In House of the Dragon, as in Game of Thrones, power is everything. As a result, there are a number of characters, such as Larys Strong and Mysaria, who are skilled double agents. Even before all-out war breaks out, these figures are playing multiple sides of the brewing conflict between the two halves of House Targaryen.
In this respect, House of the Dragon is very similar to Game of Thrones. The latter show boasts plenty of characters who are skilled at manipulation and double-dealing, frequently serving more than one master. While some had nefarious intentions, others operated in the realm’s defense.
Olyvar was one of the more notable side characters of Game of Thrones. He mostly hovered in the background, but he was still a key player in several schemes, particularly those that were implemented by Littlefinger.
Like other characters, however, he had little loyalty to anyone other than himself. In his case, however, this is understandable. As a member of a subaltern class, he was often forced to do whatever he had to do in order to not just get ahead in the cutthroat world of Westeros but also just to stay alive.
In some ways, Theon Greyjoy is one of the most tragic characters on Game of Thrones. Throughout his life, he felt himself pulled in multiple directions, and this led to him trying to play multiple sides of various conflicts, including between the Ironborn and the men of the North.
Sometimes, his double agent status is not by choice, as when Ramsay forces him to convince the garrison of Moat Cailin to surrender. At others, however, he adopts this identity as a means of atoning for his past crimes. As so often is the case in Game of Thrones, Theon evolves from an apparently one-dimensional character into one with multiple facets and depths of personality.
Grand Maester Pycelle
For much of Game of Thrones, Grand Maester Pycelle was one of those people who tried to manipulate and scheme his way into power. In particular, he pretended to be a loyal servant to the crown and the realm, while secretly working for the Lannisters (except, of course, Tyrion, with whom he had an antagonistic relationship).
Though he often thought himself very clever, the truth was that Pycelle was, to an extent, undone by his own scheming. It’s no wonder that he was ultimately slain by Qyburn, someone who was just as unscrupulous as Pycelle but far more cunning.
Ser Jorah Mormont
The bond between Daenerys and Ser Jorah Mormont was seen by many as one of the best relationships on the show. This is particularly remarkable, given that at the very beginning of the series, Jorah was a double agent, reporting to King Robert and his small council about Daenerys’ doings on the continent of Essos.
Of course, Jorah ultimately came to repent, particularly once he fell in love with Daenerys. His character arc is one of the most resonant in the series, as he grows and changes over the course of the seasons, serving Dany faithfully once he stops informing on her to her enemies.
Part of what makes Game of Thrones one of the best HBO series ever is its ability to make viewers character about even those characters who aren’t on-screen that much. Ros, to take just one example, was a skilled double agent, someone who took her role as a prostitute and turned it t her own advantage.
Given how ruthless and cutthroat King’s Landing can be, the fact that she managed to survive is something of a miracle. Unfortunately, like so many, she fell afoul of Joffrey, and her death remains one of the most horrifying in the series, a tragic end for one of the series’ most notable and remarkable spies.
There’s no doubt that Varys was a great character in Game of Thrones. He was the consummate double agent, able to play many sides at once, while also keeping his own motivations close to his chest.
Unlike many others in the series, however, he truly did have the good of the realm in mind when he was engaged in his various schemes. For him, the most important thing was ensuring that Westeros had the leadership that it needed in order to avoid absolute chaos. Unfortunately, it was precisely his scheming that ended up being his downfall when Daenerys punished him for his betrayal.
Roose Bolton was one of the most nefarious villains on Game of Thrones. He was utterly without scruples, betraying the Starks when it became convenient to do so and when it meant that he would at last get the power that he so desperately craved.
In particular, his slaying of Robb Stark at the Red Wedding stands as one of the most infamous moments in the entire series. It was therefore fitting that he was himself betrayed by someone that he thought was a steadfast ally, when he was stabbed by his own bastard son.
Lord Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger
If chaos is a ladder, then Littlefinger was one of those who thought that he had the consummate skill in climbing it. From his first appearance until the moment he was killed by Arya, he truly thought that he was the smartest person in Westeros.
Like Varys, he was also a consummate double agent, constantly playing various characters off of one another. Unlike the eunuch, however, his primary goal was his own power and aggrandizement. As would often happen in Game of Thrones, he ended up being brought down by his own hubris.
In some ways, the storylines focused on Dorne were some of the weakest in the series. Nevertheless, it was clear that Doran Martell was one of the canniest strategists, and he was particularly adept at making sure that the various factions in the rest of Westeros were constantly at one another’s throats.
This is particularly remarkable given the state of affairs in Dorne. Unlike his brother and the Sand Snakes, Doran really did try to play the long game, in order to gain revenge for his murdered sister. Unfortunately for him, his skills as a double agent were only matched by his nieces.
Few double agents are quite as skilled as the Lady Olenna Tyrell. Far smarter than the other members of her family–except perhaps for her granddaughter–she knows just how to work a given situation so that her dynasty can survive.
After all, this is the woman who managed to poison Joffrey so that Margaery wouldn’t have to marry a monster. She also allied herself with Daenerys when it seemed that this would be the most profitable avenue for her family. And, though she ultimately suffered defeat, she was also resistant and rebellious right up until her last breath.
NEXT: The 10 Most Impactful Political Moves in Game of Thrones