hiemal

Cheating at Death: Re-examining Jaqen's Bargain

63 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Jaqen's bargain with Arya to take three lives in exchange for his own and his companions from the Black Cells is so pivotal and Jaqen such a lightening rod for tinfoil that I've hesitated to bring it up, but I've been holding some things in since I first read the scene (and because I apparently like to make things complicated, ACoK was actually the first ASoIaF that I read- no shallow end for this swimmer!) and I've decided to just start putting them out there.

 My original thought was this is a very interesting spin and combination of a couple of the usual fairy tale motifs- the "grumpkin" with three wishes that Arya herself imagines as well a kind of inversion of the Fairy's Hidden Identity theme in which a recipient must guess the fairy's name in order to avoid some dire consequence in the vein of Rumplestilskin and Stormy Weather (Jaqen/A Man) and other cases of misknown names like Nicht, Nocht, Nothing (who would be Arya in this variant?) and on this level I think it works wonderfully.

However, there are some things I wanted to bring up.

1. Why the Red God who was cheated when the three failed to burn but the Many-Faced God wasn't cheated when they were stolen from the Ser Illyn's axe or death by neglect in the Black Cells? Presumably Jaqen swore Yorin some kind of oath or made some kind of deal even if it was less explicit that that made with Arya. Did that disappear when Yorin died?

2. Does Jaqen's mention of the Red God mean anything aside from the fact that they were going to burn to death? The Kindly man said that all the gods were faces of the MFG, so why make this distinction? Does the fact that they didn't burn have more meaning than the fact they didn't die of flux or falling off a horse and breaking a neck?

3. The Faceless Men seem to be use a code that prohibits taking the lives of people one knows personally, but in ACoK Jaqen tells Arya that if his father alive and did Arya wish it a man's sire would die. Of course, he could be lying about his father being dead or about being willing kill to him or relying on the fact that his father IS dead to render the latter proposition beyond either truth or falsehood but still...

4. The Faceless Men seem to discourage casual or arbitrary (non-contracted?) killing. Nothing could be more arbitrary that giving a 10-year old 3 magic bullets. Granted, the three deaths were also arbitrary- no one was paying them to be burnt, it wasn't an actual sacrifice to R'hlorr so what debt is being transferred to Arya?

5. So Jaqen is clearly full of baloney about why he is making this bargain with Arya.

6. Was Jaqen in the Black Cells becase:

a. He was there for Ned.

b. He was there for Arya.

c. He was there for Yorin.

d. He was there for someone else at or around the Wall and wanted to take the scenic route.

e. Something I haven't thought of yet. TBH, though, since he presumably pops off for Oldtown after Harrenhall it has to be either a,b, or c I think.

I don't take seriously the idea that he was there against his will.

7. It certainly seems likely that he was there for Arya and that his purpose was to make her a killer.

8. So I have to ask, is the killer known as Jaqen H'Ghar actually a Faceless Man? Something else? Or something more?

9. Or are the inconsistancies just the result of shifts in the narrative plan as the "trilogy" bloomed?

Edited by hiemal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I wanted to delve a little deeper into mutated fairytale aspect to Jaqen's bargain:

For me, I think that the idea that names have power is an important theme of Jaqen's bargain with Arya.

He comes to Arya under a presumably false name and using presumably affected Lorathi mannerisms which de-emphasize the self to Arry/Weasel/Nan. It is through what Arya believes still at the time to be his name that she does gain a measure of perceived power of him, enough for a few servings of weasel soup, anyways... And finally, "a man" reveals that he has known her true identity for some time- which unquestionably gives him power over her.

It really does seem to me to be GRRM doing what he does best, IMHO- taking overused tropes and chopping them up and combining them and making something new and tasty.

It's delicious. One of the bits that hooked me on my first read.

Edited by hiemal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

7a. Did Jaqen have foreknowledge of Arya and her role? The Faceless Men don't seem prophetically gifted (and if they are that just makes the concept of any god, faceless or flaming, being cheated by "unexpected" rescue laughable) so what is going on here and why the lies?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/25/2017 at 0:48 PM, hiemal said:

1. Why the Red God who was cheated when the three failed to burn but the Many-Faced God wasn't cheated when they were stolen from the Ser Illyn's axe or death by neglect in the Black Cells? Presumably Jaqen swore Yorin some kind of oath or made some kind of deal even if it was less explicit that that made with Arya. Did that disappear when Yorin died?

An alternative would be that they were never meant to die in the black cells & therefore did not cheat death at all. He wouldn't have needed to make a deal with Yoren to get them out of the black cells - Yoren needed men for the wall. Also I don't know why Jaqen would have made a deal for Rorge & Biter as well. It was only himself he needed to get out of the cell. 

 

On 4/25/2017 at 0:48 PM, hiemal said:

2. Does Jaqen's mention of the Red God mean anything aside from the fact that they were going to burn to death? The Kindly man said that all the gods were faces of the MFG, so why make this distinction? Does the fact that they didn't burn have more meaning than the fact they didn't die of flux or falling off a horse and breaking a neck?

I've wondered about this as well & have just assumed because the 3 were supposed to die by Fire is why the Red God was cheated. Does Jaqen ever mention the many-faced god? It's possible Jaqen is a rogue agent although I'm not sure why he would send Arya to the FM if he had deserted them.

 

On 4/25/2017 at 0:48 PM, hiemal said:

3. The Faceless Men seem to be use a code that prohibits taking the lives of people one knows personally, but in ACoK Jaqen tells Arya that if his father alive and did Arya wish it a man's sire would die. Of course, he could be lying about his father being dead or about being willing kill to him or relying on the fact that his father IS dead to render the latter proposition beyond either truth or falsehood but still...

4. The Faceless Men seem to discourage casual or arbitrary (non-contracted?) killing. Nothing could be more arbitrary that giving a 10-year old 3 magic bullets. Granted, the three deaths were also arbitrary- no one was paying them to be burnt, it wasn't an actual sacrifice to R'hlorr so what debt is being transferred to Arya?

I don't think Jaqen was lying about killing his father if that's who Arya named. It's possible his father is already dead & that's why he doesn't worry about killing him but he seems pretty worried when Arya names Jaqen so there doesn't seem to be any "tricky" way out of who she names else Jaqen could have used it then. (Ex: Arya names Jaqen, Jaqen says ok & just turns into someone else & thus "Jaqen" is dead) Maybe if Arya had named Jaqen's father it would have had to be another FM to carry out the deed? 

As far as the FM not supposed to do uncontracted killing there has to be some leeway there for someone on a particular mission. Like it's ok to kill when it's necessary to complete said mission. 

I'm with you about the Red God though. 3 lives stolen from the Red God but the 3 deaths weren't paid back to the Red God. Unless Jaqen burned them after death but you wouldn't think that would satisfy the debt owed. 

1 hour ago, hiemal said:

7a. Did Jaqen have foreknowledge of Arya and her role? The Faceless Men don't seem prophetically gifted (and if they are that just makes the concept of any god, faceless or flaming, being cheated by "unexpected" rescue laughable) so what is going on here and why the lies?

I get what you are saying here but I really don't think Jaqen was lying. If he just wanted to give Arya 3 deaths she would have willingly accepted & there would be no reason for him to make up the lie about the debt owed. Possibly they are prophetic where death is concerned - we don't know a lot about them. Or maybe the idea that a god was cheated of a death just depends on the man - whether or not Jaqen believed they would have died had they not been rescued. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2017/04/25 at 6:48 PM, hiemal said:

Jaqen's bargain with Arya to take three lives in exchange for his own and his companions from the Black Cells is so pivotal and Jaqen such a lightening rod for tinfoil that I've hesitated to bring it up, but I've been holding some things in since I first read the scene (and because I apparently like to make things complicated, ACoK was actually the first ASoIaF that I read- no shallow end for this swimmer!) and I've decided to just start putting them out there.

 My original thought was this is a very interesting spin and combination of a couple of the usual fairy tale motifs- the "grumpkin" with three wishes that Arya herself imagines as well a kind of inversion of the Fairy's Hidden Identity theme in which a recipient must guess the fairy's name in order to avoid some dire consequence in the vein of Rumplestilskin and Stormy Weather (Jaqen/A Man) and other cases of misknown names like Nicht, Nocht, Nothing (who would be Arya in this variant?) and on this level I think it works wonderfully.

However, there are some things I wanted to bring up.

1. Why the Red God who was cheated when the three failed to burn but the Many-Faced God wasn't cheated when they were stolen from the Ser Illyn's axe or death by neglect in the Black Cells? Presumably Jaqen swore Yorin some kind of oath or made some kind of deal even if it was less explicit that that made with Arya. Did that disappear when Yorin died?

2. Does Jaqen's mention of the Red God mean anything aside from the fact that they were going to burn to death? The Kindly man said that all the gods were faces of the MFG, so why make this distinction? Does the fact that they didn't burn have more meaning than the fact they didn't die of flux or falling off a horse and breaking a neck?

3. The Faceless Men seem to be use a code that prohibits taking the lives of people one knows personally, but in ACoK Jaqen tells Arya that if his father alive and did Arya wish it a man's sire would die. Of course, he could be lying about his father being dead or about being willing kill to him or relying on the fact that his father IS dead to render the latter proposition beyond either truth or falsehood but still...

4. The Faceless Men seem to discourage casual or arbitrary (non-contracted?) killing. Nothing could be more arbitrary that giving a 10-year old 3 magic bullets. Granted, the three deaths were also arbitrary- no one was paying them to be burnt, it wasn't an actual sacrifice to R'hlorr so what debt is being transferred to Arya?

5. So Jaqen is clearly full of baloney about why he is making this bargain with Arya.

6. Was Jaqen in the Black Cells becase:

a. He was there for Ned.

b. He was there for Arya.

c. He was there for Yorin.

d. He was there for someone else at or around the Wall and wanted to take the scenic route.

e. Something I haven't thought of yet. TBH, though, since he presumably pops off for Oldtown after Harrenhall it has to be either a,b, or c I think.

I don't take seriously the idea that he was there against his will.

7. It certainly seems likely that he was there for Arya and that his purpose was to make her a killer.

8. So I have to ask, is the killer known as Jaqen H'Ghar actually a Faceless Man? Something else? Or something more?

Option 9: George was still making up the Faceless Men ideology as he was going along at that point. The rules only came later, and then it was too late to be retconned. He needed Arya to set up that bargain, and he made up a semi-convincing dialogue to achieve that.

That's my best guess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The contrast between Jaqen and the FM's rules makes sense to me if there are two or more branches of the FM. The FM as we know it sounds only like a money-maker or front as it has nothing to do with ending or at least containing slavery. Guessing that the real FM are involved in the slavery fight and are deeply invested in the balance between Ice and Fire for that reason. Jaqen would be involved in the real agenda of the FM thus he'd be free to act as deemed necessary.

Jaqen's offer to Arya of free kills sounds like grooming. Syrio's teaching could also be viewed as such, or maybe it was just testing. All of the prominent kids in the series are or were being groomed to fit an adult's agenda including Theon (by Ned) and Dany. How do you get a little girl to become comfortable killing? You let her name the names. The child who is painfully powerless gets to feel the power. You do the killing for her. She gets used to the idea of killing in stages to ensure she doens't get frightened off. You tell her it's ok because you're really doing the right thing by rebalancing the universe. You appease her guilt.

Interesting that what Jaqen offers is completely the opposite of what Ned taught which is a lesson Arya didn't get because she's a girl. The man who passes the sentence must also swing the sword is all about treating even necessary killing with great gravity. Jaqen really sounds like the devil on the shoulder here compared to Ned.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/25/2017 at 9:48 AM, hiemal said:

1. Why the Red God who was cheated when the three failed to burn but the Many-Faced God wasn't cheated when they were stolen from the Ser Illyn's axe or death by neglect in the Black Cells? Presumably Jaqen swore Yorin some kind of oath or made some kind of deal even if it was less explicit that that made with Arya. Did that disappear when Yorin died?

The author had not entirely fleshed out the faceless men when he wrote that part. The many faced god did not appear until book 4, years after book 2.  

On 4/25/2017 at 9:48 AM, hiemal said:

2. Does Jaqen's mention of the Red God mean anything aside from the fact that they were going to burn to death? The Kindly man said that all the gods were faces of the MFG, so why make this distinction? Does the fact that they didn't burn have more meaning than the fact they didn't die of flux or falling off a horse and breaking a neck?

I always took it as the red god was going to claim them, so that is where the debt came from 

On 4/25/2017 at 9:48 AM, hiemal said:

3. The Faceless Men seem to be use a code that prohibits taking the lives of people one knows personally, but in ACoK Jaqen tells Arya that if his father alive and did Arya wish it a man's sire would die. Of course, he could be lying about his father being dead or about being willing kill to him or relying on the fact that his father IS dead to render the latter proposition beyond either truth or falsehood but still...

The code is still valid, but it is different for Arya because she saved Jaqen's life from a painful burning death. So he would do something extra for her beyond what a FM would normally do. 

On 4/25/2017 at 9:48 AM, hiemal said:

4. The Faceless Men seem to discourage casual or arbitrary (non-contracted?) killing. Nothing could be more arbitrary that giving a 10-year old 3 magic bullets. Granted, the three deaths were also arbitrary- no one was paying them to be burnt, it wasn't an actual sacrifice to R'hlorr so what debt is being transferred to Arya?

Her three bullets were not arbitrary. they were debt to pay a god in her name. Arbitrary would be him killing three farmers on the road to sell vegetables as a payoff for the three who did not burn. The debt was not transferred. It was Arya's debt and that is why she was to choose the deaths  

On 4/25/2017 at 9:48 AM, hiemal said:

5. So Jaqen is clearly full of baloney about why he is making this bargain with Arya.

Not at all. He sees something in her. He sees that she is worthy 

On 4/25/2017 at 9:48 AM, hiemal said:

6. Was Jaqen in the Black Cells becase:
a. He was there for Ned.
b. He was there for Arya.
c. He was there for Yorin.
d. He was there for someone else at or around the Wall and wanted to take the scenic route.
e. Something I haven't thought of yet. TBH, though, since he presumably pops off for Oldtown after Harrenhall it has to be either a,b, or c I think.
I don't take seriously the idea that he was there against his will.

It does not really matter why he was there. A retcon could say he was looking for the book about killing dragons in Oldtown, or was going to the wall to talk to Aemon, but really, the black cell plot line was only there to introduce Arya to the FM and get her the coin.   

On 4/25/2017 at 9:48 AM, hiemal said:

7. It certainly seems likely that he was there for Arya and that his purpose was to make her a killer.

That was his purpose. His in story does not matter beyond that. I am sure "pate" will do something in the next books though 

On 4/25/2017 at 9:48 AM, hiemal said:

8. So I have to ask, is the killer known as Jaqen H'Ghar actually a Faceless Man? Something else? Or something more?

He is just a FM. The coin, the face changing, the assassinations. All FM stuff 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, Lollygag said:

How do you get a little girl to become comfortable killing? You let her name the names. The child who is painfully powerless gets to feel the power. You do the killing for her. She gets used to the idea of killing in stages to ensure she doens't get frightened off. You tell her it's ok because you're really doing the right thing by rebalancing the universe. You appease her guilt.

In this scenario why would Jaqen, let alone the FM want to desensitize Arya or any little girl to killing? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tend to think that indeed GRRM had not finished in his dynamic of their organization as a whole or even didn't want/need them in a bigger picture.

I don't have a guess on how or why he was in the black cells.

So basically I'm useless in his reasoning/purpose at that time. But I think it is relevant to bring up that a FM, a Magister of Pentos, and a former first sword of Braavos were all in the Red Keep itself at the same time. (I could be wrong on the timing but I believe that is correct) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

In this scenario why would Jaqen, let alone the FM want to desensitize Arya or any little girl to killing? 

Just a theory on my part, but I think Arya (or any Stark really) was targeted for some reason.

The FM are very invested in keeping Fire, specifically dragons, kept in check. I think that what the FM do is a type of water magic, it seems akin to what the Boltons do, seems like a type of skinchanging, so I think the Starks might be very useful to a FM in whatever specific agenda they have. If the Starks have some sort of tie to the Others or just a role in the balance between dragons and the Others, then the FM might know more about the Starks than even the Starks do. Maybe they know why all of the Stark kids are wargs or even also skinchangers.

Basically, because the FM want dragons kept in check and the Starks seem to have ~some~ tie to the Others. Sorry I don't have any ideas more developed than this. :dunce:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Lollygag said:

Just a theory on my part, but I think Arya (or any Stark really) was targeted for some reason.

The FM are very invested in keeping Fire, specifically dragons, kept in check. I think that what the FM do is a type of water magic, it seems akin to what the Boltons do, seems like a type of skinchanging, so I think the Starks might be very useful to a FM in whatever specific agenda they have. If the Starks have some sort of tie to the Others or just a role in the balance between dragons and the Others, then the FM might know more about the Starks than even the Starks do. Maybe they know why all of the Stark kids are wargs or even also skinchangers.

Basically, because the FM want dragons kept in check and the Starks seem to have ~some~ tie to the Others. Sorry I don't have any ideas more developed than this. :dunce:

That's ok! I was just curious as to your thought process. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Option 9: George was still making up the Faceless Men ideology as he was going along at that point. The rules only came later, and then it was too late to be retconned. He needed Arya to set up that bargain, and he made up a semi-convincing dialogue to achieve that.

That's my best guess.

 

2 hours ago, Dorian Martell's son said:

The author had not entirely fleshed out the faceless men when he wrote that part. The many faced god did not appear until book 4, years after book 2.  

 

 

59 minutes ago, One-eyed Misbehavin said:

I tend to think that indeed GRRM had not finished in his dynamic of their organization as a whole or even didn't want/need them in a bigger picture.

 

Makes a lot sense. Not very shiny, but it fits. I'd be disappointed, but not surprised, if this another example of the original plot being overwhelmed by ever-multiplying narrative.

Added to OP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I don't think Jaqen was lying about killing his father if that's who Arya named. It's possible his father is already dead & that's why he doesn't worry about killing him but he seems pretty worried when Arya names Jaqen so there doesn't seem to be any "tricky" way out of who she names else Jaqen could have used it then. (Ex: Arya names Jaqen, Jaqen says ok & just turns into someone else & thus "Jaqen" is dead) Maybe if Arya had named Jaqen's father it would have had to be another FM to carry out the deed?

Could be. That use "a man" does give him a lot of wiggle room.

 

8 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I get what you are saying here but I really don't think Jaqen was lying. If he just wanted to give Arya 3 deaths she would have willingly accepted & there would be no reason for him to make up the lie about the debt owed. Possibly they are prophetic where death is concerned - we don't know a lot about them. Or maybe the idea that a god was cheated of a death just depends on the man - whether or not Jaqen believed they would have died had they not been rescued. 

All in all, I'm inclined to agree. It fits with the skewed fairytale feel I get overall from this bargain. Jaqen doesn't need to lie to Arya.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Dorian Martell's son said:

The code is still valid, but it is different for Arya because she saved Jaqen's life from a painful burning death. So he would do something extra for her beyond what a FM would normally do.

I can't say you're wrong, but that kind of gratitude seems uncharacteristic of "a man" who seems divorced from ego.

2 hours ago, Dorian Martell's son said:

Her three bullets were not arbitrary. they were debt to pay a god in her name. Arbitrary would be him killing three farmers on the road to sell vegetables as a payoff for the three who did not burn. The debt was not transferred. It was Arya's debt and that is why she was to choose the deaths 

The death she saved them from was the result of happenstance instead of on the orders of anyone in particular. This feels, to me, like a shift in the perspective on those deaths, accidents bartered for hits. Perhaps that's the point, however. Sometimes I read too much into things.

2 hours ago, Dorian Martell's son said:

  

That was his purpose. His in story does not matter beyond that. I am sure "pate" will do something in the next books though

Seven willing we eventually get to read them...

Edited by hiemal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Lollygag said:

The contrast between Jaqen and the FM's rules makes sense to me if there are two or more branches of the FM. The FM as we know it sounds only like a money-maker or front as it has nothing to do with ending or at least containing slavery. Guessing that the real FM are involved in the slavery fight and are deeply invested in the balance between Ice and Fire for that reason. Jaqen would be involved in the real agenda of the FM thus he'd be free to act as deemed necessary.

Jaqen's offer to Arya of free kills sounds like grooming. Syrio's teaching could also be viewed as such, or maybe it was just testing. All of the prominent kids in the series are or were being groomed to fit an adult's agenda including Theon (by Ned) and Dany. How do you get a little girl to become comfortable killing? You let her name the names. The child who is painfully powerless gets to feel the power. You do the killing for her. She gets used to the idea of killing in stages to ensure she doens't get frightened off. You tell her it's ok because you're really doing the right thing by rebalancing the universe. You appease her guilt.

Interesting that what Jaqen offers is completely the opposite of what Ned taught which is a lesson Arya didn't get because she's a girl. The man who passes the sentence must also swing the sword is all about treating even necessary killing with great gravity. Jaqen really sounds like the devil on the shoulder here compared to Ned.

 

Good point!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 i completely agree all the "biggest stars" that are kids are certainly being/have been groomed by others but this was really quite common back then for nobility.

 

As to he Arya references..... Arya killed Daeron a deserter of the night's watch DURING her trip across the sea..... Is that her northern loyalty that is undeniably with her (needle), or is it a chance to test out her new skills, or is it bc the influence the FM have on Arya is making it easier for her to kill? Maybe a combination? 

Fantastic point on the way to ease Arya into making such serious decisions. Very well done and accurate. Someone as observant as Jaqen would obviously notice Arya's other Amazing qualities in my opinion. And possibly want her to attempt the training or at least come to Braavos (the coin that made the captain Arya's personal transport) 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, One-eyed Misbehavin said:

Is that her northern loyalty that is undeniably with her (needle), or is it a chance to test out her new skills, or is it bc the influence the FM have on Arya is making it easier for her to kill? Maybe a combination? 

I think it's meant to show that Arya will never be "No one" She will always be Arya Stark of Winterfell with all of the loyalties, lessons, & morals that come along with being a Stark. But I think the other 2 reasons definitely play into her carrying out the killing. In a different time she may have thought "this man is a deserter & needs to be executed" but she likely would not have carried out there sentence herself if she hadn't been trained to kill & desensitized to it. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would add the story of the Monkey's Paw as it relates to Arya's three wishes.  Arya's commentary is full of wishes and wishing:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Arya IX

Jaqen still owed her one death. In Old Nan's stories about men who were given magic wishes by a grumkin, you had to be especially careful with the third wish, because it was the last. Chiswyck and Weese hadn't been very important. The last death has to count, Arya told herself every night when she whispered her names. But now she wondered if that was truly the reason she had hesitated. So long as she could kill with a whisper, Arya need not be afraid of anyone . . . but once she used up the last death, she would only be a mouse again.

In the tale of the Monkey's Paw, Nobody shows up at the door:

In the story, three wishes are granted to the owner of the monkey's hand, but the wishes come with an enormous price for interfering with fate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey's_Paw

When Jaqen swears his oath to Arya; he does a strange thing:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Arya IX

"Swear it," Arya said. "Swear it by the gods."

"By all the gods of sea and air, and even him of fire, I swear it." He placed a hand in the mouth of the weirwood. "By the seven new gods and the old gods beyond count, I swear it."

He swears by all the gods and includes him of fire as though this god is distinct from the others and he places his hand in the mouth of the wierwood.  Jaqen seems to be acting as the Monkey's Paw.  He is Nobody who shows up when the last wish is granted.  

The question is whether Arya has cheated at death or cheated Death.  She certainly thinks she has cheated death or remade the bargain.  She is offered one more kill and extorts more than she is allowed.
 

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Arya IX

"Swear it," Arya said. "Swear it by the gods."

"By all the gods of sea and air, and even him of fire, I swear it." He placed a hand in the mouth of the weirwood. "By the seven new gods and the old gods beyond count, I swear it."

He has sworn. "Even if I named the king . . ."

"Speak the name, and death will come. On the morrow, at the turn of the moon, a year from this day, it will come. A man does not fly like a bird, but one foot moves and then another and one day a man is there, and a king dies." He knelt beside her, so they were face-to-face. "A girl whispers if she fears to speak aloud. Whisper it now. Is it Joffrey?"

Arya put her lips to his ear. "It's Jaqen H'ghar

Even in the burning barn, with walls of flame towering all around and him in chains, he had not seemed so distraught as he did now. "A girl . . . she makes a jest."

"You swore. The gods heard you swear."

"The gods did hear." There was a knife in his hand suddenly, its blade thin as her little finger. Whether it was meant for her or him, Arya could not say. "A girl will weep. A girl will lose her only friend."

"You're not my friend. A friend would help me." She stepped away from him, balanced on the balls of her feet in case he threw his knife. "I'd never kill a friend."

Jaqen's smile came and went. "A girl might . . . name another name then, if a friend did help

A girl might," she said. "If a friend did help."

The knife vanished. "Come."

Jaqen's fleeting smile is something of a poker tell and Arya has parlayed her one wish into several deaths, putting her in debt to the Faceless Men.  She has yet to pay the price.  

Edited by LynnS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Lollygag said:

Interesting that what Jaqen offers is completely the opposite of what Ned taught which is a lesson Arya didn't get because she's a girl. The man who passes the sentence must also swing the sword is all about treating even necessary killing with great gravity. Jaqen really sounds like the devil on the shoulder here compared to Ned.

Arya did get that lesson, even though it was not intended for her, and it was the main reason she initially turned Jaqen's offer down:

"The Starks were at war with the Lannisters and she was a Stark, so she should kill as many Lannisters as she could, that was what you did in wars. But she didn't think she should trust Jaqen. I should kill them myself. Whenever her father had condemned a man to death, he did the deed himself with Ice, his greatsword. "If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look him in the face and hear his last words," she'd heard him tell Robb and Jon once."

It was only when Chiswyck boasted about his raping that she felt compelled to use a wish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, LynnS said:

I would add the story of the Monkey's Paw as it relates to Arya's three wishes.  Arya's commentary is full of wishes and wishing:

In the tale of the Monkey's Paw, Nobody shows up at the door:

In the story, three wishes are granted to the owner of the monkey's hand, but the wishes come with an enormous price for interfering with fate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey's_Paw

When Jaqen swears his oath to Arya; he does a strange thing:

He swears by all the gods and includes him of fire as though this god is distinct from the others and he places his hand in the mouth of the wierwood.  Jaqen seems to be acting as the Monkey's Paw.  He is Nobody who shows up when the last wish is granted.  

The question is whether Arya has cheated at death or cheated Death.  She certainly thinks she has cheated death or remade the bargain.  She is offered one more kill and extorts more than she is allowed.
 

Jaqen's fleeting smile is something of a poker tell and Arya has parlayed her one wish into several deaths, putting her in debt to the Faceless Men.  She has yet to pay the price.  

"Arya lifted her gaze from the dead man and his dead dog. Jaqen H'ghar was leaning up against the side of the Wailing Tower. When he saw her looking, he lifted a hand to his face and laid two fingers casually against his cheek." ACoK

The implied link between R'hlorr and the Old Gods is interesting as well. Bloody hands, burning leaves?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now