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Ser Leftwich

Varys and Illyrio under the Red Keep

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On 5/13/2019 at 3:28 PM, John Suburbs said:

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.

When does Ned outwited or outplayed Varys?

 

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20 hours ago, Ser Hedge said:

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.

 

Perhaps, but now we are not talking about just the Arryn murder to set off all this chaos, but the Arryn murder followed by a regicide, followed by a succession crisis . . . So my point is the same: if V&I are not even sure that Drogo will marry Dany, let alone produce a child within the next year or so, they gain nothing from killing Arryn now because the "evidence" he has to prove his claim is highly subjective. Even if Robert does trust the word of Jon and then rules against Cersei and delegitimizes his children, the most likely outcome would be for Cersei to demand a TbC. From there, she will either win, in which case everything stays the same, or she loses, in which no one will support either her claim or Joffrey's. So at that time, from V&I's perspective, there is no upside to killing Jon, only a massive downside should things spin out of control before their Dothraki plan is ready.

Varys has proven himself to be a pitifully poor cyvasse player, especially when it comes to Petyr. He admits to Illyrio that he has absolutely no idea what game LF is playing, even though any fool could see that he is their most formidable enemy, having orchestrated the very situation that is now jeopardizing their plans. So I cannot see how anyone could think that Varys plotted to kill JA because he knew that this is what Petyr wanted.

 

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40 minutes ago, Arthur Peres said:

When does Ned outwited or outplayed Varys?

 

With Jon. The whole time Rhaegar and Lyanna were missing, Varys, of all people, should have had the possibility of yet another Targ bastard first and foremost in his mind. The realm had just gotten rid of the last bastard after nearly 100 years of bloodshed. So when Ned reports back that Lyanna is dead and that's the end of it, Varys, along with the entire realm, must have given a huge sigh of relief that they don't have to go through all of that again. And yet Varys, again along with everyone else, fell for Ned's story about Jon's bastardy hook, line and sinker. It was perhaps the most masterful bit of subterfuge in the entire story, perpetrated by a man who was a complete novice at this kind of stuff.

The only way this could not be the case is if Rhaegar did not kidnap Lyanna, the two were never alone together, and Varys knows this. But even then, he should know who Jon's real father is, which means readers' expectations are about to be subverted big time because Jon will be of no account as far as the realm is concerned.

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@John Suburbs
You're operating under the presumption that Varys doesn't know. It's very well likely that Viserys knows or has an idea about the whole Rhaegar/Lyanna thing. Probably would explain why Aerys was said to have disinherited Rhaegar and all his children in favor of Viserys.

You're also operating under the presumption that Varys does exactly what he says and says exactly what he means. Just because he told a dying man the truth one time doesn't mean that:

  • he told the whole truth of the matter (aka didn't throw in a lie or a half-truth in his monologue)
  • he always has told the truth
  • that he will continue to tell the truth

The fact that Varys actually does what he says and says what he means is extremely unlikely given the game Varys has been playing with the lives of Viserys and Daenerys.

And saying that Varys has only played with the lives of Viserys and Daenerys is being generous. He played with the lives of Aerys II Targaryen, Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark, Tywin Lannister, Jon Connington, Jon Arryn and Young Griff. And that's not even a comprehensive list of all the games Varys has played.

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1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

Even if Robert does trust the word of Jon and then rules against Cersei and delegitimizes his children, the most likely outcome would be for Cersei to demand a TbC.

I think that's leaving the Tywin part of the equation out. Jon Arryn doesn't have to prove his case to Robert. He just has to feel secure enough to make the accusation. If Robert hears the case and Tywin objects, that pits Jon Arryn against Tywin Lannister with Robert in the middle forced to make a choice between his oldest friend and his goodfather. Cersei isn't all alone with no option but trial by combat. She would appeal to her father and all the strength of Casterly Rock. I'm pretty sure that's the civil war Varys and Illyrio must have been envisioning. And a trial or decision one way or the other would not put the dispute to bed. It would lead to war one way or another. 

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4 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

With Jon. The whole time Rhaegar and Lyanna were missing, Varys, of all people, should have had the possibility of yet another Targ bastard first and foremost in his mind. ... Varys, again along with everyone else, fell for Ned's story about Jon's bastardy hook, line and sinker.

And yet we hear this in the conversation beneath the Red Keep:

"Lord Stark's the one who troubles my sleep. He has the bastard, he has the book, and soon enough he'll have the truth."

We think we understand that this refers to Gendry, the genealogy book and the truth about Joffrey's paternity. But maybe not. It could easily be about Jon Snow and some other book. (Who tried to burn the Winterfell library, which contains scrolls and volumes Tyrions has seen nowhere else?)

Or some other bastard.

There can be more than one truth that Illyrio wants hidden; perhaps truths more important that the illegitimacy of Cersei's children.

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20 hours ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

@John Suburbs
You're operating under the presumption that Varys doesn't know. It's very well likely that Viserys knows or has an idea about the whole Rhaegar/Lyanna thing. Probably would explain why Aerys was said to have disinherited Rhaegar and all his children in favor of Viserys.

You're also operating under the presumption that Varys does exactly what he says and says exactly what he means. Just because he told a dying man the truth one time doesn't mean that:

  • he told the whole truth of the matter (aka didn't throw in a lie or a half-truth in his monologue)
  • he always has told the truth
  • that he will continue to tell the truth

The fact that Varys actually does what he says and says what he means is extremely unlikely given the game Varys has been playing with the lives of Viserys and Daenerys.

And saying that Varys has only played with the lives of Viserys and Daenerys is being generous. He played with the lives of Aerys II Targaryen, Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark, Tywin Lannister, Jon Connington, Jon Arryn and Young Griff. And that's not even a comprehensive list of all the games Varys has played.

If Varys does know the truth about Jon, there is absolutely no indication of it in the text. Varys has never spoken of Jon, never inquired after him, has not acknowledged him in any way. It is certainly possible he knows the truth, but it would be very unlike Martin to not offer up a single clue to that fact this late in the story. And as I said, if Varys does know, then readers' expectations about who Jon is and why he is important to the story are going to be subverted because all indications so show that Varys is not and has never been even slightly interested in Jon.

So based on the evidence provided so far, sure, it is my presumption that Varys does not know. If it turns out he does, then by all means take Ned off the list of people who have outplayed Varys.

20 hours ago, Syl of Syl said:

I think that's leaving the Tywin part of the equation out. Jon Arryn doesn't have to prove his case to Robert. He just has to feel secure enough to make the accusation. If Robert hears the case and Tywin objects, that pits Jon Arryn against Tywin Lannister with Robert in the middle forced to make a choice between his oldest friend and his goodfather. Cersei isn't all alone with no option but trial by combat. She would appeal to her father and all the strength of Casterly Rock. I'm pretty sure that's the civil war Varys and Illyrio must have been envisioning. And a trial or decision one way or the other would not put the dispute to bed. It would lead to war one way or another. 

Very unlikely that Tywin would march on King's Landing if Robert were to rule against Cersei. Even if he did, that conflict would be over in a matter of months because Robert would marshal forces from the entire kingdom to confront one rebel lord. Tywin would certainly recognize this, which is why he would go the much safer route of a TbC with Gregor as Cersei's champion. He's all but guaranteed to win that way.

Compare this to the strife that arises with JA's death. Suddenly there is a vacuum in the second most powerful post in the realm, and the most powerful in a practical sense since Robert is an absentee king at best. Now you have a highly uncertain situation when it comes to selecting a new hand (will Robert just pick Jaime, like Cersei wants; will he choose Ned, or someone else?), which sets off all manner of political machinations between the houses and ultimately places the entire realm under new political leadership that could shift policy and management in entirely unpredictable directions. So given that V&I required stability and predictability at that point so they could get their Dothraki plan in place, it is utterly incongruous for them to kill JA, even if they were certain he was about to accuse the queen just because of the book.

17 hours ago, Seams said:

And yet we hear this in the conversation beneath the Red Keep:

"Lord Stark's the one who troubles my sleep. He has the bastard, he has the book, and soon enough he'll have the truth."

We think we understand that this refers to Gendry, the genealogy book and the truth about Joffrey's paternity. But maybe not. It could easily be about Jon Snow and some other book. (Who tried to burn the Winterfell library, which contains scrolls and volumes Tyrions has seen nowhere else?)

Or some other bastard.

There can be more than one truth that Illyrio wants hidden; perhaps truths more important that the illegitimacy of Cersei's children.

No, he's talking about Gendry. Ned had just met Gendry at Tobho Mott's a few chapters earlier, and Pycelle just gave him the book that Jon Arryn was reading. If this refers to Jon and some other unknown book, than what truth will Ned soon have that he doesn't know already?

There is zero indication that Jon is anywhere on Varys' radar or had been at any time prior to the story.

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