Viserys Targaryen (image credit to Duhi)
Ser Jorah snorted. “Can you wake the dead, girl? Your brother Rhaegar was the last dragon, and he died on the Trident. Viserys is less than the shadow of a snake.” (“Daenerys III”, A Game of Thrones)
Viserys Targaryen is perhaps the only character more loathed in the early acts of A Song of Ice and Fire than Joffrey Baratheon. Though only ‘on-screen’ for A Game of Thrones (and even dying partly through that book), Viserys is remembered – by the characters in the universe and readers alike – long after his ignoble death on the Dothraki Sea. He was “the last son of Mad King Aerys”, an “utter fool”, “stupid and vicious”, the man who had tortured and abused his young sister Daenerys and rightly earned his death among the horselords of Vaes Dothrak.
These are not altogether incorrect evaluations of the last surviving prince of House Targaryen. Yet these descriptions do not fully capture the nuanced tragedy which was Viserys’ life. He had been the late-born hope of his parents’ failing marriage, a probable tool in his father’s power struggle with his chivalrous but flawed elder brother. As a little boy, he was spirited to a foreign land, never again to see the only home he had ever known. Invested with the title of pretender to a throne he had never been prepared to claim and only barely understood, Viserys wandered Essos, carefully watched but never aided, even by those who wished to use him. He ended his life in a place both spatially and psychologically alien to the splendor of the Red Keep under Targaryen rule; virtually alone among “savage” strangers, mocked and killed with the golden crown for which he had begged virtually his entire life, and finally crying out without mercy to the last of the Targaryen line.