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The Small Council

"...I traveled with a troupe of mummers through the Free Cities. They taught me that each man has a role to play, in life as well as mummery. So it is at court."

A tradition as old as the Iron Throne, the Small Council is comprised of the King's top advisers who determine all the basic administrative duties that comprise the rule of the King. They are headed by the King's Number Two, the Hand of the King. The King may or may not attend the Council meetings in person, as per his leisure or interest.

    In General 
  • The Chessmaster: Being comprised of politicians and knowledge brokers, it's a given that all of them have a minor or major in this. Ned Stark being the major, tragic, exception.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: When the Small Council are not advising the King, they are busy plotting ways to subvert and/or murder him or each other. Many of them have their own separate competing interests, often selfish and careerist, independent of any loyalty to the King. Needless to say, any Hand who wishes to remain alive has to navigate the Small Council Chamber itself.
  • Corrupt Politician: Playing "the game" requires a great level of underhandedness, an outward servilism and a plethora of other unsavory traits, and as the council is usually made of top players, honorable men who disdain these facts tend to have a short tenure in the present day, if any. A few people with a personal connection to the King such as Ned Stark, Jon Arryn and the Baratheon brothers can be counted as earnest, notable exceptions with varying degrees of success.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Often the source for its deadliness and decadence.
  • Dwindling Party: In book 2, Tyrion knocks down the Small Council to about half its membership during his stint as a stand-in for Tywin, specifically the ones he doesn't trust not to betray him. Littlefinger, Varys, and Cersei are all that's left. Tywin restocks after he returns.
  • High Turnover Rate: The Small Council has a tendency to "grow smaller" and/or end up reorganized at the whim of whoever happens to be in charge.
  • The Leader: The Hand of the King serves, in theory, as The Good Chancellor to The Good King, but more often than not as the Hypercompetent Sidekick to a lazy (Ned to Robert) or evil (Tyrion to Joffrey) king, or the Dragon-in-Chief (Tywin Lannister to Aerys and Joffrey).
  • The Man Behind the Man: Following the death of Robert Baratheon, the Council has more or less been serving as the "true" power of the Kingdom, making all of the major decisions without the input of their Puppet King, first Joffrey and then Tommen.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: Being the power behind the throne, most of the problems King's Landing and the Seven Kingdoms go through can quite easily be put down to them not knowing enough (say, about Daenerys), thinking they know enough (say, about the fictional nature of the Others, Children of the Forest and the best use of the Watch being as a prison colony rather than a bulwark against Really Bad Things) and every member trying to have the whole political cake to themselves, rather than ever trying to share. Oh, and actually, you know... not doing their jobs as per the title description?
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: As Ned Stark and Tyrion learn, most of their colleagues value their own influence and importance over any loyalty to the King or service to the realm. In the case of Tyrion, Queen Regent Cersei refuses to involve the Hand in preparing the defenses of King's Landing, forcing him to undermine her at every turn to protect the city and its inhabitants from Stannis Baratheon.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Like the Kingsguard, seven members to go along with the Faith of the Seven is Traditional.
  • The Spymaster: In the City of Spies of King's Landing, just about every other citizen reports to someone who reports to someone on the council.
  • Volatile Second Tier Position: The Hand of the King may have the most power and prestige attached to it, but it's also the most exhausting, thankless and downright dangerous job in the entire court. For this reason, it's often said that "The King eats and the Hand takes the shit."
  • Vetinari Job Security: The end-goal of most of them, but especially so in the case of Grand Maester Pycelle and Lord Varys the Spider, the latter only defecting because of a fondness for Tyrion and setting his sights on greater prospects.

     Lord Varys 

Lord Varys, Master of Whisperers

The Spider
"The storms come and go, the waves crash overhead, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling."

An eunuch and Master of Whisperers of (supposedly) Lysene origin, no one really knows who Varys is. Although he is one of the King's advisors, he is the most mysterious member of the Westerosi government - and in some cases, he is the government. He is the grand puppeteer of Westeros, and openly admits it. Unlike others who manipulates people for their own gain, Varys has much, much greater goals that are still unknown, though he claims he acts "for the Realm." While Littlefinger is sneaky and clever, Varys is deceptive and downright scary. He conducts himself almost in a child-like behavior, but the one asset he possesses - information on everyone - is so important that he is often more powerful than the King.

  • Agent Peacock: A non-combative variety. Whatever the hell Varys is doing, he is accomplishing it by being delicate, effeminate, fabulously well-tailored and generally carefully turned-out... as "Varys" — his alter-ego is a different story. All positively harmless, darling.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Claims to have the realm's best interests at heart, but is no stranger to morally questionable acts. What he wants and why is still a mystery. We do have some clues from the most recent book, though; what he seems to want is a king who actually puts his people first - and he appears to have fashioned one, in the form of Prince Aegon VI. If so it's caused the deaths of a vast number of people already was preceded by possibly pushing Aerys into paranoia which would make him indirectly responsible for most of the tragedies in the backstory and it's not even clear if Aegon is at all the prince Varys claims he wants the boy to be. Only time will tell.
  • Animal Stereotypes: He's called "The Spider", for his vast intelligence network and how he manages to learn most, if not all, of other players' secrets he knows all of the Red Keep's secret passages and uses them to spy on others. Like spiders, he's noted for not making noise while walking.
  • Apologetic Attacker: A little bit in his dialogues with Eddard Stark, but most definitely in the epilogue of ADWD, towards Kevan Lannister.
  • Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: A foreign eunuch in an (at first) unfamiliar Court with only his wits and the people he can be useful to aid him? You can't get more apparently powerless. Yet, he keeps paddling. A quick glance at the rest of this sheet will tell you why.
  • Asexuality: He thumps this card down hard on the table for everybody to see whenever playable. Sure, he'll admit to having had to take part in sexual acts when younger, but usually makes a point of being thankful that that's well and truly done with. And, he doesn't come across as the kind of guy who is heavily into romantic cuddles and candlelight of an evening, despite taking care of himself. Whether any of it is actually true is up for debate, but he certainly doesn't appear to have much interest in others. That we know of.
  • Blatant Lies: Tells Tyrion that killing Tywin would be a terrible idea, and under no circumstances should he climb all the way to the 280th step and take the third exit on the left to his father's room.
  • Boring, but Practical: Varys' secret for becoming one of the most successful thieves in Essos? He can read, and more importantly, he can teach others how to read. Given that such a large portion of the world's population can't read, the ones who can tend to leave important documents out in the open without fear of the information falling into the wrong hands, something Varys and his little birds take advantage of.
  • Breaking Speech: He is fond of giving these to any protagonist who has to deal with him.
    • In a rare moment of honesty, Varys tells Eddard Stark that he serves the realm and despises the nobility for being spoiled fools with too much power and too little consideration for the commoners (99% of Westeros' population) who are always massacred during their power struggles. He essentially gave Eddard the inverted version by letting him know that his lofty ideals of "honor" are a pleasure only the high lords could care about.
  • Brutal Honesty: While a lot of what he says is suspect, he has been known to say things that are undeniably true and rather blunt at the same time. For instance, when Ned rips into him for standing idly by and watching his men get murdered, Varys calmly informs him he would do it again in a heartbeat, since it would accomplish nothing but ending his own life prematurely.
  • The Chessmaster: He's an one-man secret government cabal.
  • Child Soldiers: A lot of his spies are young, and he keeps a detachment in King's Landing to murder anyone who he considers a threat to his plans.
  • Determinator: There's a little of this in Varys: after the sorcerer castrated him, "...the man had no further interest in me, so he put me out. When I asked him what I should do now, he answered that he supposed I should die. To spite him, I resolved to live."
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: Most of the characters see him like this. Whether he's truly evil remains to be seen.
    Varys: Why is it that nobody ever trusts the eunuch?
  • Evil Chancellor: A strange subversion, since it's unclear if he is good or evil. He can certainly be ruthless and conniving when it suits him, though.
  • Fat Bastard: Of a kind. He's certainly overweight, and a Manipulative Bastard, to boot. But he goes out of his way to subvert some of the image problems otherwise associated with the trope, while actively playing on it at the same time in some very strange ways, as well. Not for him the simple take on the trope.
  • Foil: To Bloodraven. He is as good a spymaster without having to resort to magic and he is as equally dreaded. The two of them are considered the absolute best spymasters in the history of Westeros; if it were a position that earned the respect that a Hand gets, they would be at the level of Viserys II.
  • Friend to All Children: He does what he does "for the children". There are many who work for him, and he takes care of them (whatever that may entail) in return; it's implied that he's saving them from a life on the streets of Essos, with Illyrio's help.
  • Government Conspiracy: Knows most, sees too much (in other people's opinions)... and, is involved with practically everything at some point as a result. Works for the Crown. We think.
  • Hyper-Awareness: A master in this respect, Varys is preternaturally perceptive on his own and is somehow aware of events that he took no part on and then some because of his highly specialized network of spies. When Cersei tries to replace him, she does notice that the replacement is nowhere near as accurate as Varys. He also argues that he is unencumbered by the sexual/sentimental whims of regular people, which gives him a greater ability to focus at a goal.
  • Knowledge Broker: Varys has no lands or wealth of his own, but his information network makes him one of the most influential people in Westeros.
  • Informed Ability: In-universe he is widely regarded as a brilliant spymaster and politician. However, for a supposedly intelligent and experienced man, he seems remarkably naive concerning Prince Aegon. He appears to believe that Aegon's upbringing would make him a better king than any of the other candidates. The reality is quite different. Not only is Aegon is entitled, sexist, something of a Royal Brat (though a relatively mild example), who seems to lack any kind of self-awareness, but his lack of experience in politics makes him an easy target for manipulation by Tyrion Lannister.
    • However, this could be down to a lack of information about what Aegon's actually like, and the influence of Jon Connington - it's entirely possible that Aegon wasn't meant to know his true identity.
  • In Name Only: Varys isn't a real lord, he's called "lord" only as a courtesy.
  • Just Between You and Me: Varys shoots Ser Kevan with a quarrel and starts giving exposition on his major plans like a Bond villain but then he seems to catch himself:
    "I am sorry. You are suffering, I know, yet here I stand going on like some silly old woman. Time to make an end to it."
  • Lovable Traitor: As Tyrion puts it after Varys has both helped and impeded him:
    Tyrion: Lord Varys, I am growing strangely fond of you. I may kill you yet, but I think I'd feel sad about it.
  • Loyal to the Position: Has served under three consecutive kings and professes loyalty to the realm.
  • Manipulative Bastard: May even be better at it than Littlefinger.
  • Master Actor: Possibly the result of his supposed past as a mummer.
  • Master of Disguise: Varys normally plays up his effeminacy, and so when he changes his clothing, aroma and voice tone, no one who knows him can recognize him. Apparently, he's also Rugen, one of the jailors in the Red Keep.
  • Meaningful Name: Varys is similar to the word "varies", indicating his frequently changing loyalties, and disguises.
  • Modest Royalty: Despite being a member of the small council and one of the most powerful men in Westeros, Tyrion notes that Varys's chambers are small and sparse; just a hard bed and a window.
  • The Needs of the Many: Claims to serve "the realm."
  • Not So Above It All: He willingly admits to Ilyrio that even he doesn't have a damn idea of what the hell Littlefinger is up to. This is coming from a man whose business is to know everything about everyone; of course, whatever Littlefinger is doing is complicated enough to go beyond Varys' scope, which is saying an awful lot.
  • Nothing Personal: The number of people he screws over that would fall under this are many: The stability of the realm is his goal, and many otherwise decent people end up on his bad side because of it. He uses the line on Kevan Lannister.
  • Only Sane Man: Well, if you believe him. He claims to be - and indeed, most of the time seems to be - the only person in Westeros with political power who is interested in preserving the realm.
  • Pet the Dog: Varys paid for Gendry's apprentice as a blacksmith and ensured he was removed from the capital before the new regime has a chance to kill him. Varys also sent birthday gifts to Edric Storm every year in the stead of his father Robert. One wonders why he cares so much for the King's bastards.
    • When breaking Tyrion out of jail, he only knocks the guards out instead of killing them.
  • The Plan: Varys claims he tries to protect the realm from its rulers, and it was him who kept the incompetent King Robert alive for so long because he knew that Cersei and Joffrey were much worse. However, he has been making another plan - to return the Targaryens to the throne. In Dance Illyrio reveals that Varys used to be a thief, stealing something and then selling the object back to its owner. It's very possible that Varys is doing the same thing to the Targaryens, but on a national scale.
    • And now it appears he's had another gambit going ever since the Targaryens fell, as his plans for Prince Aegon have been revealed.
  • Poetic Serial Killer: At the end of ADWD, when we see a rare glimpse of what he really is.
  • Put on a Bus: Doesn't appear at all in A Feast For Crows aside from a brief recollection by Jaime of how he forced Varys to help him free Tyrion. Does appear in the epilogue of A Dance with Dragons, and what an appearance!
  • Psychopathic Manchild: His "smooth cheeks" and baby face are described extensively, as is his frequent giggling. That covers the "Manchild" aspect. As for the "psychopathic" bit, killing Kevan Lannister - with an army of knife-wielding orphans! - and bashing Maester Pycelle's skull for...the greater good? So he's more Hannibal Lecter than Kharn the Betrayer but he's still a psycho. Having said all this: how much is act and how much actual, let alone any degree of deliberate distortion and spin? Good luck working that out.
  • The Rival: To Littlefinger. Both are manipulative corrupt members of the royal court who are destabilizing Westeros for their own goals, and indeed many of the actions both of them take are mutually beneficial to their goals. However, considering Littlefinger's plan to put himself in a higher position of power contrasting Varys' plan to return the Targaryens to the Iron Throne, their mutual aid will inevitably disappear later on.
  • Self-Made Man: Street brat to mover-and-shaker thanks to some solid hard work, robbery and blackmail.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Suddenly becoming a bump in the road is not advisable when facing the carefully dressed Varys.
  • Sissy Villain: When Everybody Knew Already that you literally aren't packing any balls under that fancy robe, why bother to hide it? Subverted somewhat, in that his everyday persona is implied to be an act. At rare times, when he feels no need to hide who he is, Varys speaks with a lower tone and drops most of the effeminate mannerisms.
  • Sneaky Spider: He is the Deadly Decadent Court's cunning spymaster and is associated with spiders (his In-Universe Nickname is even "The Spider") due to his secrecy, manipulations, and "web" of informants. Although he's ostensibly on the side of the crown, he appears to have his own agenda which the court is none the wiser to.
  • The Spymaster: His day job. And, his side job, too: he works at his job for a number of goals, not just for those of the Small Council's.
  • Stepford Smiler: Nobody really knows what he's hiding under his giggly, man-child appearance. Heck, just look at everything that's spoilered out!
  • Stepford Snarker: As above: you try working out if he means it or is just putting it on for the person he's talking to stay in character as the dependable villain everybody needs. Or whatever he's up to.
  • The Strategist: He can get his own hands dirty, but his Creepy Children a.k.a. "Little Birds" do most of the slicing and dicing.
  • The Trickster: An underplayed, rather dark and a self-confessed, principled version (take that with your preferred amount of salt). This also self-proclaimed ex-mummer (may also need seasoning) hasn't lost his skills for setting people up for a pratfall or using slight-of-hand and misdirection to mislead... even if politics is his current stage rather than street theatre. Not that he particularly bows to the audience: he'd rather most didn't have a clue about what he's done even after he's done it.
  • The Un-Reveal:
    • The circumstances on which Varys survived the Lannisters' Sack of King's Landing, was pardoned and later came into the employ of King Robert are not entirely clear; this is supposedly due to the great value of his network of spies. Where others were executed or sent to the Wall, Varys was entirely unscathed and unpunished.
    • It's considered that the relationship between King Aerys II and his son Rhaegar soured because of Varys' influence. Even if his purpose seems to be bringing the Targaryens back, it's not known why Varys did not deem Rhaegar a suitable candidate for the Iron Throne even when everyone sings praises for the late prince.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: If we can believe what he says to a dying Kevan, then he believes that prolonging the civil war and murdering anyone who gets in his way will be worth it if he can get a truly just king on the Iron Throne. Considering what a Crapsack World Westeros is and how much bloodshed would have probably happened even if he'd done nothing, it's not clear that he's wrong. The only hitch is the possibility that Aegon won't be the king Varys is hoping for, which is pretty much a given considering the track-record of the Targaryens.
  • Walking Spoiler: Subverted. Little to nothing about Varys is proven to be true and he doesn't give in or full disclosure up to anyone. There are a number of characters that consider his "default" appearance and mannerisms to be just a mummer's act; granted, he claims he belonged to an actor's troupe, so they have something to base that suspicion on. Even the fact that he is a eunuch is not above question, given he can also play the role of a more macho prison guard without breaking that character, too.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Or so you're led to believe. He'll willingly derail Kevan Lannister's efforts to stabilize the realms to bring a king who cares for his own people onto the Iron Throne, though on the other hand, this will kill thousands more people.
  • Wild Card: What side, if any, he is on remains almost a complete mystery. Along with whatever his personal motivations actually are, too. What little we know is obviously suspect, even if he doesn't seem to have a reason to hedge.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Threatens Sansa's life to get Eddard to renege on his claim that Joffrey is not the rightful king. It's also implied that Varys pointed out where Rhaegar's daughter Princess Rhaenys was hiding; it's implied that he did this to save her brother Aegon's life.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: So, he does have plans. However, you should note the plural: this guy believes in stacked contingencies, adaptation of plans when reality has other plans and just plain winging it when necessary. Being a Knowledge Broker helps him to at least get news relatively quickly when something in the air has changed.

     Grand Maester Pycelle 

Grand Maester Pycelle
"Once I counseled King Aerys as loyally as I council King Robert now..."

A Grand Maester of the Citadel, who has served through the reign of six kings note . As a Maester he is supposed to serve whoever rules the realm but he has an uncommon loyalty to the Lannisters.

For the main Order of the Maesters entry, see here.

  • Ambiguous Allegiance: While it's clear that Pycelle is a Lannister crony, it's not quite so clear where he stands in respect of the Order of the Maesters' agenda of suppressing the knowledge of magic. Unlike his fellow Maesters, Pycelle has not been vocal about the status of magic, nor is he sceptic about the issue and even speculates that the poisoning of Gregor Clegane might have some hints of sorcery; it's fair to say that Pycelle is an expert in poisons and is aware that there is a supernatural element to their preparation.
  • Because I'm Good at It: Pycelle was a Grand Maester years before he met Tywin Lannister and became his fervent fan. This finally shows in ADWD; whenever he is not trying to push an agenda, he is very good at his job. There is a reason he was in the Small Council for forty years and has been a mainstay throughout. This is the main reason Varys kills both him and Kevan to destabilize Tommen's regime.
  • Butt-Monkey: Despite his loyalty to House Lannister, Pycelle gets shaved and thrown into the black cells by Tyrion, and bullied, belittled and ignored by Cersei.
  • Didn't Think This Through: It's not known what the Lannisters would have done had Pycelle not let Jon Arryn die; it's not revealed until later in the books that they didn't sanction Pycelle's actions against Lord Arryn, though it did delay bursting a can of worms that blew up later anyway.
  • Dirty Old Man: He apparently disregards his order's vow of chastity, as he's sleeping with his (very young) serving girl.
  • Everyone Has Standards: He is disgusted by Littlefinger's suggestion that the Crown spread a rumor that Stannis' daughter Shireen is actually the daughter of his wife Selyse and their fool Patchface, and shows sympathy towards the girl for her greyscale. Pycelle is also disgusted by Qyburn and his experiments and is horrified when Cersei puts him on the Small Council.
  • Evil Counterpart: Maester Luwyn sticks to his vows to serve whoever is in charge, for better or for worse. Pycelle is a Lannister toadie through and through.
    • He is a counterpart (neither of them can be classified as evil) to Varys. Both supposedly serve the realm (Pycelle by oath and Varys by his own words) and claim to do so by trying to bring back an old ruler (the old Hand of the King and the Targaryens, respectively) that they feel will do a better job.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Attempts to do this to Ned Stark by reminding him the book that would offer a clue to what killed Jon Arryn is long and ponderous. He reads it nonetheless.
  • Intellectually Supported Tyranny: He provides the intellectual justifications for Tywin Lannister and his regime, and serves as his propagandist and agent in all matters. As per The World of Ice & Fire, he saw fit to rewrite history and whitewash his own role in the Sack of King's Landing and blame the deaths of Rhaegar's children on Aerys II rather than Tywin's orders. In A Feast for Crows, Pycelle tells Jaime that Tywin's actions, good and bad, were far above the petty morality of the small minded to be judged.
  • Master Poisoner: As a Maester he's extremely knowledgeable of poisons, their effects, and their cures if any exist.
  • The Mole: In a way. Maesters are supposed to be neutral and serve only the realm, but Pycelle's loyalty has always been to House Lannister. That's why he advised Aerys to open the gates of King's Landing to Tywin's forces, and why he made sure that Jon Arryn didn't recover from the Tears of Lys.
  • Mysterious Past: Like most maesters, Pycelle's life before he forged his chain is unknown. Due to the Citadel's elitist tendencies, it can be inferred that he probably came from an influential noble house and his great loyalty to House Lannister suggests that he might have come from the Westerlands.
  • Obviously Evil: Ned Stark figured him out as a Lannister snitch without anyone's help.
  • Only Sane Man: As odd as this may sound, he effectively is this at Cersei's court after Tywin's death, alongside Kevan Lannister. Pycelle goes from being the Lannisters' Professional Butt-Kisser that he was when Tywin was alive to being this for Cersei's regime, desperately trying his best to stop her ongoing parade of Stupid Evil Epic Fail actions; notable examples include pointing out when Cersei declares the crown is defaulting on repayments of its debts to the Iron Bank of Braavos that it's not a good idea to make an enemy of an organisation notorious for getting its money back by any means necessary (even to the point of financing the enemies of its debtors), it's not a good idea to let the Faith of the Seven reform its own private army when it took the Targaryens 11 years of war and a grudging peace treaty to put down the Faith Militant the last time they were powerful and it's not a good idea to put important royal assets in the hands of incompetent or untrustworthy cronies of hers. Pycelle's warnings all prove accurate when Cersei's efforts at ruling result in the economy of Westeros all but collapsing, the Faith of the Seven in command of a private army of religious fanatics with no respect for her authority and the man she placed in charge of the royal navy absconding with the new fleet she all but bankrupted the realm to pay for to set himself up as a pirate.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: According to Varys, his death and Kevan's is going to plunge Westeros into chaos once again.
  • Secret Keeper: He knows the truth about Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen's parentage.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: To Varys. Throughout the first two books he's constantly trying to undermine him, trying to make Ned Stark suspect him of the poisoning of Jon Arryn and then accusing him of spying for Cersei when confronted by Tyrion about that. And in the fifth book Varys kills him.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After Cersei is arrested, he seizes control over the Small Council, recalls Ser Kevan to the capital to serve as regent and undoes most of her worst appointments.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Having his magnificent white beard shaved off with an axe (courtesy of Tyrion) turns out to be one, as he looks old and feeble without it, and can't grow it back.
  • Turn Coat: Pycelle only betrayed the Targaryens after Rhaegar died. The rest he considered unfit to be king.
  • Undying Loyalty: To the Lannisters, or, more specifically, Tywin Lannister. He is one of the very few people genuinely distraught over his death; and truly considered him as being the most apt at ruling the realm, even going so far as saying he should have been the king. Which isn't that far from the truth, considering how the last kings have turned out and how efficient his rule was in comparison.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The commons see Pycelle as a wise and gentle old man and they are outraged at Tyrion for imprisoning him.
  • Wham Line: In book 2.
    "... 'twas I who bid Aerys to open his gates..."
  • Wizard Beard: Or Maester Beard in this case. He seems particularly proud of it and will often stroke it while pontificating. When extracting information from him, Tyrion has Shagga shave off Pycelle's beard with an axe, and he seems unable to grow it back properly.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: When Tyrion and his Clansmen come knocking doors down and asking names, Pycelle tries to defend his actions against Jon Arryn by arguing that he himself is Tywin's man through and through. This might have worked if he were talking with Cersei, but there's no lost love between Tyrion and his father.
  • Yes-Man: To the Lannisters in general, to Cersei and Tywin in particular. However, after Tywin's death, he realizes that Cersei is dangerously paranoid and she refuses to listen to any of his (rather sensible) advice because it clashes with her warped ideas about what is going on. Pycelle instead manages to forge a good working relationship with Kevan Lannister when he becomes Hand of the King and Tommen's new regent after Cersei is imprisoned by the Faith of the Seven.
    • He is very much like Kevan in this regard.


Qyburn, master of whisperers

A former Maester. He was stripped of his chain for performing experiments on living people, which he justified as a means for understanding death. He acts as the Brave Companions' healer until he accompanies Jaime to King's Landing and enters Cersei's service.

For the main Brave Companions entry see here

  • Affably Evil: He may look like a nice old man with a good bedside manner combined with impeccable surgical skills and can be a font of common sense to the insensible (when he has a reason to display any of those), but he was still a member of the Bloody Mummers. There is also the teensy detail about being an aspiring necromancer. And, he quite enjoys torturing the Blue Bard. And, there's that foot-long, blood-spattered history of vivisectional study, besides all that. Yeah.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: One of his areas of expertise, and he is very successful at coursing false confessions during "interrogations".
  • Court Mage: Essentially becomes this for Cersei, being one of the few characters in the series who has some kind of magical ability, being a Necromancer.
  • The Dragon: To Cersei. Although he isn't quite so masterful in his position of Master of Whisperers, he seems to be one of the few members of the small council who aren't considerably ineffective or yes men (or both). He also serves Cersei quite a few other ways, and becomes her second-closest confidante.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He was apparently disgusted at the Freys for breaking guest-right at the Red Wedding, and is the one to suggest punishing them for their crime.
  • Evil Genius: He fulfills this role for Cersei with enthusiasm.
  • Evil Old Folks: His exact age isn't specified.
  • Fate Worse than Death: He'll make you last as long as he can before he completely "exhausts" you.
  • For Science!: The reason he gives for his experiments.
    Qyburn: The archmaesters are all craven at heart. The grey sheep, Marwyn calls them. I was as skilled a healer as Ebrose, but aspired to surpass him. For hundreds of years the men of the Citadel have opened the bodies of the dead, to study the nature of life. I wished to understand the nature of death, so I opened the bodies of the living. For that crime the grey sheep shamed me and forced me into exile... but I understand the nature of life and death better than any man in Oldtown.
  • For the Evulz: The joy he takes in torturing people like the Blue Bard, however, is just plain enjoying his job a bit too much for professionalism to be a major factor. Even Cersei is unsettled when she watches him having so much fun.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: He's entrusted to House Lannister because they give him leeway to his research, but it's not exactly clear whose agenda he's pursuing; it's certainly neither the Lannisters' nor the Order of the Maesters'.
  • Lean and Mean: And, boy, is he mean.
  • Mad Doctor/ Mad Scientist: He actually fits both pretty well. He was a maester, until he pushed the boundaries of acceptable medical practice beyond what the Citadel could tolerate, which got him stripped of his chain, which prompted him to further hit insanely unethical, experimental, empirical and thaumic-based anatomical studies with both vindication and vengeance in mind. Will work as The Medic when needed (he's actually rather good, just... don't think too long about how he got to be so expert).
  • Necromancer: He aspired to become one for a long time, but lacked test subjects. After Cersei gives him the pick of the dungeons, Qyburn is able to create Robert Strong, his enormous undead champion.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Endears himself to the Queen after healing a member of the royal family; becomes her most trusted adviser and her right hand; he is fishy as hell and generates great derision in his peers and in the royal court; he has an interest in the occult and is doted by the Queen in his whims. Hi, Rasputin! Good to see you alive and kicking!
  • Only One Name: Probably due to having abandoned his last name when he first became a maester.
  • Playing with Syringes: Implied, with the only confirmed case was when the Mountain was handed over to him for experimentation and observation. What he does with him exactly is a mystery.
  • Replacement Goldfish: After Varys' disappearance he becomes Cersei's Master of Whisperers. He's nowhere near as effective, however.
  • Shadow Archetype: To most Maesters. Where they work as doctors and messengers, he works as a Torture Technician and Master of Whisperers.
  • They Called Me Mad!: With relation to the Maesters.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Jaime notices that he looks like somebody's favorite uncle.
    • Cersei also mentions that he looks like a little girl's favourite grandfather
  • Token Evil Teammate: After Cersei's disgrace he's removed from the Small Council but remains in service of the council because there's nobody else to take over as Master of Whisperers. Pycelle objects, to no avail.
  • Torture Technician: Becomes one for Cersei; he was implied to do it in the past, if only for the scientific gains he could make.
  • Undying Loyalty: Say what you will about Qyburn, but he's the one person who hasn't abandoned Cersei, despite having nothing to lose if he leaves (and, frankly, plenty to lose if he stays).
    • Possibly his For Science! motivation drives him to stay loyal because nobody else would give him free reign to experiment on prisoners or let him create an indestructible undead warrior. Also Qyburn wants the Citadel to give him his maester's chain back, which means gaining a patron who is powerful enough to force them to do so.

Other members of the Court

     Jalabhar Xho 

Prince Jalabhar Xho of the Red Flower Vale
"Beneath his jewels and feathers, Xho was little more than a wellborn beggar."
Queen Cersei

An exile prince from the Summer Isles who has taken refuge in Westeros. He is currently imprisoned for being one of Margaery Tyrell's alleged lovers.

For the main Summer Isles entry, see here.

  • Archer Archetype: He is noted for his great archery skills, which is common among Summer Islanders.
  • Authority in Name Only: He used to be a prince of the Summer Isles; since he was exiled, he's not actually a prince anymore because he lost his princely seat of the Red Flower Vale.
  • The Exile: From his kingdom, which he regularly petitioned King Robert to help him win back. Robert was always interested in the prospect of conquering the Summer Isles, but kept putting it off.
  • Foil: To another exile prince, Viserys Targaryen. Unlike Viserys, Xo is pretty happy about the prospect of hanging around court as a feted "curiosity" in lieu of regaining his kingdom.
  • Funny Foreigner: An In-Universe version.
  • Jerkass: He lost the Red Flower Vale seat during a "war" in the custom of the Summer Isles; these types of "wars" consist of ceremonial honorific duels between teams from the two parties of interest, one that he lost. This implies that he wants to retake a seat he no longer has any claim to, by invading a peaceful society armed with swords and spilling blood for a duel he honorably lost. Not so sympathetic now, is he?
    • Granted, there's also the possibility that he routinely lays his claim of the princely seat to the Royal Court at King's Landing just to be able to live in comfort there.
  • Recurring Extra: In the first three books he was often just mentioned as being part of the Royal Court and attending or participating in certain events, with little of his background being given. He gets some more focus in A Feast for Crows, but it doesn't go very well for him (he gets mixed up in Cersei's conflict with Margaery and is thrown in prison with the rest of the men Margaery is accused of sleeping with).
  • Token Minority: The only black guy at court.

    Ser Tallad the Tall 

Ser Tallad the Tall

A young and promising hedge knight serving House Baratheon of King's Landing.

  • Ascended Extra: After being a very minor character in the second and third novels, he gains a bit more prominence in A Feast for Crows due to his pursuit of Elinor and Alla Tyrell, two minor Tyrell cousins, getting him caught up in court intrigue.
  • Frame-Up: Unfortunately for Tallad, his wooing of Alla makes him perfect for Cersei's plot to frame Margaery, Elinor, Megga, and Alla for adultery and other sexual crimes.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: When the falsely accused lovers of Margaery are being arrested, Tallad is the only one who manages to put up a fight, wounding three Goldcloaks before finally being subdued.
  • Social Climber: His pursuit of Alla makes him one, as despite being from a minor branch of the Tyrell family she is way above Tallad's station.
  • Villain Respect: When Bronn is judging the knights in service of the court, he notes that Tallad is the best of them, although he points out that Tallad tends to repeat the same strikes in them same order, a very exploitable flaw.

     Moon Boy 

Moon Boy

The royal jester. A simpleton.

  • Dumbass Has a Point: Tyrion notes that Moon Boy does make a good point about the High Septon being a corrupt glutton.
    Moon Boy: [about the High Septon] A pious man who worships the Seven so fervently he eats a meal for each of them whenever he sits to table.
  • The Jester: For the court.
  • The Mole: For Varys, according to Dontos Hollard.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Possibly, with Dontos asserting that he is much more clever than he seems.
  • Only Known By His Nickname: His real name is not known.
  • Unknown Rival: Before he killed their father and left Kings Landing, Tyrion told Jaime about all the men Cersei had been sleeping with ("...she's been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy for all I know."). Despite Moon Boy being named in obvious exaggeration, Jaime has grown more and more paranoid that he and Cersei really are having an affair, to the point where he actually had a nightmare about walking in on the two of them having sex.

     Dontos Hollard 

Dontos Hollard

A former knight, made a fool by Joffrey.


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