Lord Varys

Varys is a eunuch who started as a poor slave in Essos. After meeting Illyrio Mopatis, he became one of the wealthiest men in Pentos.

The Definitive Glossary for Game of Thrones

Lord Varys, also called The Spider, was the Master of Whisperers for King Aerys II Targaryen, King Robert I Baratheon, and King Joffrey Baratheon. When Aerys became paranoid, he asked for Varys and made him a member of the small council. The Lord began serving Aerys II till his death. After the King’s demise, he got pardoned by Robert Baratheon and maintained his position on the small council. After the Targaryens’ fall, he continued serving Robert and collected information for him regarding Daenerys Targaryen.

Varys Personal Details

  • Name: Varys.
  • Titles: Master of Whisperers, Undergoaler.
  • Allegiance: House Targaryen (Supporting Aegon VI Targaryen).
  • Successor: Qyburn.
  • City of Birth: Lys.
  • Aliases: The King’s Spider, The Spider, The Eunuch, Rugen, Varys the Spider, Lord Eunuch.

Appearance and Personality

Varys is a bald, feminine, and plump-looking Eunuch with soft white hands. As per his feminine nature, he powders his face and smells lovely with a distinct scent of lilacs, lavender, and rosewater. While at court, he wears rich velvets, silks, soft slippers, and damasks. However, as a spymaster and mummer, he can alter his gait, voice, and smell. He uses a vast wardrobe and wigs to change his appearance, making him unrecognizable. Besides that, he has a mysterious character that makes his body language unreadable.

Varys deals in secrets. As information is his trade, he has a deep network of spies scattered throughout King’s Landing, Essos, and Westeros. His network is made primarily of children he calls little birds. Because of his power to manipulate others, he has a bad reputation among the nobles at the King’s court. He is also responsible for dividing the enemies of the Iron Throne.

Varys Biography

Early Life and Essos

According to Grand Maester Pycelle, Varys was born as a slave in Lys. He was an apprentice to a mummer in Lys who performed in the Free Cities of Essos, Old Town, and King’s Landing.

While in Myr, a mysterious man offered Varys’s master a large sum of money for him, and after getting sold, the man gave him a potion that rendered him powerless. The sorcerer removed his genitals and burnt them in a brazier for a blood magic ritual. He then cast him out unto the streets, leaving him for dead. However, he vowed to live and resorted to thievery and prostitution. Eventually, he became the best thief in the city but had to leave because of a rival.

Varys traveled to Pentos, where he met a poor sellsword, Illyrio Mopatis. Together, they formed a duo that would collect stolen goods and resell them to their owners for a high price; this made him and Illyrio rich. Upon realizing the value of information, he built a spy network of agile orphan children to acquire letters, ledgers, and charts of the wealthy.


Varys and Illyrio’s wealth grew tenfold when they became information brokers. Eventually, King Aerys II, the Mad King, invited Varys to the Seven Kingdoms. He employed him as the Master of Whisperers on the small council as he grew paranoid about the people around him.

Varys mastered the secret passages within the Red Keep and used them to enhance his spy network. After Rhaegar’s death, he advised the King not to open the gates to Lord Tywin Lannister. However, Aerys followed Pycelle’s advice and opened the gate leading to the Sack of King’s Landing. After his death, Robert pardoned Aerys and left him on the small council.

Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire

A Game of Thrones

After Lord Jon Arryn suddenly dies, Robert asks Lord Eddard Stark to become the Hand of the King. When Jorah Mormont sends word of Daenerys’s wedding to Khal Drogo, Varys sends the letter to Robert and Ned Stark. Ned reaches King’s Landing with his daughters, Arya and Sansa, and the King hosts the Hand’s Tourney.

After the event, Varys disguises himself and meets Ned. He tells him that Queen Cersei Lannister is trying to kill her husband and vows to help in the investigation against the Lannisters. He also reveals the former Hand of the King got killed with the Tears of Lys.

Robert calls the small council to discuss Daenerys’s wedding, and during the meeting, he asks Varys to kill the exiled princess. After Ned discovers Cersei’s infidelity, she arranges for her husband’s accident. Though Ned tries to seize power, Petyr Baelish and Janos Slynt betray him, and he gets arrested. While in prison, Varys visits Ned and convinces him to admit to treason for the sake of his daughter. Though he plans to make him take the black, the new King Joffrey orders Ned’s execution.

A Clash of Kings

Upon learning of Ned’s death, Lord Tywin Lannister sends Tyrion Lannister to King’s Landing to serve as the acting Hand of the King. With Varys’s help, Tyrion gains control of the city watch and learns that Ser Lancel Lannister is sleeping with Cersei. The Master of Whisperers also assists Tyrion in hiding Shae and Gendry from Cersei.

A Storm of Swords

After Stannis’s defeat, Tyrion becomes the Master of Coin as Petyr Baelish, littlefinger, leaves for the Eyrie. When Joffrey dies from poisoning, Tyrion gets accused of murder. When his champion gets killed, his brother, Jaime Lannister, and Varys free him from his cell.

While leaving King’s Landing, Tyrion uses a ladder to sneak into the Tower of the Hand. He then kills Shae and his father. Meanwhile, in Meereen, Ser Barristan Selmy tells Daenerys that Ser Jorah Mormont has been spying on her for Varys. Jorah then gets exiled.

A Feast for Crows

After Tommen becomes King and Tyrion leaves King’s Landing, Varys vanishes without a trace. Qyburn becomes the Master of Whisperers and learns that Varys’s little birds still keep coming to sell secrets. Cersei’s terrible rule leads to the restoration of the Faith Militant and the economic ruin of King’s Landing. She gets arrested.

A Dance with Dragons

After Varys smuggles Tyrion Lannister across the Narrow Sea, he sends him to Pentos, where he meets Magister Illyrio Mopatis. The magister convinces Tyrion to join Daenerys, and along the way, Tyrion learns that during the Sack of King’s Landing, Varys had switched Aegon VI Targaryen for another baby. He realizes Illyrio and the Golden Company plan on wedding Aegon to Daenerys.

Using the secret passages of the Red Keep, Varys sneaks into Grand Maester Pycelle’s chambers and kills him. He then shoots Ser Keven Lannister and tells him how he planned the chaos in King’s Landing. He then orders his little birds to finish Kevan.

Appearance in Adaptation

In HBO’s Game of Thrones, Conleth Hill portrayed Lord Varys. He appeared in seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 and starred in 46 episodes. After telling Petyr Baelish he supports the wishes of the current ruler, Varys convinces Eddard to confess to treason. After Robert’s death, he tells Tyrion about Stannis and Melisandre, the priestess who stares into the flames.

Varys later revealed he supported Daenerys Targaryen. In the final season, Game of Thrones season 8, he joins Daenerys in her conquest of the Seven Kingdoms. When he realizes the dragon’s mother has given in to the same madness as her father, he agrees that Jon snow would make a better King. When Daenerys learns of his betrayal, she orders his execution.

Varys: The Cunning Spider

Being one of the wisest people in A Song of Ice and Fire, Varys never let his beginnings prevent him from achieving his goals. Although he was born poor and got castrated, he still rose to the top by working cleverly and using the best tool available; information. His intelligence made him successfully run the politics of King’s Landing from the shadows.


What does Lord Varys Want?

The master of whisperers has a simple mission; to destabilize Westeros and King’s Landing so that Aegon VI Targaryen can come and reclaim his rightful throne. He is a Targaryen loyalist who will do anything for the spawns of the dragon.

Did Lord Varys die?

In the books, Lord Varys is alive. He kills Grand Maester Pycelle and Ser Kevan Lannister for fixing the problems with King’s Landing. In the tv series, he supports Daenerys but gets killed for partaking in a treasonous plot to overthrow Dany for Jon Snow.

Is Varys wiser than Petyr Baelish?

Though he has an extensive network of spies feeding him information, Varys is not as good a tactician as Lord Petyr Baelish. Littlefinger is a genius and political wizard.

Why did Varys hate magicians?

When Varys was a boy, a sorcerer bought and castrated him for a spell. He threw him on the streets, hoping he would die; this made him hate magic and magicians.

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