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When Arya Stark first meets Jaqen H'ghar, he is in a cell described as a dangerous criminal whom Yoren takes from the capital's dungeons and is recruited into the Night's Watch. Seeing how this character

plays a major role in Arya's journey in Season 5,

was him being captured in Kings Landing unrelated, or

is he there to specifically guide Arya onto a path that is certain to bring her to the Faceless Men for training?

After seeing the events in the Season 5 finale, it just seems like a very convenient coincidence for them to meet in such a way.

marked as duplicate by Himarm, Jason Baker, Rand al'Thor, Möoz, Praxis Jun 19 '15 at 1:24

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  • 1
    This is something that can't be answered definitively by the book or show. This is a mystery at this point. – kuhl Jun 18 '15 at 17:37
  • Is there any more backstory in the books as to his origins as opposed to the TV show? – Chahk Jun 18 '15 at 17:39
  • not that I'm aware of. Unless someone else gets to this first I can put in an answer a little later describing the theories, but it'll be book heavy. Can't think of anything else in the show. – kuhl Jun 18 '15 at 17:40
  • What he was doing in the dungeons is not half so interesting as what he is planning to do inside the Citadel. It is speculated that Jaqen is "the Alchemist" from the AFFC prologue. – TLP Jun 18 '15 at 18:17
  • 1
    But the last episode showed you that the Jaqen H'ghar from S5 isn't necessarily the same as the one in S1. I mean: you see him drinking poison and dying, and then the girl is suddenly Jaqen H'ghar. "Jaqen H'ghar" doesn't exist, it's simply a persona used by one of the Faceless Men, who are "no one". Of course there was no plan to recruit Arya: just look at the impossible chain of events, including the rolling prison catching fire and Arya saving them. How would you plan such a thing? – BCdotWEB Jun 18 '15 at 18:29

First, a man who helps Arya in season 2 is not necessarily also a man training her in season 5. A man may have many faces, and a face of no-one may appear on many men. It is known.

In the books, that particular no-one has a very different trajectory to Braavos, and is almost certainly last seen (mystery spoiler in AFFC)...

impersonating a dead Citadel acolyte, "befriending" Sam, having killed a seemingly innocent young man to acquire an Archmaester's key

Whatever a man intends to do, it appears more complex than simply helping a girl become no-one.

And there's yet another layer to the mystery. A few things we learn about those dungeon black cells in the books, mostly in AFFC:

  • The man in charge of them (therefore, in charge of keeping Jaqen imprisoned), Rugen, was a mysterious character, "no friends, no kin", "The other turnkeys were afraid of him", "was seldom here", "came and went as he pleased". He appeared under mad Aerys (not long after Aerys hired Varys), and disappeared after Tyrion's escape (leaving behind a coin that caused Cersei to suspect the Tyrells were behind this)
  • Jaime, while pretending to "investigate" Tyrion's "mysterious" disappearance, appears to know some secret about who he really is:

"Rugen" the old man supplied. "An undergaoler. He had charge of the third level, the black cells."

"Tell me of him," Jaime had to say. A bloody farce. He knew who Rugen was, even if [this old man] did not.

  • Very few people were kept in the cells (quote from the above old man):

...we had Grand Maester Pycelle for a time, and before him Lord Stark the traitor. There were three others, common men, but Lord Stark gave them to the Night's Watch. I did not think it good to free those three, but the papers were in proper order

  • Those three are clearly Jaqen, Rorge and Biter - and the timing of that last point doesn't quite add up. Ned was dismissed the day after Yoren arrived late at night looking for "scum" to recruit from the dungeons. Doing the paperwork over breakfast that morning doesn't seem right, and nor does doing it after his reinstatement. Even if Ned had had time to, he'd have been unlikely to judge Rorge and Biter worthy of becoming brothers to his brother. Did someone else (Rugen perhaps?) forge the papers sending these three dangerous men north?
  • Rugen's description also precisely matches that of the "grizzled", stubbly gaoler Varys disguises himself as in AGOT when visiting Ned in the black cells...

Yeah, we can safely assume that Rugen is one of Varys's disguises.

This means Varys was in control of the black cells.

This suggests, Jaqen was essentially Varys's prisoner - or his guest.

Alongside a cannibal and a twisted sadist. An interesting selection of guests...

It makes sense that a master assassin making investigations would cross paths with that city's master spy - and whether they decide to be enemies or allies, they will want to keep a close eye on each other.

I've also always thought that a black cell with an unlocked door and a cooperative master spy jailer, connected to a secret network of tunnels, would be a convenient base for an assassin to conduct investigations. And it'd explain why Rorge and Biter were terrified of him, if he habitually escapes, then comes back.

Varys would have been able to prevent Yoren taking them, had he wanted to, and may have gone as far as forging the paperwork to have Yoren take them north.

Why? A user does not know... but it adds an interesting dimension to the mystery.

  • 3
    Thanks for all the info in this answer; there are a lot of connections here that I didn't put together while reading the books. A user deserves his +1. – Liesmith Jun 19 '15 at 7:03
  • It would be totally f*'d up if it will be revealed that Jaqen was in fact a guest of Varys, and he was hired to... remove the Hand of the King from his position. Which would be totally awesome in many ways. But still. Pretty cruel to Arya. – user46271 Jun 19 '15 at 21:19
  • tbh removing Ned is a task Varys could (did?) quite easily manage alone. If they were in cahoots, it'd be a much bigger, more elusive, more mysterious target. Like, Bloodraven level of difficult, or another one of Varys' despised sorcerors. I've suspected it's not coincidence Jaqen went to the citadel not long after meeting Qyburn the trainee necromancer, then spent time close to Marwyn the mage, then took an interest in Sam the Slayer... my gut feeling is, his mission is to find out who's behind this life-and-death blurring magic, then give them a gift. A man's gifts are not to be regifted – user568458 Jun 19 '15 at 21:29
  • I don't know if Varys would have done something like that himself directly. But Bloodraven makes sense, I guess. In that way it made perfect sense for Jaqen to head to The Wall. – user46271 Jun 19 '15 at 22:33

We do not know, but he was presumably there to kill someone.

We know very little of the man in general, but here is what we know from the books:

  • He was being kept in The Black Cells, which are reserved for the worst criminals. This indicates that he is either extremely violent or a political liability for someone important.
  • The other two criminals in The Black Cells, Rorge & Biter, are extremely violent and considered very dangerous, yet they're both afraid of Jaqen.
  • After escaping from their captors, he says that "Jaqen H'ghar" must die, and changes his face/identity.

Based on these three things, we can speculate that he had assumed the Jaqen face & identity in order to assassinate someone in King's Landing. It's highly unlikely that a Faceless Man would allow himself to be captured after an assassination, and most of their assassinations were designed to look like accidents anyway. This means that he probably wanted to be where he was, indicating that his target was quite likely IN prison at the time.

We don't know of anyone who fits this description, but it's not exactly vital to the story either. The only important death in King's Landing anywhere near the timeframe would have been Jon Arryn, but there is no evidence that a Faceless Man was involved in that. It would also mean that Jaqen allowed himself to be captured for some reason.

The actor who plays Jaqen, Tom Wlaschiha, had this to say about it:

It seems like there’s some bigger plan behind it. We still don’t know why Jaqen showed up in the first place. It always seemed kind of strange to me that he, with his abilities, would be a prisoner in the black cells in King’s Landing. We still don’t know what his secret agenda is - or if there is a secret agenda.


This is not an answer because as described in the comments this is something that will be revealed later.

Jaquen mission is to obtain a key to a room in the citadel from a Maester.

MY guess is he got caught on his way to Old Town and serendipity made him interact with Arya. Pure Conjecture

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