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?

  • 1
    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
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 14:41
  • @TylerH spoilers... There is another Aegon in the books.
    – Theyna
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 22:23

5 Answers 5


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 Daenerys 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 Daenerys instead of Renly or Stannis was likely just a happy coincidence.

  • 1
    Excellent, especially your second paragraph, I forgot about Ser Barristan telling Daenerys how he reached her. Commented Jul 31, 2014 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
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 17:33
  • I think sending Barristan to Daenerys was exactly what Varys and Illyrio wanted. Barristan must have known Rhaegar's friend Jon Connington. So Jon with Aegon and Barristan with Daenerys would have been ideally placed to act as bridge between the two dragons
    – Aegon
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 14:29

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 Daenerys was the result of a plan concocted by Varys and Illyrio to provide Daenerys 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.

  • 5
    There are most certainly Ser Barristan chapters in DwD. And he lays out his reasons for seeking out Dany when he reveals his identity. Commented Jul 30, 2014 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
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 20:24
  • 3
    Did we read the same book? He has a few POV chapters, EG: awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/A_Dance_with_Dragons-Chapter_67 Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 20:34
  • 1
    @TenthJustice - Your are right and I stand corrected. Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 23:32
  • @JustinEthier Yes, you're right and I was wrong. My apologies.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 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 Daenerys 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 Daenerys and it seems it isn't 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 Daenerys Ser Barristan just who he would naturally go to. Varys's hand is quite subtle in these actions.


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.


It would appear as though Varys wanted him to go to fAegon yes but as it appears Barristan himself wanted to go to Viserys and Daenerys.

"The truth … but truth was never welcome at that court. I walked from the throne room with my head high, though I did not know where I was going. I had no home but White Sword Tower. My cousins would find a place for me at Harvest Hall, I knew, but I had no wish to bring Joffrey's displeasure down upon them. I was gathering my things when it came to me that I had brought this on myself by taking Robert's pardon. He was a good knight but a bad king, for he had no right to the throne he sat. That was when I knew that to redeem myself I must find the true king, and serve him loyally with all the strength that still remained me."
"My brother Viserys."
A Dance with Dragons, Daenerys II

However, soon after he arrives in Pentos he meets Illyrio who sends him to bring Daenerys and her dragons/army to fAegon (Note that Barristan is in disguise as Arstan here).

Dany gave him a smile, to take a bit of the sting from the rebuke. "Now tell me, what would Magister Illyrio have of me, that he would send you all the way from Pentos?"
"He would have dragons," said Belwas gruffly, "and the girl who makes them. He would have you."
"Belwas has the truth of us, Your Grace," said Arstan. "We were told to find you and bring you back to Pentos. The Seven Kingdoms have need of you. Robert the Usurper is dead, and the realm bleeds. When we set sail from Pentos there were four kings in the land, and no justice to be had."
A Clash of Kings, Daenerys V

As it would seem both Varys and Illyrio wanted Barristan with fAegon but he served a better purpose by going to Daenerys first. I's unclear whether Varys knew about the decision to send him to Dany or not but I'd say not.

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