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In ACoK, Tyrion learns that Varys was behind the dismissal of Barristan the Bold.

"Was it Joffrey's wish to dismiss Ser Barristan Selmy from his Kingsguard too?"

Cersei sighed. "Joff wanted someone to blame for Robert's death. Varys suggested Ser Barristan. [...]"

As we learn in ADwD,

Varys supports both the return of Daenerys and that of Aegon.

Now, Barristan's dismissal supports both of these causes

since it means one less hero at the Lannister side,


Barristan ending up next to Daenerys was quite favorable to her (with respect to Aegon).

Is there any indication that tells us that Varys approached Ser Barristan (directly or indirectly) about where he should go to? Or was removing Ser Barristan from the Lannister side enough of a goal for him and was his appearance next to Daenerys not his doing?

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This may approach spoilers territory, but I've only seen the show, and I was under the impression that Aegon was dead. Is he not? Am I mixing up Targaryens? – TylerH Jul 31 '14 at 14:41
up vote 16 down vote accepted

I think Varys makes it perfectly clear that the claimant to the Iron Throne he supports is Aegon. So right off the bat, I have trouble seeing why Varys would have wanted Ser Barristan to go to Dany instead of him. Ilyrio and Varys only support Dany to the extent that she can aid Aegon's claim.

Ser Barristan himself gives Daenarys an account of what happened after he left Joffrey's service. He stayed in King's Landing for a month disguised as a peasant, until he witnessed the execution of Eddard Stark. At that moment, he began questioning his years of service to the Usurper, and realizes the only way to make penitence is to find Aerys' daughter and pledge his service. He never says how he ended up with Ilyrio, but he would have known from the Small Council meetings that Ilyrio and the Targeryen siblings were close.

All indications from Ser Barristan are that he genuinely had a desire to seek Dany out and protect her. He could be lying I suppose, but we get no sense of that from his POV chapters and it'd run contrary to his character. So if Varys DID intend for Ser Barristan to go to her, it was a pretty lucky guess on his part.

Meanwhile, I can see many reasons why Varys wouldn't want Barristan with Dany. Ser Barristan has a very negative view of Varys, and outs Ser Jorah as one of the Spider's spies. He can also confirm that Varys was the one who sent Robert's order to have her killed, and even voted for her death.

I think it's much more likely that Varys just wanted to weaken Joffrey by sending away a major asset. The fact that Ser. Barristan ended up with Daenarys instead of Renly or Stannis was likely just a happy coincidence.

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Excellent, especially your second paragraph, I forgot about Ser Barristan telling Daenerys how he reached her. – PrisonMonkeys Jul 31 '14 at 10:09
Varys & Moptis weren't ready for Aegon to be unveiled when Selmy was sent away, which may have been a factor – dsas Jul 31 '14 at 17:33

I think it's fair to think that this was all part of Varys' master plan.

Barristan's timeline is a bit unclear, since we have no POV chapters for him or flashbacks. But we know that:

  1. He was dismissed from the Kingsguard by Joffrey, and he left in a huff.

  2. He resurfaces as Strong Belwas' squire, with a mission from Ilyrio Mopatis.

We don't know what happened between these two events. But we do know:

  1. Varys was behind the dismissal.

  2. Sometime afterwards, Barristan enters the service of Illyrio.

  3. Varys and Illyrio are allies, share the same goal, and are working together.

So it stands to reason that having Barristan join Daenarys was the result of a plan concocted by Varys and Illyrio to provide Daenarys with a stalwart companion, body guard, and adviser. In fact, I'm fairly certain that it was Varys who facilitated Barristan's escape that ended up with him in Illyrio's city.

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There are most certainly Ser Barristan chapters in DwD. And he lays out his reasons for seeking out Dany when he reveals his identity. – TenthJustice Jul 30 '14 at 19:37
There most certainly are not Ser Barristan chapters in DwD. There are chapters in which he appears, but none where he's the POV character. – Mike Scott Jul 30 '14 at 20:24
Did we read the same book? He has a few POV chapters, EG: – Justin Ethier Jul 30 '14 at 20:34
@TenthJustice - Your are right and I stand corrected. – System Down Jul 30 '14 at 23:32
@JustinEthier Yes, you're right and I was wrong. My apologies. – Mike Scott Aug 9 '14 at 14:35

As far as I've read in the book Ser Barristan doesn't know that Aegon is alive, but he did know Daenarys was alive, and where to find her. So after basically spiting in the kings face he had to flee the country and where better to go then to the daughter of your previous king. Now onto your other point Varys supports both Aegon and Daenarys and it seems it isnt mutually exclusive support. What i mean is Both of them are importent, Both have potential to take back control of Westeros, But if 1 dies the other can take over vice versa . As well as neither appears to be more desirable then the other, so should both live through and take over westeros Ideally they would probably marry. So its not favoritism that gets Daenarys Ser Barristan just who he would naturally go to. Varys hand is quite subtle in these actions.

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+1, this is exactly what I was going to post. – The Giant of Lannister Jul 31 '14 at 18:05

Varys works with Illyrio, who sent Barristan and Belwas to meet Dany and bring her and dragons back to Pentos. Assuming Varys wants Dany and Aegon to join, they would have joined at that time, but obviously not all plans worked.

Also Aegon is with the Golden Company, whom Barristan fought and killed their Captain during the Ninepenny War. The GC also are associated with the Blackfyre pretenders, a faction Barristan would never ally with. Also if Barristan was sighted with the GC, there would suspicions about who was with the GC.

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