Whenever something important happens Varys is there watching from the shadows. Varys grew up around actors and show performers before being sold to the sorcerer who cut off his cock and balls. Afterward, Varys became a thief, in doing so he made an agreement with sellsword Illyrio Mopatis. The two made a fortune, as the two found out that secrets are worth more than gold and jewels.
Words of Varys spread throughout Westeros. Aerys Targaryen, The Mad King, requested for Varys to take the role of spymaster under his rule, to which Varys accepted. Varys whispered in Aerys ear, contributing to Aerys going mad. A quote from Ser Barristan “The rot in King Aerys’s reign began with Varys”. Now that isn’t 100% true, because Aerys had a history beforehand, although Varys certainly helped unravel the Mad King. One of his whispers were about Rhaegar, the King’s own son. Varys actively worked against Rhaegar by whispering into Aerys ear that Rhaegar was plotting to dethrone him. Ultimately everything leads to the downfall of the Targaryen rule with Robert’s Rebellion.
In season 1 we already see Viserys and Dany living with Illyrio. The same Illyrio that is close to Varys. Well, he is responsible for the arranged marriage between Drogo and Daenerys. The original plan was to marry Dany off to Drogo in exchange for his army, the invasion of Westeros and to crown Viserys King. Does this sound peaceful? A 40,000 Dothraki Khalasar invading the realm with Viserys as King, hmm. Back in Westeros, Varys served Robert Baratheon as spymaster in exchange for his life. After Robert asked Ned to become Hand, and the entire event with Arya and Joffrey occurred, Varys greeted Ned. He tells Ned Stark that he prays for Joffrey’s recovery, Ned made a reply along the lines of ‘shame you didn’t pray for the Butcher’s son’. Varys didn’t seem too concerned about the ordinary people. In the image, Illyrio meets with Varys and he urges the Dothraki to move faster.
Varys seems like he cannot wait for the invasion. All the while he sits on the small council providing information on Dany, and even supports Robert’s proposal to assassinate Dany when she is with the child. Later Varys will convince everyone that he is actually trying to protect Dany. When Ned confronted Cersei about her inbred secret, he attempted to give Cersei time to leave with her children as a sign of mercy. Varys tries to inform Ned that the Lannisters are after him. Later on, after Ned is imprisoned, Varys tells Ned it was a mercy that killed King Robert. Funny how mercy works in the eyes of Varys. He does try to save Ned from execution. Oh, I almost forgot. It was Varys that suggested Ser Barristan be dismissed from the King’s Guard and placed him responsible for Robert’s death. Confusing right? Yeah, even Ned couldn’t understand why Varys would help and betray at the same time.
Varys has expressed admiration for Little Finger in the past. During Season 1 and 2. The two are quite similar, yet polar opposites. Or so we think. Lannisters have gained control over King’s Landing by this point. When Varys meets Tyrion, his first attitude is to be friendly and welcoming. After the Battle of Blackwater, Varys tells Tyrion that Cersei was responsible for the order to execute Tyrion. Varys is also responsible for swaying Ros to spy for him in Little Finger’s brothel, which ends up with Ros dead by Joffrey’s hands. Once Tywin declares himself Hand of the King, Varys yet again feeds him information. This time it’s about Robb and the Northern army. Varys informs Tywin that Robb is in the Riverlands. The information indirectly leads to Tywin plotting with Roose to kill Robb.
Later on, Varys reveals his past and how he ruthlessly, but rightfully so took his revenge on the Sorcerer who castrated him. Again, funny how Varys can exact his revenge, but when Dany does, she’s called a Mad Queen by Varys after he said Dany “doesn’t have her father’s madness, she does have his ruthless streak”. Anyway, back to the point. When Olenna meets Varys, she sniffs right through his bullshit, something very few people are able to do. I trust Olenna, she was amazing. If she smelt something fishy, something was fishy and it was. Varys was one who pinned the Lannisters against the Tyrells. This results in the amazing death of Joffrey. After Tyrion is charged with the murder of Joffrey, Varys testifies against Tyrion in his trial, yet helps Tyrion escape King’s Landing.
Does any of this sound peaceful yet? Okay, let’s get to the bigger picture. Enough with the details. If Varys truly wanted a peaceful, prosperous realm why did he actively undermine 3 potentially regimes? Who were the 3 potentially good kings? 1. Rhaegar, 2. Robert, 3. Tommen.
As I said earlier, it was Varys who put the thought in Aerys mind that Rhaegar was trying to dethrone him. This is the biggest point for me too because Rhaegar was the rightful heir and no war would’ve ever had to occur for him to ascend to the Throne. It was Varys who secretly helped Illyrio plot the invasion of the Dothraki and crown Viserys, even though King Robert had years of peace. It was Varys who tried to weaken the Lannisters control (Tyrion’s execution, Tywin’s death) even though Tommen was being guided by Kevan, who was trying to unite the 7 kingdoms.
If Varys really wanted a good leader and have a peaceful realm, why did he purposefully create conflict and chaos when proper rulers were doing just that? Varys solidified his power by convincing the Starks, Baratheons, Lannisters, and Targaryens that his role was important because he and his network of spies know too much or could gather lots of information. Varys does everything indirectly and secretly by gaining people’s trust and telling them all the information while generating havoc, confusion, and war.
Afterword— I attempted to stay factual with the storyline of the show, but if I mixed book and series, feel free to correct me. Apologies for punctuation, grammar, etc.