So it's been a few years since I last read the books, but watching the television show has made me think about the overall story once again. Generic spoilers to follow.
A big theme in the book is that things are getting "worse" for the people of Westeros (this is echoed in the sentiments of one of the series' few savvy master manipulators: Varys). This isn't a big surprise, as it's common to give a "build-up" to the climax. In Game of Thrones (TV-Show), this means that:
- The kingdom is splintering,
- Debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos is mounting, and
- Various cells within and without the kingdom are generally becoming less content with the ruling party.
Now, at the beginning, things weren't all that bad; there was relative peace in the kingdom - even though the leadership (King Robert) was a bit apathetic. After his death, things are tense, but under control... and then Ned's death sets off a massive civil war. The North just wants to be free, Renly just wants to be a king cause it's cool, and Stannis wants to be king because *that's how inheritance actually works, Renly.*
After a lot of bad stuff happens, things eventually calm down. The North's rebellion is effectively suppressed, Renly is dead, Stannis has lost the vast majority of his military power, Joffrey has choked on his reign of terror, the Lannister's strongest personalities are dead (Tywin) or gone (Tyrion), Myrcella's presence is soothing Dorne, and the Throne has been stabilized by the wealth and power of the Tyrell house.
So why is Varys officially giving up on the Seven Kingdoms? Kevan Lannister, a man who could only help stabilize the kingdom is intentionally killed. Varys claims to serve the people of Westeros, yet he's turning his back on it as soon as things have a chance to be the best they've ever been. To illustrate:
- Margaery is strongly implied to be the power behind the Throne, and has demonstrated herself to act with the social cunning and political skills of anyone in King's Landing, without the trappings of insanity that most of them have. She's shown herself to be far more generous and well-liked than her predecessor, Cersei, in only a few years.
- House Tyrell has just overshadowed the Lannisters - the previous ruling party - which would pacify the North as well as Dorne.
- Let's not forget too, that the last Targaryen whom Varys saw was the one who is universally recognized as a monster and tyrant.
Things are great now, yet Varys - the man I identify as the voice of many of the readers' sentiments - has officially abandoned it.