Faceless Men

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A Faceless Man on the rooftops. © Fantasy Flight Games

The Guild of the Faceless Men is a religious society of assassins who worship the Many-Faced God, a god of death.



As explained by the Kindly Man to Arya Stark, the guild predates the founding of Braavos and "first took root in Valyria", sometime before its Doom. The tale of the guild's beginnings centres 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, in fact, prayed to the same god "with a hundred different faces" and that he was "that god's instrument". This led to him giving "the first gift" to the most desperate slave. The Kindly Man also notes that the first Faceless Man later brought the gift to the masters as well,[1] leading many fans to speculate that the guild was somehow involved in the Doom. [2]


The Guild originated in the volcanic slave mines of Valyria. Their founder came to believe that Valyria's diverse slave population all prayed to the same god of death in many different incarnations. The Guild believes that the death gods of all religions are faces of a single, Many-Faced God.

In the Guild's House of Black and White, 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, including the Stranger of the Seven, 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 formal 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. In Qohor, it is called the Black Goat. In Yi Ti, the Lion of Night and in the Faith of the Seven, the Stranger.[1]

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 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 depends on the prominence and security of the target.

When the small council discuss the possibility of hiring a Faceless Man to kill Daenerys Targaryen, Petyr Baelish states that the council could hire an army of sellswords for half the price that the Faceless Men would charge for a merchant, and that killing a princess would be far more expensive. [3] In A Dance with Dragons, we learn that the price could be someone's income or a child.

An elite group of followers within the Guild, called 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, whilst there they discuss the potential jobs for the month and dole these contract assassinations out through a round table. They use a variety of methods to kill their targets, including a poison called the strangler.[4]

They also cure the faces of the dead who come to die in their sanctuary, hanging these on the wall 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 ones 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, like Melisandre or other followers of R'hllor.

Arya learns that the assassination technique by 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.[5]

Faceless Men identities

A Kindly Man seems to have some position of authority in the Guild, as he is the one who takes charge of Arya Stark's training. A Waif works in the House of Black and White handling poisons. Though she is 36 years old, she has a shrunken and childlike appearance brought about by exposure to poisons.

Several more Faceless Men are seen by Arya at 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 "the priest with the face of a plague victim".

A Faceless Man passing himself off as a Lorathi criminal named Jaqen H'ghar became a recruit of the Night's Watch, then joined the Brave Companions before changing his identity. A man calling himself the Alchemist poisoned Novice Pate and presumably took his place at the Citadel. It seems that these identities are used by the same Faceless Man, since the appearance that Jaqen H'ghar assumes when he leaves Arya Stark is the same as that of the Alchemist.[6]


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.[3]
- Littlefinger, to the small council

If we’d sent a Faceless Man after her, she’d be as good as buried.[3]
- Littlefinger, to Ned

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 prominent the victim, the more difficult to get to, the more dangerous for the assassin and the guild, the higher the price.[7]

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.

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 34, Cat Of The Canals.
  2. http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/50937-faceless-men/
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard.
  4. A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  5. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 64, The Ugly Little Girl (Arya II).
  6. Compare the descriptions in A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47 - Arya IX and A Feast for Crows, Prologue
  7. The Cost of Faceless Men, November 15, 1999So Spake Martin

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Free Cities (A Song of Ice and Fire).
The list of authors can be seen in the page history of Free Cities (A Song of Ice and Fire).
As with the A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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