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Melisandre worships R'hllor, the Lord of Light and god of fire. That much is clear. According to the Game of Thrones wiki, R'hllor is also known as the Red God.

After Arya saves Jaqen H'ghar from death, he says she stole three deaths from the "Red God." Is that a reference to R'hllor?

Also Syrio Forel, the Braavosi water dancer tells Arya that there is only one god - the god of death. Is he also talking about the same god?

  • This actually refers to things that are revealed in later books, and might contain spoilers. – TLP May 15 '12 at 19:22

10 Answers 10

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Jaqen H'ghar might have been referring to R'hllor when he mentions the "Red God", but later on in the series, a different god is revealed to be the patron of Jaqen's order, the God of Many Faces. It could be that acolytes assume that R'hllor is an aspect of their god, but it's never explicitly mentioned, and there is a temple to both R'hllor and the Many-Faced God in the city of Braavos.

For Syrio Forel, it could be that he means it less from a religious point of view, and more from a martial point of view - "don't die today" sounds like a pragmatic soldier's prayer. R'hllor is supposed to be the antithesis of death - he's the god of life and fire, but that doesn't mean Syrio worshiped him.

  • could also mean that they changed Jaqen H'ghar's religion in the TV series. I was really surprised, when he said "red god". – Till B May 16 '12 at 6:46
  • @TillB Wouldn't surprise me. I haven't watched any of the second season (need to catch up at some point) but just from questions here there seem to be a lot of changes between the books and the show. – Anthony Grist May 16 '12 at 9:40
  • Yes. They are changing quite some things. I think it is ok to change stuff, GRRM already said that he would have done things differently in retrospect. And some things are difficult on the screen. But sometimes I wonder how they want to do the later plot twists with all those changes. But that is another question... – Till B May 16 '12 at 11:21
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    Actually I sometimes wonder whether "him of many faces" is the "Other" that Melisandre often warns about. – Till B May 18 '12 at 8:01
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    Jaqen's comment Arya taking lives from the Red God is in the book as well iirc. It makes sense from a follower of the many-faced god as R'hllor would be one of those faces and presumably the one to take deaths from fire. – user12784 Feb 26 '13 at 13:49
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Sorcerer13 is right. You will understand more fully after reading A Feast for Crows.

Syrio Forel's "religion" doesn't get explicity revealed, though that's what makes the plot so good. If there were an IRL equivalent, I would say its pretty Buddhist (no flamers please, just my opinion!)

Jaqen H'ghar's "seems" to be a worshipper of the Many-Faced God of Braavos (though never explicity stated), he does give her the coin and the phrase "Valar Morghulis"-- actions which will reveal themselves in later books/episodes.

Melisandre is a priestess of R'hllor, which to me seems pretty unbending in its lack of tolerance of other gods/deities.

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    +1 Overall I agree. Though Syrio seems like a practical man; his mention of the "god of death" seems more like practical advice than a religion. And Jaqen is almost certainly a Faceless Man. – Andres F. May 17 '12 at 23:45
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After thinking on this question for a few days, I think it's worth pointing out that Jaqen H'ghar saying that Arya "stole three deaths from the red god" might refer to the fact that Arya saved them from death by fire, which is what Melisandre's god R'hllor is typically associated with.

The other answers have done a great job pointing out that they do not worship the same god (assuming they are not the same god, or that those gods even exist in the first place).

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It was my understanding that by "the red god", he meant the fire that Arya saved him from.

2

According to GRRM, Jaqen was a bit influenced by his recent experience...

Jaqen refers to the Red God, and elsewhere to the god of fire. Is he referring to R'hllor? When we see Arya being educated by the Faceless Men, R'hllor doesn't seem to be particularly important to them.

(George thinks for a moment) Well, remember when Jaqen names him: he had very nearly burned to death recently...

ASSHAI.COM INTERVIEW IN BARCELONA - July 28, 2012

but the Many-Faced God is called because he represents all the other gods. There are roughly 30 statues of other gods in the House of Black and White.

"Then you have come to the wrong place. It is not for you to say who shall live and who shall die. That gift belongs to Him of Many Faces. We are but his servants, sworn to do his will."

"Oh." Arya glanced at the statues that stood along the walls, candles glimmering round their feet. "Which god is he?"

"Why, all of them," said the priest in black and white.

A Feast for Crows - Arya II

While on the other hand it seems the worshippers of R'hollor are intolerant of other religions, as evident by Mellisandre burning the effigies of the Seven.

The red woman walked round the fire three times, praying once in the speech of Asshai, once in High Valyrian, and once in the Common Tongue. Davos understood only the last. "R'hllor, come to us in our darkness," she called. "Lord of Light, we offer you these false gods, these seven who are one, and him the enemy. Take them and cast your light upon us, for the night is dark and full of terrors."

A Clash of Kings - Davos I

So in conclusion...

They do not worship the same gods.

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here are the answers:

Jaqen:

In the temple of the Many Faced God, there are statues of many different gods. The priests believe that these 10 or so gods are really just different faces of the same god. Thus, someone from the South of Westeros might call the Many-Faced-God, "The Stranger." Someone from Asshai would most likely call the God-of-Many-Faces, "The Red God." To them, they are the same thing. So if Jaqen if from Asshai, then the Red God and the Many-Faced-God are interchangeable names.

Syrio:

In regards to Syrio, it seems that everyone from Braavos has a healthy respect for the Faceless men (and more than a little fear of them). For example, Jaqen tells Arya to give the coin to anyone from Braavos, not just a religious person. Syrio just seems to be relaying the philosophy that everyone from Braavos grew up with.

  • To the original question: Jaqen and Melissandre follow different religions, even if they happen to call their gods the same name. Serio seems to be influenced by the Temple of the Many faced god, but isn't necessarily religious. – Scott Jul 15 '12 at 18:39
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Jaqen serves the Many Faced God. He and two companions were saved from a terrible death by fire by Arya. He simply mentions the "Red God." The Red Priests and their god are evil.

The Many Faced God gives the gift of death to those who are in too much pain(physically/emotionally). It is not taken lightly. Those who serve the Many Faced God also mete out death to individuals: that take advantage of people, those deemed evil, etc. But in no way is R'hollor is not interchangeable with the Many Faced God.

Syrio certainly knew of many gods. However, was his god the Many Faced God? I don't think so. I think he told Arya that the only god is death to help her with her "Water Dancing." "Just so!"

  • How do you know that the Red Priests and their god are evil? I'll admit that Melisandre does seem evil, but Thoros (another priest of the Red God) seems quite good, at least in the books. He doesn't want to sacrifice anybody and he is working to improve the lot of the common people, something nobody else cares about. – Peter Shor Jul 4 '14 at 19:06
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It's pretty clear Jaqen meant that the fire god was R'hllor and he was saved from him. As anyone who has read a little more into the series we know that R'hllor's "offerings" are always burned. He is a faceless man and therefore follows the many faced god/stranger... R'hllor is popular outside of Westeros so he is simply making a snide remark against the religion.

  • I disagree... Jaqen isn't about to be burned as an offering when Arya saves him. I think by Red God he either meant fire itself, or R'hllor, but in a respectful way. In either case, he intends to give three deaths back in his place, so how can he be making a snide remark? – Andres F. Jan 30 '13 at 4:59
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Though I am not sure how devout they are, I do actually think Syrio and Ja'qen may worship the same god, because I am pretty sure that "The Many-faced God" which the faceless men worship, IS Death.

This is based on the way that the god was described when Arya first enters the sanctum of the Faceless Men, that we all meet this god at the end of our journey, then the acolyte asks if she fears death and he turns his face into a skeleton with a worm in his eye. That and the fact that they are assassins.

Melisadre = R'hllor aka The Red God aka The God of Light.

Syrio and Ja'qen = Death aka the Many-faced God

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I believe that since the many faced God could be several of the know gods of the woiaf, including the red God. I would also believe that the "face" of the red God is fire. The three that arya saved would have been burned to death. This could be what he meant when he mentioned owing the red God three lives. Had arya saved them from drowning he may have owed the drowned God 3 lives. Although he didn't have to burn the the people he killed for arya but it's just a theory based on the several idols of the major religions you see in the house of black and white. It seems to me that the faceless men worship all of the gods for various reasons.

  • What are "the know gods of the woiaf"?? – Rand al'Thor Jul 2 '15 at 22:03

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