Lord Varys is an influential member of the small council, his power deriving from his vast knowledge — often knowledge that others do not have. Varys is known as the Master of Spies, referring to his network of “little birds” — spies that work at his service and bring him valuable information. Varys is often manipulative and scheming, whispering one thing in one person’s ear and another thing to another person. It is unclear whether he can be trusted, though he himself claims to value order, peace and stability.
He was born a slave in Lys, a city on the continent of Easteros, before being sold to a sorcerer, who paralyzed him with a potion before cutting off his penis. He was then thrown out onto the street, where he began to make a life for himself as a skilled thief. He befriended Illyrio Mopatis and the two started a business which made them very wealthy; Varys would thief and Illyrio would get the stolen objects back to their original owners for a small fee. Varys became very wealthy and he soon realized that stealing information was far more valuable than stealing gold or gems, and began to establish a network of spies that he purchased and trained. Earning an infamous reputation as the Master of Spies, the Mad King offered Varys a position on his small council. The Mad King had grown increasingly paranoid, allowing for Varys to have great influence over him and solidify his power within King’s Landing. After the Mad King’s death, Varys remained as spymaster to Robert Baratheon and then Joffrey, though it is unclear where his true loyalties lie.