Part of me wonders if, due to removing so many other subplots from the novels, they're going to make it that Varys is actually the Harpy. And given the circumstances this might not be the most terrible idea, I'd just rather they didn't do it.
The "Meereenese Blot" blog had a really good analysis which even GRRM himself pointed to.
There are basically three possibilities:
- 1 - someone from the aristocratic slave-master families like the House of Pahl who overtly hate Daenerys.
- 2 - someone from the weaker aristocratic slave-master families who was overtly trying to curry favor with Daenerys to get more power while preparing to stab her in the back, Tyrell-style (Galazza Galare, the Shavepate etc.)
- 3 - freedmen who want to kill the former slave-masters down to the last child and don't think Daenerys is doing enough (Reznak mo Reznak in secret?)
I dismiss the first one out of hand as both predictable and actually contradicted; why would the slave-masters try to poison Daenerys with poisoned locusts....after they just got major concessions from her? Yeah they'd like to wipe her out if they could, but they got fairly generous terms to reopen the gladiator games (major source of wealth) and a peace treaty instead of her attacking Yunkai again (she might win on the battlefield, even if she loses hold over Meereen itself).
The second is possible...the "Friendly" local slave-master families want her to kill off the overtly not friendly ones to gain more power.
But the third just rings true most of all: freedmen like Mossador in the TV show who want the fighting to continue, to goad Daenerys into slaughtering the entire slave-master population and all their children.
Martin....Martin was a Vietnam conscientious objector and he planned out the novels in the mid-1990s, and he's denied Iraq analogies, though he says the Slaver's Bay arc is in some respects influenced by his criticisms of foreign interventionism.
I think anyone would be a critic of unplanned foreign interventionism, just naively jumping in without really assessing the situation, upending everything.
I'm reminded of this scene from Apocalypse Now Redux, when they make a long stay at a holdout French colonial plantation, and have a long discussion over dinner about local politics.
And the leader of the French family goes on a rant angrily explaining that this isn't some titantic struggle between "good and evil", but local power politics - not Wilsonian interventionism but RealPolitik, and every group just acts in its own interest. He angrily explains that the South Vietnamese leadership does not like the United States nor are they particularly capitalist, and the North Vietnamese do not like Russia and China nor are they particularly communist -- first andI foremost they are Vietnamese, local power elites, trying to gain power by allying with the strongest potential ally for the moment. I mean he points out "The Vietnamese hate the Chinese", they've been fighting off conquest for generations, but they're happy to call themselves communits and take the Chinese's guns if it means they can throw out the old Vietnamese aristocracy currently ruling South Vietname (even after the French left, those left in charge were the local Vietnamese they had elevated into positions of mid-level power, often Christian converts, etc.)
And I mean you see the same pattern everywhere, like Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda.
So even though it was written earlier, I think even Iraq was a big example. All of the other stuff about failed intelligenc aside, when generally happened was that the Bush administration was just so blindly set on "this must be Iraq, our go-to enemy" that they just plain ignored all evidence to the contrary. Purely because they were idiots surrounded by yes men and not used to making their own assessments. But they fixed on tiny scraps of unverified information given them saying that Saddam had WMD's by - guess who - the Shi'a rebels who wanted Saddam's Sunni-controlled government toppled. It genuinely didn't seem to occur to the Bush administration "maybe these aren't plucky freedom fighters who are fighting for freedom and democracy; maybe they're lying to us so we'll topple their ancient ethnic/political/religious enemies". So the cycle of revenge continues: one generation it's the Sunnis on top, then there's a war and the Shi'a are on top, each one when its losing asks for foreign intervention. Then when Maliki gets into power, he kicks all the Sunnis out of the government, puts in Shi'a cronies into government positions, and - surprise surprise - the Sunnis feel so oppressed that they turn around and many flock to the rebel ISIS group, which promises to oust the Shi'as. It just goes in circles, each power elite acting in its own interest. That's just what politics is.
So in Meereen, you have a large number of freedmen who didn't want to "share" the city with the slave-master class under "equitable treatment", they wanted to enslave the former slave-masters like Cleon did at Astapor.
Thus in the novels, the Harpy is probably a freedman, trying to force Daenerys's hand to kill off all the old slave-master families. The freedmen were the ones with the most to lose from her attempts at peace (even if she thought peace was a better long-term goal because she might lose control of Meereen entirely if she went to war).
But how is the TV series going to handle this?
I'm hoping they start setting up local power elites in Meereen and it seems there is some hope of this, what with Tyrion saying "maybe the freedmen left this graffiti", setting up Mossador not agreeing with her last season, etc. Now we've got Kinvara and these other Red Priests who don't believe in slavery.
So Season 6 might start introducing new characters who might be the Harpy. If we see a freedman acting as a major advisor to the ruling council.
They might make it Varys, his information network extends that far east, but I find it unlikely....though maybe given the other changes to his storyline they'll just say "he wanted to encourage Daenerys to go to Westeros". But he was in transit in early Season 5 when the attacks started (not that I find it impossible)
....economy of characters, I think they're going to set up Kinvara as the Harpy, sort of crossed with Galazza Galare in some respects, but have her point out that her religion hates slavery and peace with the slavers is something she won't tolerate - so she duped the slave-masters into creating "the Sons of the Harpy" to try to manipulate Daenerys into killing them all.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos the Harpy? Edit
If we theorize about "the Harpy" in the novels we shouldn't forget that Xaro, who is still alive in the books, left Dany with a declaration of war, after he tried to reason with her about her rule in Meereen. It's possible that he is the Harpy, the "Mastermind" behind this! Exodianecross (talk) 00:41, September 15, 2019 (UTC)
- Xaro is one of Daenerys's enemies, and maybe is in league with the Sons of the Harpy, but he is from Qarth, which is far away from Meereen. Therefore it is unlikely he is a member of the Sons of the Harpy, let alone their leader. Moonracer (talk) 04:45, September 15, 2019 (UTC)
- True, but who says that Xaro returned to Qarth? Maybe he is somewhere close. That he wasn't with the Yunkish Masters in the camp means nothing. Nevertheless, we have to wait till GRRM has finished the next/last book, then we'll see if Xaro reappears and maybe who the Harpy is. --Exodianecross (talk) 18:44, September 15, 2019 (UTC)