
There are several more similarities - complicated relationship with their fathers (in Daenerys’ case it is posthumous), two brothers, mother dying during childbirth of the youngest, prophecies about their future from maegis and losing their loved ones one by one.
I am sure if you dig deeper into the books and revisit more moments from the TV show, you'll find some more similarities between them.
That said, their lives, motivations and missions are different from one another. Daenerys has never played dirty like her fellow green-eyed queen.
While Cersei is a tyrant, whose people hate her and only follow her out of fear, Dany has made constant efforts to win people over. Her purpose is to free the world from tyrants. Across the seas, she has done some noble acts and earned the loyalty of the dothraki and the unsullied.
So far, she has tried her best to curb her brutal Targaryen instincts and not follow in the footsteps of her father Aerys II Targaryen (the Mad King). But post Missandei’s death will Dany cross over to the other side and turn into a tyrant like Cersei?
If she does, then that will be another big similarity added to the list.
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