Spies in The Game of Thrones

I’m a late comer to this show. My husband’s away in Egypt and my brain quits on me in the evenings, so I took advantage of the recent watchathon to see what all the fuss was about. One of the episodes in season one was called “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things.” I think these are the ones that make the best spies.
Take Varys, for example. Caught as a young boy, his manhood was cut from him and offered up in some black magic ritual, leaving him a eunuch. He is a broken one, but in season three, he talks about influence growing through patience, growing like weeds, until it has many branches and tendrils. He is a master spies with many satellite spies he calls his little birds. He is sneaky, creepy, and the longer I watch, the more I admire him. He is a broken thing who has made a place for himself and not become a monster.
Then there’s Tyrion Lannister. Born to the richest, most powerful family in all the realms, he had the misfortune to be born a dwarf. He is rejected by his father, scorned by his brothers and sisters, and mocked by the knights. Denied the physical violence his family uses to assert their authority (except for his sister Cersei), Tyrion turns to more subtle means of gaining influence—spying. He, too, has a strong network of informants. He also loves women and wine, and his high-born status makes the women of the brothels love him. I rejoiced when Shae fell in love with him—not in a silly, head-over-heels sort of way, but in a real world acceptance of all the ugly beauty of him and their world. He deserved that.
Bran Stark is the most interesting spy to me. You might not think of him as a spy. He is a lucid dreamer. This ability is called ‘warg’ in the story, being able to enter animals and see through their eyes. Very handy for someone the Lannister family casually tried to kill because he learned one of their closely guarded secrets. I thought he might be too young to understand what he saw, but they didn’t worry about that. They shoved him from a high tower, but he survived. He became a cripple. He cannot walk, and perhaps because of this, his dreaming grows stronger. He walks and climbs in his dreams where he sees the future. That’s my favorite kind of spying since I write paranormals. I love psychics, scryers and fortune tellers of all kinds. Visionaries.
I prefer these broken characters. They’re much more interesting than the blustering, arrogant and adolescent haughtiness or the slippery, sickening, insinuating manipulations of many of the other ones.
But shhh, I’m still in the middle of season three. Don’t tell me what happens next.


Author: Theresa Crater

Award-winning author Theresa Crater brings ancient temples, lost civilizations and secret societies back to life in her visionary fiction. In The Star Family, a Gothic mansion holds a secret spiritual group and a 400-year-old ritual that must be completed to save the day. The shadow government search for ancient Atlantean weapons in the fabled Hall of Records in Under the Stone Paw and fight to control ancient crystals sunk beneath the sea in Beneath the Hallowed Hill. Other novels include School of Hard Knocks and God in a Box, both exploring women in historical context. Her short stories explore ancient myth brought into the present day. The most recent include “The Judgment of Osiris” and “Bringing the Waters.” Theresa has also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches meditation, as well as creative writing and British lit.

7 thoughts on “Spies in The Game of Thrones”

  1. I’m obsessed with GOT and have to wait for the new season to come out on amazon or netflix and it’s killing me — I was a little worried to read your post afraid of spoilers for the new season … i agree, the flawed characters are the ones you love the most!


  2. I stopped reading the books at #4 – just too much effort to keep track of it all – and I don’t have HBO. But yes, Tyrion Lannister is one of my favorite characters, and Jaime Lannister gets there (but I can’t remember when, so I won’t spoil it for you). And I would consider Jon Snow a “broken” character – he’s healthy, but a bastard, relegated to the fringes of the Night’s Watch, not to enjoy the benefits offered to the legitimate children of his high-born father. Another good one to watch (but I don’t know he’s much of a spy).


  3. I watched another episode last night and Jaime is starting to turn around. The loss of his hand seems to be related to this. My students tell me the books have the philosophy in it that I’m looking for and missing in the shows. I may read them. May not. GOT reminds me of history before feminism–all wars and glory.


  4. Theresa, I’m later than you–I’ve never seen an episode. But I agree with you on those characters that make the best spies. Take Renfield in Dracula, for example. I bet he’d make a good spy!


  5. Yes, Sue, “hiding in plain sight.”
    Diane, Renfield would make a fabulous spy, if he could just stop eating bugs.


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