Heirs in the Shadows: The Young Lion


Tyrek Lannister may be considered by readers little more than a tertiary character in A Song of Ice and Fire. The consideration is not unreasonable: not even mentioned by name in the first book, seen “on-screen” only twice before his mysterious disappearance in the violent riot in King’s Landing in A Clash of Kings, young Tyrek merits little more than a footnote among his more prominent Lannister relatives, much less the grander cast of characters. If he is noted at all, he might be remembered as simply a victim, on the same plane as his cousin Willem: an unfortunate pawn to Lannister dynastic ambitions, an innocent murdered by the rioting smallfolk of the capital.

Yet Tyrek disappeared so thoroughly – and so mysteriously – that his “simple” disappearance might not be so simple after all.  Rather than being one of the many bodies cleared from the streets in the days and weeks after the riot, Tyrek might be alive and well (or at least relatively well). Even more, Tyrek might be waiting to make a dramatic reappearance in Westeros, schooled and prepared by an unlikely “ally.” Who would want the young Lannister cousin, and what might be in store for him in the future?

Welcome to the newest series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire, Heirs in the Shadows. In this series, BryndenBFish and I will examine a number of individuals who may press blood claims to different Westerosi seats, raising ancestral (or “ancestral”) House banners into the stormy Westerosi skies. We will analyze the powerful backers to these claimants, and the arguments and tactics these plotters will utilize to install their chosen pawns as great lords and even ruling monarchs. We will attempt to sketch out how the political face of Westeros might change with the rise of these heirs in waiting – and how their schemes might comport with the volatile game of thrones as the main narrative races to its climax.

Introducing the Pawn

Tyrek Lannister was born around 286 AC, the only child of Ser Tygett Lannister and his wife Darlessa Marbrand. Ser Tygett was the thirdborn son of Lord Tytos Lannister, a younger brother to the future Lord Tywin and Ser Kevan. With both of Tygett’s older brothers having married and fathered children before Tyrek was born, there was no great pressure on this third son to wed and breed as well (though we do not actually know when Tygett and Darlessa wed). In a poorer family, Tygett might have been packed to the Wall, the Faith, or the Citadel to cull family lines, but the Lannisters were wealthy enough a family to support even younger sons’ households. Nor did Tygett have to lower his sights to find his bride: Darlessa was a Marbrand, a respectable vassal house to the Lannisters (and kin to Tygett’s own mother, Jeyne Marbrand).

At the time baby Tyrek was born, he was possibly ninth in line to Casterly Rock (depending on if his cousins Martyn and Willem Lannister and Joffrey Baratheon had been born yet, and if Tyrek’s father had already died); true, claimants had faced worse odds (Aegon V might have been eleventh in line at the time of his birth), but the possibility of the new baby ever sitting the seat of the Kings of the Rock seemed wildly unlikely.  Still, young Tyrek was not completely fortuneless. As a Lannister (and especially a Lannister of the Rock), a male-line grandson of Lord Tytos, Tyrek would never lack for either money or influence; indeed, with a Lannister queen (and a “half”-Lannister heir just Tyrek’s age), bearing the name of “Lannister” would give even a comparatively low-ranking member of the family like Tyrek boosted importance. His father Tygett had earned some small acclaim during the War of the Ninepenny Kings: although very young – possibly even younger than Tyrek was at his disappearance – Tygett slew a man in his first battle and later killed a knight of the Golden Company. Tyrek was of good Westerlands stock, and at the very least he might have expected to wed a highborn Westerlands maiden when he came of age.

Queen Cersei, however, would attempt to raise her young Lannister cousin even higher than he might have anticipated:

He could not help taking note of the two squires: handsome boys, fair and well made. One was Sansa’s age, with long golden curls; the other perhaps fifteen, sandy-haired, with a wisp of a mustache and the emerald-green eyes of the queen.

“Those boys,” Ned asked him. “Lannisters?”

Robert nodded, wiping tears from his eyes. “Cousins. Sons of Lord Tywin’s brother. One of the dead ones. Or perhaps the live one, now that I come to think on it. I don’t recall. My wife comes from a very large family, Ned.”

A very ambitious family, Ned thought. (“Eddard VII”, A Game of Thrones)

Ned was shrewd in his conclusion: the Lannister queen was very active in the advancement of Lannister relations at court (a trait she would later criticize in her sons’ bride, Margaery Tyrell). Accordingly, Cersei had persuaded King Robert to name young Tyrek his squire, along with their mutual cousin Lancel (the eldest son of Kevan Lannister). It is not known when Tyrek began squiring for the king, though it was likely not more than a few years, if that, before the start of A Game of Thrones. For comparison, the two Walders at Winterfell began squiring for Ramsay Bolton around eight or nine, and Edric Dayne for Beric Dondarrion at ten; at most, then, Tyrek might have been around Robert for around three years before the king’s death.

The higher ranking the knight or lord, the more honor would be conveyed upon the squire (the reason that, among other concessions, Walder Frey demanded that his son Olyvar become a squire for then-Lord Robb Stark), and no greater honor could be granted a Westerosi boy than to squire for the king himself. Appointment as the king’s squire could be the start of a court career for Tyrek, similar to Uncle Tywin’s courtly beginnings as a page to Aegon V. Prince Rhaegar, after all, had turned his squires, Myles Mooton and Richard Lonmouth, into firm allies and friends. If Tyrek proved as talented a swordsman as his father, he might become the master-at-arms of the Red Keep (a position Tywin actually attempted, and failed, to secure for Tygett); with a cousin in the Kingsguard, a white cloak might have even been in Tyrek’s future (indeed, a placement in the Kingsguard might have served to neatly remove an excess Lannister from the Rock). Dyanne Dayne may have possibly secured a royal marriage because of her appointment to Queen Mariah Martell’s court; a match with Princess Myrcella was probably impossible for a mere Lannister cousin, but at court Tyrek would not lack for powerful connections – as long as the Lannisters stayed in power.

Yet there may have also been a darker side to Tyrek’s squiring – one not explored in the books, but which nevertheless is important to consider in light of Tyrek’s possible future role. Squires are expected to follow their knights everywhere, and the example of Justin Massey demonstrates that Robert could lead his squires to strange places indeed:

“Massey wants the wildling princess too. He once served my brother Robert as squire and acquired his appetite for female flesh.” (“Jon IV”, A Dance With Dragons)

That “appetite for female flesh” almost certainly included the King’s Landing brothels which Robert visited with some frequency. Tyrek was a little too young to partake the way Justin Massey was said to have by Stannis (or even the way Lancel might have, encouraged by Robert), but he would not have had to spend time with any of the prostitutes to observe something far more dangerous than the king’s adulterous tryst. Readers know that Robert had at least one bastard by a King’s Landing whore: the baby Barra, born to a young prostitute at Chataya’s. The baby, like all of Robert’s known bastards, had the black hair of her Baratheon antecedents – a fact not lost on Littlefinger, who had taken Eddard to see baby Barra at the brothel and had figured out the Lannister incest conspiracy.

It would be almost certainly too great a leap to suppose that Tyrek, a boy of 12, had figured out that Robert’s true, bastard children had Baratheon looks, and that his first cousins once removed were in fact bastards born of Lannister incest. Nevertheless, Tyrek had observed perhaps too much, even if he himself had not put the pieces together. The king’s younger squire had likely witnessed firsthand the king’s black-haired bastard offspring (with nine unaccounted-for bastards of the king’s, it seems probable at least one other besides Barra and Gendry was born where the king spent most of his time, in the capital), and was presumably a trusted friend and companion of the queen’s consummately Lannister-looking children. Should that knowledge be revealed to an individual more scheming than innocent Tyrek, the boy could prove a useful witness for the tearing down of the Baratheon-Lannister regime.

Tyrek would not have long, however, to serve Robert as squire (or follow him on his lascivious escapades). In 298 AC, Robert died – ostensibly a hunting accident, but in fact a partial assassination engineered by Cersei to prevent the discovery of her incest. The vehicle she used was Tyrek’s cousin and fellow squire, Lancel Lannister. Tyrek did not seemingly accompany the king on his last hunt, but he might have heard snippets of the plot from Lancel; his doubly close status – as both a first cousin and fellow squire (the two seem to have been Robert’s only squires at the time of his death) – give Tyrek greater potential to know the facts behind Robert’s murder – facts which would also serve to topple Cersei’s royal line.

For the moment, Tyrek was simply a former royal squire, now installed without greater purpose in Joffrey’s court.  Events, however, would soon disrupt Tyrek’s relatively peaceful existence and thrust him into a storm of political chaos – and secret ambition.

A Strange Disappearance

For all the mystery that surrounds his disappearance, Tyrek is actually seen only once, in A Clash of Kings:

Lord Gyles stood coughing, while poor cousin Tyrek wore his bridegroom’s mantle of miniver and velvet. Since his marriage to little Lady Ermesande three days past, the other squires had taken to calling him “Wet Nurse” and asking him what sort of swaddling clothes his bride wore on their wedding night. (“Tyrion VI”, A Clash of Kings)

Far from the glamorous courtier’s daughter bride Tyrek might have hoped for with his courtly position, or even the gently born Westerlands maiden he might have anticipated under normal circumstances, Tyrion’s “poor cousin” had been wed to Ermesande Hayford.  Dynastically, the match was a pleasing one: House Hayford was a respectable Crownlands dynasty, with at least one house of sworn landed knights; its current lady, Ermesande, was the last of her lineage, meaning that Hayford’s lands and incomes would transfer nicely to the Lannisters.  Unfortunately for Tyrek personally, Ermesande was also a baby; the new Lord of Hayford would have to wait until he was in his mid-twenties to contemplate consummating his marriage.  If it was humiliating personally, however, to be wed to a girl not yet weaned, Tyrek had no forum for complaint; he, like all his Lannister relations, was a pawn in a greater game of dynastic politics, and would marry where he could give the most advantage to House Lannister.

Tyrek, however, would not watch his infant bride mature. In 299 AC, Tyrion arranged the marriage of Tyrek’s cousin Myrcella to Prince Trystane Martell of Dorne.  The court made an event of accompanying Myrcella to the docks to watch her depart for Sunspear, and Tyrek – as the princess’ cousin and another representative of Lannister interests – joined the royal family, courtiers, Kingsguard, and even the High Septon in the procession. One man at court, however, was noticeably absent: the master of whisperers, Varys.

The city lay in a dangerous mood. The War of the Five Kings had divided the traditional breadbaskets of Westeros from the capital: with the Riverlands afire and the Reach initially firmly behind Renly Baratheon, King’s Landing had to rely on the seats of Rosby and Stokeworth for supplies, and the limitations resulted in mass hunger among the poorer classes of the city. What the young King Joffrey lacked in charm and political tact, he more than made up for in cruelty. Tyrion, his Hand, was blamed for the downturn in fortunes after the death of Robert, hated for his retaliation against Janos Slynt and Pycelle and his sellsword and wildling retainers. Rumors of the Lannisters’ incest and general royal corruption had already spread through the streets; the charged air needed only the right spark to explode.

When it did explode, the fury was horrific to behold. Ser Aron Santagar, the Red Keep’s master-at-arms, had been bludgeoned to death by four men, while Ser Preston Greenfield of the Kingsguard had been hacked and stabbed so brutally that his white armor had been stained red-brown. The High Septon had been pulled from his litter and torn apart by members of the crowd, and Lady Lollys Stokeworth had been raped in the streets by multiple men. Nine gold cloaks had been killed by the mob, while 40 more of the City Watch had been wounded in the fighting; the number of dead commoners had not been recorded, but likely numbered far greater.

Not recorded among the dead, though, was young Tyrek Lannister. Presumably, “Wet Nurse” had been among the “long tail of courtiers” following the High Septon’s litter, which had formed at the end of the royal procession; that placement would explain why Horas Redwyne, also in that group, reported that Tyrek had not returned. Tyrion, taking charge in the immediate aftermath of the riot, ordered Jacelyn Bywater, his new Commander of the City Watch, to find his missing cousin:

Tyrek was still missing, as was the High Septon’s crystal crown. Nine gold cloaks had been slain, two score wounded. No one had troubled to count how many of the mob had died.

“I want Tyrek found, alive or dead,” Tyrion said curtly when Bywater was done. “He’s no more than a boy. Son to my late uncle Tygett. His father was always kind to me.” (“Tyrion IX”, A Clash of Kings)

With the confusion and chaos surrounding the riot, it is wholly unsurprising that Tyrek Lannister should have been lost. With his obvious Lannister looks and association with the royal family, Tyrek might have made an easy target for the rioters; if he were treated as brutally as Ser Preston or Ser Aron, his body might have never been found among the many dead. Yet what is unsatisfying about this simple explanation is the focus Tyrek’s disappearance is given by the books long after the fires set in Flea Bottom were extinguished. In three separate instances, Tyrek and the mystery of his disappearance after the riot are specifically mentioned, though no character seems to be able to determine the poor squire’s fate.

The first instance occurs during A Storm of Swords. Tyrion, seeking a meeting with his father (and new Hand), encountered Ser Addam Marbrand on the stair. A fairly talented knight and childhood friend of Jaime Lannister’s, Addam had been named the new Commander of the City Watch, but his first task had proven a failure:

“Aye. I fear I did not leave him in the best of moods. Lord Tywin feels forty-four hundred guardsmen more than sufficient to find one lost squire, but your cousin Tyrek remains missing.”

Tyrek was the son of his late Uncle Tygett, a boy of thirteen. He had vanished in the riot, not long after wedding the Lady Ermesande, a suckling babe who happened to be the last surviving heir of House Hayford. And likely the first bride in the history of the Seven Kingdoms to be widowed before she was weaned. “I couldn’t find him either,” confessed Tyrion. (“Tyrion I”, A Storm of Swords)

It may or may not be true that Ser Addam sent all four thousand City Watchmen looking for young Tyrek, but the sheer size of his potential task force only made the failure to find this Lannister relation more glaring – and intriguing. Ser Addam is a respected commander, yet no one in the capital would reveal any more information about Tyrek’s whereabouts, or even more details about what happened to the Lannister squire during the riot – a fact made stranger by Addam’s source of authority. Lord Tywin Lannister had made known his intent to find his nephew, yet even the magic of his name could not press a drop of information more out of those who might have known about Tyrek.

True, during Robert’s Rebellion Jon Connington had failed to draw information out of the smallfolk of Stoney Sept: he had offered bribes and threatened punishments, but the people refused to reveal where Robert Baratheon was hiding in the town. Yet Lord Tywin had a far more dread reputation than Lord Jon ever did. Tywin had not been shy about advertising his brutal extinguishing of the Reynes and Tarbecks for their defiance toward the Lannisters; some of the kingslanders may have even remembered the Sack at the end of Robert’s Rebellion, when Tywin’s westermen slaughtered children in the street and raped women in their homes. If the kingslanders lied now, and were found out for liars later, the retribution Tywin would bring upon them and their neighbors would be ruthless.  So why would no one give even the smallest hint about what happened to Tyrek? He is not rumored to have been killed (though Bronn considered that the most likely option); instead, Tyrek seems to have simply vanished.

Tywin himself later emphasized his desire to find his brother’s son at a meeting of the small council:

“Dragons and krakens do not interest me, regardless of the number of their heads,” said Lord Tywin. “Have your whisperers perchance found some trace of my brother’s son?”

“Alas, our beloved Tyrek has quite vanished, the poor brave lad.” Varys sounded close to tears. (“Tyrion III”, A Storm of Swords)

It may be little wondered why Tywin would seek out the report of Varys. If thousands of policemen could not extract Tyrek’s whereabouts from those who had witnesses the chaos of the riot, the next source of information was naturally Varys and his extensive spy network. The master of whisperers may not be as omniscient as many believe him, but his portfolio of informers is vast and his skills in information gathering well-honed and virtually unmatched. Smallfolk might be reluctant to admit to officers under Lord Tywin’s authority that they had seen Tyrek murdered and his body destroyed or dumped into the Blackwater, but chance statements made in more informal environments could be easily picked up by a Varys agent and delivered to the master of whisperers. It had been official crown business since immediately after the riot to find Tyrek Lannister: it was, ostensibly, Varys’ pressing responsibility to gather any information on that score.

Yet while Varys had ostensibly received no information, his conduct in this scene should be analyzed. This was not the first time Varys put on a theatrical display of dramatic sorrow in front of a Lannister. In A Clash of Kings, Tyrion arranged for the arrest and exile to the Wall of Janos Slynt, though Slynt had refused to reveal who had ordered him to pursue the murders of baby Barra and her mother. After the scene with Slynt, Tyrion had the following exchange with Varys:

[“]It was my sister. That was what the oh-so-loyal Lord Janos refused to say. Cersei sent the gold cloaks to that brothel.”

Varys tittered nervously. So he had known all along.

“You left that part out,” Tyrion said accusingly.

“Your own sweet sister,” Varys said, so grief-stricken he looked close to tears. “It is a hard thing to tell a man, my lord. I was fearful how you might take it. Can you forgive me?” (“Tyrion II”, A Clash of Kings)

Once again, Varys had known a secret a Lannister Hand did not. Cornered into revealing the truth or conveying a plausible lie, in both instances Varys opted for dramatic tears to convey a sense of real grief at the situation.  His skills in mummery had not gone to waste despite his years out of the profession: like a perfect mummer, Varys was utilizing a distraction in his show of grief to divert his audiences’ attentions away from the real pressing issues presented to him. The trick did not work on either man – Tyrion insisted on greater transparency from the master of whisperers, and Tywin was ready to “vent his obvious displeasure” before being sidetracked by Kevan – but the fact that Varys used the same tactic twice, on similar audiences, may suggest that Varys is once again keeping a secret from the Lannisters, and that he knows exactly what befell  young Tyrek.

Marbrand’s conversation with Tyrion, however, would not be the last time the heir to Ashemark would comment on Tyrek’s missing persons case. On his departure from the capital, Jaime Lannister took his childhood friend with him; staying as guests at Tyrek’s briefly held seat of Hayford, Addam offered the following thoughts on the situation:

“I led a search myself, at Lord Tywin’s command,” offered Addam Marbrand as he boned his fish, “but I found no more than Bywater had before me. The boy was last seen ahorse, when the press of the mob broke the line of gold cloaks. Afterward … well, his palfrey was found, but not the rider. Most like they pulled him down and slew him. But if that’s so, where is his body? The mob let the other corpses lie, why not his?” (“Jaime III”, A Feast for Crows)

Addam Marbrand raises an important point. Santagar and Greenfield’s bodies had been discovered later – mutilated, almost to the point of non-recognition, but identifiable at last – with the mobs having made no attempt to dispose of obvious court retainers. To be sure, the punishment for murdering a Lannister, first cousin once removed of the king (provided the mobs knew who Tyrek was), would be dreadful; yet the murder of a highborn like Santagar, or a knight of the Kingsguard, would likely carry terrible punishments as well. The rioting crowds were in a chaotic state, out for blood rather than coldly calculating in their victims, and Tyrek would have been no different. Why would only Tyrek’s body be disposed of in so thorough a manner that not a trace of him remained?

Lyle Crakehall, another westerman in Jaime’s company, made the following observation:

“He would be of more value alive,” suggested Strongboar. “Any Lannister would bring a hefty ransom.” (“Jaime III”, A Feast for Crows)

The thought, however, was quickly and factually dismissed by Marbrand:

“No doubt,” Marbrand agreed, “yet no ransom demand was ever made. The boy is simply gone.” (“Jaime III”, A Feast for Crows)

Once again, Marbrand cut to the heart of the matter. Bronn had observed earlier Varys’ offer of a “fat purse” for Tyrek’s return, and doubtless Marbrand too believed that the eunuch spymaster had made that offer public. There were plenty of opportunities for kingslanders to make money off of Tyrek’s disappearance, either by keeping him as a hostage when the riot broke out or subsequently claiming knowledge of Tyrek’s fate (perhaps by putting the blame for the murder on disliked neighbors). Yet not a shred of information had come to light which could reveal what happened to squire Tyrek. A fat Lannister purse had seldom failed to loose tongues before, yet even rumors of Tyrek’s fate could not be tempted out of the denizens of Flea Bottom.

At Marbrand’s comment, Jaime made his own conclusion – that the kingslanders, having slew Tyrek, threw his body in the river for fear of Tywin’s wrath – yet it is unsatisfying, even to Jaime himself. For one, Tywin was not in the capital at the time of the riot, and would not return until the Blackwater; true, the kingslanders might have feared Lord Lannister’s return, but Tyrek’s body would have to have been destroyed during the riot (since Tyrion sent out a search party for him upon returning to the Red Keep), making fear of Tywin an unlikely motivator. More deeply, Jaime considered what Tyrek could represent:

Yet afterward, alone in the tower room he had been offered for the night, Jaime found himself wondering. Tyrek had served King Robert as a squire, side by side with Lancel. Knowledge could be more valuable than gold, more deadly than a dagger. It was Varys he thought of then, smiling and smelling of lavender. The eunuch had agents and informers all over the city. It would have been a simple matter for him to arrange to have Tyrek snatched during the confusion … provided he knew beforehand that the mob was like to riot. And Varys knew all, or so he would have us believe. Yet he gave Cersei no warning of that riot. Nor did he ride down to the ships to see Myrcella off. (“Jaime III”, A Feast for Crows)

It may seem almost too obvious to telegraph Tyrek’s fate in Jaime’s internal thoughts. Jaime certainly has all the facts about Tyrek here, but what is important to note is that Jaime fails to put the pieces together. He knows Tyrek was a squire, knows Lancel was a squire too, knows Lancel effected Cersei’s assassination plot, knows Varys could have snatched Tyrek – but then stops thinking about the matter. The internal monologue may be likened to Arya’s chance overhearing of the plotting between Varys and Illyrio under the Red Keep in A Game of Thrones. In a way, it is too coincidental and too straightforward – readers just happen to get a POV of the two crafty plotters openly discussing their plans with the exiled Targaryens – but because Arya is just a child, not a schemer herself, her report of the conversation is confused and gently dismissed by Eddard. Jaime can guess that Tyrek might be useful, but just how Varys could use him is beyond Jaime’s desire, or skill, to analyze.

The evidence does not add up to a simple conclusion. All of the missing members of the royal party had been returned to the Red Keep or their bodies found – save Tyrek. A search conducted in the aftermath of the riot failed to find more than Tyrek’s palfrey. A huge task force of City Watch did not make so much as a dent in dispelling the mystery surrounding the boy’s disappearance. Varys, the skilled spymaster, seems to have been deliberately misleading about what information he had received regarding Tyrek. Where could the boy have gone?

It may be that Tyrek was not murdered in the streets of Flea Bottom at all – that he is, in fact alive and in hiding, under Varys’ own care.

The Lion in the Spider’s Web

That Varys used the riot in King’s Landing to abduct young Tyrek seems a possible, if not indeed likely, conclusion. It is unlikely Varys masterminded the entire riot in King’s Landing – the people were too actually hungry and stormy to need much prompting – but subtle instigation could push the kingslanders into satisfactory positions, from which Varys or his agent in the crowd could snatch Tyrek and take him into the Spider’s custody. 

If he were indeed the mastermind behind the riot, Varys had played a skillful mummery. The woman with the dead child who stopped the royal procession had been placed on the curve of an uphill street; the royal party would not only be moving slowly, but the tail of the party would be out of sight of the head. The woman and the man who threw filth at Joffrey seem likely to have been plants (the woman fitting with Varys’ flair for the theatrical, and the dung-thrower since the waste was reportedly thrown from a rooftop), placed in position to set off Joffrey’s known short fuse. Predictably, Joffrey sent his “dog” into the crowd to mutilate the people into obedience, and just as predictably, the mob of starving, seething people took the brutality of Sandor Clegane as incentive to retaliate. With careful placement of the plants, Varys could ensure the riot started from the front of the royal train, allowing the king’s suddenly being in danger to distract from his seizure of Tyrek from the back of the procession and behind the bend of the Muddy Way.

What would Varys want with Tyrek, though? First, Tyrek has a strong blood claim to Casterly Rock. Though distant from the seat at his birth, Tyrek has jumped a few places since. Lord Tywin is dead, Jaime ineligible from his white cloak, and Tyrion a convicted kingslayer and traitor two continents away from his ancestral seat. Cersei, the Lady of Casterly Rock, sits waiting to be tried for incest, adultery, and kingslaying; her trial will likely prove a success, but her hold on the crown remains tenuous. After Cersei and her children would come Kevan Lannister, but Ser Kevan has been lately murdered –  by none other than Varys himself. Kevan’s son Lancel , having turned pious after the Blackwater, forswore the seat of Darry to join the Warrior’s Sons, while Willem was murdered by Rickard Karstark; his twin Martyn and little Janei remain alive, though their whereabouts are unknown. The next claimant would be Tyrek himself.

Varys has need of a Lannister heir, to establish a new political order in Westeros. For almost two decades, Varys and Illyrio have nurtured Young Aegon as the ideal prince, future Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, a glorious savior to rescue the realm from chaos. Foreign invasion, however, can only be one part of this new Aegon’s Conquest: any successful conqueror (especially one without dragons) requires the support of local nobility in order not simply to defeat his foes but to establish a workable regime for the future. Dorne seems prepared to back the “Targaryen” princeling: as the purported son of Elia Martell, Aegon seems likely to stir many of the already-restless Dornish to action against the hated, Lannister dynasty.  Aegon’s upcoming, daring investment of Storm’s End will secure his position as conqueror of the Stormlands, and at least two powerful reacher lords – and any number of “friends” – look ready to join his cause. For the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, however, Varys will need to formulate a plan of diplomatic attack. A Lannister of the Rock, the rightful lion lord (once a few pieces are knocked off the board), Tyrek may serve as a useful puppet to win the Westerlands for the would-be Aegon VI.

Of course, to seat Young Aegon on the throne of the dragonkings, Varys has to unseat the child-king Tommen (and dispose with Princess Myrcella). The host Varys’ prince was leading up from the Stormlands will be a strong mailed fist to press his point, but Varys also needs the silk glove of a legal argument to pluck Tommen’s crown off his golden curls. The most obvious (and true) tactic would be to prove that Tommen and Myrcella were bastards born of incest, with no more claim to the Iron Throne than any Westerosi lord’s byblows. Their bastardy was already a common rumor throughout the realm, thanks to Stannis, but to clinch the argument, Varys needed someone who could offer proof.

Tyrek had been with the king, had possibly accompanied him to brothels and seen his black-haired bastards like Barra. Moreover, Tyrek could testify to the role Lancel had played in bringing about Robert’s death, further undermining Cersei’s position. Carefully coached by Varys, Tyrek could deliver testimony that would snatch away his cousins’ inheritance, paving the way for Aegon to reestablish the Targaryen dynasty. Then, once Tommen and Myrcella have been denounced as bastards, Tyrek stands as the ideal choice to be named Lord of Casterly Rock by his grateful new King Aegon VI (Martyn and Janei would present a dynastic challenge, but considering Varys had no qualms about murdering their father, it seems unlikely he would allow these rival claimants to live as well). Unconnected with the Lannister scandals in King’s Landing, Tyrek makes an attractive candidate to rule the westerlands and become a part of Aegon’s new Westerosi order.


Back in 1999, George R.R. Martin offered this brief, tantalizing opinion on Tyrek Lannister:

RMBoye: Simple question, really — will we ever find out what happened to the “Wetnurse”, Tyriek?

George_RR_Martin: Yes, you will. I try not to leave too many loose ends. But sometimes you need to wait.

Perhaps his comments should be taken with more than a grain of salt ; after all, in the same interview, he insisted that the growth of the books would stop at six. Perhaps we have already seen Tyrek, in the handsome young man with the purse of gold dragons whom Arya notices dying in the House of Black and White. Perhaps Occam’s Razor is correct here: that Tyrek was killed in the bloody riot, and that the rioters subsequently dumped his body in the river to avoid the harsh punishment the Lannisters and crown would likely bring upon them.

Yet murder by an unknown commoner, or an unexplained death in the chapterhouse of an assassins’ cult, seem poor reveals for which the author would need to counsel patience. Indeed, it seems more likely that Tyrek is in fact alive, and that Varys had the means, motive, and opportunity to pluck him out of the capital and hold him for his own uses. Only The Winds of Winter will serve to show whether Tyrek will return with the would-be Aegon VI and take “his” seat in Casterly Rock.  Nevertheless, the utter mystery surrounding Tyrek’s vanishing continues to fuel speculation, and readers may well anticipate just how this minor Lannister squire will return to the narrative in major ways.

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22 responses to “Heirs in the Shadows: The Young Lion

  1. Harley Davidson

    While I agree that Tyrek would be extremely useful by the end of ADWD, at the time of the kidnapping, he wasn’t even close to inheriting Casterly Rock. Seems like a pretty massive Batman Gambit on Varys’ part.

    • Grant

      He wasn’t, but Varys’ schemes required a number of Lannister deaths and removals anyway, and even if he couldn’t get Tyrek in Casterly Rock for some reason he could still use him to put the last few nails in the ‘Baratheon’ dynasty coffin.

  2. Varys is the most logical choice, but you need to mention why Littlefinger isn’t the choice. When shit like this happens, especially in King’s Landing, I suspect it’s either one or the other.

    Littlefinger’s benefit would be the same as Varys’, that is, holding the potential heir to Casterly Rock. Given his historical control over the Gold Cloaks,one needs to consider if a couple of them grabbed Tyrek and has him hidden in a brother somewhere. Remember, too, that although he wasn’t in the capital during the riot (on his way to the Tyrells), he helped orchestrate the murder of Joffrey while he was out of town as well.

  3. joannalannister

    Very nice! Y’all did a wonderful and thorough job laying out the Tyrek theory.

    What do you think of the idea that, once Aegon is installed on the Throne (not that that will actually happen, but let’s pretend), Varys plans to have the marriage to Ermesande set aside due to non-consummation and marry Tyrek off to another Lannister cousin? Perhaps Varys doesn’t plan to kill Janei, only to marry her off to Tyrek and strengthen Tyrek’s own claim. Consummation would have to wait, of course, which might be an issue.

  4. Dominique

    What other cases of heir in the shadows should we expect?
    The gyles rosby inheritance seems like a good place to pick up

  5. Great topic – I’ve long been curious about this one. What about an AUDIO version?

  6. hw@gmail.com

    Really cool concept. Might we get Edmure/Brynden Tully at some point, perchance?

  7. Grant

    Harry in the Vale and Robin, the Starks and the Boltons, the Greyjoys in the Iron Islands. This war’s done far more than split Westeros into warring factions, it’s also greatly damaged the arrangement of which family rules where and pushed several leading families towards possibly total destruction. Then there’s the Golden Company about to return, probably with opinions about whose lands belong to which of them.

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  9. Aella

    I hope he doesn’t get Casterly Rock because that would mean poor Martyn and Janei die…

  10. Lord Iceberg of House Slim

    Excellent points and makes a lot of sense and this has Varys written all over it. But what about Tyrion, all his “crimes” sort of become justified if it is proven that Joffery was a bastard born of incest and his killing of Tywin could be spun as justice since Tywin had to know or was just willfully ignorant of what Cersei was doing. And if the plan is to install Tyrek as lord of Casterly Rock I think they would have disposed of him instead of letting him live because I believe Tyrion would have a better claim to Casterly Rock then anyone. If this is anywhere close to true I see it as the beginning of another Tarygaren/Blackfyre war if Tyrion shows up with Dany and Aegon has Tyrek

    • Grant

      Besides his murder of Tywin being kin slaying, nothing in established law of Westeros (what there is that we’ve seen) says that Tywin has to die for fighting to keep Joffrey on the throne. Also Tyrion isn’t remotely a qualified public figure carrying out justice.

      Did Tywin deserve to die for what he’s done over the years? Based on 20th/21st century morals and law, probably yes. By the laws and politics of Westeros? Not so much and certainly not by Tyrion.

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  12. Jazman84

    I personally think that Baelish took him, as I think he tried to have Sansa kidnapped in the riots as well.

    • Why do that when he already had the Dontos piece in play? What’s the rationale for Baelish wanting to kidnap Sansa at that point in the storyline? His whole plot revolves around seizing the North and Vale through Sansa and Lysa and the Riverlands through the Lannisters.

      Bran & Rickon are still considered alive at this point in the story by all concerned, and the Wot5K is near its height. Makes no sense for LF, a jazz virtuoso of a conspirator to have a long, drawn-out plan to spirit Sansa out of KL now so that she’ll eventually meet his long-term goals.

      • Grant

        It would be safer to get her soon and stash her away from somewhere, but given everything else Varys does seem to be the stronger possibility.

      • You’re spit-balling here. Why do you assume that the Dontos piece is not related to Littlefinger’s potential riot-related to abscond with Sansa. Obviously he did want her at this point, given that he’d already sent Dontos to talk to her. What doesn’t make sense is for his plan with Dontos to be so long and drawn out that it takes nearly two books to enact. What would lend sense to that narrative is for him to have had a plan that failed, then spend a fair amount of time biding his time for another opportunity.

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  14. Kelly T

    I believe he’s with Littlefinger in the Vale. Willingly. Brothels are the link between the two. What motivations I cannot claim to know. Perhaps fear of Cersei because he knows too much? Hatred of his bride. Desire for a better title? I believe him to be Byron the Beautiful.

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