Following a recent 9gag post:


Did Jaqen H'ghar end up in that cage because he knew that he would meet and "recruit" Arya, or was it some strange coincidence? Is it described somewhere in the books, or left unexplained?

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    Well he isn't superman. Sometimes you get caught, y'know?
    – Misha R
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 1:23
  • It's never explained so it's all speculation mine is he is there on purpose what purpose that might be I have no idea. And while I'd like him to be Syrio Forel (and he's not shown to die) I believe he is dead.
    – Mr. C
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 19:34

6 Answers 6


It is not explained in the books, but there is mention of him in AFFC, I believe, when a prison guard mentions that there were three men in the black cells. Ned Stark gave Yoren the pick of the dungeons, which included those three, and presumably Jaqen.

The fan speculation that Jaqen is Syrio Forel is based mostly on wishful thinking, as there is no evidence of that, other than the fact that Syrio might have been captured and Jaqen appears in the black cells at around the same time. And also because he knew Arya's real identity. But like I said above, I believe Jaqen was already in the dungeons when Ned was Hand.

On that note, on the forums of Westeros.org, it has become somewhat of a meme that everyone is Syrio Forel or Jaqen H'ghar. So there are many theories, most of them probably not true.

One theory connected Jaqen with the death of Balon Greyjoy, combined with the prophecy from the Ghost of High Heart:

I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings.

This is likely a faceless man, sent by Euron Greyjoy to push Balon off the bridge described in an early Theon chapter. But I find it unlikely that it would be Jaqen.

I also highly doubt that Jaqen got himself thrown in the black cells on purpose. It is hard to assassinate people while locked up and in chains. A reasonable theory is that he was caught during a mission.

The observant readers will notice that Jaqen's story continues in the books.

In the prologue of AFFC, an alchemist is seen to murder the POV character, and his physical description matches that of Jaqen after he changed his appearance in front of Arya at Harrenhal. Apparently, Jaqen wanted access to the Citadel, for some as of yet undisclosed reason.

It is clear that something is up with Jaqen, but as of yet, we do not know what.

  • 2
    I agree those theories are wishful thinking. I also discount them because they would make the book worse. I do think Jaqen let himself get caught, and probably even foresaw he would be picked by the Watch, but it's speculation on my part. I can't see how someone with Jaqen's abilities can be identified as a criminal!
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 4:36
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    @AndresF. Well, one thing is for certain, and that is that Jaqen is shrouded in mystery. I hope that we will learn more of him and his agenda in later books. I hope he and Sam become friends. :)
    – TLP
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 16:46
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    @TLP is Jaqen H'ghar
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 16:53
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    @MichaelEdenfield Valar Morghulis.
    – TLP
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 14:32
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    Jaqen's (and faceless men in general's) MO seems to be - get in an inconspicuous position where you have free reign to observe and move. Brave companion, feckless acolyte with master key, beggar, snack seller... Where better in KL than a dungeon run by a corruptable mute connected to a network of secret tunnels? This would also explain why Rorche & Biter are so frightened of him - they see him escape the black cells at will - then he comes back. Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 16:54

My personal theory is that Jaqen was hired by the Lannisters to ensure that Ned Stark would have an "accident" on his way to the wall. So he went into the dungeon in preparation for that, only Joffrey messed up the plan.

It makes a lot of sense - as a traitor, Ned would of course be put into the cage with the other criminals. And you'd want a skilled assassin to ensure the job gets done (since Ned is no pushover himself), in a way that doesn't look like the Lannisters ordered it.

There is only some indirect evidence: Yoren tells Arya that he was told in advance that Ned would be taking the black, and bribed to stay in King's Landing longer. This could only have been done by the Lannisters or someone in cahoots with them, since Ned taking the black was no announced beforehand. But why would they go to such lengths to ensure he got on Yoren's caravan when they could just have their house guard escort him to the Wall?

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    This seems very unlikely. If Ned Stark agreed to take the black that would be sufficient for a man of honour. He would ride North, not travel in a cage. Secondly the Faceless Men are extremely expensive and they wouldn't waste the cash on someone they regard as politically naive. Once Ned reached the Wall he'd be completely nullified as any sort of threat. Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 0:45
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    Also, the faceless men use means-tested pricing. I think they mention that they price so that anyone can afford them, but so that it's ruinously expensive and a major sacrifice for everyone. For example, they might charge the Lannisters all the gold remaining in their gold mine, or they might charge Joffrey his royal bloodline, or Cersei one of her children, or Jaime his right hand... Wait a second... Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 10:29

I think it's left unexplained in the books, but given the nature of the Faceless Men, it's likely he got caught on purpose in order to accomplish some other task, likely an assassination.

It's not suggested in the books that his purpose was to meet Arya, or that he even knew of her existence before their chance encounter. So yeah, coincidence.

Also note Jaqen wasn't caught by Yoren (the Night's Watch "recruiter"), but was already locked in a cell of the Red Keep at King's Landing.

EDIT: I found some fan speculation in Tower of the Hand that he is actually Syrio Forel, in which case it wouldn't have been a chance encounter, but let me say I find it extremely unconvincing...

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    Everyone wishes that Syrio wasn't dead, but it's highly unlikely that he survived. Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 4:42
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    @Ward Actually, I wish him dead! Precisely because Syrio was a cool character, I hope GRRM avoids the "Bobba Fett fanboy syndrome".
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 4:43
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    Braavos is home to an unspecified number of Faceless Men. It is not accurate to believe that Jaqen H'ghar is the only Faceless Man there is.
    – user8229
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 17:19
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    everyone is missing the obvious problem when they assume that Jaqen can't have been caught - being able to change one's appearance is of no use when you are under constant surveillance and/or locked in a cell or cage! It would fool noone to change your looks under such circumstances. It seems to me that Jaqen must be a different character to Syrio for this reason. Whether or not meeting Arya was purely chance, I do not know. As I say, I don't think it is necessarily illogical that a faceless man might be caught and held captive in such circumstances. Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 20:24
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    @Andres F. I'm not sure it even matters what the jailer would think. Regardless of whether they worked out it was the same person, or they thought that the person had somehow and for some reason been replaced, the end result will still be that unnecessary and unwelcome attention is attracted towards that person who has changed their appearance. This will probably result in interrogation and possibly even torture by the jailer(s) who would want to know what has happened. So there is no benefit for the prisoner in this situation (he/she is still locked up), only negatives. Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 20:42

We Do Not Know

George R. R. Martin has been asked this in an interview after A Dance with Dragons was published and dodges the question leaving it open ended as a mystery. Hopefully we'll find out in The Winds of Winter.

How did Jaqen H’ghar wind up in the dungeons of King’s Landing?
Wow, that’s also a mystery (laughs). You really pay attention when you read, don’t you? (laughs) How many theories have you gleaned from these books? (more laughs)
Another New GRRM Interview (Re: future of the series/unanswered mysteries)


My theory is that he was Aryas dancing teacher. He managed to escape changed his face and followed Arya after she left kings landing... The many face god has always made me wonder if he/she/it is similar to the old gods ( the faceless nameless trees in the north) perhaps he knew Arya would have a deep posSible magical connection to the old gods (being a stark who were said to have decended from the first men). Also when you listen to both characters talk they do sound very similar.

  • Obviously they sound similar, since they both spent quite a while in Braavos. And basically every other answer mentions and show reasonable doubt towards this very theory. For all your other claims, do you have - citable - proof from either the books, the show, or quotes from the people involved? This is a Q&A site, not a sounding board for random ideas. Incidentally, welcome to SF&F.se
    – BMWurm
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 21:53
  • This theory has been put forward before, see e.g. here. Syrio Forel and Jaqen H'ghar are both Braavosi, but that doesn't mean they're the same man. I recommend you add more detail and supporting evidence to this answer.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 22:04

I feel that Varys is a Faceless Man as well and Jaqen was sent to meet with Varys to find out what his duties were. He gets arrested to access Varys, who has access to the Black Cells.

From there, Jaqen talks to Varys, knows who to kill and why, and only needs to find a way to escape from Yoren before they get to the wall. After that, he is free to do his duty, whatever that may be.

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    This is not a site for fan speculation; as a Q&A site answers are expected to be of good quality and backed up by sources.
    – user8719
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 7:53

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