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The Mad Genius Of Petyr Baelish


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#141 Scipio Africanus

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 03:25 PM

Oops, I'd forgotten about that. Did Varys support LF's story, or did he just not contradict it? I remember Varys telling Tyrion that he wouldn't expose Shae to Cersei, but that if Cersei asked the right question he would answer it truthfully. Similarly, Varys could have killed Ned in the dungeon or could have let him escape, but he let Ned's situation play out. If Ned had privately questioned him about LF's dagger story, there is a chance Varys would have told the truth, especially given the flimsiness of the lie.

No, Varys is a ruthless Machiavellian bastard like Baelish except he's so-called nicer to characters inbook which makes him seem more genial and harmless to most. The fact that Baelish put a knife to Eddard's throat and that he blatently lied about the knife to the Starks in the first place makes people think he's the supreme devil, while unfortunately there are more devils in KL including Varys. I think people got a rude awakening when Varys killed Kevan Lannister outright.

While Baelish constantly quips and mocks people and outright lies, Varys has a different approach. He likes to let people draw their own wrong conclusions and run with that instead of outright lying. He also likes to misdirect by indirectly implying certain information which isn't obvious to the characters nor the reader on a first read what he is trying to say between the lines. Lastly whenever chaos is likely to ensue Varys is strangely silent despite his constant barage of whispers beforehand.

Varys was present when LF lied through his teeth about the knife. Either he didn't know (unlikely) the truth or he was quite pleased with the prospect that the Starks and the Lannisters were about to rip out each other's throats.
It is also quite a coincidence that Varys chose to tell LF and not Pycelle that Catelyn arrived because no other council member were available. According to Halfhand this was due to LF's connection with the Tully's. But Varys does nothing casual or by coincidence. It is said by LF that he and Varys traded secrets at that point.

I personally believe Varys was delighted with the prospect of a splendid little war.

#142 Sneak

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 03:33 PM

Maybe Tyrion and Joffrey's confrontation over the jousting dwarves led naturally to Joffrey deciding to humiliate Tyrion by making him pour wine, but that seems awfully convenient for the plotters. Joffrey could have chosen all sorts of ways to humiliate Tyrion. If Joffrey had insisted on Tyrion jousting, it would have been obvious to everybody that Tyrion didn't poision Joffrey, since he was nowhere near the cup. I think it is likely that Margery suggested the idea of making Tyrion pour wine to Joffrey (as we saw Sansa do with Ser Dontos).

As for Olenna priming Cersei - I have no evidence. But we have seen Olenna bump into somebody, utter a quick calculated barb, and wander off before. As Oberlyn points out, most people would associate him with poisoning before Tyrion, but the inter-Lannister hatred runs deep.


You make a good point about Tyrion jousting. I guess Margaery could have whispered in Joffrey's ear.

Oops, I'd forgotten about that. Did Varys support LF's story, or did he just not contradict it?


LF, Cat and Varys all talk about Bran's fall, the assassin attack, Ser Rodrick and then LF lies about the dagger while Varys says nothing.

#143 Sneak

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 03:36 PM

I personally believe Varys was delighted with the prospect of a splendid little war.


I agree. He wanted the realm unstable so Aegon could swoop in, save the day and restore peace.

#144 The Mother of The Others

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 04:14 PM

By the power of god, the original post took up more of page 1 than I've ever seen from anyone before. That was page 1 domination, similar to how Petyr's shadow itself dominates much of Westeros' midsection. I did not read it, though I did scroll through all of it, and just the act of scrolling took its toll on my mouse finger. So bless you people who did read it, and god bless Baelish!

#145 The Fallen

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 12:51 AM

` As great as many think LF is (I don't count myself as one), let's not forget that Tyrion was onto him. Tyrion was worried about all the time that LF spent at Bitterbridge while Cersei dismissed it, and he already knew LF had set him up for Bran's murder attempt. Tyrion recognized how dangerous LF was because of his persona as a wisecracking harmless man of low birth.

I hadn't thought that LF might have ordered Tyrion's murder. If so, he recognized how dangerous Tyrion was to him and his plans. The only problem I have with that theory is that it involved a Kingsguard. True he was from the Vale, but would he really go against the crown for LF? Even though LF also has the Kettleblacks working for him, one of which is also a Kingsguard. I also swear that I read (but can't find it now) Cersei explicitly telling Tyrion that he would take Trant with him during the Blackwater.

I know one of the more popular theories is that Sansa brings about LF's downfall. But could Tyrion come back to Westeros and take his vengeance on LF once and for all?

#146 Vanilla Fire

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:23 AM

`
I hadn't thought that LF might have ordered Tyrion's murder. If so, he recognized how dangerous Tyrion was to him and his plans. The only problem I have with that theory is that it involved a Kingsguard. True he was from the Vale, but would he really go against the crown for LF? Even though LF also has the Kettleblacks working for him, one of which is also a Kingsguard. I also swear that I read (but can't find it now) Cersei explicitly telling Tyrion that he would take Trant with him during the Blackwater.


I scanned the Clash of Kings searching for the fragment, but instead realised that the kingsguard assassin was ser Mandon Moore.Damn kingsguard are pretty interchangeable in my memory, no wonder. I found no mention of Cersei ordering him to stay with Tyrion, although he is conveniently present around him through the majority of Blackwater. Is he anyhow connected to Baelish? My memory fails me here.

I thoroughly enjoyed OP's post, as the others have, Such a synthesis is desperately needed when we try to reconstruct the methods of motives of one of the key players. I would lean toward the idea that LF is a calculating gambler, rather than a clairvoyant master-planner, otherwise we might as well blame even the Winter on him.

What intriuges me is that Varys, LF and Jon Arryn managed to coexist for so long without acting against each other Arryn's investigation probably upset the status quo, prompting LF into action, but that still doesn't explain their ceasefire. Tyrion gets the shaft as soon as the opportuinity presents itself, Kevan doubly so. Arguably even Tywin's death could have been orchestrated. Why did these two major players tolerate each other for so long? I can't recall any instance of them acting against each other, directly or otherwise. Did they form an alliance, or just weren't able to outwit each other? Or are they simply playing separate parts of the same master plan?

#147 Dogimo

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:36 AM

Remmember the seeds LF wanted to put before Cersei ruin everything? Bronn in Stokeworth
I always though that Bronn was LF's creature, that would have been the best way to keep track of Tyrion's moves (remmember who brought the Kettlebacks to Cersei) and later he was probably the one who proposed Bronn to Lady Stokeworth to marry Lollys (how else would Bronn ended having a dinner with her? it's not like there's a tens of new knighted knights who would like to marry the daughter of a Lord) and the money to buy the support of the Stokeworth garrison and to hire sellswords so he had a little military power strategically near KL so he can know some of the Lannister and Tyrell troops movements and make it appear as if Bronn is just trying to defend his new seat from Cersei's wrath.

#148 The Fallen

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:50 AM

I scanned the Clash of Kings searching for the fragment, but instead realised that the kingsguard assassin was ser Mandon Moore.Damn kingsguard are pretty interchangeable in my memory, no wonder. I found no mention of Cersei ordering him to stay with Tyrion, although he is conveniently present around him through the majority of Blackwater. Is he anyhow connected to Baelish? My memory fails me here.

I thoroughly enjoyed OP's post, as the others have, Such a synthesis is desperately needed when we try to reconstruct the methods of motives of one of the key players. I would lean toward the idea that LF is a calculating gambler, rather than a clairvoyant master-planner, otherwise we might as well blame even the Winter on him.

What intriuges me is that Varys, LF and Jon Arryn managed to coexist for so long without acting against each other Arryn's investigation probably upset the status quo, prompting LF into action, but that still doesn't explain their ceasefire. Tyrion gets the shaft as soon as the opportuinity presents itself, Kevan doubly so. Arguably even Tywin's death could have been orchestrated. Why did these two major players tolerate each other for so long? I can't recall any instance of them acting against each other, directly or otherwise. Did they form an alliance, or just weren't able to outwit each other? Or are they simply playing separate parts of the same master plan?


You're right, it's Moore. I also get those two confused and was too lazy (not to mention too late at night) to go to the book. I'll try finding that line again, unless I imagined it.

As for LF and Varys, I think they're playing different games. I also think Varys is slightly better than LF. Varys has his little birds and can even meet with Illyrio in King's Landing. LF has his brothels and men like the Kettleblacks. That's not enough to keep up with Varys. And I agree with your assessment of LF as a calculating gambler.

#149 Vanilla Fire

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 03:10 PM

As for LF and Varys, I think they're playing different games. I also think Varys is slightly better than LF. Varys has his little birds and can even meet with Illyrio in King's Landing. LF has his brothels and men like the Kettleblacks. That's not enough to keep up with Varys. And I agree with your assessment of LF as a calculating gambler.


As for LF and Varys - I am during my first reread and had stumbled upon Varys's remarks regarding LF. Sadly, this is a translation. It's Eddard's chapter in the dungeon. Ned remarks on the plan of him taking the black: (roughly retranslated)

addresing Varys - 'Did you come up with this plan yourself? Or was it you and Littlefinger?'
The Eunuch looked amused. - I'd rather marry a Black Goat from Qohor. Littlefinger is unmatched in his cunning. Oh, I do send him the best of my spiders, so that he thinks I am his...but so do I act with Cersei.

This might be a brief moment of honesty...or another layer of misdirection. Ned will either die at this point or will be removed from politics as a Night's Watch brother...but still I wouldn't trust Varys' words. However, him being the apparently impartial information broker might have worked as well as the 'apparently impartial banker' - the persona Petyr Baelish filled. Both amassed power and influence, but through different means, both may have held the notion that they outplayed each other and therefore - a conflict between them was unnecessary.

Or I'm just rambling.

Edited by Vanilla Fire, 20 September 2012 - 03:11 PM.


#150 Scipio Africanus

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 03:37 PM

As for LF and Varys, I think they're playing different games. I also think Varys is slightly better than LF. Varys has his little birds and can even meet with Illyrio in King's Landing. LF has his brothels and men like the Kettleblacks. That's not enough to keep up with Varys. And I agree with your assessment of LF as a calculating gambler.

Is Varys that much better then LF?

Martin has said in an interview Varys (and Illyrio) are not omnipotent and allknowing. They didn't know of Prince Doran Martell's offer to Ser William Darry of marrying Viserys to Arianne. Varys also had no idea of the Sansa disappearing act - he didn't place little birds in the weirwood I suppose. And it's very likely Varys didn't know about R+L=J.

LF further states somewhere (IIRC) that he trades secrets with Varys.

Lastly, after LF deals with the Tyrells to poison Joff, he basically disappears off of the grid for Varys when LF travels to the Vale (and presumably when he went to the Tyrells before that). Only much later did he finally succeed to plant one agent (the Mad Mouse) in the Vale.

At any rate Arya overhears Varys talking to Illyrio that he basically doesn't know what LF is up to. He probably means he doesn't know what his mid-long term goals are.

#151 The Mother of The Others

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:00 PM

At any rate Arya overhears Varys talking to Illyrio that he basically doesn't know what LF is up to. He probably means he doesn't know what his mid-long term goals are.


Yeah! Eat one, Varys!

Edited by The Mother of The Others, 20 September 2012 - 04:00 PM.


#152 icantstandgreyjoys

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:02 PM

At any rate Arya overhears Varys talking to Illyrio that he basically doesn't know what LF is up to. He probably means he doesn't know what his mid-long term goals are.


Well it can be because LF doesn't have any? He just loves to feed from chaos and make up his mind as the things go I suppose. He has a skill for that.

#153 Stark@heart

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:51 PM

I've always pictured Petyr whispering in Joffs ear about how women are merciful and weak and real men / real kings demanded death for treason - or some shit like that, I see Petyr as the one who gave Joff the idea that he could do as he pleased because he's the King.

Vary's doesn't have a clue what Petyr is doing and I don't think Petyr has much on him either but I think Vary's will be thinking he can use Petyr and whatever power he's grabbed for his own cause - Aegon and he'll be really pinched when Petyr declares for Dany.

#154 voodooqueen126

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 02:42 AM

No, Varys is a ruthless Machiavellian bastard like Baelish except he's so-called nicer to characters inbook which makes him seem more genial and harmless to most. The fact that Baelish put a knife to Eddard's throat and that he blatently lied about the knife to the Starks in the first place makes people think he's the supreme devil, while unfortunately there are more devils in KL including Varys. I think people got a rude awakening when Varys killed Kevan Lannister outright.

While Baelish constantly quips and mocks people and outright lies, Varys has a different approach. He likes to let people draw their own wrong conclusions and run with that instead of outright lying. He also likes to misdirect by indirectly implying certain information which isn't obvious to the characters nor the reader on a first read what he is trying to say between the lines. Lastly whenever chaos is likely to ensue Varys is strangely silent despite his constant barage of whispers beforehand.

Varys was present when LF lied through his teeth about the knife. Either he didn't know (unlikely) the truth or he was quite pleased with the prospect that the Starks and the Lannisters were about to rip out each other's throats.
It is also quite a coincidence that Varys chose to tell LF and not Pycelle that Catelyn arrived because no other council member were available. According to Halfhand this was due to LF's connection with the Tully's. But Varys does nothing casual or by coincidence. It is said by LF that he and Varys traded secrets at that point.

I personally believe Varys was delighted with the prospect of a splendid little war.

I would say Varys's appeal to many readers lies in the fact that he pretends that is for a greater cause. Whilst Petyr is openly selfish and self interested.
In real life, it is worth noting, people like Varys tend to be far more dangerous and cause much more damage, whilst people like Petyr, because they are so openly selfish, it is hard for people to bring themselves to vote for them (in democracies) and they seem to have too much pride to submit themselves to ideologies (in totalitarian systems)..

#155 Gabroux

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 08:29 PM

Its Joffrey who hired the knife to kill Bran in a AGOT. He took Tyrion knife in order to but the blame on his uncle.

Same with Robert bastards, its Joffrey who ordered their deaths.

#156 Lord Rocky of House Balboa

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 08:33 PM

Its Joffrey who hired the knife to kill Bran in a AGOT. He took Tyrion knife in order to but the blame on his uncle.

Same with Robert bastards, its Joffrey who ordered their deaths.


I didn't think Joffrey had any intention on blaming tyrion, he just took a knife from his fathers collection.

#157 Melisandre's Shadow

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 03:58 AM

I think the thing that's most fascinating about Petyr is he is the only character that has yet to reveal a weakness, or even an underlying motive at all. Even Varys is unwise to his motives, and even seems worried when Informing Illyrio of His lack of knowledge of Petyrs motives. And Varys is now sent underground thanks to helping Tyrion escape, and Petyr still grasps to power at the Vale. Peter is the only one who consistently wins at this Game of Thrones, and seems to be the only character that has been consistent in the novels, which make me think that GRRM will reveal some sort of weakness that Petyr has, to show that he's the gray character that GRRM loves to create. For now, he is just a manipulator and that is what makes me certain something major is going to happen to thwart or completely change the motive of plan.


But I really love the thought he may be trying to end the feudal system, and this would be a very interesting turn, but would mean he would not turn power to Dany when she arrives from Essos. Unless he convinces her to change the way of government in Westeros, playing to her sympathy with common people who are wronged which was evident in her insistence on free Slaver's Bay. Now that would be a twist I could root for.

#158 John Thompson

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 04:51 PM

Here is my speculation about what moves Petyr Baelish: he's short. I'm serious. He's had a lifetime to nurse that grievance, since people have been calling him Littlefinger since the age of nine.

Petyr's forebears are martial people: his great-grandfather, a Braavosi sellsword, was made a petty lord for his service to House Corbray, and his father must have done something to win the respect of the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands during the War of the Ninepenny Kings, because fostering the son of a petty lord from the Vale makes little sense otherwise. In an apparently offhand remark to Sansa, Petyr mentions an old hermit who told Petyr's father that Petyr would become a great man, in return for a skin of wine. It makes me wonder what sort of man Petyr's father was, and what sort of ambitions he had for Petyr to foster him with the Tullys.

However, it had to be obvious from early on that Petyr was physically unimposing and unlikely to win glory as a warrior, so the only way that Petyr could live up to his father's hopes was to make the right connections and marry well. He allows himself to fall in love with Catelyn Tully, and then he allows himself to fight a hopeless duel with her taller, stronger and quicker suitor, Brandon Stark. Stark badly injures him without much apparent effort, and while he recovers from his disillusionment over Catelyn's betrothal, he is banished for fathering a child on Lysa Arryn. What must that have been like, to come home to his proud warrior father and explain that all of his hopes were probably in vain? How does an intelligent child like Petyr deal with a world that mocks him for something he could not control, and forecloses his opportunities in favor of people who were born with wealth, strength and power?

Whatever the reason, it's obvious from his interactions with the smallfolk of his holdings that Petyr spends very little time there. Maybe it's painful for him to think all that much about it, and Petyr's mind simply isn't built to put aside unpleasant facts and dwell on the sweet things. This made him hungry to develop himself in ways that few others in the kingdom have, and everybody basically concedes that Petyr was indispensable as master of coin even as they deride him for being "a coin-counter, no proper lord," according to Emmon Frey.

I think Petyr's ambitions are obvious at this point. Robert is to die soon, in time for Sansa to wed Harrold Hardyng, which joins the heir to the Vale with the heir to the North. The Vale has spent none of its strength fighting the War of the Five Kings, and is well situated to capitalize on the Crown's exhaustion - especially in the Riverlands, where Petyr just happens to be Lord Paramount. If Lord Harrold dies suddenly without issue, then Lady Sansa inherits the Vale...just in time to marry Petyr, to whom three of the Seven Kingdoms would owe homage. If there were no more Baratheon heirs, who else would the Kingdoms make its King's Hand, if not its King?

My thoughts, anyway.

#159 WardenOfTheNorth

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 05:35 PM

Well, it might have been a long post, but I *did* read it all the way through. Definitely sums up what is known of Littlefinger thus far. You listed multiple motivations for his various actions and left the final verdict open-ended, which is good instead of jumping to the conclusion that its *all* about Sansa Stark. Yes, she's a major pawn/(player?), but I doubt she is his entire motivation. As mentioned, he feeds on chaos, and is a bit of a trickster/Loki type character, just more subtle in that he's not openly gloating about his tricksy genius ways to others (though the HBO show would have him doing so to his whores, lol. /tongue.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' />)

So, thanks, its been a while since I read the books all the way through and it was nice to have a refresher.

Cheers. /cheers.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':cheers:' />


He's one of my favorite characters. He does what he has to, to survive.

#160 AppalachianOldGod

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 09:59 PM

Incredible work and great analysis. Lord Baelish is the most intriguing of the "villains". The last paragraph is the heart of the matter; he WILL have the Vale, the North, and the Riverlands, to be sure. I wonder if he will truly declare for the Dragon Queen. If she keeps Selmy, takes on Tyrion, and takes back Mormont, will they advise her to ally with Littlefinger?