We've seen Arya training with the Faceless men in Braavos. It was mostly serving, telling lies (the game she played with the waif) and fighting. But what does the training consist of to become a Faceless Men?

We see her, as an example, kill the Freys with poison and she was, when she was imitating Walder Frey, speaking with a different voice. So, what does the training to become a Faceless men include?

What I know so far:

  • Fighting (when fighting Brienne, she says that 'no one' has taught her to fight like that, I understood it as a reference to Jaqen H'gar)
  • Lying (Game with the waif)
  • Acting (When she imitated the servant when killing Walder Frey and imitating Walder Frey)
  • Poisons (this is just an assumption, as she's killed the Freys with poison and I don't see anywhere else she could've learned this skill)
  • Handling dead people (we see her wash / prepare the dead)
  • Remove the face to be used later (Arya removed the face of the Waif, therefore needed the proper training)

Anything else? Answer from the books / author is preferred, if none is available (as not all books are yet released), an answer from the tv series 'Games of Thrones' is accepted.


1 Answer 1


It seems like you have everything covered.

Going by both tags being used I am going to cross-reference the show to the books as you seem to be well versed in show lore.

  • Fighting

    Arya is trained with a stick (I'd say like a Bo staff) while she is blind to learn how to tell where opponent is without seeing them.

    And moving. She stepped to one side, grabbed for her stick, snapped it up to protect her face. Wood clacked against wood. The force of the blow almost knocked the stick from her hand. She held on, slashed back … and found only empty air where he should have been. "Not there," the voice said. "Are you blind?"

    She did not answer. Talking would only muddle any sounds he might be making. He would be moving, she knew. Left or right? She jumped left, swung right, hit nothing. A stinging cut from behind her caught her in the back of the legs. "Are you deaf?" She spun, the stick in her left hand, whirling, missing. From the left she heard the sound of laughter. She slashed right.

    This time she connected. Her stick smacked off his own. The impact sent a jolt up her arm. "Good," the voice said.

    A Dance with Dragons - The Blind Girl

  • Lying

    Lying is one of the first skills Arya learns from both "the kindly man" and "the waif". This continues for most of her training.

    "You lie," said the waif. "You must lie gooder."

    Arya laughed. "Gooder? You mean better, stupid."

    "Better stupid. I will show you."

    The next day they began the lying game, asking questions of one another, taking turns. Sometimes they would answer truly, sometimes they would lie. The questioner had to try and tell what was true and what was false. The waif always seemed to know. Arya had to guess. Most of the time she guessed wrong.

    A Feast for Crows - Arya II

  • Acting

    Arya goes through a few "roles" during training notably "Cat of the Canals" and "Beth". She uses these disguises to infiltrate different parts of Braavos.

  • Poisons

    Arya helps the waif prepare poisons and the waif teaches her what to smell for.

    Her part was mostly fetching, scrambling up ladders to find the herbs and leaves the waif required. "Sweetsleep is the gentlest of poisons," the waif told her, as she was grinding some with a mortar and pestle. "A few grains will slow a pounding heart and stop a hand from shaking, and make a man feel calm and strong. A pinch will grant a night of deep and dreamless sleep. Three pinches will produce that sleep that does not end. The taste is very sweet, so it is best used in cakes and pies and honeyed wines. Here, you can smell the sweetness." She let her have a whiff, then sent her up the ladders to find a red glass bottle. "This is a crueler poison, but tasteless and odorless, hence easier to hide. The tears of Lys, men call it. Dissolved in wine or water, it eats at a man's bowels and belly, and kills as a sickness of those parts. Smell." Arya sniffed, and smelled nothing. The waif put the tears to one side and opened a fat stone jar. "This paste is spiced with basilisk blood. It will give cooked flesh a savory smell, but if eaten it produces violent madness, in beasts as well as men. A mouse will attack a lion after a taste of basilisk blood."

    A Feast for Crows - Cat Of The Canals

  • Handling dead people

    This is essential task of Arya's time as an acolyte. She assists visitors to the House of Black and White receive their "gift". Their bodies are taken to the crypts where they are further processed.

    The dead were never hard to find. They came to the House of Black and White, prayed for an hour or a day or a year, drank sweet dark water from the pool, and stretched out on a stone bed behind one god or another. They closed their eyes, and slept, and never woke. "The gift of the Many-Faced God takes myriad forms," the kindly man told her, "but here it is always gentle." When they found a body he would say a prayer and make certain life had fled, and Arya would fetch the serving men, whose task it was to carry the dead down to the vaults. There acolytes would strip and wash the bodies. The dead men's clothes and coins and valuables went into a bin for sorting. Their cold flesh would be taken to the lower sanctum where only the priests could go; what happened in there Arya was not allowed to know.

    A Feast for Crows - Arya II

  • Removing Faces

    She learns this process as she goes through her own transformation.

    Still as stone, she thought. She sat unmoving. The cut was quick, the blade sharp. By rights the metal should have been cold against her flesh, but it felt warm instead. She could feel the blood washing down her face, a rippling red curtain falling across her brow and cheeks and chin, and she understood why the priest had made her close her eyes. When it reached her lips the taste was salt and copper. She licked at it and shivered.

    "Bring me the face," said the kindly man. The waif made no answer, but she could hear her slippers whispering over the stone floor. To the girl he said, "Drink this," and pressed a cup into her hand. She drank it down at once. It was very tart, like biting into a lemon. A thousand years ago, she had known a girl who loved lemon cakes. No, that was not me, that was only Arya.

    "Mummers change their faces with artifice," the kindly man was saying, "and sorcerers use glamors, weaving light and shadow and desire to make illusions that trick the eye. These arts you shall learn, but what we do here goes deeper. Wise men can see through artifice, and glamors dissolve before sharp eyes, but the face you are about to don will be as true and solid as that face you were born with. Keep your eyes closed." She felt his fingers brushing back her hair. "Stay still. This will feel queer. You may be dizzy, but you must not move."

    Then came a tug and a soft rustling as the new face was pulled down over the old. The leather scraped across her brow, dry and stiff, but as her blood soaked into it, it softened and turned supple. Her cheeks grew warm, flushed. She could feel her heart fluttering beneath her breast, and for one long moment she could not catch her breath. Hands closed around her throat, hard as stone, choking her. Her own hands shot up to claw at the arms of her attacker, but there was no one there. A terrible sense of fear filled her, and she heard a noise, a hideous crunching noise, accompanied by blinding pain. A face floated in front of her, fat, bearded, brutal, his mouth twisted with rage. She heard the priest say, "Breathe, child. Breathe out the fear. Shake off the shadows. He is dead. She is dead. Her pain is gone. Breathe."

    The girl took a deep shuddering breath, and realized it was true. No one was choking her, no one was hitting her. Even so, her hand was shaking as she raised it to her face. Flakes of dried blood crumbled at the touch of her fingertips, black in the lantern light. She felt her cheeks, touched her eyes, traced the line of her jaw. "My face is still the same."

    "Is it? Are you certain?"

    Was she certain? She had not felt any change, but maybe it was not something you could feel. She swept a hand down across her face from top to bottom, as she had once seen Jaqen H'ghar do, back at Harrenhal. When he did it, his whole face had rippled and changed. When she did it, nothing happened.

    "It feels the same."

    "To you," said the priest. "It does not look the same."

    "To other eyes, your nose and jaw are broken," said the waif. "One side of your face is caved in where your cheekbone shattered, and half your teeth are missing."

    She probed around inside her mouth with her tongue, but found no holes or broken teeth. Sorcery, she thought. I have a new face. An ugly, broken face.

    A Dance with Dragons - The Ugly Little Girl

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