|Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister (in HBO's Game of Thrones)|
Tyrion and Illyrio are leaving Pentos in a closed litter. No one is to know that he was ever hear, the magister insists. They are marking their way east, to the river Rhoyne, where they are to part ways. Tyrion shall meet a sellsword named Griff there who will bring him to Volantis. Talking as they are going on, Tyrion inquires about Daenerys. Illyrio doesn’t tell him much, and quickly Tyrion tries to find out what stakes the magister has in the whole venture, but Illyrio just remarks that he wants to defend her birthright and is a friend to the family, which Tyrion doesn’t believe one second. Instead of digging deeper, he asks Illyrio about his common history with Varys.
Freely, Illyrio tells him that he met Varys when they both were young. The eunuch came from Myr and was despised for his accent and missing genitals and turned to Illyrio for protection, who was a strong warrior back then. Together, they became lords of the underworld of Pentos. After some years of stealing and fencing, which brought them control of half of all thieves in Pentos, Varys turned to train little children – “mice” – as thieves, but instead of stealing valuables they broke in manses to read documents, not even moving them. With the knowledge they gathered, they grew richer and more powerful. When Mad King Aerys heard about Varys and his talents, he thought that the perfect solution for his growing paranoia and got him to Westeros.
After that story, Tyrion comes back to Dany and Illyrio’s stakes in the matter. Illyrio now confides that Viserys promised him to become Master of Coins and to get any castle he wished for, even Casterly Rock, but Illyrio generously says that he wouldn’t want any since he already has a nice mansion. Tyrion doesn’t believe his story, however, suspecting that there is some deeper motivation beside the gold for Illyrio to meddle with Westerosi politics, but he can’t get it out of the magister.
As they travel through the land, Illyrio tells Tyrion the plans he had for Dany. It was not an option from the start, since he confesses to having believed Dany would die with the Dothraki, but now that she hatched the dragons she has become valuable. He hopes she will honor the agreements with Viserys. Now Illyrio expects Daenerys to move westwards from Meereen, over the old Demon Road, to Volantis. She needs ships to cross to Westeros, after all. He informs Tyrion that in Volantis, said ships and the Golden Company will wait for Dany to team up and bring her with her troops over to Westeros. He again mentions the sellsword Griff who will take care of Tyrion and the whole operation, and Griff’s son Young Griff, a “noble lad”. Tyrion doesn’t pry deeper into it.
The following days, the small treck moves through Andalos, the ancient lands of the Andals. We learn a bit about the history of the Andals. Their king Hugor Hill had a revelation of the Seven, urging him to take the star and go to Westeros, and so the Andals did. Tyrion surprises with some intimate knowledge of the Seven-Pointed-Star, confiding to Illyrio that in his youth he wanted to become High Septon. One evening, Tyrion starts singing the song of “hand of gold are always cold” out of the blue, falling asleep soon after with thoughts of his murder of Tywin and thoughts on Tysha in his mind quickly turning into nightmares.
This chapter seems to set up the political stage in a rather straight-forward way. We learn of the plans that Illyrio and Varys have made and of their precautions. Tyrion is to meet a trusted advisor, Griff (who we know to be Jon Connington, the former Hand of the King and boyhood friend of Rhaegar Targaryen) who will bring him to the formidable Golden Company. There he will meet Daenerys half way, pledging her allegiance and counseling her as she makes for Westeros. Of course, all these plans are for naught since Dany doesn’t intend to leave Meereen, so the 500 leagues of the Demon Road between Volantis and Meereen are still between the two parts of the Targaryen conspiracy, without knowing of each other and unable to reach each other. Tyrion’s biggest thought about whether Dany will accept him or not will soon be overtaken by more immediate concerns, primarily reaching her in the first place.
We can see in this chapter that Tyrion has regained control of himself a little bit. He is now able to think clear once again, understanding the political ploys and his own role and chances within them. However, he still drinks heavily and is haunted by his memories. The murder of his father doesn’t leave his thoughts; he hears the thrumming of the bowstring all the time. Tysha doesn’t really leave his thoughts as well, and occasionally he has to think of Shae. His personal demons are as rampant in his mind as ever, and currently there seems to be no chance of losing them soon.
It is an interesting piece that Illyrio mentions that he never thought that Dany would survive the Dothraki. She was not in his plans at all, therefore, if we can believe his statement. That makes the dragon’s eggs just what they seemed from the start: a luxurious present. The ease with which he dismisses Viserys, whom he calls the Mad King’s son with all the inclinations that brings along suggests that he hadn’t had much stakes in him either. It is entirely possible that he even wanted Viserys dead after the Dothraki affair was over, reaping the return in the promised army, but to hand this army over to yet a totally different person (Aegon, but that shall be discussed when he pops up). The plan he and Varys had seems to be more complicated than visible outright.
Three interesting side notes can be found in this chapter. First, Tyrion remembers that as a child, he loved to imagine himself being a secret Targaryen offspring. As we will learn in one of his later chapters, the idea is not as far-fetched as it might seem. He also wanted to have a dragon, which his uncle Gerion, who seemed to be fun to have around, dismissed laughing and his other uncle (Tygett) destroyed by stating that there are no dragons left. The connection that Tyrion has with dragons and that was well established way back in “A Game of Thrones” gets reinforcement. Second, Tyrion shortly muses about why the Targaryens of old did take Dragonstone as their seat. They had dragons before, so why did they wait so long to for the richness of the west? He doesn’t come to a conclusion and dismisses the thought, but something seems to be about Dragonstone that is important. It will come up again later in the book in a Cersei-chapter, when she muses about hidden treasures in Dragonstone that the Tyrells haven’t found yet. Third, the king Hugor Hill that is mentioned several times in the ancient history of the Andals is exactly the name that Tyrion will take on later, mocking the Faith, the Westerlands and to a certain extent Illyrio with it. That’s Tyrion as we know him.