Guest Appearance on Unspoiled Podcast, #377

Continuing our trip through the World of Ice and Fire, here’s another episode of Unspoiled featuring yours truly.

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6 thoughts on “Guest Appearance on Unspoiled Podcast, #377

  1. David says:

    @Steven, again breaking my usual nod-in-agreement streak: I’m confused as to why you feel that there’s evidence to suggest that a) Varys must have saved rAegon, b) that Illyrio’s son with Serra is half-Blackfyre, or c) that Varys could be a Blackfyre himself.

    a) I agree with you insofar as to say that Varys will, given the opportunity, try to save innocent lives when and where it doesn’t conflict with his master plan. But the idea that he successfully baby-swapped rAegon gives him what I think is an implausible degree of foreknowledge (even for the Spider) and pegs the start date of his grand scheme at what I think is too early a moment in his life.

    Some sample objections: how could he know in advance that Aegon would be killed in such a manner as to completely obscure his face? How could he know that Elia (and other parties capable of recognizing a fake Aegon) would also be killed, esp. when the cold political calculation (per Tywin) was that she ought to be kept alive? How could he know that he, himself, wouldn’t be killed as part of the change in administration, particularly when his advice to Aerys (i.e. don’t trust Tywin, don’t open the gates) seems to have been oriented towards preserving the old regime and he lacks the protections of either noble birth or a patron in the new order?

    Further, I would argue that Varys’ original journey from Pentos to Westeros was *not* made with the grand prince-switching scheme already in mind. Accepting the job offer purely out of personal ambition is perfectly consistent with the boy who, to spite the sorcerer who “supposed that I should die” instead resolved to live and succeed. His ability to rise further in Pentos had reached a plateau; if he had risen as far as he could as a magister’s spymaster, how much further could he rise as the spymaster of a king?

    Instead, I would argue that the genesis of the grand prince-switching scheme didn’t arise until several years into Robert’s reign, after Varys had had the chance to contrast royal Baratheon neglect with royal Targaryen madness and found both wanting. Only then, after the birth of Illyrio’s son, would the pieces of the scheme have had a chance to really coalesce in Varys’ mind; we have a fAegon whose education we can control, we have a rAegon who was killed in such a way that our prince-switching story could be believed, we have no one left alive who could disprove our claim, etc.

    Finally, and apart from questions of Varys’ prescience or stage of plot-making at any given time, I would argue that we should take his tale of his own mutilation and resulting hatred of sorcery as sincere truth. Building off of that trauma, and after watching Aerys II descend into the infamous Targaryen madness over the years of his reign, why would Varys want to risk spoiling his perfect-prince project with that kind of magic-genetics time bomb? If you don’t know that dragons are going to return and make the possession of true Targaryen genes important again, a garden-variety Lyseni works better for your purposes than the genuine article.

    b) Apart from fAegon & Serra’s coloration, what other evidence do you feel is convincing that they’re Blackfyres as opposed to just garden-variety Lyseni? (Lys has been expressly mentioned as a source of Valyrian phenotypes, so I tend to discount this evidence as insufficient.) What motivation does Illyrio need other than Varys telling him “your son will never rise higher than a magister of Pentos, *unless* you pull the old bait-and-switch scheme with me one more time; then he could be king of Westeros?” A father’s desire to advance the interests of his son is strong motivation in and of itself (e.g. Kevan, Lancel); it doesn’t need “you will also restore your dead wife Serra Blackfyre’s son to his throne” to make it believable.

    c) Other than “king’s blood has magical power + Varys was mutilated to cast a magic spell –> Varys must have king’s blood,” is there any evidence for this theory you find convincing? I don’t find this convincing in the slightest; *blood* has magical power, full stop. (See, e.g., Maggy the Frog & Cersei, or Daenerys & Mirri Maz Duur, or Beric setting his sword on fire.) Varys doesn’t need to be anything more than an cheap, disposable young slave for his story of the sorcerer who mutilated him to make sense.

    • David says:

      */”a cheap, disposable” <– typo, apologies.

    • winnie says:

      Agree with all points David except that I believe in the Blackfyre connection to explain the GC’s support here.

      But yeah I think from Varys’ s perspective having a kid of Targ appearance who isnt so inbred or part of the “true” line is a feature not a bug-and why he wasn’t betting on Dany or Viserys. (If he’d only known about Jon!)

      But the birth of the dragons (and the rise of Dany the conqueror) threw him for a loop and they’ve been scrambling since since somehow I don’t think fAegon will be getting any of Dany’s living WMD’s.

      • Crystal says:

        I agree with this – and yes, the birth of Dany’s dragons was something that none of the conspirators was counting on. I am sure Varys and Illyrio wrote off Viserys long ago as too much of a chip off the old block. I am skeptical that they intended Dany to die on the Dothraki plains (I really think that “Aegon” is a late insertion and that the whole arranged marriage with Drogo was another instance of GoT early-installment weirdness) but a son of Dany’s might be a stronger claimant than Dany herself, since Dany is a woman and may bring up too many memories of Rhaenyra.

        But now all is moot because Dany has dragons. That threw Varys and friends a giant curve ball. And if anyone else is going to get his hands on a dragon, it’s going to be Jon Snow. If/when Varys finds out that R + L = J, here comes another curveball.

        • Winnie says:

          Seriously. Of course first Varys will have to get over the shock that *Ned Stark* of all people was hiding the biggest bombshell in all of Westeros-without him ever hearing anything. And since it looks likely that Jon is AA as well, I imagine there are going to be some significant developments there, with Jon being the leader of the fight against the *other* big game changer-namely the Ice Demon led Army of the Undead making its way down South for the winter. Still not entirely sure how Varys and for that matter everyone else in KL, missed *that* one, but I know that I’m almost hoping the White Walkers *do* make it all the KL just to give some of these schemers some perspective Seven Damn It!

          And yeah, I do think that fAegon as a subplot was not part of Martin’s original plan but was rather added later on, (remember he was originally thinking only three books, and then five, and then seven, and now he’s talking about freaking *Eight*) and frankly it would have been better had Martin *not* included him.

          Of course, Varys’s one backup plan for fAegon in light of Dany’s dragons; try to get Dany to marry him and give him a dragon and her army for a wedding present just SCREAMED of desperation because as Tyrion astutely pointed out the first Targaryen in centuries with dragons, their own huge private army, and an acknowledged claim to the IT, had no particular reason to ‘share’ with fAegon. She might with *Jon* but again Jon’s not only the real deal but is also likely to be in a much better bargaining position by the time Dany gets there,(again the whole AA destiny thing) -plus one of the dragons will probably choose him anyway.

  2. Son of fire says:

    I’m in the camp that ser barristan has been led around by the nose via the shavepate and hizdahr has done nothing wrong,methinks he’s going out in a heart breaking way not a heroic one!
    I hope i’m wrong.
    Good stuff

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