Varys is a pretty well-established character in the Game of Thrones series and is generally liked by fans for his witty personality and position as the whisper master. However, due to his position, we don’t know much about Varys since he benefits from people not knowing much about him. One question that captivated the fans ever since it was first brought up is what did Varys hear in the flames?
Technically it is never explicitly explained and the book series hasn’t revealed it yet. However, the show heavily suggests that Varys either heard the name of the promised one or something regarding his death.
Varys’ story is actually quite interesting and wasn’t explained much in the show. As an exceptionally interesting character fans usually have lots of questions such as Why did Varys get mutilated? How did he become Master of Whisperers? Was Varys truly good or evil? It is worth looking into it deeper to find the answer to these questions. Make sure to read this article all the way and pay attention to the analysis of the clues the show provides us with so you could form your own opinion regarding this question which remains the center of most of the fans’ discussions to this day.
What happened to Varys?
Although Game of Thrones fans know Varys as one of the most important advisors in the Kings landing and later one of the closest advisors to Daenerys he wasn’t always this influential.
During season six we get a little bit of information regarding Varys’ background. He was born in Lys as a slave and in his early years, Varys traveled with a group of actors across different Free Cities.
During this time, once the group visited the city of Myr. There the group met a sorcerer who made an offer to Varys’ master, prompting him to sell Varys to the sorcerer.
The sorcerer gave him a potion that completely immobilized him, but in a cruel twist did not affect his senses and perception leaving him to feel the pain of everything that happened to him.
Varys was an important part of a ritual sorcerer was going along with. The sorcerer emasculated him and used his part in the said ritual. The fire burning in the magic ritual then turned blue and once the sorcerer called to it the voice from the flames responded to him.
After the ritual was over, Varys was of no value to the sorcerer. He was left on the streets of Myr to die. However, Varys swore to keep on living no matter what it took.
He started a life of begging and stealing to help him survive. He quickly learned that information was more important than any physical valuables. This would be important for him as it would set him on a path that would bring him to the position of the master of whispers we know him as today.
He started a pickpocketing business and found his “little birds” which he would later use while he served as a spy for different kings. During this time he acquired skills necessary for his success and reputation as a good spy.
To ensure his success he paired his physical appearance with a public persona of a humble and effeminated Lord. This often makes people who aren’t familiar with his true persona, underestimate him and reveal their secrets.
He later became a member of the small council in the Seven Kingdoms and chief advisor of King Aerys II Targaryen, who at the time did not trust anyone who was surrounding him.
During this time, Varys developed a strange loyalty to the Targaryen family which would influence him to orchestrate the return of Targaryens to the throne and to side with Daenerys.
What did Varys hear in the flames?
One of the most commonly asked questions regarding Varys is the one concerning the aforementioned event involving the flames, specifically what did Varys hear in the flames.
As far as the book series is concerned we do not get any answers to this question, at least not yet. So far Varys has only revealed that he did hear a voice but that he can’t recall what the voice said or who spoke it.
This could potentially change later on in the series since the question played an important foreshadowing role in the TV show and we know that despite the fact that George R.R. Martin did not write the script for the last season he did share important plot points with the series’ directors.
The first instance of this question being brought up happened in season six when Varys meets Kinvara in the Great Pyramid of Meereeen. Tyrion and Varys came to her to seek her help as they needed someone to convince people that Daenerys would be their protector once she rose to the throne rather than the conqueror the people saw her as.
Kinvara quickly refused to help them stating that she was certain Daenerys would become the queen as she saw her as the one who was promised. This prompted Varys to challenge her by proclaiming that Melisandre, another red priestess of her religion already made a prediction on the promised one which turned out to be false.
She responded to this comment by telling Varys that everything that happens is happening through the will of the Lord and that everyone is where they are because it is his will.
This was followed up by Kinvara pointing out that he was in the position he needed to be because of what happened to him when he was a child. She also asked him if he remembered this moment and what was said by the voice.
By asking Varys if he would like him to repeat what was said or if naming the person whose voice Varys heard in the show implies that Kinvara and later on Melisandre actually know what was said in the flame and by whom.
After hearing this Varys was left speechless indicating that he was surprised and unsettled by this meaning that this information is important in some way. This is also confirmed once Varys wants to reveal this to Tyrion.
During the scene with Tyrion, Varys reveals that he has the sorcerer captured and that he is torturing him. He also tells Tyrion that the events of that night haunt him to this day, not because of what happened to him but rather because of what the voice said to him.
Although the show doesn’t explicitly state it anywhere, it does hint heavily at what the voice said. Before Melisandre was departing for Volantis, she speaks to Varys and in a quite ominous way talks about her death adding that Varys just like her has to die just like she has to.
This means that the voice from the flames most likely told Varys either something about the time he would die or the way in which he would die. This would also explain why Varys was haunted by this as it is understandable why someone would be unsettled when presented with the information regarding their death.
Another logical conclusion could be that he heard a sort of prophecy and learned the true identity of the promised one. If you consider his siding with Melisandre and her belief that Jon Snow as Rhaegar’s son has the right to the throne over Daenerys this would make a lot of sense.
Later in the show, Varys does suggest directly to Jon to take the throne over Daenerys and he even tries to kill Daenerys and wrote letters that suggested that she doesn’t have a right to the throne.
This is also supported by his conversation with Kinvara where she is possibly hinting at this when she says that Varys doesn’t have to fear her as long as Daenerys is his friend. All of this makes the theory that suggests that Varys saw Jon as the rightful heir way more likely.