The Faceless Men are a religious society of assassins who worship the Many-Faced God, a god of death. They are based in the House of Black and White, in the Free City of Braavos, though they claim to have originated in the Valyrian Freehold.
In the guild's House of Black and White in Braavos, followers wear black and white robes and perform religious duties for the community, such as tending to the dead. The House contains a fountain and alcoves with idols of many death gods, but there are no formal services. Some visiting worshippers light candles to their god, then drink from the fountain using a black cup. The religious order refill the fountain with a poison, so that drinking from the fountain leads to a painless death. This is sometimes referred to as "the gift" of the Many Faced God.
A phrase associated with the cult of the Many-Faced God is valar morghulis, translated from High Valyrian as "All men must die". The traditional response to this is valar dohaeris, or "All men must serve."
According to the guild, the god is present in many religions, all under different names. For instance, they claim it is called the Black Goat in Qohor, the Lion of Night in Yi Ti, and the Stranger in the Faith of the Seven.
Inner workings and assassinations
Followers of Him of Many Faces consider death to be part of the natural order of things and a merciful end to suffering. For a price, the guild will agree to kill anyone in the known world, considering this contract to be a sacrament of their god. The price is always high or dear, but within the means of the person if they are willing to make the sacrifice. The cost of their services also depends on the prominence and security of the target.
An elite group of followers within the House, the Faceless Men, are trained to perform this task. Faceless Men are occasionally women. Only rarely would they train a child. They are trained to use all their senses to root out deception and create their disguises, seemingly possessing magical abilities that allow them to change their appearance at will. Part of their training includes discarding their true identity in a nihilistic way, thinking of themselves as "no one".
The Faceless Men reconvene at the House of Black and White, the temple of the Many-Faced God in Braavos, where they discuss the potential jobs for the month and dole these contract assassinations out through a round table. An assassin only accepts an assignment if they are unfamiliar with the target. They use a variety of methods to kill their targets, including a poison called the strangler. The assassination technique of a Faceless Man must not be haphazard, killing only the intended target. Their fee is for a precise killing, in many cases looking like an accident, rather than an outright murder.
The Faceless Men cure the faces of the dead who come to die in their sanctuary, hanging these in deep vaults below the temple as macabre masks for use in their disguises during assassination contracts. These are more than masks, however, and the wearer assumes the true appearance when applied using a tribute of one's own blood to moisten the application. In this way, the Faceless Men are using tools as part of their disguise, rather than a reliance on glamours or outright magic for disguises.
The society originated in the volcanic slave mines of Valyria, prior to the founding of Braavos and the Doom of Valyria. The tale of its beginnings centers around a figure of unknown origins who was the first Faceless Man. This man heard the prayers of the slaves to their various gods and came to conclude that they all prayed to the same god "with a hundred different faces", the Many-Faced God, and that he was "that god's instrument". This led to him giving "the first gift" to the most desperate slave. The first Faceless Man later brought the gift to the masters as well.
A Game of Thrones
During a small council meeting discussing King Robert I Baratheon's demand that Daenerys Targaryen die, Grand Maester Pycelle suggests hiring the Faceless Men to assassinate her. Master of Coin Petyr Baelish says that doing so would be too expensive; the price to hire the Faceless Men to kill a merchant is twice that of hiring an army of sellswords, and the price to kill a princess would be even higher. Master of Whisperers Varys will instead offer a lordship to a successful assassin.
A Clash of Kings
Arya Stark meets a Lorathi criminal who calls himself Jaqen H'ghar, and she saves Jaqen, Rorge, and Biter from burning at the Gods Eye town. In return for Arya having saved three lives, he assassinates Chiswyck and Weese and agrees to help her escape Harrenhal. During the fall of Harrenhal, he changes his face before her eyes and leaves the castle.
A Storm of Swords
Arya overhears the ghost of High Heart telling the brotherhood without banners that she "dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung." Balon Greyjoy is later reported to have fallen to his death from a bridge at Pyke.
A Feast for Crows
The novice Pate dies in Oldtown after biting a coin he received from the alchemist, whose appearance matches that of one used by Jaqen. Later, Samwell Tarly is introduced to a novice calling himself Pate at the Ravenry.
Arya travels to the House of Black and White in Braavos. A kindly man seems to have some position of authority in the guild, as he is the one who takes charge of Arya's training. A waif works in the House of Black and White handling poisons. Though she is thirty-six years old, she has a shrunken and childlike appearance brought about by exposure to poisons.
A Dance with Dragons
Arya observes a meeting of eleven servants below the House of Black and White. She describes them as "the handsome man," "the fat fellow," "the stern face," "the squinter," " the lordling", "the starved man" and "plague face".
|“||Do you have any idea how costly they are? You could hire an army of common sellswords for half the price, and that's for a merchant. I don't dare think what they might ask for a princess.||”|
|“||The Faceless Men are expensive. If truth be told, I did the Targaryen girl more good than you with all your talk of honor. Let some sellsword drunk on visions of lordship try to kill her. Likely he'll make a botch of it, and afterward the Dothraki will be on their guard. If we'd sent a Faceless Man after her, she'd be as good as buried.||”|
|“||'My time is done.' Jaqen passed a hand down his face from forehead to chin, and where it went he changed. His cheeks grew fuller, his eyes closer; his nose hooked, a scar appeared on his right cheek where no scar had been before. And when he shook his head, his long straight hair, half red and half white, dissolved away to reveal a cap of tight black curls.||”|
|“||Death holds no sweetness in this house. We are not warriors, nor soldiers, nor swaggering bravos puffed up with pride. We do not kill to serve some lord, to fatten our purses, to stroke our vanity. We never give the gift to please ourselves. Nor do we choose the ones we kill. We are but servants of the God of Many Faces.||”|
|“||The Faceless Men don't post a list of prices on their door. The way it works, you go to them and tell them who you want killed, and then they negotiate the price. The more prominent the victim, the more difficult to get to, the more dangerous for the assassin and the guild, the higher the price.||”|
References and Notes
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 34, Cat Of The Canals.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 22, Arya II.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 64, The Ugly Little Girl.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
- ↑ The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard VIII.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 14, Arya IV.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 38, Arya VIII.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47, Arya IX.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 22, Arya IV.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
- ↑ Compare the descriptions in A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47 - Arya IX and A Feast for Crows, Prologue
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 6, Arya I.
- ↑ So Spake Martin: The Cost of Faceless Men (November 15, 1999)
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Free Cities (A Song of Ice and Fire).