In A Song of Ice and Fire and the television series Game of Thrones, Bronn is a low-born "sellsword" (i.e. a mercenary) who, in the first few seasons of the television series, he is coupled with the high-born Tyrion Lannister. When Tyrion Lannister flees King's Landing, Bronn starts to assist Jaime in military campaigns.

Illyrio Mopatis is introduced in the first episode in the series as a wealthy man in Pentos. But long before that, according to this History and Lore video Illyrio was actually a mercenary who took Varys under his wings, who was at that time a young thief; together they started a scheme that made both of them rich. Varys later leaves Illyrio to become an adviser to Aerys Targaryen in King's Landing.

So there are a few parallels (two couples; two sellswords, both of whom eventually become rich) and a few things that are inverted (Varys was in the service of former sellsword Illyrio; sellsword Bronn in the service of Tyrion Lannister). So here's my question: do George R. R. Martin's novels draw attention to such parallels and, if yes, what are they?

  • 2
    Illyrio Mopatis was a mercenary? Where in the books does it say that?
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 21:31
  • Seconding that^, the paragraph in Wikipedia that says Illyrio was a strong mercenary cites chapter 3 of A Game of Thrones, but I just looked through it and I'm reasonably certain that chapter does not say anything like that.
    – muru
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 6:36
  • @PeterShor Perhaps this is something only mentioned in the "History and Lore" videos. See The Little Birds, where Varys describes Illyrio as "a Braavo who lived by his sword."
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 10:51
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    @PeterShor yep, got it there: "Varys came from Myr.” “So he did. I met him not long after he arrived, one step ahead of the slavers. By day he slept in the sewers, by night he prowled the rooftops like a cat. I was near as poor, a bravo in soiled silks, living by my blade. Perhaps you chanced to glimpse the statue by my pool? Pytho Malanon carved that when I was six-and-ten. A lovely thing, though now I weep to see it.”
    – muru
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 0:37
  • 1
    But reading further, Varys was not in the service of Illyrio. They were partners. Nor would I say Illyrio took Varys "under his wings", except insofar that he was Varys's bodyguard.
    – muru
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 0:39

1 Answer 1


I don't see quite the connection that you have made here. The situations are really quite different. Also, don't forget the show is vastly different from the books...

A few key differences are:

  1. Varys and Illyrio were both poor when they met and teamed up and worked together to become rich. Bronn is the poor one and uses a chance encounter to befriend himself to Tyrion (who is already rich) and then become rich.
  2. Bronn doesn't help Jaime in campaigns as he does on the show. In the books Bronn goes off to Stokeworth after marrying Lollys (we see this in the show). The Dorne subplot is completely different and in the books timeline Daenrys has not made it back to Westeros yet, so we don't know if Bronn will be involved with that.

In A Dance with Dragons Tyrion spend a bit of time with Illyrio and never is Bronn brought up his thoughts. A few people do remind Tyrion of Bronn, namely Griff.

The river had perils, the dwarf knew, but Griff himself struck Tyrion as more dangerous than any of them. He reminded Tyrion of Bronn, though Bronn had a sellsword's black humor and Griff had no humor at all.

A Dance with Dragons - Tyrion IV

If Martin had wanted us to draw some parallel between Bronn and Illyrio he would have had the perfect opportunity during Tyrion's conversations. Beyond that I have never run across any mentions of similarities between the two in any of of Martin's interviews.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer, but be aware that the parallels don't need to be drawn by other characters in the book. That's too limited as an approach.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 18:57
  • 2
    What I am saying is that considering the narrative style Martin uses the character POVs is likely how he would draw attention to something.
    – Skooba
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 20:13

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