Game of Thrones General Season 1 Season 2 Season 4

Player of Thrones: Lord Varys (The Master of Whisperers)

Welcome back to Player of Thrones, or as Zack Luye kindly pointed out to me it spells PoT…Anyways we have taken a gander into a few players so far this season. One just got his head smashed in last week…so sad.. #RIPOberyn . I digress…In the PoT post we focus on one (or a few) player in the Game of Thrones TV show. We will provide you with a little back story as well as my POTLOPAI or Player of Thrones Level of Power and Influence Assessment. This is a post to help our friendly unsullied better understand a player and where they came from to be in the position they are today. Let us begin….

Do you want to know a secret? Maybe two or a few? In the Game of Thrones sometimes knowledge is mightier than a sword. You can avoid being betrayed, you can position yourself to look like the hero, you can manipulate a situation to play into your hands, or you can use damning details to knock the britches off of an enemy. Secrets don’t make friends in some cases but in our case of our next Player of Thrones post this man has many friends. Some may not like him and others are purely charmed by his ability to sidestep his way into their hearts. This is when there is no return. He’s got you caught in his web. The only way out…of the Spider’s Web is death. His name is Varys and he is The Master of Whisperers.

  The Master of Whisperers Lord Varys

Lord Varys has quite an interesting past. In HBO’s biggest show we see Varys talking a lot about the the moments of his past. He shares stories with Littlefinger, Ned Stark, and Tyrion Lannister throughout the series so far that reveal little tidbits about himself. Whether these are to create a certain facade or inspire other players to trust in him we don’t know. What we do know is he hates a sorcerer that removed his pillar and stones. I too would be upset.

Based on a compilation of stories and information from the series Varys is from Lys. He was born a slave sold to a troupe of mummers as a child. Traveling between Essos and Westeros performing in the great cities of Kings Landing and Oldtown as well as the Free Cities. The Free Cities

While performing in Myr (a Free City in Essos) Varys’ master sells him to a mysterious man. The man posions Varys allowing him no movement or speech but keeping his senses in tact. While defenseless the man castrates Varys of his manhood and burns it as part of a blood magic ritual. Once the sorcerer was done he tossed Varys to the street to which Varys replied what should I do? To which the sorcerer replied, “I suppose you should die.” From that moment on two things happend. Varys hates all magic and made a vow to live to spite the sorcerer.

Varys was alone. The mummers had left and he had nothing. To stay alive Varys began to delve into prostitution, begging, and thievery. He became so good at at that eventually he became the best. His reputation became to big however and he was forced out of Myr and ran to Pentos.

This is where he met his first ally, Illyrio Mopatis, a poor sellsword. The master thief concerted a business with the sellsword that brought them a decent income. Varys would steal from lesser thieves and Illyrio would return those items to the original owners for a small price. This built up a hero’s reputation for Illyrio amongst the original owners and the thieves garnered respect and fear for Varys. They would even try to sell the items back to Varys fearing that he would steal those items from them. Through this public service Varys and Illyrio grew very rich but also built trust amongst one another.

However just stealing back items was not enough for Varys. He figured there was a bigger market. One that wielded bigger rewards than what a Myrish Carpet or a Tyroshi Helmet would return in gold and gems…Knowledge…

Varys began training his own little spy network that would gather information for him as well as important letters and financial information for the wealthy. They were orphans that Varys purchased and he named them his “Little Mice.” Varys chose the smallest, lightest, fastest and quietest of the boys and taught them how to climb walls and quietly enter buildings. Not only that the most important thing he taught them was how to read and write. This gave the little mice the ability to gather exactly the information that Varys needed. Varys and Illyrio

Varys was right. After some time his little mice and the information he was able to gather provided him and Illyrio with a dramatic increase of income. In fact he grew to such a high reputation that he was known not only on Essos but also on Westeros. In Kings Landing, King Aerys had grown mad and feared that people were trying to kill him and over throw him. He needed, more than anything, a Master of Secrets, and who better than Varys.

Varys became Aerys’ spymaster in Kings Landing. His influence over Aerys grew the more and more distrusting in everyone else Aerys became. As Varys’ influence grew so did his power. He was able to sneak around, discover, and memorize the secret passages of the Red Keep. He installed his own network of spies in Kings Landing to which he named “Little Birds.” The little birds would sneak around and listen for important information to provide Varys who then could report to the King.

After the sacking of Kings Landing Varys remained the Master of Whisperers on the King Robert Baratheon’s small council. He provided vital information to Robert surrounding Danyerys Targaryen and her progress on Essos as she rose into power. However, he does still hold allegiance to Illyrio Mopatis his old friend who lives still in Pentos and helped arrange the wedding of Dothraki Khal Drogo and Danyerys Targaryen.

He still remains in Kings Landing and has been a voice of caution and tale. Not to mention in the show we were gifted with witnessing Varys receiving a very special prize. His sorcerer in a box, the same one who removed Varys twig and berries. Varys’ Sorcerer


As the Master of Whisperers and knowledge, stretching his network between Essos and Westeros he happens to be the only person in my mind that has friends on both continents. I believe that he is very good at making smart calculated moves that support the preservation of the Realm. Does he want to be King? No. He’s vowed not to die remember?



Here is the PoTLoPaI:

Title: The Master of Whisperers; The Spider
Current Role to the Throne: Keeper of all the Secrets
Lands: None.
Wealth: A bunch in his noggin and in his bank
Army: The Little Birds and the Little Mice and Jorah Mormont
Likelihood to become the next King of Westeros: None. He doesn’t desire it or play for it. He’s more in the business of putting people there that he believes will preserve the realm and attempts to keep them there
King Name: King of The First Men w/o a Pillar and Stones

Varys in my opinion is the most dangerous man in Westeros and even of who we know from Essos at this point in the show. He has ears, eyes, and noses everywhere. He is capable of starting a devastating rumor that could get a man or woman killed. He has secret passage ways and an army of little boys and girls running through those halls that could kill a man in his sleep at any moment. The man is a genius. And he knows how to play the game. He never makes a move too big that could compromise his position. He is a mastermind of the Game of Thrones and I am excited to see where they continue to take his character in the show.

Not to mention he is portrayed by one of my idols of acting Conleth Hill who has brought to life a very complex and secretive character. Varys speaks a lot in double meaning and being an actor myself, that’s not easy. I applaud the work that Conleth has done so far and if Varys can survive this Season 4 finale (cause after Pyp and Grenn I no longer know who’s living and dying any more) in the future as well.


I would love to hear what you all think about The Spider below. He is another one of my personal favorite characters in the books and the HBO show Game of Thrones. What do you like about him what do you not? Make sure those SPOILERS are concealed behind the shadow of secret.

Check out these other Player of Thrones posts:

Oberyn Martell, The Red Viper
Melisandre, The Red Priestess
Jojen and Meera Reed, The Crannogmen
Petyr Baelish, Littlefinger
Ser Davos Seaworth, The Onion Knight
Sandor and Gregor Clegane (The Hound and The Mountain)
Roose Bolton (Lord of the Dreadfort)
Mance Rayder (The King Beyond the Wall)


Done in the light of the Lord…


  • Three-Finger Hobb!

    Damn, late again :(

    Varys has been criminally underused this season.

  • You say he doesn’t want to be King but what was that scene in reference to earlier this season when he was talking with Oberyn and he asked Varys what he wanted most and Varys motioned his head towards the throne? Obviously I know he wants power, was that all he was suggesting?

  • By far my best second character in the books and in the serie.
    Conleth Hill is perfet in his role. He did a great job to bring Varys to life with all his features. I enjoyed all the scene in which he’s involved.

    He surprised me in ADWD, killing Pycelle and Kevan Lannister. I didn’t see it comming. It was his first big move. Vayrs is a very cautious man so I think that he must have a very solid plan. I looking forward to see the aftermath in next book

  • LF vs Varys is the real song of ice and fire

    I was just hoping his birds would have something to say about L fuckin S !!!!!

    Okay, I’ll drop it.


  • Honestly I just hate Varys ! He thinks that what everything he does or doesn’t is ok because it’s for the good of the realm. Such an hypocrite. He hides himself under the common good. At least Littlefinger is honest in a way : what he does it’s for himself.

    Varys killed Kevan Lannister and said to him “I’m sorry”, ” If I’m killing you it’s because you’re a good person to a bad cause”. (Varys does exactly what Littlefinger did : distrustful relationship = easier for their plan). Bad cause ?! Please !

    Why didn’t he tell Oberyn that one of Elia’s children was alive ? He had the right to know. And Why didn’t he save Rhaenys and Elia ? If he could save Aegon then he had the chance to do so. I think he thinks that was a necessary evil to save Aegon. For what ? The good of the realm (who knows what kind of King Aegon will be ?)…

  • Any word on the actor who plays illyrio back next season? I hope there’s no recast, that would be confusing. If the actor cant come back, id rather the character cut than recasted tbh

    Anyone else having to keep typing there name into the thing to post. Why doesn’t it autosave?:/

  • To me, Varys is perhaps THE most interesting and mysterious character, and one who has not yet displayed any obvious weakness. He’s definitely playing a long game, but it’s hard to figure out what exactly it is. He says he serves the realm, but what direction that may take, is not yet clear. He’s fascinating. I love all his scenes.

  • Nicely put together. Varys is among the most interesting characters in the books as it is, and Conleth Hill is a true asset – he’s clearly one of the 10 characters most improved by the show even as awesome as he already was. We got a lot of him in Seasons 1 and 2 but he’s been a bit more sidelined in the last 2 seasons, which happens at times, of course, as is the nature of these things. But they’ve still managed to insert him at terrific moments, including that great Oberyn/Varys standoff in this year’s sixth episode, and of course the great creepy “Hello, my old friend…” when he reveals his torturer.

    Very few people are playing a long game the way he is.

  • He surprised me in ADWD, killing Pycelle and Kevan Lannister. I didn’t see it comming. It was his first big move.

    He didn’t just surprise me he scared the crap out of me with that. Littlefinger has often managed the former but never the latter so far.

  • I’ve changed my name for this site. I got tired of “Crone” and I have a certain admiration for the Anglo-Saxon princess known as the “Lady of Mercia” and I do live in central England. The mention of Varys calling his spies his “mice” reminded me of something, so I did a google search. It seems that Nancy Wake, who was a New Zealander who married a Frenchman who became a spy for the Allies in the second world war was called “the white mouse” because she evaded capture. Here is the link [it’s not just about her, it’s about women in espionage generally so if anybody wants to read about her you have to scroll right down to the bottom of the page. Getting back on topic, Varys is one of the characters (at least thus far) that I prefer in the show to the books. It might be because of the way Roy Dotrice read the audio tapes, but I always felt that book Varys was dreadfully creepy and on the show Conleth Hill does a good job. Of course the show hasn’t used the sub-plot of Varys having the idea to send Gendry to the Wall. I don’t know if I LIKE book Varys but he is an intriguing character.

  • > Varys in my opinion is the most dangerous man in Westeros and even of who we know from Essos at this point in the show.

    I would disagree. Varys is not particularly burdened by morality, but unlike Littlefinger, he isn’t evil. One of the critiques I’ve seen against Aidan Gillen is how he portrays Littlefinger as *obviously* evil; in the books it’s much more subtle. Littlefinger has killed capable Hand Jon Arryn, forced the capture of Tyrion to spark Stark-Lannister enmity, betrayed the capable ruler Ned Stark in favor of axe-crazy king Joffrey, and that’s just in the first season. He was probably behind the death of Ser Hugh of the Vale as well (Jon Arryn’s squire who was killed in the joust with the Mountain at the Tourney of the Hand back in S1). As far as *danger* goes, Littlefinger is *way* ahead of Varys. That’s not to say that Varys isn’t also dangerous when he can be, but his danger comes more from his allies than himself. He’s in a position to help things happen, not to make them happen.

  • Dame of Mercia,

    So interesting that you took the new name today as I just started reading “The Pagan Lord” by Bernard Cornwell which features the Lady of Mercia as the protagonist’s lover. She is awesome!

  • is that last picture of Varys with the hood from the finale or is that an old picture and i just don’t remember.

  • Kyle,

    Whether it’s from the finale or not, I can’t say. But that looks like the scene and that’s the outfit Varys wore, when he spoke to Ned in the Black Cells in season 1.

  • Varys has always been the most fascinating character in the saga to me. Conleth Hills performance has truly brought the role to life and I am looking forward to more scenes with the Master of Whisperers.

  • I look at GoT as a giant game of chess our current players are Varys, Littlefinger, Tywin and the Lord of Light. They are each very busy moving pieces around the board. While Littlefinger and Tywin are concentrating on the Seven Kingdoms and on consolidating their power, Varys sees a much bigger picture (it is clear he knows what is going on in slavers bay and probably most of the other free cities) as well what is happening at the wall. He also has the advantage of being able to manipulate Tywin’s pieces as well. However, he also has the disadvantage of being under Tywin’s thumb, as evidenced by his testifying against Tyrion.

    The funny thing about Varys, is the all the players know he is dangerous. Yet they need his “whispers” to play their own game. Thus he is allowed to remain a player instead of just being snuffed out.

  • Varys is one of those guys who you can just admire even if you can’t agree with him, partly because you don’t know his true motivations. Definitely on my top 10 book & show characters, & Conleth Hill just makes him even better.

    Calling all makers of Chinese Calenders; fuck that goat with a randy Dornishman, because 2015 is going to be the year of the spider!

  • This is so badly written that it’s almost impossible for me to read, which is a problem I found (to a lesser degree) with the other Player of Thrones entries. I’m sure many reader’s aren’t concerned, but out of journalistic integrity these should be closely proofread. Typos are one thing, but problems with sentence structure, tense, repetition, and vocabulary are seriously distracting. It’s a shame because the articles on this site are usually well-written!

    “Secrets don’t make friends in some cases but in our case of our next Player of Thrones post this man has many friends.” : Try reading it out loud.

    “…the man castrates Varys of his manhood…” : Awkward wording aside, castration is the act of removing someone’s “manhood”. You can’t castrate someone’s finger, unless their goods are located on their finger.

    “The master thief concerted a business with the sellsword…” : Concerted is an adjective, not a verb. They can create a concerted business. but they can’t concert a business.

    Maybe it seems like I’m being a dick. It’s not my goal, but maybe I am being a dick! I don’t call people out on things like the wrong use of they’re/their/there and other such nonsense, but these kind of problems can be found in every paragraph and they make this series really hard to enjoy.

  • Mauro: > Varys in my opinion is the most dangerous man in Westeros and even of who we know from Essos at this point in the show.
    I would disagree. Varys is not particularly burdened by morality, but unlike Littlefinger, he isn’t evil.

    I wholly agree. Both Varys and Littlefinger can be utterly ruthless, but with Varys it is somehow never personal. I also love that he readily admits when he will not help someone and will then explain the delicate position such help would put him in. And it is not particularly out of self-preservation so much as he must preserve himself to fulfill whatever end of *the plan* is reliant upon him.

    It is always curious to me when he says he serves “the realm,” as I wonder what he means by this. Does he mean just Westeros? What does a former slave from Essos care about the ultimate fate of Westeros? Personally, I think Varys means something more with this term–a possible future realm that unites Westeros and Essos, or even just the idea of “realmness,” the stability of a territory united under its leaders for the benefit of all its people.

    I also wonder what Varys thinks of the White Walker threat–surely he knows it is actually coming. Could his machinations be to unite “the realm” of men to counter this inevitability? Or is he just as wrapped up in the human world as everyone else? Somehow I think not, but am infinitely intrigued by his possible motivations.

    I also second calls for proofreading. I don’t want to be a douche, but I had to reread some phrases a few times to catch the clear meaning. Then again, I am also in the habit of reading everything online quite literally for my own amusement. :) (And is not to say I never make errors–I make plenty.)

  • Varys is actually my favourite character and has been since S1. And I agree, Conleth Hill has been absolute genius. He’s just perfect in the role. ABsolutely captures the intelligence and secretiveness. I see LF and Varys as some kind of mirror image – Varys isn’t without personal ambition, but it is more modest in scope and less delusional than LF. LF seems to want power to spite everyone and in some kind of revenge for his low born status. Varys understands that the way he has real power is to remain the power behind the throne, and that’s enough. You can’t trust either of them as far as your could throw them, but I’d trust Varys rather than Baelish any day of the week.

  • Varys is amy favourite character as well and Hil”s performance is exquisite. I’m wondering if he will be a regular character in the fifth season.

  • Meraxès,

    The problem is Varys’ motivations are so hidden. The game Varys is playing is a much older game. He wants the throne for his family. You ask some excellent questions.

    Daniellica: What does a former slave from Essos care about the ultimate fate of Westeros?

    I’ll give you a few hints. There is a reason he shaves his head. There is a reason his name ends with “rys”. Him being “cut” at a young age was not by chance. There is a reason Barristan told Stannis that the rot in the Mad Kings rein began with Varys.