Tag Archives: Espionage

Blood of the Conqueror, Part 2: The Mummer’s Folly


In medieval and early Renaissance Europe, allegories or long-form metaphors were used as moral and explanatory story-telling devices. In these allegories, Folly was a character who resembled court jesters in appearance and served as the dramatic device to tempt the protagonist towards foolhardy deeds.

If A Song of Ice and Fire were an allegory, Varys and Illyrio would play the part of Folly in the story. Their soft, powdered hands and tittering laughs guide much of the action in A Song of Ice and Fire. Yet these men aren’t simple mummers performing trickery for laughs. Instead, their tricks and mummery are intended for the highest of dramas.

But their role as Folly is unclear and often misinterpreted. To attempt to expand our knowledge of the Varys-Illyrio plot, I’ve divided their scheming into two parts. In order to understand the plots of Illyrio and Varys, we have to explain the motivations and backgrounds of those pulling the strings. So, in today’s part we’ll be taking a deep dive into the underpinnings of Varys and Illyrio’s conspiracy before the start of events from A Game of Thrones. I plan to do this in three basic ways:

  • Their overall objective
  • A deep dive into the background of both players to include discussions of their origins, family dynamic and a bit of prophecy..
  • Finally, we’ll cover Varys and Illyrio’s opening acts in the folly during the reign of Aerys II.

Through this extended analysis, I hope you’ll come to understand Varys and Illyrio’s role as Folly in the story. But in the end, keep in mind that Varys and Illyrio’s folly will cause the deaths of tens of thousands in Westeros and Essos.

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Filed under ASOIAF Analysis, ASOIAF Espionage, ASOIAF History, ASOIAF Mystery, ASOIAF Speculation

The Agents of Chaos: Spies, Spymasters and Their Tradecraft in Westeros Part 1: The Myrish Femme Fatale


“Secrets are worth more than silver or sapphires.” (ADWD, Tyrion II)

Artwork by Elia Fernandez

The cloak and dagger business in A Song of Ice and Fire is thriving. Within the timeline of the universe, the schemers plot and succeed against individuals, knights, lords, kings and queens. In this new essay series, we’ll examine two of A Song of Ice and Fire’s greatest spymasters: Varys and Littlefinger. That Varys and Littlefinger have agents and spies planted across King’s Landing cannot be questioned. But are they effective in executing the wills of their spymasters?

We’ll take a look at the methods and goals of these spymasters. We’ll also be taking a look at known or suspected agents of both Littlefinger and Varys. But today, I’d like to write about something a little more fun. I’d like to posit a theory that a certain noblewoman in King’s Landing is not all she appears, but more importantly, she’s not what fans of the series think she is either.

Today, I’ll hope to convince you that Taena Merryweather is not an agent of the Tyrells or Littlefinger; she’s an agent of Varys’.

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Filed under ASOIAF Analysis, ASOIAF Character Analysis, ASOIAF Espionage