faceless man of braavos

  • Me: *downloads Tinder to see what the buzz is all about*
  • Me: *changes job to "Faceless Man at Braavos"*
  • Guy 1: Where are you right now?
  • Guy 2: What are you wearing?
  • Guy 3: Hey, babe.
  • Guy 4: The things I'd do to you...
  • Me: *is not impressed, is about to delete account*
  • Guy 5: So... tell me everything about a girl.
  • Me: *wonders if I just met my soulmate*

freckl3d  asked:

Can you help explain to me what purpose it is exactly that the faceless men serve? Do they just kill people who deserve it and bestow the gift of death to those that truly need it? Is that all? I feel like I'm missing the purpose behind it all..

The Faceless Men are a Braavosi secret society of assassins, who are contracted to assassinate people. They are extremely expensive, and the more prominent the target, the more it costs to hire them. (Littlefinger said it costs the equivalent of hiring an army of sellswords just to target a merchant.) However, Arya has learned that the price is always within the means of the person requesting the assassination, if they are willing to make the sacrifice – so a poor person could indeed ask the Faceless Men to assassinate a very prominent person and the price would not be nearly as much as if a rich person made the request, but the relative cost to each person would be equally dear. The Faceless Men were founded in Valyria centuries before the Doom (and may have been instrumental in the Doom), but it’s currently unknown when they first came to Braavos, whether among the slaves who escaped Valyria, in the years it was a secret city, or after it was revealed to the world.

One major characteristic of the Faceless Men, beyond being an assassin society, is that they also are a religious cult. They serve the “Many-Faced God”, their name for death, which incorporates all the death gods of all the religions in the world. The Stranger of the Faith of the Seven, the Lion of Night of Yi Ti, the Black Goat of Qohor – to the Faceless Men they are all faces of the same god. Presumably this also includes the Other of the R’hllorist faith, as that dualistic religion holds that R’hllor brings life and the Other brings death. (Note however that R’hllorites would probably consider the MFG a false god, as that’s how they feel about all religions besides their own, that they are tricks of the Other or his demons.)

Because of their faith, the Faceless Men hold death to be a sacrament, the gift of the Many-Faced God; and in their temple, the House of Black and White, is a pool of poisonous water that visitors may drink for a quick and painless death. Also because of their faith, the Faceless Men are highly reluctant to kill anyone who has not been “marked and chosen” by the Many-Faced God. (This is likely why it’s known that they charge so much for their assassination services, to discourage anyone but the most desperate (or rich) from seeking them out.) On their assassination missions, the rule is to kill only the target, not bystanders or any guards the target may have. Also, they make no moral judgements on the assassination target; it does not matter if the victim was a good or bad person, as they do not decides who deserves to die, only the Many-Faced God does.

“And are you a god, to decide who should live and who should die?” he asked her. “We give the gift to those marked by Him of Many Faces, after prayers and sacrifice. So has it always been, from the beginning. I have told you of the founding of our order, of how the first of us answered the prayers of slaves who wished for death. The gift was given only to those who yearned for it, in the beginning… but one day, the first of us heard a slave praying not for his own death but for his master’s. So fervently did he desire this that he offered all he had, that his prayer might be answered. And it seemed to our first brother that this sacrifice would be pleasing to Him of Many Faces, so that night he granted the prayer. Then he went to the slave and said, ‘You offered all you had for this man’s death, but slaves have nothing but their lives. That is what the god desires of you. For the rest of your days on earth, you will serve him.’ And from that moment, we were two.” His hand closed around her arm, gently but firmly. “All men must die. We are but death’s instruments, not death himself. When you slew the singer, you took god’s powers on yourself. We kill men, but we do not presume to judge them.”

–The Kindly Man, ADWD, The Blind Girl

Another characteristic of the Faceless Men, unique to their order (and unlike other assassination societies such as the Sorrowful Men*) and what gives them their name, is their ability to change faces. They use makeup and disguises and magical glamours, but also their own unique magic – they have a library of faces (skinned from those who die in the House of Black and White and perhaps elsewhere, and then preserved), and through potions and magic a Faceless Man can cover their own face with this preserved face, and to everyone who views them, it’s as if they look exactly like that person did before their death. It’s yet unknown whether height and weight and gender are included in this change, or if this is handled through illusion magic or actor’s tricks, or if the Faceless Man can only use faces of people similar in body type to their own.

*The Sorrowful Men are another society of assassins (from Qarth rather than Braavos), but we don’t know anything about their habits except that they whisper “I am so sorry” before killing their target, and that one used a manticore when attempting to assassinate Dany. There may be other assassin societies throughout the world, but the Sorrowful Men and Faceless Men are the only ones that have been named so far.

Another element of the “facelessness” of the Faceless Men is their practice of discarding identity and individuality, to become “no one”. Novices are taught to train their face to avoid tells and body language that gives any hint of their old identity and personality, and are frequently questioned to see how far they have come in discarding their identity. They do not use names or even pseudonyms (the names Arya uses for them are her own, based on their apparent physical characteristics), but only refer to each other as brothers and sisters, novices and acolytes and servants and priests. When considering assassination targets, the priests meet in the House of Black and White, and anyone who knows the target recuses himself from the assignment – only one who does not know the person may give them the gift of the Many-Faced God. (This is another possible reason why more prominent targets are so expensive; it’s definitely the reason why the sailors on the Titan’s Daughter gave Arya gifts and made sure she remembered their names.)

And of course there is their mottoes “valar morghulis” (all men must die) and “valar dohaeris” (all men must serve). Though these are sayings from Old Valyria and are used throughout Essos in various contexts, as a specific password and response they appear to be unique to the Faceless Men and those who serve them. Saying “valar morghulis” and presenting a coin of the Faceless Men to any man of Braavos acts as an identifier, and the Braavosi will then do all they can for that Faceless Man.

Known targets of the Faceless Men during the course of the books: Balon Greyjoy; also an insurance salesman who cheated the heirs of his client. Also there are the victims of the Faceless Man who once called himself and used the face of the Lorathi Jaqen H’ghar (and later called himself the Alchemist and is now disguised as Pate the Citadel novice), many who seem to have been killed against the known rules of the FM – but it is unknown whether that Faceless Man is on some mission or whether he’s gone rogue.

And if you’re wondering about the literary purpose of the Faceless Men, it’s to provide interest to GRRM’s worldbuilding (acting as analogues to (fictionalized versions and legends of) the Thuggees and Hashishin), to move Arya along her plotline and develop her character and skills, to possibly provide answers to certain mysteries of the story, and of course to be an element in this plotline. I hope that answers your question. 

i-furiosa  asked:

What do you think the deal is with Brusco and his daughters? Like, does he have some sort of relationship with the faceless men? Or does he just fear them too much to ask questions about why this strange little girl from Westeros was sent to them? I'm particularly thinking about Arya II from ADWD. Thanks (love your blog)!

You’re very welcome, and, well, remember that every person in Braavos has some kind of relationship with the Faceless Men.

“If the day comes when you would find me again, give that coin to any man from Braavos, and say these words to him—valar morghulis.” –ACOK, Arya IX

For Jaqen’s promise to be true, every single Braavosi must be taught from childhood that if you are given an iron coin of the Faceless Men and “valar morghulis” is spoken, then you must answer “valar dohaeris” and do whatever that Faceless Man requests. (And the captain and sailors of the Titan’s Daughter did believe that Arya was already a Faceless Man, as they gave her gifts and made sure she remembered their names so that she could never be the one sent to assassinate them should they ever be “chosen by the Many-Faced God” for that fate. Why they thought a Faceless Man was traveling in the guise of a little girl, we may never know… though perhaps the Waif is not unknown to some Braavosi.)

And why this is so… well, it’s very probable that there is more to the story of the founding of Braavos than just what was related in TWOIAF. We’re told that slaves from a large convoy of Valyrian slave ships rebelled, took over the ships, and escaped to the lagoon that would become Braavos– but if a Faceless Man or two were not involved in that “bloody rebellion” I would be surprised. The Kindly Man did promise Arya he would teach her more of how the Faceless Men brought the gift of death to the slave masters of Valyria… and while that probably refers to the Doom of Valyria, it’s likely that the story of how the Faceless Men came to Braavos is part of that too. Which is why it’s not in TWOIAF - (a) spoilers, and (b) why should a Westerosi maester know that story when he knows so little about the Faceless Men to begin with.

Anyway. Whatever connection the Faceless Men have to Braavos’s founding or not, it is certain that the Braavosi have a deep respect for them… or perhaps a deep fear of them would be more accurate. As for the fishmonger Brusco – there’s a couple of options. The service that every man from Braavos must provide to the Faceless Men could include the potential to host their novices-in-training. (This would also apply to Izembaro, the mummer king whose troupe “Mercy” joined to learn acting and make-up/disguises.) Or possibly Brusco owes the Faceless Men more than the usual because he needed to use their services once (same with Izembaro). Though why a fishmonger would need an assassin for anything, I don’t know, so I’d think it’s just something all the Braavosi know they need to do when required.

And it’s notable that the Faceless Men made sure it didn’t really put Brusco out to provide room and board for “Cat”. She had learned enough of the Braavosi language before she was sent to him to make herself understood (though learning it fluently required full immersion, which was the purpose of her going to Brusco in the first place), he didn’t have to deal with a Westerosi girl who only knew the Common Tongue. She was sent to him to work for him, not for herself or the Faceless Men, to help sell his fish. And while she did return to the Faceless Men for training and to tell them what she had learned on the streets of Braavos, it was only for three nights of each month, during the new moon.

“The moon will be black tonight,” she reminded him.
“Best you pray, then.” Brusco shoved the boots aside and poured out the coins to count them. “Valar dohaeris.”

–AFFC, Cat of the Canals

Also, when Cat returned to Brusco after her stint as Blind Beth, he and his daughters were surprised to see her, so it must be whatever service the Braavosi are expected to provide, normally when it’s done, it’s done. And most importantly, when Arya was going to assassinate the insurance agent, the Faceless Men knew it would bring trouble to Brusco and his family if Cat were to be connected to the murder, so they made sure to give her a new face and life while she did the deed.

But yes, if there is one thing to show Brusco’s relationship with the Faceless Men, it’s this:

So the next day she returned to Brusco and his daughters in the house on the canal. Brusco’s eyes widened when he saw her, and Brea gave a little gasp. “Valar morghulis,” Cat said, by way of greeting. “Valar dohaeris,” Brusco replied.
After that it was as if she had never been away.

–ADWD, The Ugly Little Girl

On why there are no 'valar morghulis' and 'valar dohaeris' characters


I see so many graphics and lists of characters divided by “valar morghulis” and “valar dohaeris” and I honestly have to say that I really don’t think that was their purpose.  Valar morghulis and valar dohaeris are not meant to split the world into killers and servers, into those who kill and those who work to get to power, they were not even meant to be parallels, separate lifestyles. VM and VD are more likely to represent a philosophy, a a circle of life, because they do not exclude each other, they complete one another, and I think that they are part of every single character’s arc. Even more, they are part of the entire narrative.

“All men must serve” represents the notion that everyone has a purpose in the world, and they must fulfill that purpose, call it the ASOIAF doctrine of predestination, the fate that cannot be avoided. And after that purpose is fulfilled, “ all men must die”, in order to make room for others to fulfill their purpose and continue the circle of life -All men must die. But first we’ll live.

And where things really get interesting is that a lot of times (most of the times) during the story, VD and VM often entwine, if not, become one and the same thing. Characters fulfill their purpose by dying, or rather, their death gives purpose to other characters- pieces prepare the scene and then make room for other pieces. The story debuts with Jon Arryn’s death, which causes Ned to become Hand and travel to King’s Landing, where he unravels the Lannister secret. Then Ned dies, starting the civil war and giving his family two purposes - revenge and survival. Robert dies so that Stannis can begin his arc. Daenerys must lose Viserys, Rhaego and Drogo in order to get her dragons. Robb dies so that soon Jon Snow must choose between Winterfell and the Night’s Watch, between faux Arya and duty. Catelyn dies so that Arya can travel to Braavos and begin her training as a Faceless Man. But what makes Catelyn’s arc interesting is that she dies before fulfilling her purpose, before getting her justice or her children back, so she is brought back to life. Joffrey dies so that Oberyn can face the Mountain. Oberyn dies so that  the story will reveal Doran, Arianne, and the Sand Snakes, each trying to avenge his death. Tywin’s death brings Cersei to power and ultimately, to the beginning of her downfall, Jaime in the Riverlands, where LS awaits, and Tyrion in Essos with Young Griff and Daenerys. Balon dies so that Asha, Euron and Victarion can begin the succession war. Winterfell itself is destroyed for Bran to travel beyond the Wall. In conclusion, many characters began their arc because another character’s arc ended.

And even when we speak of individual character evolution, VD= VM - Kill the boy and let the man be born. Most characters, if not all of them, are changed since the beginning of the story, and most of them had to let their old versions “die” in order to fulfill their new purpose, be it revenge, duty, power or just survival -  Arya, Catelyn, Jon, Bran, Daenerys, Theon, Tyrion have suffered the most obvious loss of their previous self, but there are changes in Jaime ( where we cannot talk of a personality change alone, but rather a perspective change combined with a personality change), Sansa, Cersei, Stannis, Sam etc as well.  Characters who did not change or did not adapt have eventually died. Ned died because he couldn’t adapt to a world without rules. Robb repeated his father’s last mistakes, which were doing his duty  and having too much faith in honor, in a world which lacked both, he followed the rules in a world that forgot or ignored them, and therefore, he was doomed to die, unable to learn from past mistakes, unlike his sisters, who learned their lesson and survived.