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Game of Thrones: What Happens to Jaqen H'Ghar?

Updated on January 13, 2013

Tom Wlaschiha as Jaqen H'Ghar

Jaqen H'Ghar in HBO's Game of Thrones
Jaqen H'Ghar in HBO's Game of Thrones

Character Shifts

George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series is home to a huge array of detailed and fascinating characters. They trip their way through the books, popping up first here with one group of companions, and then over there a couple of novels later in the company of someone entirely different. Loyalties change over time as characters develop; the reader’s opinion of a character is toyed with, pity evoked over the course of several novels as early misdeeds are repaid later with uncommon suffering, their motives made more transparent and a cruel villain eventually made into a pitiable hero. With this long process of empathetic transformation already taking place for several characters it becomes interesting yet increasingly difficult for the reader of Song and Ice and Fire to start to second guess GRRM’s intentions and predict the fortunes of specific characters before they are unfolded.

The complexities of the many relationships in Martin rr's work are so involved and detailed, that to save myself from getting confused when The Winds of Winter is finally published, I wrote this hub that summarises the plot as it stands at the close of Dance of the Dragons.

Who is Jaqen H’Ghar?

Such a character is Jagen H’Ghar. “Who is Jaqen H’Ghar” you ask me. Or perhaps I should say “‘who is Jaqen H’Ghar’, the reader asks a man”. The answer to the question who is Jaqen H’Ghar is really yet to be unfolded to us, the readers of the Song and Ice and Fire series. Jaqen H’Ghar is the name currently used by one of the faceless men of Braavos. A religious assassin whom we meet initially when he is a captive of Yoren of the Night’s Watch, en route to The Wall, Jagen H’Ghar is saved from certain death in a burning cage by the generosity of Arya Stark. Arya throws Jaqen H’Ghar and his associates Rorge and Biter the means to escape their captivity and so evade death. In return, when they both find themselves working in Harrenhal, Jaqen H’Ghar promises Arya three lives: deaths he will give her in return for the three lives she saved. Through the process of Arya giving Jaqen H’Ghar two of her three names, and eventually using the threat of naming him as the third to persuade him to help her and her friends to escape Harrenhal, Arya and Jaqen H’Ghar become almost friendly. Through this relationship the reader is allowed to learn a few details that begin to answer the question of who is Jaqen H’Ghar. Jaqen gives Arya a special coin through which she will be able to elicit aid from any name of Braavos, using the words "valar morghulis". It is at this point that both the reader and Arya Stark learn of Jaqen H’Ghar’s ability to entirely change his face, at the wave of a hand. We learn that this amazing skill is common to all faceless men of Braavos, and are told that the new face Jaqen H’Ghar takes on is that of a man with a hook-shaped nose and a golden tooth.

What Happens to Jaqen H'Ghar?

Such a fascinating and unique character is certain to reappear subsequently. Since meeting Jaqen H’Ghar, Arya Stark has herself become apprenticed to the faceless men of Braavos and their order is given significant prominence in the narrative. It seems likely that her path and that of Jaqen H’Ghar will cross again. But Jaqen H’Ghar has become someone else entirely, changed his face, taken on a brand new identity and seemingly disappeared from the narrative. We the readers are left wondering where is Jaqen H’Ghar, and once more asking who is Jaqen H’Ghar?

There is a clue as to the whereabouts of the elusive Jaqen H’Ghar in A Feast For Crows. In the book’s prologue, we see a rather simple trainee maister murdered by an alchemist who looks very much like the new face that Jaqen H’Ghar took on. When Pate is seen later in the book, it’s hinted at that it’s not Pate we’re seeing but this mysterious alchemist, and that this mysterious alchemist is, in turn Jaqen H’Ghar.

The reader of a Song of Ice and Fire is certain to see this mysterious Jaqen H’Ghar crop up again: we are given the impression that his is a sub plot that will eventually come to the fore. There are a great many questions to ask at this stage, over and above where is Jaqen H’Ghar and that old chestnut, who is Jaqen H’Ghar. What is Jaqen H’Ghar’s mission- who has he been sent to kill, and why? How will Arya and he meet again? Will Jaqen H’Ghar’s mission somehow be implicated with one of the myriad other plots that are constantly bubbling away within George RR Martin’s work?

Is Jaqen Syrio?

There's growing speculation that Jaqen H'Ghar is actually the same person as Syrio, Arya's former dancing/sword fighting instructor. There's little in the text to support the notion that Jaqen H'Ghar is Syrio Forel, however as usual GRRM has left a few little niggling things vague enough that many readers are beginning to ask... Is Jaqen Syrio?

Syrio's death happens off the page- he tells Arya to run, and the chapter being from her perspective, when she does run we don't see him killed, we just assume that he is on account of the unassailable odds he is facing. Often in ASOIAF an off-page death means not a death at all. Is Syrio alive? Is Syrio Jaqen?

Jaqen H'Ghar is taken from Kings Landing as a prisoner, prior to his escape thanks to Arya. And it is in Kings Landing that we last see Syrio. Clearly that's not much of a coincidence, but there are several tiny little nuggets here that may start to add up to a comprehensive conspiracy theory- is Jaqen Syrio?

Syrio Forel and Jaqen H'ghar are both Braavosi, and both have a strong relationship with Arya. GRRM could have made Forel a native of any one of the many nations in his fictional world- it's perhaps more than coincidental that the two male adult characters with whom Arya spends most of her time are from the same country and both particularly good at sword fighting. Since Syrio is a particularly positive character, it's also nice to wonder on the issue of is Syrio dead, and to imagine that he is not, that he has changed his face and is secretly Jaqen H'Ghar.

Is Jaqen the Kindly Man?

There's also the issue of the Kindly Man whom Arya meets when she is studying in Braavos. This faceless man begins her training, taking her under his wing in the temple of the faceless god. Again, given that these men can change their appearance at whim, it's tempting to wonder whether Jaqen is also the kindly man? Given the Jaqen is almost certainly the mysterious character at the University, perhaps it's not possible that he is also the Kindly Man. Which leaves us asking- is Syrio the Kindly man?


Let us know what you think: is this mysterious hook-nosed man really Arya's fascinating friend? Is Jaqen your favourite character in the Ice and Fire series? Is Jaqen Syrio Forel? Or is Jaqen the Kind Man? If not, who is he? Surely GRRM wouldn't have a character in his books who could change his face without having him pop up all over the place.


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    • profile image

      cat 3 years ago

      Jaqen is Lorathi, not Braavosi, even though the FM are thought to change more than their face, but their body language, voice ext. so it's still possible but not very likely.

    • profile image

      Namnor 4 years ago

      Didn't Jaqen kill the Kraken Lord Balon Greyjoy? I remember that I was pretty positive that he threw him off that bridge when reading the books, but that was a while back and I don't remember the exact lines or chapter when it's revealed. Anyway, nice conspiracy theory, but it makes little to no sense for Syrio and Jaqen to be the same person. Why would a Faceless Man (presumably on some assassination mission) waste time teaching fencing to a noble girl-child he'd never met before? Jaqen forms a relationship with Arya later because she's disguising herself as another person with a different name, so it kinda echoes what he does for a living - hence the bond. Also, that brings me to another point - if the Faceless Men are as epic as GRRM hints them to be, how on earth was Jaqen captured and put in the dungeons in the first place? And if instead, he allowed himself to be captured, why????? It's not like he gets anything out of it unless you count sleeping with Rorge and Biter as a plus.

    • profile image

      Katlin 4 years ago

      I also think Jaqen is Daario!! Same description in the book. Hooked nose and gold tooth. His backstory (tyroshi sell sword) could easily be a lie. I just wonder what he is doing with Daenerys

    • profile image

      John 4 years ago

      Is Jaqen coming back for season 4 or 5 if their making another after 4?? Anybody know if he returns?

    • profile image

      Demen 4 years ago

      I know Daario Naharis is tyroshi, not braavosi, but in the books he is described as someone with a curving nose (you could say hooked nose) and he has a golden tooth, so maybe it could be him

    • profile image

      Faceless endgame 4 years ago

      Take everything we know about the Group. 1. they reside in bravos imune to dragons. 2 they were enslaved in valieria 3. they kill people who want to end suffering 4. they sent someone to find arya after serio is gone. 5. they can be paid to kill 6. they show arya what is possible 7. they follow the red god *hbo 8. they need arya for something 9. arya can warg into a cat. 9 she becomes a member. 10. Jaquin is in old town as a alchemist. 11. alchemist and maesters are at odds. 12. they use poisons and are skilled 13. jaquin is in the maesters headquarters.

      The alchemist guild are the faceless men?

      The FM know dragons are coming.

      Arya can warg into animals.

      Arya can warg into dragons.

      Bravos is safe if arya can control a dragon?

      Jaquin finds info in oldtown on how to skinchange with a dragon.

      go back and read the descriptions of all people GRRM and ARYA observe in the house of the black and white. Hints will give away the endgame of whom is wanting whom to die....

    • profile image 4 years ago

      Interesting theories, all of them.

      My first thought was also that the guy from the Iron Bank who came to deal with Stannis could be Jaqen. Somewhere, he uses the a line similar to "a man has duties..." if i remember correctly, which of course could just be braavosi slang. But the fact that he isn't the slightest intimidated by the events that happen around him, and that the iron bank should have enough money to hire a faceless man.... we will see

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      Tom Wlaschiha as Jaqen H'Ghar. Will he return for 2014 season ?

    • profile image

      trip 5 years ago

      dsotn he kill hoster tully right after leaving?

    • profile image

      nicobzh 5 years ago

      I really feel like we have to pay close attention to all of those coming from Braavos. I wouldn't be surprised for example if Jaqen, had something to do with that Braavosi banker, or that the fact that the Lannisters owe the Iron Bank a load of cash. (Wasn't Arya sent to kill a guy because he took bribes or something ?)

      I just feel like we know too little about all these characters; and something is bound to happen with them sooner or later .

    • Amalia Maldonado profile image

      Amalia Maldonado 5 years ago

      Great Hub!, had not considered any of the theories posted. It would be something that Syrio be still alive. I could happen. GRRM brought Aegon Targaryen back from what seemed a certain death, why couldn't Syrio have survived the City Watch? As for Jaqen, I agree with glenn wallace, he was on some long-con assassination, but of who's? The faceless men of Braavos is also mentioned by one of Daenerys Targaryen's hand maids, where she mentions a man changing his face like people changing clothes (or something like that). ~ But I do feel one thing for certain in regards to the HBO series, that Jaqen could be the Kindly Man in order to give the HBO audience a connection. Either way, I'd like to see Jaqen and Arya meet again under good conditions.

      winter is coming

    • glenn wallace profile image

      glenn wallace 5 years ago

      Good Hub, taking a deep look at an interesting character!

      Personally, I don't think Jaqen and Syrio are one in the same. Say Syrio escaped the Kings Guard, and changed his face ... why then would he let himself be captured and hauled in a cage towards the Wall?

      I think it's more plausible that Jaqen was involved in a long-con assassination assignment, that required he take on that identity.

      It is to the credit of GRRM that he's created a character that can keep his readers guessing as much as this!

    • profile image

      nameless 5 years ago

      I think Jaqen can be Syrio, but none of them is Kindly Man because he is a priest and he must stay in the House of Black and White and if not, then certainly at least in Braavos. :) I hope Syrio isn't dead. And I hope we will find them (Syrio and Jaqen) in the next book either as two person or just one. :D doesn't matter.

    • profile image

      paul762 5 years ago

      What about the sell sword captain Daario Naharis over with Daenerys Targaryen? thought he had a gold tooth as well?

    • Edward William profile image

      Edward William 5 years ago from UK

      I don't know why Ser Meryn wouldn't kill him having just watched him polish off three (five?) of the City Watch.

      (I'm a huge fan of your work. My favourite song is probably Corina Corina. I realise that's a folk song ragther than original, but it's smashing)

    • profile image

      bobdylan 5 years ago

      It would make sense that Syrio is Jaquen since we don't actually know that he died and that in reality he might have been captured by the lannisters, and held in a cell, in which he could "transform" his appearance, and escape the city under a different identity

    • Edward William profile image

      Edward William 5 years ago from UK

      I think the University and the Citadel will become increasingly central in the next couple of books- that's why Sam has been sent there, so that we have more perspectives there when he arrives. I also get the impression that GRRM would have liked to have Samwell arrive there a bit sooner but has had use of him at the wall and on his journey in the meantime.

    • profile image

      Nat Knowles 5 years ago

      If Jaqen is Pate, then what is his relation to Samwell Tarly- Why did he change into the boy?

      Is there a connection between Jaqen and the faceless God and Jon Snow and the wraiths at the wall? Will this connection ultimately lead Arya back to Jon Snow?

    • profile image

      Raven 5 years ago

      Arya is already a badass assassin, and she will only get better at killing people. Bad people, I hope. And i love Jaqen, he's one of the best characters so far.

    • profile image

      Siimmi7 5 years ago

      I know, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense that he's still alive, it's just a lingering thought. The fact that Arya state her journey early with the Braavosi just shows that clearly it was meant to be her path to become a badass assassin

    • Edward William profile image

      Edward William 5 years ago from UK

      I'd love it if Syrio weren't dead, but I do think he probably is- it's just too tempting for him not to be. Also I can't see what they have in common other than their nationality.

    • profile image

      Siimmi7 5 years ago

      Now this may be completely wrong, but I could never shake the feeling that Syrio Forel and Jaqen H'gar were somehow connected. I only say this because we never got confirmation that Syrio had indeed been killed when Lannister guards were sent to seize Arya in the first book. She was running away and heard distant screams as I recall, but this in no way gives foolproof evidence that he died.

    • kw colorado profile image

      kw colorado 5 years ago from colorado

      Thanks for connecting H'gar to the prologue of book 4. I was thinking one of the Kettleblacks, by description, but that made no.sense att all.

    • Runesayer profile image

      Runesayer 5 years ago from United States

      Thoughtful and insightful article. I too am intrigued with Jaqen, interesting, with a sense of honor few would be able to embrace, and as a faceless man of Braavos he has mystical, magical qualities that we all wish we had access to. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • profile image

      sabrina 5 years ago

      I love the friendship of arya and jaqen cause we know he cares about her and he will see her again


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