- "What good is war now? We're not ready."
- ―Illyrio conspiring with Varys.
Illyrio is a merchant-prince and a Magister of the Free City of Pentos, located across the Narrow Sea to the east of Westeros. Immensely rich and powerful, Illyrio is an ally and benefactor to Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen. He lives in a great manse in the city, guarded by Unsullied.
Illyrio brokers the deal to "sell" Daenerys in marriage to Khal Drogo of the Dothraki. Drogo desires an exotic wife from far away and Viserys needs a Dothraki army to help retake the Seven Kingdoms, so a bargain is made. Illyrio is present when Daenerys says that she doesn't want to marry him. Viserys says she will, and that he would let Drogo's men and all their horses rape her if it meant that in return he could get an army to help him retake the Iron Throne. When Drogo comes to approve of Daenerys, he rides up to the steps, looks her over, and then rides off. Viserys is concerned as Drogo had not said a word nor had he even dismounted. However, Illyrio assures him that if Drogo had not approved, he would have made it known.
Illyrio hosts the wedding and gifts Daenerys with three dragon eggs, turned to stone by the passing of ages. He introduces them to Ser Jorah Mormont, a Westorosi lord in exile and a spy for Varys who then takes service with Viserys. Khal Drogo immediately leaves with his khalasar for Vaes Dothrak, to present Daenerys before the dosh khaleen, and see if the omens are right for war. Ser Jorah tells Viserys that he should stay at Magister Illyrio's estate, as he has been invited to do, until after Khal Drogo returns from the sacred city, but Viserys says he will stay with the khalasar until he gets his army.
Some months later, Illyrio pays a secret visit to King's Landing where he discusses their mutual plans with his ally, Varys, the Spymaster at King Robert's small council. Varys informs him of how the new Hand of the King, Eddard Stark, now has the same genealogy book that his predecessor read, and has met Robert's bastard son Gendry; the same evidence which led Jon Arryn to discover the truth about Queen Cersei's children. Illyrio suggests the possibility that the same fate may befall Lord Stark as did his predecessor, but Varys states Eddard Stark is not the same man as Arryn was. Furthermore, he assures Illyrio that the conflict between the Lannisters and the Starks will soon escalate into a civil war. Illyrio protests that a war will not serve their purpose right now, since Khal Drogo is not yet ready to send his army of Dothraki to invade Westeros for Viserys, thus reviving the Targaryen Dynasty. However, Varys protests there is no way of delaying the incoming conflict, so the Dothraki must be urged to move faster, since "this is no longer a game for two players." Illyrio replies that it never was. Their discussion is overheard by Arya Stark, who is with them in the tunnels under the Red Keep. Arya tries to warn her father about what she heard, but she doesn't know who the speakers were and out of context all she understood was that her father "has found the bastard", that "the wolves are fighting the lions", and "something about the savage." Despite their secret conversation, later at a small council meeting Varys seemingly supports King Robert's proposal to assassinate Daenerys Targaryen because of the threat her pregnancy and the possibility of a son poses. This information was presumably brought to Varys by Illyrio, who placed Jorah Mormont with the Targaryens and visited Varys on the same day Varys brought this information to the small council.
After crossing the Narrow Sea, Varys and Tyrion Lannister have settled at Illyrio's home in Pentos, and Varys reveals he is a colleague of Illyrio, both from a group of people seeking a Targaryen restoration.
|Season One appearances|
|Winter is Coming||The Kingsroad||Lord Snow||Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things||The Wolf and the Lion|
|A Golden Crown||You Win or You Die||The Pointy End||Baelor||Fire and Blood|
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Illyrio is a morbidly obese, middle-aged man who dresses in rich finery. He favors using money and power to overcome problems rather than honor and valor. He is described as morbidly obese, with yellow hair and a forked beard.
Illyrio was married twice: his first wife was the daughter of a cousin of the Prince of Pentos. After their marriage ended (it is not specified whether Illyrio's wife died or left him), he took a Lysene pillowhouse worker named Serra as one of his bedwarmers, fell in love and married her, although he knew that would upset the Prince. The Prince was indeed angry, and barred the palace to him forever after, but in Illyrio's eyes it was a small price for Serra. Illyrio was very happy with her, until a Braavosi trading galley brought the grey plague (a virulent sickness which is swifter than the greyscale) to Pentos. Serra was one of the 2,000 victims. Illyrio cherishes her memory, and has not been married for a third time.
According to the TV series official pronunciation guide developed for the cast and crew, "Illyrio" is pronounced "Il-LEAR-ee-oh ", as opposed to "Ill-e-rio", etc.