Appearance and Character
Darkly handsome but often unpleasant-looking and pugnacious, Viserys Targaryen had long silver hair and purple eyes typical of Valyrian men and women. He was gaunt, hard and thin from being on the run almost all of his life. He was not as tall as his brother Rhaegar Targaryen, who was considered a greater man than him.
Viserys was extremely impatient and hot-tempered, prone to outbursts of anger he somewhat over-dramatically referred to as 'waking the dragon' - this was a stellar display of how he possibly exhibited the madness inherent in some Targaryens, even though Viserys was younger than most of the previous examples. He could occasionally be charming or friendly, but most of the time he expected obedience and respect simply due to his title, unaware that people called him the 'Beggar King' behind his back and that, without a kingdom, crown or victory to his name, he was no true king. Perhaps what some people recognised was that he was, in some ways, worse than his father, since he flouted the traditions of his family and openly derided the traditions of other cultures, such as the Dothraki.
Due to a lack of funds, he had no crown and dressed modestly, sometimes haggardly when resources were especially low. He was frequently unkind to Daenerys, who feared him most of her childhood. She believes he blames her for their mother's death. Viserys talks of how he will defeat his enemies in battle, but he has never seriously trained in arms nor lead soldiers, therefore he was a poor commander and a poorer warrior, and not especially charismatic - even Aerys was charismatic in his own way at Viserys' age, if utterly ostentatious. He has always looked at Daenerys as his property, he tried to sneak into her bedroom the night before her marriage to deny Drogo her virginity, but Illyrio had posted guards who stopped him.
Viserys was a man with more fire than sense, and wasn't very intelligent - he was ignorant of many things that would be powerful objects to his triumph or disgrace, and did not realise when he had made plainly disastrous mistakes. When Daenerys remembers him, she laments for the boy he was and the man he became, but acknowledges that he was a dangerous and cruel man who would have been a terrible king, even though he believed himself to be 'the dragon'.
In almost every way conceivable, Viserys is actually the opposite of his brother Rhaegar - he cares nothing for honour, tradition or decency, and is self-obsessed to the point of absurdity; he is not a good fighter and is cruel to anyone who crosses him (allegedly or actually). He also died differently to Rhaegar, in dishonour and disgrace, whereas Rhaegar died in a fierce and now-legendary duel with his mortal enemy.
However, Viserys' cruelty, impatience and declining sanity might not have been due to his genetics, but because a great deal of his life was spent on the run from Robert Baratheon, trying so desperately to raise an army and retake his father's throne. Constant derision, disrespect and failure in this regard may have chipped away at Viserys' sanity, leaving him a desperate, angry and violent man.
Viserys was born in 276 AL. He is the second son and the middle child of Aerys II. He is the younger brother of Rhaegar and the older brother of Daenerys. His father banned him from attending the wedding of his brother and Princess Elia Martell. He was only eight years old when Robert Baratheon smashed his brother Rhaegar's army on the Trident and his father, Aerys II, was killed by Jaime Lannister. Viserys and his pregnant mother had been sent to safety on Dragonstone, where, eight months later, she died giving birth to a daughter, Daenerys. Viserys and Daenerys were taken to safety in the Free Cities beyond the Narrow Sea by loyal Targaryen retainers led by Ser Willem Darry.
Viserys and Daenerys had to stay on the run, ahead of the assassins they had presumed that Robert the Usurper had send after him. They settled in Braavos for a time and knew peace, since Robert was unwilling to risk offending the most powerful of the Free Cities by killing guests of theirs, but after Ser Willem's death they found themselves robbed by servants. They lost the house they had been staying in and had to resume a life of wandering.
They were given a new home by Magister Ilyrio Mopatis of Pentos. Ilyrio was a canny politican and merchant, and suggested an audacious plan to Viserys: they could marry Daenerys to the leader of a Dothraki khalasar, who was looking for a wife of royal blood. The Dothraki were always looking for lands to plunder, and if they could overcome their traditional fear of ships for the short crossing to Westeros, they would relish the chance to plunder the Seven Kingdoms. Viserys could reclaim his throne at the same time. Viserys readily agreed and the marriage was carried out.
Unfortunately, Viserys soon found that his status counted for less than nothing among the Dothraki, and his constant demands and entreaties that they set sail for Westeros immediately fell on deaf ears. Khal Drogo insisted on going to Vaes Dothrak first to let the Dosh Khalleen give prophesies about his marriage, and then he would wait for the birth of his heir. Magister Illyrio had told Viserys to wait in his manse in Pentos, but, Viserys had refused and insisted on staying with the khalasar until Drogo fulfilled his promises. Eventually, Viserys loses patience and threatens Daenerys' life. Khal Drogo upended a pot of molten gold over Viserys' head, killing him and leaving his sister Daenerys as the rightful heir of the Targaryen dynasty.