Characters from A Song of Ice and Fire


Characters from A Song of Ice and Fire

Many of the major and minor characters in George R. R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire belong to one of the major houses of Westeros, and are described on the page for that house. This page covers those characters that play important roles in the series, but are not members of major or minor houses of note. For characters that are members of minor Houses, see Minor houses in A Song of Ice and Fire. See List of characters in A Song of Ice and Fire for a lengthier list.

Arys Oakheart

Ser Arys Oakheart is a knight of the Kingsguard, serving under Robert Baratheon and his heirs.

Ser Arys was sent to the kingdom of Dorne to guard Princess Myrcella Baratheon, who was betrothed to Prince Trystane Martell. He was seduced by Arianne Martell, daughter of Prince Doran Martell and heiress to the throne of Dorne, to rebel against the Iron Throne and support Myrcella's claim over her brother King Tommen. When the conspiracy was uncovered, Arys staged a mad charge into Martell forces and was killed by Areo Hotah, the captain of Prince Doran's guard.

Ser Arys was regarded as one of the kinder guardsmen under Joffrey. He beat Lady Sansa Stark when ordered by his King, but as lightly as he dared. He was also skilled with the lance, displaying absolute confidence in his ability to win a small tournament on King Joffrey's name day, despite the presence of other Kingsguard.

Barristan Selmy

Ser Barristan Selmy, called "the Bold", is a celebrated hero of the Kingsguard, coming from a time when the Kingsguards were considered to be the greatest knights of the realm. He killed Maelys the Monstrous in single combat in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, ending the Blackfyre line. Though he fought bravely for the Targaryens during the rebellion which overthrew them, in particular at the Battle of the Trident where he was seriously wounded, Barristan later took Robert Baratheon's pardon and became the Lord Commander of Robert's Kingsguard. Vigorous despite his age, near sixty at the beginning of "A Game of Thrones", Barristan remains a remarkably capable fighter.

Barristan served loyally as Lord Commander of Robert's Kingsguard until Robert's death, when, in an unprecedented move, he was dismissed from it by Joffrey and the Small Council, led by the new regent Cersei. After men were sent after him to kill him, he reevaluated his years of service in Robert's Kingsguard along the likes of the Kingslayer Jaime Lannister and others whom he considered near as bad. He came to the conclusion that this service was inexcusable and that his duty was to find his true king, and die in his service.

This search led him to Magister Illyrio who paired him with Strong Belwas in the guise of "Arstan Whitebeard", a Westerosi squire, and sent him to King Aerys's last surviving descendant, Daenerys. Hiding his true identity for a time to assess whether Daenerys was of a sound mind, Barristan taught her some about Westerosi culture and her family history. Barristan also saved Daenarys life on two occasions as well once from a manticore used by a sorrowful man assassin & once from Mero known as the Titans bastard. Upon the revelation of his identity, Daenerys nearly banished him for his deception and his service under Robert, her greatest enemy. However, when Selmy explained his deception and repented for his service in Robert's Kingsguard Daenerys pardoned him and readmitted him into her service, now as Lord Commander of her Queensguard. Selmy is also the first character to tell Daenarys the truth about her fathers sanity, knowledge which she was previously unaware of. In a preview chapter from "A Dance with Dragons", it is revealed that he attempts to train new knights for Daenerys Targaryen while she rules the city of Mereen.

Brienne of Tarth

Brienne is the only daughter and heiress of Lord Selwyn of Evenfall and the island of Tarth. Larger, stronger and uglier than most men, Brienne is a skilled warrior and would rather be a knight than a wife. She is honest, stubborn and rather naive about the world at large, despite her circumstances and the poor reception most people show her. She is sometimes known as "Brienne the Beauty" to mock her ugliness, though several characters have noted that she has beautiful eyes.

Brienne won a position in the Rainbow Guard of King Renly Baratheon, with whom she was infatuated. She was present when he was murdered, and was falsely accused of the crime by his Rainbow Guard. She fled with and entered the service of Lady Catelyn Stark. At the Tully castle of Riverrun, Catelyn sent Brienne with Cleos Frey to escort Jaime Lannister to King's Landing, hoping to exchange him for Sansa and Arya Stark. The three were attacked by bandits, Cleos was killed, and Jaime managed to get his hands on a sword, attacking Brienne despite his manacled hands. Brienne managed to hold her own, and might possibly have subdued him had they not been interrupted and subsequently captured by the Brave Companions. During their captivity, the two developed a grudging respect for each other, culminating in Jaime risking his life to save her from execution via bear, and author George R. R. Martin has hinted at romantic tension between the two.

After Catelyn's death, Jaime entrusted Brienne with Oathkeeper, the Valyrian steel longsword given to him by his father (forged from the metal of "Ice", Eddard Stark's greatsword), and sent her out to seek the vanished Sansa Stark. Brienne, with Jaime's honor in her hands, wandered the Riverlands looking for Sansa, and was also able to put an end to some of the ex-Bloody Mummers who had since become roving bandits. She also learned that Arya Stark had taken ship from Saltpans, making her one of the very few people in Westeros to have up-to-date information on the girl's fate. Unfortunately, she was gravely wounded in an encounter with Rorge and Biter, and was thereafter captured by the Brotherhood without Banners, led by the revived Catelyn Stark, now called Lady Stoneheart. Catelyn did not believe Brienne's tale of her search for Sansa, and ordered her to kill Jaime or face execution. Brienne refused to choose and was sentenced to hang. She shouted a single word as the noose tightened. Her fate is unknown.

Bronn

Bronn is a low-born sellsword of great skill. He has a lean, wolfish appearance, a black sense of humor, and a pragmatic, thoroughly amoral philosophy.

Bronn was a patron of the inn in which Lady Catelyn Stark begged all men present to help her arrest Tyrion Lannister for the attempted murder of her son. He helped escort Tyrion to the Eyrie, but championed him during his trial by combat in hope of reward. He won the duel and thereafter passed into Tyrion's service as an enforcer. In King's Landing Bronn headed Tyrion's guards and was put in charge of pulling the massive chain tight across the Blackwater at the right time, a position of vital importance. For his contribution Tywin made him knight. He called himself Ser Bronn of the Blackwater and took as his sigil a green, flaming chain on black, in commemoration of his role in the battle. For a long time he was Tyrion's right hand man, and at times almost a friend.

After Tyrion's arrest under suspicion of murdering Joffrey Baratheon, Bronn promptly abandoned Tyrion, refusing to champion him a second time in a trial against the monstrous Gregor Clegane, taking an offer from his sister Queen Cersei instead to marry into the wealthy house Stokeworth. He did not forget Tyrion completely, however. He named his wife's bastard son, the result of Lollys' brutal gang rape in a peasant revolt, Tyrion, in dubious honor of his former employer. This led Queen Cersei to fear that he was still in league with Tyrion, and conspired with his "good-sister" (sister-in-law) Falyse, the new Lady Stokeworth, and her husband Balman Byrch to have him killed. Ser Balman, ever chivalrous, challenged Bronn to a duel. Balman was likely no match for Bronn in single combat, and the former sellsword killed him, expelling Lady Falyse from the castle. Upon his brother-in-law's death, Bronn was unopposed as the Lord Protector of Stokeworth, a claim derived from his wife's new position as Lady Stokeworth.

Davos Seaworth

Ser Davos Seaworth, called "the Onion Knight", was originally a smuggler. He was knighted and given a keep on Cape Wrath by Stannis Baratheon after smuggling food (including the onions that gave him his monicker) into Stannis's besieged castle. However, Stannis also removed the last joint of each of the four fingers of Davos's left hand for his criminal past. Davos keeps the bones of his fingers in a pouch around his neck because he believes they are lucky. While his lands fall under Lord Renly's rule, he is always a loyal supporter of Stannis and his most trusted counselor.

Davos fought for Stannis in the Battle of the Blackwater, during which four of his sons were killed. After the battle, he planned to kill Stannis's advisor, the red priestess Melisandre, whom he mistrusted. She foresaw the attempt and had him jailed. Stannis later forgave Davos's crimes and made him his Hand. Davos again fought Melisandre's influence over Stannis by smuggling Robert Baratheon's bastard, Edric Storm, out of Dragonstone to spare him from being sacrificed by Melisandre. As an alternative to Melisandre's magic, he suggested that Stannis come to the aid of the Night's Watch to gain popular support for his reign. Davos then went to White Harbor to negotiate with the Manderlys. Cersei Lannister demanded that Lord Manderly execute Davos in exchange for the ransom of his heir. It was reported that Davos's head and hands graced the walls of White Harbor, though his fate is unknown.

Grand Maester Pycelle

:"See: Grand Maester Pycelle"

Hodor

Hodor is a simple-minded giant who works as a stableboy at Winterfell. He is Old Nan's great-grandson. Though his true name is Walder, he is usually called "Hodor" because that is the only word he ever says. No one knows exactly what "hodor" means or why he says it. He has a friendly, childish disposition, and is easily frightened despite his great strength.

After Bran Stark became crippled, Hodor carried him around in a sling on his back. Hodor sometimes had difficulty taking Bran's directions. Upon meeting him, Osha suspected that Hodor has Giant blood in his ancestry due to his great size, hairiness, and low intelligence. When Bran escaped the besieged Winterfell with the Reeds, Hodor accompanied him. Perhaps due to Hodor's simple mind, Bran was able to take control of him for a short time using his skinchanging powers, though Hodor was terrified by the experience.

Illyrio Mopatis

Illyrio is a wealthy and powerful Magister in the Free City of Pentos. He is morbidly obese, with yellow hair and a forked beard. For a time he served as custodian of the exile Targaryens and now seeks to return them to the Iron Throne.

Illyrio's interest in the Targaryens is purely financial, expecting to receive great riches in gratitude once a Targaryen regains power. Illyrio brokered the arranged marriage between Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo to use Drogo's powerful khalasar as an invasion force. He also worked with Varys, King Robert's spymaster, to engineer a strategic period of weakness for the Targaryens' invasion. He gifted Daenerys at her wedding with three petrified dragon eggs, not expecting that Daenerys would hatch them. Ironically, the dragons were worth more than anything Illyrio could hope to receive from Daenerys. Illyrio continued to look after Daenerys, sending occasional aid, though only as much as he deemed cost effective. He was promised the title of Master of Coin by Viserys Targaryen but the young prince was killed before this could occur.

Jaqen H'ghar

Jaqen H'ghar is one of many criminals from King's Landing taken by Yoren to join the Night's Watch. He was one of three prisoners found in the infamous "black cells", the dungeons reserved for only the worst criminals. Jaqen distinguishes himself from the other criminals through his sly demeanor and the mysteriousness of his crimes. He is Lorathi, and wears long hair with one side colored white and the other red.

"Jaqen H'ghar" is actually the assumed identity of a Faceless Man of Braavos, a member of a religious order that serves the various gods of death kept by all cultures. While Faceless Men are shown to sometimes act in the capacity of clergymen, providing mercy for those seeking death in Braavos, Jaqen is an assassin of high skill. In fact, the Faceless Men are the most feared, and costly, assassins known in the world.

Jaqen met Arya Stark while being escorted to the Wall. When Amory Lorch attacked the company, Arya saved him and his two fellow prisoners from a fire. At Harrenhal, Jaqen found her again and told her to select three people for him to kill, to repay the deaths she stole from the "Red God". Arya used him to eliminate two of her enemies at Harrenhal, but he pitilessly rejected her request for aid in any other way. By threatening to select Jaqen himself as her third choice, Arya ultimately forced him to help free the Northmen imprisoned at Harrenhal.

Once his debt was fulfilled, Jaqen prepared to take his leave, but first gave Arya an old iron coin and instructed her to give it to any man of Braavos saying the words "valar morghulis" should she ever need more help. Then he announced that "Jaqen H'ghar" must die, and passed a hand over his face. His entire face magically reshaped into that of a hook-nosed man with a gold tooth and a scar on his right cheek.

A man with Jaqen's new face next appeared in Oldtown calling himself "the Alchemist". He convinced the dim-witted novice Pate to steal a master key that could open any locks within the Citadel. Pate received payment for the key, but collapsed immediately thereafter, dying from poison on the gold coin. Samwell Tarly later met Pate at the Citadel, suggesting that the Alchemist had taken Pate's identity using his Faceless Man abilities or that the chapter in which the meeting took place occurred after Samwell's arrival.

Khal Drogo

Drogo is a powerful khal, or warlord, of the Dothraki people, a tribal nation of expert riders and raiders in the steppes beyond the Free Cities. He is an accomplished warrior and has never been defeated in battle. Early in the series, he takes Daenerys Targaryen as his wife.

Viserys Targaryen conspired with Magister Illyrio to marry Daenerys to Drogo in order to get his support in an invasion of Westeros. Though Daenerys was initially unhappy with the arrangement, Drogo proved to be a sensitive husband and lover despite his fearsome behavior with his men. He promised to invade Westeros to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms for the Targaryens, but Viserys's impertinence ultimately caused Drogo to kill him. Drogo maintained his promise for the benefit of his wife, but was wounded by an enemy khal before he could begin the invasion. The wound festered and Drogo lost the ability to ride his horse. Most of his khalasar of Dothraki abandoned him, but Daenerys sacrificed their unborn child for a spell to revive him. The spell worked, but left him mindless. Daenerys smothered him when he proved unresponsive, and the flames of his funeral pyre ultimately hatched her dragon eggs. She named her favorite dragon after her husband - the powerful black, Drogon.

Mance Rayder

Mance was once a man of the Night's Watch before breaking his vows and abandoning his post. He has since become extremely influential among the wildlings, and called "The King Beyond the Wall". He is an unremarkable-looking man in his middle years, with a fondness for music.

Mance was actually a wilding child, but was taken by the Night's Watch and raised as one of them. He was a loyal member of the Night's Watch for most of his life until he suffered an injury and was healed by a wildling woman. While he recuperated, she mended his torn cape with swatches of red fabric. Upon returning to the Wall, the Night's Watch commanders required him to replace his mended cape with one of uniform black. This minor infringement of freedom caused him to abandon the Night's Watch and live with the wildlings in the way he wished.

Mance undertook the monumental task of uniting the notoriously individualistic wildlings under his guidance to invade Westeros. When Jon Snow met with Mance under pretext of joining his campaign, Mance explained that he had taken possession of a magic horn that could topple the Wall, and would use it as a last resort if he could not bypass it militarily. However, Mance revealed that the wildings, including his own people, had been hunted by the Others and their wights, and were unable to stop them. His true aim therefore was not to destroy the Wall, but to use it as a shield against the Others.

Mance undertook his invasion of the Wall while it was manned by a skeleton crew commanded by Jon Snow. Despite overwhelming odds, Jon successfully held Mance's forces at bay long enough for Stannis's unexpected reinforcements to arrive and demolish the disorganized wildling army. Jon smuggled Mance's son away from the Wall in the care of Samwell Tarly because he knew that Stannis's sorceress Melisandre was looking to sacrifice a child of royal blood, and that Mance's title of "King Beyond the Wall" could be construed as a royal lineage by the Red Faith.

Melisandre

Lady Melisandre of Asshai is a priestess of R'hllor in service to Stannis Baratheon. She is a beautiful woman, always dressed in red, with a heart-shaped face and red eyes. Great heat emanates from her body. She displays numerous magical abilities that seem to come from her devotion to R'hllor. Though she has a smooth, controlled, and often friendly disposition, many people feel intimidated or threatened by her presence. She is good friends with Lady Selyse Baratheon and has converted her to worship R'hllor.

Melisandre has prophetic powers that give her partial knowledge of future events. Unlike many other people in Westeros with access to prophecy, Melisandre has absolute faith in her own interpretation. She makes Stannis believe that he is the messianic figure of R'hllor called Azor Ahai. She councils him so that he can gain the necessary power to fight the Other, the great enemy of R'hllor. Through the aid of her magic, Stannis was able to assassinate his rival brother Renly. Melisandre also claimed credit for killing several of Stannis's other enemies, though there was some debate over whether her powers caused these deaths or merely predicted them.

Melisandre's strange faith, aggressive counsel, and mysterious powers have made her unpopular among some of Stannis followers, who believe that she leads him astray and hold to their worship of the Seven calling themselves King's Men. However these traits have endeared her to other followers who quickly converted to her faith, these men are known as Queen's Men because the Queen Selyse was the first to convert. Her powers allowed her to survive several assassination attempts by disgruntled followers of Stannis. Despite the doubts of others, Melisandre seems to continue to believe that her efforts, even those that cost the lives of innocents, are in the service of the greater good.

According to a post on author George R. R. Martin's [http://grrm.livejournal.com/ "Not A Blog"] LiveJournal, Melisandre is one of three characters in contention for point-of-view narration chapters in the upcoming "A Dance with Dragons", along with Loras Tyrell.

Petyr Baelish

Lord Petyr Baelish, called "Littlefinger," begins the series as Master of Coin (or treasurer) on King Robert's Small Council. He is also a master of court intrigue, with his brilliance matched only by his ambition. He is handsome and meticulously stylish, but also quite short, giving a double entendre to the mocking nickname Edmure Tully bestowed on him. Though a lord, his original holdings are possibly the smallest in all the Seven Kingdoms, situated on the smallest of the Fingers. His grandfather was Braavosi, and took the Titan of Braavos as his sigil. Few are aware of this; Baelish wears a mockingbird as his crest instead.

During the War of the Ninepenny Kings, Petyr's father became friends with Lord Hoster Tully, and later used this friendship to have his son, Petyr, as a ward of Lord Hoster at Riverrun, the great castle of the riverlands. Petyr was raised alongside his social betters, the Tully children - Catelyn, Lysa and Edmure. He fell in love with Catelyn, who in turn loved him as a brother, but no more. When the betrothal between Catelyn and Brandon Stark was announced, Petyr challenged Brandon to a duel for her hand. Brandon won handily, but spared Baelish's life in compliance with Catelyn's pleas. Catelyn did not speak to him afterwards and burned the single letter Petyr sent after Brandon's death.

Lysa Tully, on the other hand, was in love with Petyr. She slipped into his bed one night while he was in a miserable, drunken stupor. The delirious Petyr may have mistaken Lysa for Catelyn, and indeed called her "Catelyn" that night. He has since claimed to have taken the maidenhood of both Tully sisters, however Catelyn's own private thoughts identify her husband Eddard Stark as taking her maidenhood and not Petyr. Later, Lysa became pregnant with Petyr's child. When Hoster Tully discovered this, he banished Petyr from his house and had Lysa drink Moon Tea to abort the pregnancy.

Baelish was given work at Gulltown by Lord Jon Arryn, to please Lord Arryn's young wife Lysa Tully. Petyr's wizardry with finances brought large sums of money into Gulltown and the Vale of Arryn, however, and Lord Arryn recognized Petyr's worth. He raised Petyr to the position of Master of Coin. His influence furnished him with many allies and contacts, including the City Guard of King's Landing. With these resources as a starting point, Baelish used a series of lies and double-crosses to achieve a meteoric rise to political power.

Baelish masterminded the assassination of Jon Arryn and persuaded Lysa to send a secret letter blaming the Lannisters, which drew the Starks to court. Baelish framed Tyrion Lannister, the queen's brother, for Jon Arryn's murder while simultaneously double-crossing Eddard Stark for Queen Cersei. Petyr also kept the hedge knight Kettleblack brothers on his payroll and planted them as agents on both sides of the power struggle between Cersei and Tyrion. This caused political turmoil, a condition in which Petyr thrives.

For recruiting House Tyrell to the Lannister's side, Petyr received Harrenhal, the largest castle in the realm, and nominal authority over the war-torn Riverlands. This technically made Baelish a high lord. His new status made him a fit suitor for the widowed Lysa Arryn, who still loved him. While he claimed to the Lannisters that he suited her for their cause, Petyr was already conspiring with her against them. He married Lysa and gained influence over the Vale of Arryn, making him a nominal high lord twice over.

During this time, Petyr met Sansa Stark, whom he thought strongly resembled her mother Catelyn. While in the Reach, he also worked in concert with Olenna Tyrell to poison King Joffrey (Though he later told the Lannisters of Olenna's plan to marry Sansa to the Tyrell heir) at his wedding to Margaery Tyrell, pinning that murder on Tyrion as well. He used the ensuing chaos to smuggle Sansa from the city and eventually brought her to court in the Eyrie in the guise of his bastard daughter. Catelyn Stark had been killed by this time, and Baelish began to grow enamored by Sansa's beauty. With Catelyn presumed dead, Petyr's affections seem to have transferred over to Sansa. When Lysa's mental instability grew dangerous after witnessing Petyr kiss Sansa, he killed Lysa (this time pinning the blame on Lysa's singer Marillion) and claimed to have only ever loved Catelyn.

With Lysa dead, Petyr named himself Lord Protector of the Vale, with Robert Arryn as his ward. The most powerful lords of the Vale joined together to demand that Petyr relinquish Robert. Lyn Corbray drew his sword during the parley (having been paid to do so by Petyr). This breach of etiquette gave Petyr the leverage to demand a trial period on his wardship over Robert. Petyr confided in Sansa his plans to use this time to eliminate the lords who stood in his path. He also revealed his plans to help Sansa regain the North and marry her to the Arryn heir, Harrold Hardyng. Finally, he requested tapestries from the estate of King Robert. While Cersei was incurious about the significance of these tapestries, they are likely to be the images of the Targaryen kings put into storage after Robert's Rebellion.

Qyburn

An ex-maester who entered the story as a member of the Brave Companions mercenary company.

Qyburn was stripped from his position as a maester for unethical experiments he performed on living humans. He joined the Brave Companions as a means to survive, and used his exceptional healing abilities to prevent the infection on Jaime's severed wrist from spreading. Qyburn left the company and joined the court at King's Landing, where he convinced Cersei to allow him to experiment on the dying Gregor Clegane. He later gained favor with her by using his knowledge to torture her prisoners. Cersei eventually appointed him her Master of Whisperers to replace Varys after his disappearance.

Part of the payment for his services to Cersei included permission to experiment on various prisoners and enemies of Cersei's. These typically proved fatal to the subject. Qyburn was working on a master project to build an "undefeatable champion" for Cersei. He ordered a massive suit of armor, too huge to be worn by any human, for this purpose. His extended experiments on Gregor Clegane seem to factor into the size of his creation. Qyburn may also have some knowledge of magic, as he suspected Oberyn to have used it to prolong Clegane's death.

trong Belwas

Strong Belwas is a fat eunuch in the service of Magister Illyrio. Despite his bulk, he is a formidable warrior, having lived his life as a slave in the fighting pits of Mereen. He wears no armor except a tiny leather jerkin that covers a small part of his chest. His body is festooned with scars due to his claimed custom of allowing enemies to cut him once before he kills them. Thus, each scar represents a kill. His weapon of choice is the curved arakh of the Dothraki. Belwas is a passionate gourmand, the only vice he has left as a eunuch. He is particularly fond of liver and onions. Though very friendly, he speaks only bluntly and directly, shouting his needs to the empty air if nobody is listening to him. He refers to himself in the third person.

Belwas was sent along with Barristan Selmy by Illyrio to aid Daenerys Targaryen. Initially Barristan posed as his squire, though this deception proved unconvincing. He served as one of her bodyguards, but Daenerys did not trust him and found little use for him until the siege at Mereen. There, she selected Belwas to face the city's hero in single combat because he was expendable and, as a former slave, would not give much glory to the Hero if he were defeated. Belwas faced the mounted champion on foot, dodging three tilts before killing his horse. During the ensuing swordfight, Belwas allowed the hero to cut him once on the chest before decapitating him. Ever the showman, Belwas tossed the head toward the besieged spectators, defecated, and wiped himself on the slain champion's cape.

yrio Forel

Syrio is from the Free City of Braavos, a master of the elegant Braavosi fencing style called Water Dancing, and a former First Sword of Braavos. He is described as a bald, leathery old man, but still possesses remarkable speed and skill.

After discovering Arya's secret rapier, Needle, Lord Eddard Stark hired Syrio to teach her to use it, believing the slender blade would suit the Braavosi style. Syrio trained Arya using wooden swords filled with lead. He also taught her on how to move and think like a warrior: to be observant, move with agility and speed, and master her fear. Lord Eddard began to doubt Syrio's unusual teaching methods, but they proved to work effectively on Syrio's eager pupil. When Queen Cersei ordered all Starks in the Red Keep to be captured or killed, Syrio covered Arya's escape, fighting five guardsmen and a fully armored Ser Meryn Trant using only his wooden practice sword. His fate is unknown, but Arya believes him dead. Even years after the end of Arya's lessons with Syrio, she remembers them and lets them guide her through difficult situations.

Thoros of Myr

:"See:Thoros of Myr"

Varys

Lord Varys, called "the Spider," is the enigmatic Master of Whisperers, or spymaster, for the Iron Throne of Westeros. A bald, fat eunuch of stylish dress, he usually affects a fawning, effeminate personality to hide his true feelings and motives. In keeping with this act, he often refers to spies as his "little birds". Many nobles he associates with find him distasteful and untrustworthy. He is a master of disguise, and knows many secret passages within the Red Keep.

Though nothing Varys says can be completely trusted, Varys has claimed to have been a mummer as a child, and his skill at disguises supports this claim. He also claimed to have been castrated by a sorcerer who used his body parts to cast a spell, leaving Varys with a hatred for magic. He started his career as a spymaster under King Aerys, who relied more heavily on Varys the more paranoid he became. Varys counseled Aerys to close his gates to Tywin Lannister once he learned that Tywin had joined the rebellion. Though he continued in his post for King Robert and his heirs, Varys seems to remain loyal to the Targaryens. He kept a secret arrangement with Illyrio Mopatis, who seeks to put a Targaryen back on the Iron Throne.

Varys gave the aid of his intelligence to many players in the game of thrones. Many of these people later suspected that, rather than help them, Varys only gave them enough information to manipulate them. Indeed, most of the people Varys "helped" suffered dramatic downfalls, including Lord Eddard Stark and Tyrion Lannister. When asked by Eddard Stark, and later by Tyrion where his allegiances lay, Varys claimed that the purpose of his machinations was not for personal power, honor, or loyalty, but simply the best intentions for the realm as a whole.

Varys's reign as Master of Whisperers ended after he was forced to help Tyrion escape execution and murder his father, Lord Tywin Lannister. Though Queen Cersei put a reward on his head, Varys had vanished without a trace. After taking Varys's post, Qyburn claimed that spies with secrets to sell were quite common and easy to come by. Cersei used this to justify a belief that Varys had oversold his value to make people dependent on him and more vulnerable to his schemes.

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