One of my favorite characters in the Song of Ice and Fire novels is Petyr Baelish. Though considered a "minor character" in the sense we never get a POV chapter from him, he is actually quite a major player in the events of the books. Many people like to refer to Tyrion as the Machiavelli figure in the tale, but to me, Petyr is really the puppet master of the story - more so than Tyrion could ever hope to be. The thing that strikes me most about Petyr is that he thrives on chaos. The more crazy the situation, the more opportunities he's able to extract from it. Indeed, rules, law, and order are all things that keep the status quo. Petyr is interested in advancement, and in that sense chaos is the only thing that gives him the opportunity to do so. Petyr is constantly underestimated in the stories because of his low birth, and he prefers to indirectly influence many events through manipulation of other "pieces" in the Game of Thrones. Indeed, though Petyr is the catalyst for pretty much all the political turmoil in the story, very little of it (if any) can actually be traced back to him. What Petyr's ultimate goals are continue to be a mystery. I don't think he aspires to sit the Iron Throne himself, since that would make him too big of a target and be far too perilous for his liking. I don't think his motives are for revenge since most of the people who wronged him in his youth are dead or dying. I don't even think wealth has much to do with it, since he is already, by all accounts, wealthier than most lords in Westeros. So what is it that motivates Petyr Baelish? What is his ultimate game plan? He is really the only character in the story so far who has consistently come out on top and advanced himself while so many others have met tragic ends. Could it be that he's an agent of chaos, and his only goal is to cause as much upheaval as possible? Is he loyal to someone else and works for their benefit? Or does he have lofty goals that he's striving to achieve, to set himself up for ultimate power? I wish I could answer these questions. But I do know this - Petyr Baelish is a mad genius, and the ultimate player in the Game of Thrones. He knows what it takes to move every piece in the game, he does not fear change and when unexpected developments arise, he quickly adjusts to suit the situation, and most of all - he's always defeating those who play against him. Because there is no real POV for Petyr in the books, its easy to overlook his accomplishments since he appears sporatically, and his true actions are not really revealed until much later in the story. This post is to put together the actions of Petyr Baelish to fully explore the role he's played in the events of A Song of Ice And Fire, as a testament to his "mad genius" when it comes to playing this Game of Thrones. Most of this is taken from the books, though some of my own theories on his actions and motivations are peppered in where it makes sense to do so. Knowing how unstable Lysa was, Petyr no doubt had planned to eventually rid himself of her in some fashion. But again, Petyr's great stregth is his ability to adapt to changing circumstances. After Lysa starts babbling about how he had her poison Jon Arryn and set up the Starks for war with the Lannisters, Petyr sees her for the liability she is and disposes of her. He then blames the singer Marillion for killing her, and has his guards seize him and throw him into a sky cell. Before word can get out about Lysa's death, Petyr must shore up his story. With Lysa gone, his grasp on the Vale is even thinner than it had been. The only people who know that he actually killed Lysa are Sansa and Marillion. His first task is to get Sansa to agree to a version of events where Marillion was the one who threw Lady Lysa through the Moon Door. Petyr constructs a series of events where he orders his Lady Wife to dismiss the unlikable singer from service. Consumed with jealousy and indignation, the singer hurls Lady Lysa out the Moon Door, killing her in front of Sansa before the guards could stop him. Next, he tells Lysa's son Robert the tale. Once Robert is convinced, Petyr knows the only thing left is to have the final witness, Marillion, comply to his series of events. Petyr has Mord torture the singer until the singer agrees to confess that he was the one who killed Lady Lysa. It cost him his eyes and three fingers before Petyr approached him and promised him freedom if he agreed to confess. Eventually, Marillion willingly accepted Petyr's version of events and agreed to state as much to anyone who asked. Once his alliby is set, Petyr begins work by sending out letters to various Lords about Lady Lysa's death. He controls who gets the news first, and sets up to have the confession be given to Lord Nestor Royce, who is the castellon of the Gates of the Moon, the large stronghold that guards the base of the mountain. Nestor Royce is a member of the lesser branch of House Royce, but had been High Steward to the Vale for 14 years prior to Jon Arryn's death. He himself was a suitor for Lady Lysa, but she rejected him. Lord Nestor arrived at the Erie, along with his son Ser Albar, a dozen knights, and a score of men-at-arms. Petyr brought them into the High Hall where he had Lysa's son Robert make claim that Marillion had killed his mother. When Lord Nestor asked if he had seen the deed himself, Robert told him that Sansa and Petyr had informed him. Now, Sansa gave witness about Marillion's guilt. Nestor and his men did not need any more reason to hate the singer, who had ridiculed them during his time with Lady Lysa, and they accepted Sansa's account of the events. Then, it was Petyr's turn. Petyr confessed that it was his fault Lysa died, saying it was his decision to send the singer away that drove him to kill her. The reverse psychology of this confession stirred Albar Royce to go so far as to insist that Petyr not blame himself for Lysa Arryn's death. By this point, all were convinced of the singer's guilt. Now, the final nail in the coffin would be the confession. Petyr produced Marillion, who had been groomed to be presentable before Lord Nestor and his companions. This was a calculated risk on Petyr's part. If the singer suddenly decided to tell the truth, Petyr and Sansa would insist he was lying to save his life, and Lord Nestor would agree since he was already convinced of the singer's guilt. However, if the singer stuck to the agreement he had with Petyr, it would further solidify his version of events. As it turns out, Marillion stayed true to his agreement with Petyr and confessed that he was the one who killed Lady Lysa. Petyr had him returned to his sky cell (where its believed Marillion later committed suicide, or was possibly killed now that he had served his purpose), and invited Nestor's men to engage in a feast he had prepared for their arrival. He invited lord Nestor himself to attend him privately in his solar. Once there, Nestor Royce informs Petyr that his cousin, Bronze Yohn Royce, means to question the singer himself, and will come in force alongside Symond Templeton, Lady Waynwood, Lord Belmore, Young Lord Hunter, Horton Redfort, Strong Sam Stone, the Tolletts, the Shetts, the Coldwaters, and Lyn Corbray. Its clear that Bronze Yohn means to remove Petyr as Lord Protector. However, Petyr had been expecting this. He plays it off that he will not resist if it comes to that, before flattering Lord Nestor about the high regard Lady Lysa held him in. He produces a piece of parchment, granting him the title of Keeper of the Gates of the Moon, making him a Lord in truth as well as name. Its a title that Nestor had longed for, and Petyr knew he'd happily accept it. It was Petyr who had signed the grant as Lord Protector of the Vale, though. He lied to Lord Nestor that Lady Lysa had died before she could sign it herself, but the real reason was that if Petyr was removed as Lord Protector of the Vale, the grant could be called into question, so it was now in Lord Nestor's best interest to ally himself with Littlefinger to protect his claim. This was a shrewd move, since Nestor was overproud and prickly, had Petyr offered him an outright bribe, Lord Nestor would have taken it as a slight against his honor. But this way, Petyr allows Lord Nestor to believe that Lysa Arryn actually valued him above her other bannermen, while at the same time shoring up his support. After gaining the support of Lord Nestor, his cousin Bronze Yohn has made his move. He sent out a declaration, signed at Runestone by himself, Lady Waynwood, Lords Hunter, Redfort, and Belmore, and Symond Templeton, the Knight of Ninestars. They declare their intention to remove Petyr as Lord Protector of the Vale, forcibly if need be. However, rather than seeking help, Petyr simply writes King's Landing asking Grand Maester Pycelle to send him some old tapestries of Roberts. It could be these tapestries are the Targaryan tapestries that Robert had removed when he became King, but this hasn't been clarified as of yet. I theorize that during this time, Petyr is well aware of what Daenerys is up to in Meereen, and is starting his preperations for her eventual arrival. Petyr has enough informants to know that the tales of Dragons from across the narrow sea are not to be dismissed, as they are in King's Landing. Now that Bronze Yohn has made his move, its time for Petyr to counter it. The "Lords Declarant" as they have come to be known had camped themselves at the foot of the Erie and were denying food and supplies until Petyr handed over Lord Robert to their care. Petyr offers them a parlay, and asks them to come up to the Erie, granting them safe conduct. This brings the Lords Declarant up the mountain to meet with him. His ally Lord Nestor is escorting the Lords up the mountain, and his hidden ally, Lyn Corbray, is among them as well. By this time, Petyr begins having the Erie's Measter begin giving Lord Robert a small amount of sweetsleep to help calm his shaking so he may greet the Lords Declarant, but I also believe this is the start of a slow poisoning of Robert Arryn, since Petyr plans to eventually remove Robert and blame it on his poor health. Petyr also has some food prepared for the Lords so they may be put at ease with the guest rite ensuring their safety once in the Erie. Petyr has his solar set up to greet the Lords, avoiding the High Hall since he does not want to give the impression that a lowborn man such as him aspires to sit in its seat. After the Lords Declarant had arrived and eaten his salt and cheese, they were escorted to the solar for the parlay. Petyr greets them and offers them wine. Petyr starts off the meeting by praising the declaration the Lords had sent out, and says he wished they had offered to let him sign it as well. When the Lords look at him confused, Petyr repeats the vague language of "false friends and evil councilors," and insists that they join forces to root them out, since no one loves Lord Robert more than he does. The Lords do not wish to bandy words with him. They make it clear they want Littlefinger gone, and for him to give over Lord Robert to their care. Bronze Yohn makes it clear he intends to take Lord Robert to Runestone to foster him there. Petyr tries to create a divide among the Lords by asking why Lord Robert would not be fostered with other Lords, but they do not take the bait. The Lords Declarant stand firm in their solidarity. However, this does not stop Petyr from suggesting Lady Waynwood allow him to foster Harrold Hardyng at the Erie, the boy who is next in line to the Vale after Robert. An amused Lady Waynwood refuses him, and Lord Belmore makes a veiled threat. Petyr responds by insisting that Lady Lysa felt his proper place was as Lord Protector of the Vale over her own son. At this point, Nestor Royce voices his support for Littlefinger. Then, Petyr makes it clear that he will not be giving up his stepson Robert. Symond Templeton then threatens Petyr with war, and Bronze Yohn insists on having Robert Arryn. Now, it's Lyn Corbray's cue to play the part Petyr had assigned him. Acting as a brash man, he draws his sword and threatens to do Petyr harm, much to the surprise and dismay of his fellow Lords Declarant. When the others shout him down and tell him to put away his sword, he "reluctantly" does so and stalks away. However, the damage has been done. The Lords try to appologise for his actions, but Petyr does not let them off the hook, knowing that their honor will dictate they make certain concessions for their companion's actions. Petyr uses this to claim he has more honor than some of the people in the Lords' party. he then states that he aims to fix the misrule that was done under Lysa, and asks the Lords to grant him a year to set the Vale to rights. When he still meets resistance, he claims he is more trustworthy than the Lords, who allowed steel to be wielded in a parlay. Petyr's play against their honor shames most of the Lords to conceding to give him one year to prove himself as a worthy Lord Protector. Petyr also convinces them to lift their siege and return to their castles, or else he will be forced to go to war to them. He even goes so far to agree, in writing, to pardon all of them for their actions should they consent. With winter looming, and no one really wanting war, this causes the Lords to agree to his terms - much to the dismay of Bronze Yohn Royce. Petyr knows that in a year's time, he will be able to shore up enough support to secure his seat of power. He plans that Lords Redfort and Waynwood are both old, so one or both of them may die. Gilwood Hunter will be murdered by his brothers, most likely the youngest one, Harlan Hunter, who was secretly responsible for his father's death (a fact that Petyr had somehow uncovered or may have had a part in). He believes he can buy Lord Belmore's allegiance since the man is corruptable, and he believes he'll be able to befriend Lord Templeton. And without the other Lords to back him, Bronze Yohn Royce will be marginalized and easily contained. In the meantime, Lyn Corbray will continue to speak against him and put himself in the middle of every plot to overthrow Petyr, all the while keeping Petyr informed of the schemes against him. After negotiating his grace period, Petyr wasted no time. He reconciled quickly with Lord Belmore by buying his allegience, just as he said he would. He then finished the marriage contract between Lord Lyonel Corbray and the daughter of a wealthy Gulltown merchant (Who's staggering dowery would no doubt be a boon to the relatively poor house of Corbray). Since the Lords Declarant were not expected to attend, Petyr travelled across the Vale to attend Lord Lyonel's wedding since his presence would be essential. His allies also attended, the Lords Waxley, Grafton, Lynderly, and Lord Belmore. However, to everyone's astonishment, Lady Waynwood and the Knight of Ninestars also appeared for the wedding feast. Before leaving for the wedding, Petyr had been confident of being able to win Lord Templeton (The Knight of Ninestars) to his side, and it would seem Lady Waynwood was won over after Petyr bought up most of her house's debt. (One can assume that Petyr has bought up a great deal of debt from rivals and potential allies, after the Iron Bank of Braavos start calling in debts thanks to cercei Lannister refusing to pay them what the crown owes. One can only assume this is exactly what Petyr had planned after leaving his position as master of coin.), effectively knocking the Lords Declarant from six to three in their opposition to Petyr. At the wedding, Petyr entered into negotiations with Lady Waynwood about a marriage contract between Sansa and Waynwood's ward, Harry Hardyng - the seeds of which he planted at the initial parlay with the Lords Declarant. Petyr won over Lady Waynwood with the promise of a substantial dowery for wedding her ward to his "baseborn" daughter Alayne (Sansa). However, Lady Waynwood said she would not force Harry to marry, and it would be up to Alayne to win him over. This was fine for Petyr, who also needed time to get rid of Cercei and make sure Tyrion was dead before he could safely see Sansa wed. While at the wedding, Petyr's ship the Merling King returned to Gulltown with Oswell Kettleback bearing news from King's Landing of the foolhardy decisions Cercei Lannister and her small council were dolling out, not the least of which was allowing the Faith to re-arm and start a military order up again. No doubt he also learned of the Ironborn raiding the western coastline as well. Petyr is vexed by the news that Cersei is self destructing sooner than he had planned, since he was hoping for more time to shore up his power, but he adapts to the chaos. Due to the news, he feels the need to garner more swords to his cause. After all, "When the times are interesting you can never have too many swords." After the wedding Petyr made his way back to the Erie after hiring three new sellswords to his cause - Ser Byron, Ser Morgarth, and Ser Shadrich (who previously had been revealed to be searching for Sansa Stark. Whether Petyr is aware of this or not is unknown). Back at the Gates of the Moon, Petyr explains his plans to Sansa. Petyr knows that the Lords of the Vale will never love him, nor will they love Robert Arryn, who is sickly and ill-suited to rule. However, he knows that gallant Ser Hardyng, who is Robert Arryn's heir, is a man the lords of the Vale will flock to. Eventually, Petyr plans to rid himself of Robert Arryn, and on the day of the wedding between Harrold and Alayne, reveal her to be Sansa Stark, true heir of Winterfell and the North. Once it is revealed that Sansa Stark has joined with the Lord of the Vale, Petyr Baelish will effectively have control of the East, the North, and the Riverlands. He knows that Daenerys is preparing to cross into the Seven Kingdoms eventually, and that the Lannisters and the Tyrells will both be weakened from constant war (His mention of the "three queens" confirms this). With a Frey in Riverrun and Petyr named as the warden of the Riverlands, he'll have the full, healthy, and untouched might of the Vale at his command, along with the Riverlords (who still resent the Frays and Lannisters) at his side. When Danny crosses and starts her invasion, Petyr is in a prime position to declare his allegience to the new Targaryan queen, and deliver the East, the North, and the Riverlands to her. I'm sure Petyr has an even bigger part to play in the events to come. but up to now, you can easily see his brillaince when it comes to political maneuvering. Out of all the people in Westeros, he is the most dangerous by far, and its all made possible by his mad genius.