Why did the faceless men train Arya?

43 posts in this topic

13 minutes ago, MaesterSam said:

That's quite likely, I agree. But what's stopping them from just killing her and using her face to infiltrate the North, if that is indeed their goal? Jaqen makes this look easy at the Citadel, and there he is infiltrating Marwyn's acolytes, not clueless Northerners who can't even tell the difference between Arya and Jeyne Poole. It seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to, to train this stubborn little girl, only to send her home years later to kill a family member. 

There is a reason that Arya is being recruited by the many faced god along with Bran and Jon.   I'm not sure that all faceless men have a third eye, can warg great distances or come from the cursed bloodline of the Kings of Winter.  I don't think she is a run of the mill assassin.  Her purpose has more to do with the song of ice and fire than the game of thrones.

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6 hours ago, LynnS said:

There is a reason that Arya is being recruited by the many faced god along with Bran and Jon.   I'm not sure that all faceless men have a third eye, can warg great distances or come from the cursed bloodline of the Kings of Winter.  I don't think she is a run of the mill assassin.  Her purpose has more to do with the song of ice and fire than the game of thrones.

I agree 100% with everything you say here. Arya's role is in the Song, not the Game. They don't need her to kill someone for them; they are incredibly efficient at doing so themselves, and have access to her face, should they want it. So they are training her for some other purpose. Something big, something that requires her "gifts", be it her skinchanging ability/greensight or something related specifically to her wolf blood. 

If we look at her training, we may find clues as to what they want her to do. Each phase had a purpose, and once it was fulfilled, she moved on to the next phase. As Cat of the Canals, she learned the layout of the city, perfected her Braavosi, and brought facts back to the HOBW.  She did this as the Blind Girl as well - bring information to the Kindly Man.  I doubt that the KM's goal here was to receive this rather random info, but rather, he was teaching her to be observant and utilize critical thinking in sorting facts from hearsay or opinions. Which then reminds me of Syrio and his Sealord's Cat story... (funny how she met a Braavosi immediately after arriving in KL... and he had her chase cats... but I digress)

It seems the blindness was intended to wake/promote her skinchanging gift. It worked perfectly, and once she could see through the eyes of the cat, she was given back her own eyes. Seeing through the eyes of animals would make her a perfect spy in almost any situation (like the black tomcat in King's Landing). Throughout all the phases, he is also introducing her to the politics of Braavos, and she is studying poison and lying with the waif. Finally, she is sent out to kill a man, and passes with flying colors. 

The TWOW Mercy chapter shows Arya training with a mummer's troupe, ironically playing her sister Sansa. The purpose of teaching her mummery seems obvious, but I wonder if they are also teaching her Westerosi politics at the same time. She does not seem to be consciously aware of what it is they are acting out on stage, but she is familiar enough with the plot that she could have a lightbulb moment at any time and realize who the characters were in real life. 

So her training so far has had several aspects:

- Gathering information, and critically evaluating this info

- Skinchanging/ seeing through the eyes of a cat (also very useful for info gathering)

- Lying/disguise/mummery

- Languages and politics

- Poisons

- Religious Studies & history


This is a lot of education!! If she was to be Night's Queen, why would she need to learn High Valyrian and Braavosi? To lead the army of the dead, does she need intricate knowledge of poisons? She wouldn't need to be a skinchanger to kill a family member... Etc. This is a really well-rounded curriculum, not a few hasty lessons before the end of the world. Compare, for example, to another student, Aegon, who is learning languages, politics, religious studies/history (of a different faith, of course), as well as math and fighting instead of poisons and spying. But he's being trained to be the king of Westeros, while Arya... well, we have no idea what she's being trained for. Still. Lol. 

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On 5/24/2017 at 11:15 AM, MaesterSam said:

I'm not sure what the policy is on spoilers of GRRM's other works (non-ASOIAF/GOT/World Book/Dunk&Egg), so I will put most of this in spoiler tags - but I do believe I may have an answer to the OP's question. It is provided in GRRM's short story "In the Lost Lands" - I highly recommend reading it if you like digging for ASOIAF clues in other GRRM works. I will attempt to give away as little of the plot as possible while explaining how it relates to the Faceless Men and why they recruited Arya, a skinchanger, specifically.

Ok, here goes:

  Hide contents


In this story, a mysterious character named Gray Alys is petitioned by a noble lady to provide her with the ability to change into a wolf (as it is known that Gray Alys can take on many different appearances, both human and animal). Without going into plot details, we learn in the course of the story that anyone can skinchange by literally wearing the skin of a skinchanger. WHAT?!

Let me explain. Let's say there is a skinchanger who changes into a wolf when the moon is full. If this skinchanger, in wolf form, is flayed (living - it has to be living, b/c the gray area between life and death is where the power is) then his pelt can be given to any normal person. This person then bleeds upon the pelt, and from then on he or she can put it on and become a wolf at will. 

It is strongly suggested that the same applies to human skins, as Alys has several "leather" cloaks as well and is known to be able to change her appearance into a young woman or even a man. 

So to summarize: flaying a living skinchanger produces a cloak, and any normal person can bleed upon the cloak and then use it to change into whatever it was, at will. Sound familiar??? Now, up until I read this OP, I always wondered whether this means that all the faces in the Hall of Faces, in the House of Black and White, were not the faces of the people who die in the temple but rather had to all come from living skinchangers. Wow, that certainly seems like it would make it much, much harder to collect so many, wouldn't it? And how is it that we have never heard about skinchangers disappearing and being found without a face? Well.... here comes the crackpot: What if all FM are skinchangers, and what if, as their final initiation test, they have to give up their face, literally? Presumably it is possible to remove someone's face without killing them, and so every FM would add a face to the hall - and, as a bonus, these "men" would literally be faceless! They could then wear any of the faces, of course, but they could do that before - it's the sacrifice of their own face that truly erases their identity and makes them "no one". 

What do you think? It's kind of out there, but it fits, doesn't it? We know that skinchangers can sense one another (i.e. Varamyr knowing that Jon is a warg), so that would explain why Jaqen gave Arya the coin. It also explains why she had to be blinded as part of her training (as are ALL recruits) - to open her third eye, and maybe to confirm 100% that they are skinchangers. She thinks she is tricking them, but the FM definitely know she is a skinchanger, and are promoting this gift. 



Thanks for providing that insight. . I agree that the Faceless Men are skinchangers in their own right though i never thought about sacrificing their natural born faces. I don't know about all the faces coming from skinchangers, being that there seems to be So many stored in the Inner Sanctum, but I like the idea of self sacrifice to become a truly, faceless no one. Also like the parallel to the old-school Boltons wearing the skins of their enemies.

When you mentioned the gray area between life and death holding power, I thought you were thinking about the black pool in the HoBaW. The black pool, imo, is the magic that binds the dead to the temple, enabling the transfer of faces. A poison that paralyzes and holds the body near death. The Alchemist uses the poisoned coin on Pate then collects his face and memories and speech. A harsher poison yet effective with the same outcome; a new face and a new life. I'm sure there is something more than death in the water at the Temple.

Funny, to me, that the FM preach death yet they collect these human masks which contain residual life from the "donor." (Memories, sensations, quirks, speech etc .) It's a Second Life kinda thing which seems at odds with the Faceless' death religion. The ones in the know are prolonging lives instead of taking them out. Perhaps they truly do balance it out in the end. :dunno:


Concerning the OP, it seems the Kindly Man knows that Arya is special. Skinchangers should make awesome spies and assassins if they can conform to the Faceless' rules. The ability to spy and kill, say with a wolf, is awesome for that line of work. (Like that poor sap that Jaqen murders via dog.) 

Arya was wearing another's 'face' long before she came to Braavos. 

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