The Many-Faced God is one of the strangest additions to the Game of Thrones franchise. The god is first introduced when Arya is being transferred to Harrenhal. During the raid of Golden Cloaks soldiers, there is a cart on fire with 3 prisoners inside. Arya helps out by giving an ax to one of the prisoners which gives them the ability to set themselves free. This is an introduction to one of the strangers characters in the whole series as well as the strangest sect. The religious group that worships the Many-Faced God.
The person saved by Arya is known as Jaqen H’ghar. She quickly noticed in the Harrenhall that he serves as a soldier in the Lannister army which brings in a question of how he ended up caged in that cart in the first place. When Arya asks he just explains that he serves the god of death and that since she saved 3 lives now 3 need to be killed. The names of these 3 are up to Arya. As the events unfurl in the Harrenhal Arya and 2 of her friends escape the castle with the help of Jaqen H’ghar. He gives a coin to Arya telling her that whenever she needs to find him she just needs to give it to a person from Braavos and say the words.
What is the Many-Faced God
The way Jaqen explains the existence of his god is quite interesting. He says that he is one true god that carries many faces and this is why in different worlds he bears different names. For example, in the Faith of the Seven, which is the most popular religion in the Southern parts of Westeros, he is the Stranger who guides people when they die to the afterlife. In the North, he is known as the nameless old gods who watch the world from the trees of weirwood and the snow. In Iron Islands, he is known as the Drowned God and the Far East he is a Lion of Night who helped the world’s first emperor and almost ended the world due to his wrath. In Volantis he is known as the Lord of Light where the followers of this religion burn people as a sacrifice to their god. In Lys, he is even represented as a woman or a Weeping Lady who cries for the living that is about to die. The list goes on and on but you get the drift. This is a being of high status who is represented in various forms. This may be a male, female, monster, tree, or anything else. It is one true God who is known everywhere with different names and faces. A Many-Faced God.
While undoubtedly one of the most interesting arcs in the series there are some inconsistencies or questions that go unanswered to the viewer. As Arya goes on ahead to join the disciples of the Many-Faced God there are more and more interesting things coming afloat although they do not always make sense.
The Faceless Man in the Cage
First of all, this is one of the first questions even Arya asks herself when things start to unfold in the Harrenhall castle. Once we understand who Faceless Man is it is easy to determine that he is not so easily killed. Straight out of the cage he transforms into a Lannister soldier serving under Tywin’s troops. While Arya gives her names to eradicate he goes on the killing spree without many problems and promises to kill anyone she says. These are bold claims but he delivers in the strangest of situations. This creates a small paradox in the series. If he can actually change faces (which he can) and so easily pretend to be someone else as well as fit into the narrative how come he got caught in the first place? Why didn’t he pretend to be a Lannister soldier out of nowhere and just get released?
Why Did Jaqen Lie?
Once Arya and her friends escape Harrenhall castle at some point he comes to visit. The Faceless Man gives Arya a coin that can be shown to anyone from Braavos. If during this moment she says a specific phrase the person will summon the Faceless Man or deliver her to him. The issue is that he portrays the situation in a much more friendly manner than it actually is.
First of all, the journey is perilous and hard but so is everything else in Westeros. Once Arya arrives though she is not so welcome. It just feels like she is a bother rather than a good addition to the number of disciples of the cult. Obviously nobody would take her and put Arya on the pedestal just for being there but I personally expected a much more warm welcome. She goes on an even harder and stranger journey to finish her training and actually earns her place there. All of these strings were not mentioned to her and it just feels like the Faceless Man lied to her.
As Arya arrives in Braavos she meets an acolyte of the Faceless Man. The Waif is a character serving in the House of Black and White in Braavos. She is the antagonist of Arya during this whole storyline.
During a game of faces with Arya, she claims that once she used to be a daughter of a lord somewhere in Westeros who remarried. The stepmother tried to poison her which forced the Waif to search for the Faceless Man’s help. As she arrived in Braavos she managed to secure her place as an acolyte. However, the idea of the Game of Faces is for her to lie. This means that some of the stories may as well just not be true.
As we have already mentioned she is a despicable antagonist to Arya. The Waif mistreats her at every step of the way never giving any headroom to maneuver and come up with a positive relationship. She even beats up Arya on a couple of occasions. However, it turns out that the Faceless Man himself was the Waif at some point so what does this mean in the end? Was he mistreating Arya all this time?
At some point as a test Arya is sent to the port to see something that “only she can know.” Once she is in the docks she finds the “thin man” as it is ultimately decided that she and Waif are to kill him. However, at some point, Arya notices a familiar face. It is a man from Westeros who she knows to be an abuser of young girls. She decides that this is her target of assassination and carries out the deed. Upon return, she is scolded by the Faceless Man. Ultimately she is told that for her independent and unnecessary kill someone has to pay with life. This is when Jaqen takes out a vile of poison and drinks it himself.
There is a confusing scene following where once she elements his death Arya finds that his face is the Waifs. After she pulls away different faces Arya sees her own on the corpse at which point she goes blind.
While this was interesting, to say the least, and a thrill to watch in the end I was just left sitting there asking myself quite loudly what the hell just happened? Who drank the potion in the end? Was it the Waif? Jaqen H’ghar or the Many-Faced God? We will never know.
The Final Take
As interesting as this storyline was it is full of mysteries never explained and fans are left to just guess what happened. It is a pivotal story where Arya’s character development happens the most. This is where she gets most of her assassination capabilities as well as the blessing of the Many-Faced God. Although inconsistencies, this still stays as one of the most interesting parts of the series for me.