Jump to content
Ser Leftwich

Varys and Illyrio under the Red Keep

Recommended Posts

20 minutes ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

No, what I meant to say was that, Varys is just as sinister as he originally was.

Mmm. I think the Varys of AGoT was essentially a pawn of the Others who was working to manipulate the Seven Kingdoms into vulnerability so that humanity can be destroyed. His talk with Tyrion in ACoK of the magical ritual that accompanied his gelding seems to me like a remnant of a notion that has since seemingly come back to the fore with another character later in the novels.

TWoW spoilers:

Spoiler

By which I mean Euron now strikes me as being a pawn of the Others.

The Varys of ACoK is simply working to manipulate the Seven Kingdoms to put his chosen king, the mummer's dragon, on the Iron Throne.

Pardon me if I think the (entirely speculative) Varys of AGoT seems a lot more sinister!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

...

There is no real confirmation that Aegon is really Aegon. From where Dany would be in Meereen, it would be something of a rumor.

Varys can confirm it? Okay but Varys also tried to have her and her unborn baby killed on Robert Baratheon's orders. She will not trust a single word that will come out of Varys' mouth. And the question she would ask is "why would Varys be okay with killing Aegon's Targaryen blood relatives?! The more Targaryens, the better right?" Besides, she found the marriage contract between House Martell and the Sealord of Braavos in regards to Viserys and Arianne strange; something about that bothered her but she couldn't put her finger on it. If she found that to be strange (it's strange that she found it strange) and turned down all of Quentyn's proposals (I believe she suggested that he leave at some point), there's no way she's going to be moved to belief by Varys' grand baby switch.

She can receive confirmation from Illyrio...but that's only going to raise questions on Dany's part. Why would Illyrio keep Aegon secret if he truly was her kin? If Illyrio supports Aegon so much why did she get the petrified dragon eggs? Why would Tyrion be sent to Aegon while she got stuck with Ser Barristan? Dany has nursed suspicions, curiosities and even shades of distrust towards Illyrio for a while. Such suspicions would only intensify.

That's all based upon where Dany is at in A Dance of Dragons. ...

I agree with you about Daenerys's impression of those two. She has every reason to mistrust the former, and although she is skeptical of the latter, the author was very careful not to conceal their relationship from Daenerys qhen Jorah and Barristan were confessing in Storm. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Ran said:

Mmm. I think the Varys of AGoT was essentially a pawn of the Others who was working to manipulate the Seven Kingdoms into vulnerability so that humanity can be destroyed. His talk with Tyrion in ACoK of the magical ritual that accompanied his gelding seems to me like a remnant of a notion that has since seemingly come back to the fore with another character later in the novels.

TWoW spoilers:

  Hide contents

By which I mean Euron now strikes me as being a pawn of the Others.

The Varys of ACoK is simply working to manipulate the Seven Kingdoms to put his chosen king, the mummer's dragon, on the Iron Throne.

Pardon me if I think the (entirely speculative) Varys of AGoT seems a lot more sinister!

 

Coming from anyone else, I would be waiting for the pot to crash on the tile floor, but... The mods are not mocked, girl. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

Why would Varys, the Master of Whisperers, not have his spies in and/or around Winterfell...one of the top 10 most important castles in the entire realm.

It's weird that his spy network can stretch all the way to Vaes Dothrak but not to Winterfell.

Jon Arryn was very, very old man, his only son is sickly and under the age of 10, his wife is a reclusive shrew with a screw loose and he has no other immediate family. His power base is in the Vale and the Vale alone. No power struggle for Varys anticipate there. But it does put things in motion to the point where things can progress slowly. Where things can teeter on the edge for a little bit.

They couldn't just kill Eddard Stark like they could kill Jon Arryn...especially not so soon after Jon Arryn died.

You ever notice how dismissive Cersei was towards Jon Arryn when she took Ned Stark so seriously.

Eddard Stark is not just the North. He has strong connects and a stronger reputation in the Riverlands, the Vale, the Stormlands, on Dragonstone and, it's becoming abundantly clear, that he has strong connects in Dorne as well.**

The lords of the Reach also seemed to have a deep respect for him. More than they did for Robert, dare I say.

Eddard Stark had five trueborn children and one bastard. The eldest of the trueborns and his bastard are both on the cusp of manhood. His second eldest trueborn, a daughter, is on the cusp of womanhood. He has a brilliant, good wife and both of them were young and healthy enough to have more children. And, unlike many lords of Westeros, they are very good parents so they are likely to raise good, strong children. At that point, he also has the Greyjoys in his back pocket.**

Killing Eddard would have definitely and immediately started a war. Varys was likely clueless about the secret one-sided rivalry between the Tully sisters so there's no reason to not think that Lysa Arryn wouldn't send the Knights of the Vale scuttling out of the Bloody Gate.

 

**On second thought, Cersei may have been right. With all these connects, it would have been easy for Eddard to just claim the Throne. And all he would need to do to take the Targaryen crosshairs off his back is to announce Jon and to call Viserys and Daenerys back to Westeros.

Even if Varys does have a bird in Winterfell, which I doubt, there is no way to get word back to King's Landing and then all the way back to Winterfell in the barely three weeks between Bran's fall and the catspaw. The only possible means would be by raven, but since ravens are handled by maesters, Lewin would certainly note when a bird came all the way from King's Landing with a note for a chambermaid or household guard.

But are you saying that Petyr, Lysa and Varys and Illyrio all conspired together to kill Jon Arryn? Why would L&L need to involve Varys in such a simple plot to put Tears of Lys in Jon's food? How could they be sure that Varys would not go directly to the king, thus ridding himself of his most significant political rival? Or vice versa if it was Varys' idea?

I think you are underestimating the support that JA had in the realm. He was the one who risked all by rebelling against the Mad King in the first place, and is a beloved father figure of both the new king and the warden of the north, and fast friends with the lord of riverrun. Cersei does not dismiss Jon as being a man of no account, but she has less to fear from him because he was the one who brokered her marriage and knows its value to the realm. Plus, with sweetrobin set to be fostered in Casterly Rock, she nearly has all the leverage she needs to keep both Jon and Lysa quiet. None of this applies to Ned. She fears Ned not because of his honor or smarts or cunning, but because she has no leverage over him and is unlikely to get any.

And sure, they can't kill Ned as easily as they killed Jon, but how does this lead to the conclusion that Varys and Illyrio were behind Jon's death, especially since we know for a fact that Lysa and Littlefinger were the ones who did it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

Even if Varys does have a bird in Winterfell, which I doubt, there is no way to get word back to King's Landing and then all the way back to Winterfell in the barely three weeks between Bran's fall and the catspaw. The only possible means would be by raven, but since ravens are handled by maesters, Lewin would certainly note when a bird came all the way from King's Landing with a note for a chambermaid or household guard.

But, according to that logic, how does Varys know anything at all?

His spy network does not rely on messenger ravens.

If it did, how would Varys find out anything in enough time to be considered good at his job. He'd barely be any better than any other shrewd lord with a couple spies on payroll. Unless, you are suggesting that the maester conspiracy Barbrey Dustin preaches and Catelyn Stark halfway believed runs deeper than any of them had thought.

14 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

But are you saying that Petyr, Lysa and Varys and Illyrio all conspired together to kill Jon Arryn? Why would L&L need to involve Varys in such a simple plot to put Tears of Lys in Jon's food? How could they be sure that Varys would not go directly to the king, thus ridding himself of his most significant political rival? Or vice versa if it was Varys' idea?

Cersei does not dismiss Jon as being a man of no account, but she has less to fear from him because he was the one who brokered her marriage and knows its value to the realm. Plus, with sweetrobin set to be fostered in Casterly Rock, she nearly has all the leverage she needs to keep both Jon and Lysa quiet. None of this applies to Ned. She fears Ned not because of his honor or smarts or cunning, but because she has no leverage over him and is unlikely to get any.

Absolutely not.

What I am saying is that there were multiple plots to assassinate Jon Arryn brewing at the same time. Littlefinger and Lysa were just the first ones to act. It was not safe for Cersei, as we already know, to do anything until she could arrange for Robert Arryn to become a ward at Casterly Rock. Jon Arryn, however, was twice as shrewd as Ned Stark so Cersei did not know exactly how much trouble she was in with Jon Arryn. She probably felt that she was being led to the gallows but she did not know that the noose was already tightening around her neck. The investigation against her and her brother was almost complete; Jon Arryn would have to be a bigger idiot than Victarion Greyjoy to even think of allowing his son to be fostered under the auspicies of the treacherous queen and her ruthless father on the other side of the country.

Lol like what? If Cersei the Queen can't be trusted to not have sex with her twin brother and a Kingsguard (!!!) and not pass off said Kingsguard's bastards as the king's trueborn child, why should he entrust Cersei and her father with the education and upbringing of his one and only child? Especially since Cersei's eldest child has the makings of a nutcase and Tywin oversaw the murders of children who got in his way some fifteen years ago.

Come on now.

Jon Arryn was going to foster Robert Arryn on Dragonstone. Not only is Stannis more trustworthy and honorable than Tywin Lannister but Stannis is the master-of-ships, having control of the navy. Stannis has a child Robert's age (a girl no less, which we all know is good for Robert) and a fool who could make Robert Arryn laugh. Stannis, dare I say, is marginally kinder than Tywin Lannister is; he'd be hard on Robert but he'd be more likely to take a vested interest in the boy's success because of duty. Whereas Tywin only cares about his own legacy. Dragonstone is also closer, a major selling point for Lysa's sake. Dragonstone is also slightly more secure than the Eyrie if not for the fact that blockading Dragonstone is a bit more of a headache whereas blockading the Eyrie is rather simple. So, if worse comes to worse between Lord Arryn and the Queen, Robert Arryn can be quickly spirited away and kept safe on the island fortress.

Besides, if Robert Arryn had to get back to the Eyrie, getting him back to the Eyrie by ship is easier than getting him to the Eyrie overland: we have Sansa, Catelyn and Tyrion's POV chapters to thank for that tidbit.

No. There were at least three plots to kill Jon Arryn. Lysa and Petyr are numero uno; Cersei, Pycelle and maybe Jaime makes two; and Varys is the third. For all we know, there may have been a fourth.

In any case, Varys admitted that he didn't know what Littlefinger was up to and he was concerned by Lysa's drastic change in behavior. But he did know that it had been years since the game of thrones was being played by two people.

Cersei dismisses Jon Arryn exactly for the same reasons you say. He is an very old man that she thinks she has leverage over. Part of the reason why she thinks she has leverage over Jon Arryn is because Robert spent years more or less ignoring Jon Arryn.

Ned Stark is a grown ass man who Cersei cannot touch. Robert has a soft spot for Ned that is softer than the one he had for Jon Arryn.

23 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

I think you are underestimating the support that JA had in the realm. He was the one who risked all by rebelling against the Mad King in the first place, and is a beloved father figure of both the new king and the warden of the north, and fast friends with the lord of riverrun.

And sure, they can't kill Ned as easily as they killed Jon, but how does this lead to the conclusion that Varys and Illyrio were behind Jon's death, especially since we know for a fact that Lysa and Littlefinger were the ones who did it?

How old was Jon Arryn when he died? He'd be in his late 70s and that's playing fast and loose. The AWOIAF wiki puts him at age 80.

It's much easier to tell the lie that a sudden sickness came and took an 80 year old man and have it be believed.

Ned Stark is what? A man of 35. The health and virility of most healthy, active men doesn't take a nosedive until after 40. 35 is still the primetime years for a man as far as many people are concerned both in the story and in real life. In fact, the people of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance find a man in his 30s to be more preferable than a man in his 20s. Catherine the Great famously talked about how the sexual prowess of men reaches its peak in the 30s.

Yeah, passing off the sudden death of a healthy, active, well-known 35 year old man is ridiculously hard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Ran said:

Which means things like House Connington appearing in ACoK may be nothing more than his inserting details into the novel to line up with his new, expanded story plans. Much as with the mummer's dragon.

I'm not sure I'm getting your point here - do you mean that there was an earlier version of the HotU vision that did not include the mummer's dragon?

21 hours ago, Ran said:

TWoW spoilers:

  Hide contents

By which I mean Euron now strikes me as being a pawn of the Others.

Pardon me if I think the (entirely speculative) Varys of AGoT seems a lot more sinister!

Spoiler

If that pale consort is anything to go by, he wouldn't be the first man to be trapped by a pale woman

And it would be definitely more sinister than Varys the social reformer of the ADWD epilogue :P

 

 

45 minutes ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

Yeah, passing off the sudden death of a healthy, active, well-known 35 year old man is ridiculously hard.

Are you so sure? That encounter with Jaime nearly cost Ned his life then and there, and the infection in his leg would probably have killed him, anyway, had he not been executed. Accidents aren't very difficult to arrange, and in the world without ATBs, even a minor injury can prove fatal. (Now, I think it was LF who tipped Jaime off about Ned's whereabouts, but Varys is hardly off the hook.) And since the injury would have been treated by Pycelle... well... I've always wondered if Ned's infection was merely a natural result of an open fracture, or if Pycelle "treated" him just like he had Jon Arryn.

 

- Which gets me to the OP's question: no, I don't think they were discussing JonCon. The poisoning of Jon Arryn may originally have been only Lysa and Petyr but without Pycelle's involvement, Arryn might have survived. And how did Pycelle learn that Jon Arryn and Stannis were after Cersei, anyway? Someone told, apparently, and the someone might have found it convenient for Jon Arryn to die and Stannis retreat to DS - in other words, two capable men were removed from Robert's side, further weakening his grasp of the realm.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Ran said:

Mmm. I think the Varys of AGoT was essentially a pawn of the Others who was working to manipulate the Seven Kingdoms into vulnerability so that humanity can be destroyed. His talk with Tyrion in ACoK of the magical ritual that accompanied his gelding seems to me like a remnant of a notion that has since seemingly come back to the fore with another character later in the novels.

TWoW spoilers:

  Reveal hidden contents

By which I mean Euron now strikes me as being a pawn of the Others.

 

Hmmm. I'd never heard anything like this before. Do you think the Varys was originally knowingly and intentionally working for the benefit of the Others, or that what he was doing just happened to be of benefit to them? Do you have a more fleshed out idea of what you think this might have originally entailed?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Ygrain said:

I'm not sure I'm getting your point here - do you mean that there was an earlier version of the HotU vision that did not include the mummer's dragon?

I believe that George came up with the whole Targaryen pretender idea when he stopped work and remapped out the series, so the mummer's dragon was something introduced into the HotU. But whether he had already written it and went back and added it in, or hadn't yet gotten to it, I don't know.This is all just my speculation, of course, haven't asked George directly as it feels like he won't want to discuss such things until the series is done.

@Bael's Bastard

My assumption was that Varys was wittingly doing it... but I also think it's possible he was manipulated into it, perhaps through magical means, and isn't quite aware of it. Illyrio, I'm more open to being manipulated by Varys in turn, but I don't know. Again, just speculation based on trying to figure out how George envisioned the original trilogy vs. how he envisioned it after mapping it out as six books. Seems to me Dany's story needed complications he hadn't imagined, and so he drew from history again. But if he didn't have a Targaryen pretender in mind, then something else was going on with Varys and Illyrio.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Ran said:

I believe that George came up with the whole Targaryen pretender idea when he stopped work and remapped out the series, so the mummer's dragon was something introduced into the HotU. But whether he had already written it and went back and added it in, or hadn't yet gotten to it, I don't know.This is all just my speculation, of course, haven't asked George directly as it feels like he won't want to discuss such things until the series is done.

@Bael's Bastard

My assumption was that Varys was wittingly doing it... but I also think it's possible he was manipulated into it, perhaps through magical means, and isn't quite aware of it. Illyrio, I'm more open to being manipulated by Varys in turn, but I don't know. Again, just speculation based on trying to figure out how George envisioned the original trilogy vs. how he envisioned it after mapping it out as six books. Seems to me Dany's story needed complications he hadn't imagined, and so he drew from history again. But if he didn't have a Targaryen pretender in mind, then something else was going on with Varys and Illyrio.

What is the basis for the idea that the Others are more than a Force of Nature type of threat? Is there any evidence that they interact in human politics - or with any human south of the Wall whatsoever?

It seems like quite a leap to me. Not saying it’s impossible, but the sense of the Others so far is that of something alien and totally above and beyond stooping to interaction with human pawns. I doubt they even understand or care about the concept of human politics and conflicts.

But I’m open to be proven wrong if I missed those signs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

What is the basis for the idea that the Others are more than a Force of Nature type of threat? Is there any evidence that they interact in human politics - or with any human south of the Wall whatsoever?

It seems like quite a leap to me. Not saying it’s impossible, but the sense of the Others so far is that of something alien and totally above and beyond stooping to interaction with human pawns. I doubt they even understand or care about the concept of human politics and conflicts.

But I’m open to be proven wrong if I missed those signs.

Craster is the most obvious example of a human collaborator with the Others. Obviously Craster isn't a political player in the game of thrones south of the Wall, and the extents of his knowledge of the Others' plans, and how he is benefitting those plans, is unknown. But he is nevertheless a human collaborator who has given them all his sons, and whom they have spared, whether that that is an agreement both sides coincidentally stumbled into, or purposely hashed out in some way. How an agreement would have come about between them and Varys I can't even begin to speculate about. But it's an interesting idea. And his story about the voice when be got cut is an unexplained mystery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

It's much easier to tell the lie that a sudden sickness came and took an 80 year old man and have it be believed.

I think this is a key point. Arryn was undoubtedly a major player - he was the force that brought together the alliance that won RR and kept the realm in one piece thereafter. His death would always be a milestone that would set in motion centrifugal forces that would eventually break the seven kingdoms apart in the absence of a strong and legitimate successor to Robert, perhaps even before Robert breathed his last: Dorne has a grievance, the Reach fought against the current ruling Baratheon-Arryn-Stark-Tully-Lannister alliance as well (even if they are in turn natural enemies of Dorne), as did some Riverlords and finally, Balon is waiting to avenge his sons.

However, as Jabar points out, because of Arryn's age, his death could be put down to natural causes, and the fracturing of the realm allowed to proceed at its previous pace, while OTOH allowing him and Stannis to go ahead with the revelation of Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella's parentage would cause an immediate civil war. 

So, V&I who did not have their piece(s) in Essos on the board yet were highly incentivized to assassinate Arryn, but were either beaten to it by L&L, with Pycelle possibly helping to make sure of its success acting on behalf of Lannister interests independently (Arryn had borrowed that book from him, so  Pycelle might have figured out what he was upto), or V&I instigated either L&L or Pycelle indirectly as was suggested in this discussion. There's a lot here to absorb here actually, even after so many years of part-living in this universe, it's amazing!!

With V&I's pieces still not ready, obviously they're looking to delay the Lannister-Stark+Stannis(+Tully) conflict that will inevitably ensue if Ned makes the same discovery as Jon Arryn. Removing a younger man from the picture is more difficult, but might have needed to be done anyway to stop the twincest revelation and keep Stannis isolated, but events completely span out of control, catalyzed by the attempt on Bran's life, resulting in Cat kidnapping Tyrion, Tywin ravaging the Riverlands, with Cersei separately trying to control events by offing Robert, which then lets her seize control in the name of her son and throw Ned in the black cells.

Even here, the situation could have been salvaged with the deal Ned struck with Varys, but for Joffrey. Also if it was really Joffrey who sent the catspaw to kill Bran, then he and, independently, Littlefinger (with his misdirect to Cat via the secret message and later the misdirect about the owner of the dagger) were the two actors in the game that stopped V&I from maintaining stability until the Targaryen restoration-invasion was ready to go ahead.

 

Edited by Ser Hedge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Ran said:

I believe that George came up with the whole Targaryen pretender idea when he stopped work and remapped out the series, so the mummer's dragon was something introduced into the HotU. But whether he had already written it and went back and added it in, or hadn't yet gotten to it, I don't know.This is all just my speculation, of course, haven't asked George directly as it feels like he won't want to discuss such things until the series is done.

@Bael's Bastard

My assumption was that Varys was wittingly doing it... but I also think it's possible he was manipulated into it, perhaps through magical means, and isn't quite aware of it. Illyrio, I'm more open to being manipulated by Varys in turn, but I don't know. Again, just speculation based on trying to figure out how George envisioned the original trilogy vs. how he envisioned it after mapping it out as six books. Seems to me Dany's story needed complications he hadn't imagined, and so he drew from history again. But if he didn't have a Targaryen pretender in mind, then something else was going on with Varys and Illyrio.

Do you then also believe that the dance with a hand dying that Varys did before only meant JA, and that George originally intended Varys to be the murderer of Jon Arryn? (He actually may have given JA the fatal dose, after Lysa Arryn botched the job, or vice versa)

It's interesting to regard this conversation that Arya overhears in relation to a 3 book series in that regard. He's referred to as a "wizard" in the conversation and Arya repeats it after to her father. Arya's water dancing includes standing on the tip of her toes with one leg, much like a ballerina, and the "swan" connection perks up often in Arya's arc. This would make Varys the wizard who holds the swan princess captive and disguised at the lake of his castle. Except Varys is never featured later in her arc ever again. We do have the question popping up often about Jaquen in a black cell ending up with Yoren for Castle Black and showing instant interest in Arry in aCoK and tries to persuade her to join the Faceless Men.

While I don't necessarily subscribe to the theory that Varys picked Jaquen to accompany Yoren as the series currently stands, this may have been the original idea? Either Varys on his own (or Ned's letter to Tobho Mott that Varys agreed to) certainly helped get Gendry to join the Yoren crew too. And it was his intent that Ned Stark would be with them too. If this is true - then perhaps Varys hired Jaquen to kill Ned Stark on the road. That way the Hand would be dead, the secret of Cersei's children still preserved since Gendry goes North, and war would be avoided at the last minute with Sansa (a little bird) as hostage.

This sinister wizard image tones down a lot in later books. At some point, Varys's disguises as a woman almost make him hilarious. Then again, Tyrion has a lot of "fool" references put in his arc, so the spider is more of a chameleon who comes across as either sinister for Arya's arc while comical in Tyrion. The blue flame voice thing and his cutting is used to make Varys have a hatred against sorcery and wizardry, signaling an abandoning of the 'sinister wizard role' to be just the 'mummer' instead. What we do preserve is that Varys himself is capable of assassination, and the one in aDwD's epilogue isn't so much one like a FM, but containing multiple references to the Sorrowful Man, while Xaro in aCoK has much in common with Varys, except that he isn't cut. (There are several world building references between Qarth, Xaro, Qaathi and Varys, including a city that the Dothraki call the Spider City)

I have never been able to exclude the potential of that blue flame in Varys' background story in relation to the Others. Many of the magical creatures made relate to a similar principal:

  • Stannis gives his seed and shadow to help make shadowy assassins that take after the image of Stannis.
  • The NK was said to give his "seed and soul" to his Other-like queen and helped the Others. And we are told that the Others look like each other's twin in aGoT prologue.
  • Dany gives up a man's body, the result of his seed and a third to make dragons, and in Qarth we get a scene where she cuts a snake into pieces, charrs it on a brazier and feeds it to the dragons, who are growing "bigger"
  • Craster sacrifices his sons to the Cold Gods, once again, the result of his seed; Men of the Frozen Shore are also rumored to sacrifice to the Cold Gods.
  • The Unsullied sacrifice their cut parts on an altar in fire and strengthen a Warrior Goddess this way

Seed, inability to procreate/continue a male line all sort of result in soldiers used as weapon to kill who are either uniformous in appearance or looking like the shadow/soul of that man. In Dany's case, her weapons are the materialisation of her 'soul' (dragons), but represent something of the sacrificed men and woman. She is allegedly barren. Later she also gets the Unsullied who follow her as if she is their Warrior Goddess. Here it are soldiers creating a goddess for them, instead of a force creating his tools. 

So, either Varys's sacrifice of his fertility raised a godlike force and he is the soldier OR his sacrifice was used to make soldiers by a force. The issue is that while the blue flame could be connected to the Others for a color, Varys never tells us anything more about the voice except that it spoke in a language he did not understand, without adding that it sounded like some crackling of ice or even inhuman. The time when it occurred though could match potentially as the onset of the return of the Others beyond the Heart of the lands of Always Winter - about 30-40 years ago. If this event was related to the Others, I am however more inclined that George chose to have Varys rebalance it - as one whose sacrifice may have raised, woken or strengthened the Ice side, he afterwards very much supports the fire side, to remain in power or regain power in Westeros.

Edited by sweetsunray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

So, either Varys's sacrifice of his fertility raised a godlike force and he is the soldier OR his sacrifice was used to make soldiers by a force.

@Lost Melnibonean raised a similar point in Jan. 2018 but with dragons as the payoff for the sacrifice:

A little expansion on Lost Mel's excerpts later in the same thread here and here.

The seed sacrifice is new and logical; I had been thinking in terms of Varys's balls and saw a connection to Quentyn Martell dying in a fireball as well as the deaths of Quentyn "Fireball" Ball and the seemingly outsized role played by Glendon Flowers in The Mystery Knight.

But your observations also help me to see a potential connection to Arya becoming a monster / Faceless Man during her time at Harrenhal:

On 4/22/2017 at 8:29 AM, Seams said:

And very nice point about Arya wearing the Bolton colors and sigil evoking the future marriage of fArya / Jeyne Poole to Ramsay. I saw a possible (twisted) sexual image in the scene of Arya removing the pale, blood-engorged leeches from Roose's naked body. (GRRM, you really push me to my limit sometimes.) That may have been a symbolic "bedding," with Arya jerking off the Lord of the Dreadfort - a notion that fits with the opening image of the chapter, with Pia horribly punished for having slept with Lannister soldiers and Amabel telling Arya she will suffer similar punishment for supporting the northmen once the Lannisters retake control of Harrenhal.

In a weird way, maybe Arya's rebirth as a Faceless Man in this chapter is a result of her close encounter with the naked Roose's engorged . . . leeches, as well as her wearing the colors of the Boltons as a bride would do. The Flayed Man and the Faceless Men might be two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Arya is reborn as Roose's murderous trueborn heir.

And if dragons, shadowbabies and Faceless Men are all born through the sacrifice of someone's seed, balls or manhood -- often involving fire in the act of destruction -- that might also mean that Sandor Clegane is part of the set of symbols. He loses the side of his face in a fire and his brother, who causes Sandor's burn injury, seems to be reborn (or confirmed) as a monstrous super soldier. I know that no one wants me to point out that Sandor Clegane's name contains a possible anagram involving gonads, but I will point out that cheeks and peaches may be linked in GRRM's series of fruits associated with body parts. And King Robert strongly links fruit with sex when he tells Ned how wonderful it is to live further south in Westeros:

You need a taste of summer before it flees. In Highgarden there are fields of golden roses that stretch away as far as the eye can see The fruits are so ripe they explode in your mouth -- melons, peaches, fireplums, you've never tasted such sweetness. You'll see, I brought you some. ... "And the girls, Ned!" he exclaimed, his eyes sparkling. "I swear, women lose all modesty in the heat. They swim naked in the river, right beneath the castle. ..."

Robert Baratheon had always been a man of huge appetites, a man who knew how to take his pleasures.

(AGoT, Chap. 4, Eddard I)

So the sacrifice of Sandor's face is like the burning of a peach, and a peach is a fertility symbol. (Also associated with Renly, of course.) The fruit connection would also be consistent with your point about sacrificing seeds although some fruits have pits.

Hey! Could the destruction of the dragon pit coincide with the end of dragon hatching for the Targaryens? I have wondered about the pit / pit wordplay between fruit and the fighting pits or dragon pit. There is always a new tangent to explore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Seams said:

@Lost Melnibonean raised a similar point in Jan. 2018 but with dragons as the payoff for the sacrifice:

A little expansion on Lost Mel's excerpts later in the same thread here and here.

The seed sacrifice is new and logical; I had been thinking in terms of Varys's balls and saw a connection to Quentyn Martell dying in a fireball as well as the deaths of Quentyn "Fireball" Ball and the seemingly outsized role played by Glendon Flowers in The Mystery Knight.

But your observations also help me to see a potential connection to Arya becoming a monster / Faceless Man during her time at Harrenhal:

And if dragons, shadowbabies and Faceless Men are all born through the sacrifice of someone's seed, balls or manhood -- often involving fire in the act of destruction -- that might also mean that Sandor Clegane is part of the set of symbols. He loses the side of his face in a fire and his brother, who causes Sandor's burn injury, seems to be reborn (or confirmed) as a monstrous super soldier. I know that no one wants me to point out that Sandor Clegane's name contains a possible anagram involving gonads, but I will point out that cheeks and peaches may be linked in GRRM's series of fruits associated with body parts. And King Robert strongly links fruit with sex when he tells Ned how wonderful it is to live further south in Westeros:

You need a taste of summer before it flees. In Highgarden there are fields of golden roses that stretch away as far as the eye can see The fruits are so ripe they explode in your mouth -- melons, peaches, fireplums, you've never tasted such sweetness. You'll see, I brought you some. ... "And the girls, Ned!" he exclaimed, his eyes sparkling. "I swear, women lose all modesty in the heat. They swim naked in the river, right beneath the castle. ..."

Robert Baratheon had always been a man of huge appetites, a man who knew how to take his pleasures.

(AGoT, Chap. 4, Eddard I)

So the sacrifice of Sandor's face is like the burning of a peach, and a peach is a fertility symbol. (Also associated with Renly, of course.) The fruit connection would also be consistent with your point about sacrificing seeds although some fruits have pits.

Hey! Could the destruction of the dragon pit coincide with the end of dragon hatching for the Targaryens? I have wondered about the pit / pit wordplay between fruit and the fighting pits or dragon pit. There is always a new tangent to explore.

I wrote two essays on Varys so far (the rest is draft)

https://sweeticeandfiresunray.com/2017/08/03/lord-varys-introduction/

https://sweeticeandfiresunray.com/2017/11/03/the-spiders-origin-part-i/

In the last one I already pointed out the parallel between Unsullied's sacrifice, Varys' cutting and Dany's feeding of charred snake to her dragons in Qarth. I also go through the mentions of "spiders" including Ice Spiders and how it may relate to Varys or not.

ETA: Even if my speculation in the last linked essay that Varys has Qartheen origin and is a dominant white leukist is wrong, it serves to point out how strongly Varys, Qartheen and Others share similarities. And Painkillerjane added in her comment another parallel: spiders have actual "blue blood" (no hemoglobin), as do Others, and so have Qartheen Pureborn in a symbolical sense.

I am currently working on an "Others" essay, and the NK story with his Queen, and the making of shadow babies by Stannis on Mel is certainly set up as a parralel. Except with shadow babies Stannis loses his "shadow" rather than his soul, and the shorter his shadow, the closer he is to this end, while the NK is said to have given his "soul". Note that Others are called "White Shadows" and the aGoT prologue has Will's first description of them be that of a white shadow moving.

I am not sure that Faceless Men are made or born through the sacrifice of seed. However, we do have the infertile waif, and as the kindly man explains women rarely are FM, because they can produce life which is the opposite of death. So, infertily comes into play here at least as a concept. The stuff they must drink to perform the face changing magic, might render the "soldiers" infertile (pure speculation)?Or the handling of poisons? :dunno: If so, we can say that the Many Faced God gets his soldiers through sacrifice of seed/fertility and identity (instead of soul or shadow).

So @Ran I would not readily believe that the link between Varys and Others is entirely severed by George.

Edited by sweetsunray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/9/2019 at 3:15 PM, Ran said:

Mmm. I think the Varys of AGoT was essentially a pawn of the Others who was working to manipulate the Seven Kingdoms into vulnerability so that humanity can be destroyed. His talk with Tyrion in ACoK of the magical ritual that accompanied his gelding seems to me like a remnant of a notion that has since seemingly come back to the fore with another character later in the novels.

TWoW spoilers:

  Hide contents

By which I mean Euron now strikes me as being a pawn of the Others.

The Varys of ACoK is simply working to manipulate the Seven Kingdoms to put his chosen king, the mummer's dragon, on the Iron Throne.

 Pardon me if I think the (entirely speculative) Varys of AGoT seems a lot more sinister!

 )(?

I always got Varys's gelding to be a reference to blood libel and all the tribulations one has being from a forskaken line.  What I dont get about Varys is his extreme religious adherence to the possibly many lines of aegon the unworthy living life as extreme libertine bravados in the golden company. Reminds me of the movie The Departed. Matt Damon's very organized character has an unusual ordered life as  an FbI agent whos real loyalties reside with the mob. Its hard to understand why a 35 year old college educated guy would have such adherance to 60 year old libertine criminal. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/10/2019 at 12:34 PM, Jabar of House Titan said:

But, according to that logic, how does Varys know anything at all?

His spy network does not rely on messenger ravens.

If it did, how would Varys find out anything in enough time to be considered good at his job. He'd barely be any better than any other shrewd lord with a couple spies on payroll. Unless, you are suggesting that the maester conspiracy Barbrey Dustin preaches and Catelyn Stark halfway believed runs deeper than any of them had thought.

He knows things in and around Kings Landing in time to react to them. He knows things at the Citadel and elsewhere in time to react to them. There is simply no way he could know about Bran's fall in time to order the catspaw barely three weeks later. No way, no how.

And if you look closely at Varys, he is not very good at his job. He utterly failed to make the connection between Rhaegar, Lyanna and Jon Snow, even though a baby from their union should have been among his foremost concerns throughout the entire war, no matter where his loyalties lay. He is utterly oblivious to what Littlefinger is up to, even though he knows he is screwing with Illyrio's plans more than anyone else. He has no idea where the dagger came from even though the king brandished it after the wager in full vierw of the entire court. He's been outwitted and outplayed by everyone from Ned to Tyrion to Littlefinger to Arya to whomever killed Tyrek (unless that was Varys himself), to the point of him losing his post as MoW so that he is now reduced to skulking about castle waiting for others to put their plans in motion. He is not even as good as a half-shrewd lord with a few spies on his payroll.

Quote

Absolutely not.

What I am saying is that there were multiple plots to assassinate Jon Arryn brewing at the same time. Littlefinger and Lysa were just the first ones to act. It was not safe for Cersei, as we already know, to do anything until she could arrange for Robert Arryn to become a ward at Casterly Rock. Jon Arryn, however, was twice as shrewd as Ned Stark so Cersei did not know exactly how much trouble she was in with Jon Arryn. She probably felt that she was being led to the gallows but she did not know that the noose was already tightening around her neck. The investigation against her and her brother was almost complete; Jon Arryn would have to be a bigger idiot than Victarion Greyjoy to even think of allowing his son to be fostered under the auspicies of the treacherous queen and her ruthless father on the other side of the country.

If there was any evidence at all about I&V wanting to kill JA or any plausible explanation as to how this would benefit their plans at the time the murder was committed I would give this the benefit of the doubt. But the fact is that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to indicate that anyone other than L&L killed JA.

Cersei was in absolutely no trouble because there is no proof to these accusations, just some words in a dusty old book. And you'll note that while JA died quickly, he did linger for some time and was only uncommunicative at the very end. If he wanted to tell Robert what he knew, he could have. But he didn't because you can't lay an accusation like that against the queen without actual proof, and he had none. In any event, at best, it would have come down to a TbC, which means JA and/or Stannis would have to face the Mountain or find a champion willing to do so. Good luck with that.

The plans to foster Robert at Casterly Rock did not emerge until after Jon had died. His plan was to foster him on Dragonstone, which is why Lysa killed him. So my earlier comment about Cersei having leverage over JA in this way was inaccurate. But she still had nothing to fear from him because he has no proof of her infidelity. This is the exact reason she didn't kill Ned when he confronted her with the same accusation and the same lack of evidence, and this should have been the second major clue to the reader that she was not responsible for Arryn's death.

Quote

Lol like what? If Cersei the Queen can't be trusted to not have sex with her twin brother and a Kingsguard (!!!) and not pass off said Kingsguard's bastards as the king's trueborn child, why should he entrust Cersei and her father with the education and upbringing of his one and only child? Especially since Cersei's eldest child has the makings of a nutcase and Tywin oversaw the murders of children who got in his way some fifteen years ago.

Well then why did Robert make the arrangements to have him fostered at CR after JA died? You're looking at this from your own perspective rather than that of the characters. Robert has no idea Cersei is sleeping with Jaime or that the children are not his. He does not consider Joffrey a nutcase, and he was actually grateful that Tywin killed the Targ children so that he would not have to do it himself.

Quote

Come on now.

Jon Arryn was going to foster Robert Arryn on Dragonstone. Not only is Stannis more trustworthy and honorable than Tywin Lannister but Stannis is the master-of-ships, having control of the navy. Stannis has a child Robert's age (a girl no less, which we all know is good for Robert) and a fool who could make Robert Arryn laugh. Stannis, dare I say, is marginally kinder than Tywin Lannister is; he'd be hard on Robert but he'd be more likely to take a vested interest in the boy's success because of duty. Whereas Tywin only cares about his own legacy. Dragonstone is also closer, a major selling point for Lysa's sake. Dragonstone is also slightly more secure than the Eyrie if not for the fact that blockading Dragonstone is a bit more of a headache whereas blockading the Eyrie is rather simple. So, if worse comes to worse between Lord Arryn and the Queen, Robert Arryn can be quickly spirited away and kept safe on the island fortress.

Besides, if Robert Arryn had to get back to the Eyrie, getting him back to the Eyrie by ship is easier than getting him to the Eyrie overland: we have Sansa, Catelyn and Tyrion's POV chapters to thank for that tidbit.

I'm not sure what the point of all this is, since JA was never considering Casterly Rock for little Robert. But the fact is that none of this was a selling point for Lysa's sake because her motivation for killing Jon was to prevent him from sending Robert anywhere. There is no motivation for either Varys or Cersei to kill him because he was not a threat to either of their positions.

Quote

Cersei dismisses Jon Arryn exactly for the same reasons you say. He is an very old man that she thinks she has leverage over. Part of the reason why she thinks she has leverage over Jon Arryn is because Robert spent years more or less ignoring Jon Arryn.

Ned Stark is a grown ass man who Cersei cannot touch. Robert has a soft spot for Ned that is softer than the one he had for Jon Arryn.

Robert ignores everyone. He ignores Cersei, his small council, Ned . . . He is not interested in running the government at all but is instead intent on drinking and whoring himself into an early grave. And yet Robert considered JA as a father figure, affording him just as much, if not more, respect that Ned, whom he considered to be a little brother.

If Cersei dismisses JA for the reasons you say -- that he has no influence of Robert -- then that makes it even less likely that she would want him dead. As I said, he is absolutely no threat to her no matter what he thinks he knows.

Quote

How old was Jon Arryn when he died? He'd be in his late 70s and that's playing fast and loose. The AWOIAF wiki puts him at age 80.

It's much easier to tell the lie that a sudden sickness came and took an 80 year old man and have it be believed.

Ned Stark is what? A man of 35. The health and virility of most healthy, active men doesn't take a nosedive until after 40. 35 is still the primetime years for a man as far as many people are concerned both in the story and in real life. In fact, the people of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance find a man in his 30s to be more preferable than a man in his 20s. Catherine the Great famously talked about how the sexual prowess of men reaches its peak in the 30s.

Yeah, passing off the sudden death of a healthy, active, well-known 35 year old man is ridiculously hard.

Of course it is easier for an old man, but you're making a huge leap in logic by suggesting that just because his death could be passed off as old age that Cersei and/or Varys wanted him dead. We've already established that Cersie had no reason to fear him or whatever accusations he may have made, because there is no proof and Robert doesn't think much other either JA or Stannis to take them at their words. Likewise, Varys and Illyrio have no reason to stir up the realm just yet because Dany and Drogo have not even met.

So the only people who had any reason to kill JA at that time were Petyr and Lysa. And since the text eventually reveals that they were the ones who did it, it's going to take a lot more than Jon's age to make the case that people with no motivation to kill him were plotting his death.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 5/13/2019 at 7:28 PM, John Suburbs said:

Likewise, Varys and Illyrio have no reason to stir up the realm just yet because Dany and Drogo have not even met.

That post was very well reasoned. I do want to observe, however, that V&I did have motive here and that was to stall the civil war that would erupt if Arryn and Stannis had gone public with their suspicions. You could say they would have wanted to do this because Dany and Drogo haven't yet met.

I don't dispute L&L did the deed for their own reasons and perhaps Pycelle hastened the process (and at the very least failed to report the cause of death) acting likely independently of L&L (on behalf of the Lannisters probably, but deciding autonomously) for reasons that are actually temporarily aligned with Varys'.

It's fascinating how well GRRM plotted the complexities of this court. Perhaps it is the gardening approach, where he left himself options for later when first writing it, but how many writers think to leave themselves such open options in the first place? 

Edited by Ser Hedge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Ser Hedge said:

That post was very well reasoned. I do want to observe, however, that V&I did have motive here and that was to stall the civil war that would erupt if Arryn and Stannis had gone public with their suspicions. You could say they would have wanted to do this because Dany and Drogo haven't yet met.

I don't dispute L&L did the deed for their own reasons and perhaps Pycelle hastened the process (and at the very least failed to report the cause of death) acting likely independently of L&L (on behalf of the Lannisters probably, but deciding autonomously) for reasons that are actually temporarily aligned with Varys'.

It's fascinating how well GRRM plotted the complexities of this court. Perhaps it is the gardening approach, where he left himself options for later when first writing it, but how many writers think to leave themselves such open options in the first place? 

Interesting thought, but I don't see how they could reason that the accusation would lead to all-out war. Jon and Stannis would make the accusation. Cersei would deny it. J&A would then need to show their proof, which amounts to nothing more than words in a dusty old book. Their last hope would be to get Jaime to admit the truth, which he won't, but even if he does there won't be a war because Cersei's accuser is now her own brother. Even if Robert does rule that Cersei is guilty, she still has the right to a TbC, which means J&S or their champions would have to defeat the mountain. Either way, Cersei is convicted or acquitted by the gods, so there is very little chance that this will erupt into a continental conflict. At the absolute worst, you'd get House Lannister rebelling against the crown, which would be over long before Dany produces a child.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

Interesting thought, but I don't see how they could reason that the accusation would lead to all-out war. Jon and Stannis would make the accusation. Cersei would deny it. J&A would then need to show their proof, which amounts to nothing more than words in a dusty old book. Their last hope would be to get Jaime to admit the truth, which he won't, but even if he does there won't be a war because Cersei's accuser is now her own brother. Even if Robert does rule that Cersei is guilty, she still has the right to a TbC, which means J&S or their champions would have to defeat the mountain. Either way, Cersei is convicted or acquitted by the gods, so there is very little chance that this will erupt into a continental conflict. At the absolute worst, you'd get House Lannister rebelling against the crown, which would be over long before Dany produces a child.

Thank you, understand your point. That might well be all there is to it, but there is the potential for further chaos. What does Robert do in this scenario? Does he set aside the three children from the succession? It could also  be that the Lannister rebellion is not that easily surpressed, though I will admit with Robert alive, the combined Stormland+Crownlands+Reach+Vale+Riverlands+Northern forces are formidable. Dorne's primary enemy are the Lannisters, so even with no love lost for Robert, they stay out of it. But take Robert out of the equation (like Cersei eventually went on to do) and it splinters, especially if Arryn is also dead and you can get LL to get Lysa to stay out (as the Lannisters eventually did in the war of the 5Ks).

So a safety first approach would have been to stop Arryn from his investigation. However, a good cyvasse player who has thought this further through and sees that this is the outcome that LL wants as well and realizes that LL wants something opposite to V&I would actually let this play through prematurely while Robert and Arryn are alive (in line with your reasoning) than let this blow up eventually they way it did in the actual story line. Fascinating.

 

Edited by Ser Hedge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The bit of dialogue posted by the OP suggests that they had murdered Jon Arryn and were considering doing the same to Ned. But it doesn't actually say that. Jon Arryn's assassination and Ned's potential are not in fact linked. 

Think of it like this. It was a fact that Ned was gathering evidence and would see the truth of Cersei's children paternity soon, leading to a war that is inconvenient to Illyrio and Varys. They know Arryn was assassinated (or simply died, it works either way) and Illyrio wonders if Ned's death might forestall the unwelcome developments. Varys probably has assassinated someone before and got away with it and he has definitely adapted to a change of a person of power. However Ned is both well connected and his household isn't prone to infiltration. An assassination may not be possible or get them the results they want.

This sequence does not contradict the dialogue as written and does not imply that Varys or Illyrio were involved or even aware of Jon Arryn's assassination. Just considering options. Their dialogue was written as a red herring to the reader.

I don't believe that Martin had conceived any indication of Jon Connington, there is no sign of him. 

On 5/10/2019 at 11:00 PM, Ran said:

I believe that George came up with the whole Targaryen pretender idea when he stopped work and remapped out the series, so the mummer's dragon was something introduced into the HotU. But whether he had already written it and went back and added it in, or hadn't yet gotten to it, I don't know.This is all just my speculation, of course, haven't asked George directly as it feels like he won't want to discuss such things until the series is done.

@Bael's Bastard

It seems to me that Dany's invasion was always meant to be undermined, starting from her idyllic musings about the place and Jorah correcting Viserys' misconception. A purported Targaryen with a better claim than hers sitting on the Throne she is aiming for certainly plays into that. Varys and Illyrio also need a raison d'etre, while the latter's lack of interest in Viserys and Dany is glaringly obvious from Dany's wedding. 

So while Jon Connington probably wasn't a wink in his eyes at that stage, I think Aegon was waiting in the wings or at the least a claimant for Illyrio and Varys to support. Though when Varys has the chance to comment on Aegon's death in their scene at the Black Cells he let's it slide. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×