The Faceless Men are a group of assassins that pray to the Many Faced God, also known as the god of death. The Faceless Men can be found on Braavos and their home is the House of Black and White, the temple of the Many Faced God. The history of the Faceless Men is one rooted in much magic and mysticism. The first of the Faceless Men dates back thousands of years ago to the volcanic mines of Valyria, the same place where dragons were first discovered. An unknown man heard the many prayers of the different slaves working the mines, all praying to different gods. This man surmised that there must be one god, with many different faces, that these slaves were praying to.
A Faceless Man at the House of Black and White
The Faceless Men are deeply rooted in the religious ideals of the Many Faced God. At the House of Black and White, followers of the the Many Faced God perform religious services such as tending to the dead. They view death as inevitable, always stating Valar Morghulis, meaning “all men must die.” As such, they offer many services around death, such as a fountain of poison which offers a painless death for those who are ready to die. The most sacred service is that of planned death or assassination. For the right price, anybody can enlist the services of the guild of the House of Black and White to kill anybody in the world. It is the Faceless Men, the most elite of the House of Black and White, who are highly trained to carry out these assassinations.
Drawing of the Faceless Men
In addition to their extreme training, it is understood that the Faceless Men also deal in some level as magic, as they are able to change the appearance of their faces. The most notable of the Faceless Men is Jaqen H’ghar, whose life was saved by Arya when she freed him from a burning cage that he was locked in, on their travel to the Wall. She also saved the two other men in that burning cart. Jaqen tells Arya that she stole three lives from the Many Faced God, and in exchange, he now owes her three deaths.
Ellaria Sand is the paramour of Price Oberyn Martell. She assumes the last name Sand as she is bastard-born of a noble house, much the way Snow is the bastard name given in the North. Ellaria traveled to King’s Landing with Oberyn for Joffrey’s royal wedding, where Oberyn was ultimately killed in trial by combat. After the death of her lover, Oberyn, she is intent upon avenging his death.
Jaqen H’ghar is a mysterious man who says he belongs to the brotherhood of Faceless Men of Braavos. Jaqen is being transported as a prisoner to the Wall in the same group as Arya. When his carriage cell is lit on fire, he pleads with Arya to set them free, and she does, saving his life and two others. Jaqen tells Arya that he owes the Red God three deaths for the three lives she saved that were certain to die. Arya tells him three names and he mysteriously assasinates all three men. Before being on his way, Jaqen gives Arya a Braavosi coin and tells her that if the time should ever come when she needs him, simply give this coin to any man from Braavos and say the words “valar morghulis,” meaning “all men must die.” Before leaving, Jaqen states that Jaqen H’ghar is now dead, before passing his hand across his face and appearing with an entirely new face. In the finale of season 4, Arya uses the coin Jaqen gave her to board a Braavosi ship headed towards Braavos.
Grey Worm is the commander of the Unsullied, the army of 8,000 warriors that were once slave-soldiers in the slave-city of Astapor. After freeing them, the Unsullied came under the command of Khaleesi, at which point they elected Grey Worm as their leader. He is a proud warrior and originally from the Summer Isles of Easteros.
Illyrio Mopatis is a wealthy and powerful man from the Easteros city of Pentos. Illyrio is first introduced in the GoT series as the man harboring Daenerys Targaryen and her brother Viserys. He is aiding Viserys in his journey to reclaim the Iron Throne, and in order to secure him an army, Illyrio arranges for the marriage of Daenerys to Khal Drogo.
Illyrio, in Pentos, harboring Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen
Illyrio was born a peasant and he soon met Varys who had recently arrived in Pentos. The two formed an unlikely friendship and orchestrated a business which made them both very wealthy men. Varys would use his skill of theft and steal items from lesser thieves; Illyrio would return these stolen items back to their original owner for a small fee. This made both men very wealthy and helped propel them to more powerful statuses.
Unbeknownst to most, in the 5th episode of season 1, Arya overhears a conversation between Illyrio and Varys (video below). Varys discusses that Ned Stark has discovered the truth of Joffrey, to which Illyrio responds that they’ve killed one hand (Jon Arryn) and they can kill another. In talking about the impending war, Illyrio responds that they are not yet ready for the war that is coming. From this conversation, it is clear that the two have been working together in the shadows, with possible intentions to use the Targaryen quest for the throne to gain more power.
Daario Naharis is from Tyrosh, a free city of Easteros, and is currently the commander of the Second Sons. Prior to Khaleesi’s arrival, the Second Sons, which were led by three commanders, were paid to protect the slave-city of Yunkai. Khaleesi offered the three commanders an opportunity to avoid war, but two of the commanders insulted her and turned her down, claiming she could not beat them or sack the city of Yunkai. Drawn in by her beauty, Daario kills the other two captains and brings Khaleesi their heads. From then on, Daario has fought for the beauty of Khaleesi and commands the troop of 2,000 Second Sons.
Interesting to note, the actor that played Daario Naharis changed from Season 3 to Season 4 as the original actor got a role in a movie that conflicted with filming of Thrones.
Syrio Forel is a man from Braavos and the former First Sword of Braavos. The First Sword of Braavos is thought to be the most skilled swordsman in the land and is tasked with protecting the ruler of Braavos. In the first season, Ned Stark hires Syrio to train Arya and he teaches her the water-dance. Though the scene cut away and did not show it, it is assumed that Syrio was killed by the Kingsguard after he tried to protect Arya from them.
Styr is the leader of the Thenn, a clan of Wildlings that come from the region of Thenn. Thenn is located in the northernmost part of Westeros and the Thenn wildlings are a savage clan of warriors. They believe themselves to be the last remaining of the First Men. Under Mance Rayder, Styr is commanding the Thenn as they march south.
Mance Rayder, otherwise known as the King Beyond the Wall, was born a wildling child, but was captured as a baby by the Night’s Watch and raised as one of their own. Tired of the lack of freedoms afforded by the Night’s Watch, Mance broke his oaths and fleed north of the Wall. Understanding that winter is coming, Mance Rayder has successfully united many Wildling clans in an attempt to march on the Wall.
Ser Janos Slynt was of lowborn status until he climbed the ranks of King’s Landing, mostly through deceit and corruption. He served as a soldier of the City Watch — the army tasked with protecting King’s Landing against any outside threats. Eventually, he was appointed as Commander of the City Watch, overseeing all other soldiers. He used this position to accept bribes and engage in other acts of corruption.
After Ned Stark decided to come forth with the truth of Joffrey’s illegitimate claim to the throne, he turned to Littlefinger to secure the allegiance of the City Watch. However, after Ned declared the truth of Joffrey, it was Janos Slynt, leader of the City Watch, that led the massacre of Ned’s man, before arresting Ned himself.
Later, when Tyrion arrived to King’s Landing as hand to the king, he disposed Slynt of his position and sent him to the Wall to serve on the Night’s Watch.