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So my question:

Later in the series Tyrion will find out that Shae is sleeping with Tywin, and kill them. As the season progressed it seems as they started at the point where Cersei learned about it and told Tywin at the feast. Though in the books Cersei didn't know anything about Shae, and certainly she didn't tell Tywin. Clearly Tywin knew about Shae, and was sleeping with her.

How long was that going on? Did he know from the start? If not, when did he find out?

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Is this a question about the book or the tv-show? –  TLP May 12 at 13:26
    
It's about the book –  libathos May 12 at 13:27
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What is your reasoning for it being so all along? And not just after the trial? –  TLP May 12 at 13:30
    
because nothing (that I can remember) implied that Tywin learnt it during the trial. So if it was happening it happened before that –  libathos May 12 at 13:34
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I think this is a good question, so I'm disappointed to see it getting downvotes. I've made a minor edit, since it is possible that the downvotes are because people are interpreting this as "here's my speculative theory; am I right?". Feel free to roll back the edit, or make changes to it; I think it will help focus on asking a concrete question, but it's your question, after all :) –  Beofett May 12 at 14:26
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4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I don't believe it is ever clarified when Tywin finds out about Shae.

There are a number of possible explanations that come to mind:

  • Tywin's spies managed to track her down. Tywin certainly does not trust Tyrion, and it seems certain that he would have made efforts to keep an eye on his activities. Tyrion went to a lot of effort to hide her presence, but he started to get sloppy as his feelings for her grew. He knew that bringing her to live and work in the castle was a bad idea, and it may very well have been his (or rather, her) undoing.

  • Shae may have been working for Tywin since the very beginning. She was introduced to Tyrion by Bronn, who claimed to have stolen her from another knight in Tywin's camp. I don't believe Bronn ever revealed which knight, and when Tyrion asked Shae herself, she avoided answering directly, only saying that he was a "small man" and a minor figure. It is possible that this was a lie, and that she was really "taken" from Tywin at the start. It is even possible that Bronn was knowingly acting as an agent for Tywin in delivering her to Tyrion; he was unapologetically mercenary, after all. If this is the case, then Shae would have been deliberately planted by Tywin as a spy, and returning to his bed once Tyrion was arrested would have been natural.

  • Varys may have revealed the truth, since he knew about Shae, and was convinced to provide very damning information as part of the testimony against Tyrion at Tyrion's trial.

Of the three, I think Tywin's spies finding out about Shae is the least likely; Tyrion is reasonably careful, and while Varys found Shae despite Tyrion's efforts, Varys' mastery of spying makes Tywin look like a child by comparison. Once Varys entered into his alliance with Tyrion to help hide Shae, it seems very unlikely that any spies employed by Tywin would find out about the secret.

The possibility of Shae originally working for Tywin originally, and then being sent to Tyrion as a spy, strikes me as very plausible. Clearly Tywin was not above sleeping with a whore, since Tyrion found her naked in his father's bed.

Still, my personal opinion is that Varys revealed her to Tywin. In fact, I believe that the whole trial, and the subsequent events, were part of a deliberate setup by Varys.

Varys testifies against Tyrion. Yet it also seemed too easy for Jaime to convince Varys to help Tyrion escape. Tyrion goes to Illyrio, Varys' partner, and then subsequently sent with "Griff" and "Young Griff" (later revealed to be Jon Connington and Aegon Targaryen) to support Daenerys Targaryen. If this was Varys' goal, then providing evidence at the trial would be an excellent way for him to force Tyrion to flee from King's Landing, and to go where Varys wanted him to.

Futhermore:

Arranging for Tyrion to find Shae in Tywin's bed (notice that Varys doesn't argue too strongly against Tyrion going to find his father, and quite willingly provides directions on how to sneak in to his quarters) would potentially serve a double purpose for Varys: it would set Tyrion even more firmly against his father, encouraging him to support the Targeryon claim, and it might also prove an opportunity to remove Tywin from the scene altogether.

After all:

The fact that Varys later murders Kevan Lannister, and then explicitly explains that he did so to destabilize the Lannister rule, sow dissent between Lannisters and Tyrells, and therefore making the kingdom an easier conquest for the returning Targaryens, makes it quite clear that Varys would have needed to eliminate Tywin somehow.

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well yes, as you describe it seems very plausible..But (and that's of course a thin line) if that's the case, and Shae actually joins Tywin actually later.Then that would mean that all these feelings she actually told Tyrion that she has are real, so would it be so easy to change sides? of course the other side is Tywin who is a really scary man so I guess she would be persuaded but then again to sleep with him is kind of a stretch.I guess I'm trying to say that if that's the case, Martins should have offered her a monologue just to hear her thoughts –  libathos May 12 at 18:10
    
The whole reason Tyrion took her with him is because she said she liked being with him, even though he suspected she was just saying that. He decided he didn't care if she was lying. She didn't ever seem to grow more fond of him; she started off saying how much she liked him, and just stayed with that. That's pretty consistent with her saying what she knew he wanted to hear, rather than her being sincere in growing to have real feelings for the guy who's paying to sleep with her. –  Beofett May 12 at 18:42
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My interpretation from the books was that Shae probably had some feelings for Tyrion, but she was a whore first and foremost, and either a better deal came along or she was threatened with her life (probably both, knowing the Lannisters). My (completely unfounded) assumption was that Varys told Tywin about Shae as a way to cover his own neck, and to further ingratiate himself. He certainly knew the most since he was helping to keep her hidden -- surely a fact he kept to himself.

In my opinion, Tywin most surely wasn't sleeping with Shae before the arrest and trial because I think that would have been difficult to keep hidden. Shae was busy with Sansa or visiting Tyrion. Once Sansa escaped and Tyrion was arrested her schedule opened up a lot.

One of the things that makes the books so interesting to me is that we don't always have the answers. Tyrion never finds out the truth, and is haunted by what did or didn't happen. Revealing it to the reader would seem to cheapen that mystery and provide some positive or negative judgment on his actions at the end of book three. Not knowing is the hardest part for both character and reader.

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In the books, it is not clear when other people found out about her. Tywin specifically told Tyrion not to bring his whore to court, but it is not clear if he knew who she was - and he certainly did not know that she was there initially, as Tyrion went to great lengths to hide knowledge of her presence.

However, in the books Shae is much more interested in Tyrion's wealth and what he can give to her, as opposed to in the show where it seems there is a genuine romantic relationship. So it makes sense that

After Tyrion's imprisonment on murder charges, she would try to capitalize on an opportunity with another Lannister.

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Some how the woman part of me believes that Shae was Tywin's from the beginning. When Varys gave her the gold and told/asked her to leave she wouldn't. A prostitute would have taken him up on the venture if she was all about money. Then after the war with Stanis, Shea wanted to leave with him and go somewhere else, Tyrion wouldn't go. Another thought is given to how she was dressed when she entered the court room. She was very well dressed. Someone had to be keeping her. It's an easy leap in my mind since they both Shae and Tywin betrayed Tyrion.

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