In S01E05 of Game of Thrones, Arya hears Varys talking to some other man in the dungeons about her father Ned Stark:

He's found one bastard already. He has the book.

There is a scene where Ned Stark goes through the book, and realizes Joffrey is a bastard:

"Lord Orys Baratheon, black of hair."
"Axel Baratheon, black of hair."
"Lyonel Baratheon, black of hair."
"Steffon Baratheon, black of hair."
"Robert Baratheon, black of hair."
"Joffrey Baratheon... golden hair."

But this scene comes no earlier than in S01E06. So, should the scenes go in opposite order, or I just didn't get it right?

  • 4
    "Stannis Baratheon ... lack of hair" :-)
    – Tomas
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 19:32
  • You didn't got what? That "found one bastard" != "realizes Joffrey is bastard"?
    – Mithoron
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 20:03

2 Answers 2


Different bastards, different context

There are multiple bastards in the story, and the two scenes you highlight focus on completely different bastards.

He's found one bastard already.

This is in reference to Robert's bastards, of which Gendry is one but Robert had many others (who were later all killed except Gendry, I believe?). I think he was talking about Gendry specifically; but even if I'm wrong about that, he was definitely speaking about a bastard that Robert fathered with another woman.

More elaboration on the Varys/Illyrio conversation can be found here.

The point here is that the referenced bastard (Gendry or others) is a child of Robert Baratheon.

"Joffrey Baratheon.. golden hair."

This proves to Ned that Joffrey is not genetically a Baratheon, and therefore a bastard since his mother had him while married to Robert, who is not the father. The only logical answer is that someone else is his father, and thus he is a bastard.

The point here is that the referenced bastard (Joffrey) is NOT a child of Robert Baratheon.

  • Ah, thanks! So Varys is probably refering to the scene where Ned visits Gendry in the blacksmith. I was just confused, as he follows with "He has the book", so I thought he refers to the book scene....
    – Tomas
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 20:15
  • 1
    @Tomas: "He has the book" is meant as "so he's probably going to figure things out when he reads that book in the future". Ned had the book in his possession already but had not yet made any discoveries, but Varys/Illyrio were well aware of what discovery Ned would likely make in the near future.
    – Flater
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 20:16

This is at least what happens in the books, so it passes for in-universe canon. I don't know how much can be inferred from the show and if it's consistent, but here goes:

  1. Ned inquired and found out Jon Arryn has asked for 'the book' shortly before death. Such an inquiry of an otherwise uninteresting book piqued his curiosity and he borrowed the book.
  2. Ned meets Gendry, who resembles Robert Baratheon very much (including the hair). He doesn't know for sure he's Robert's bastard (Gendry doesn't either, as far as I remember)
  3. They discuss how Ned is gathering clues and getting closer to an epiphany.
  4. Ned has the epiphany, but it's too late for Robert by then.

Ned's epiphany is that the darker Baratheon hair is dominant. Robert had some sixteen bastards already by then, but Ned hadn't met them all. There are more puppetmasters following the way the events unfold, and they're following the action very closely.

  • Ok thanks! I think your points 1-4 actually refer to what happens in the show.
    – Tomas
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 20:16

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