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The Free Cities

"Frankly, the nine of them are more alike than they care to admit. They hire the same soldiers to fight the same wars for the same rulers -- the Rich, be they called magisters or archons or what have you."
Ser Jorah Mormont History and Lore: The Free Cities

Volantis, Pentos, Braavos, Norvos, Qohor, Myr, Lys, Tyrosh and Lorath are nine merchant city-states located on the western part of the continent of Essos. Originally, these cities were colonies, offshoots and outposts of the Valyrian Freehold but after the Doom of Valyria consumed the famous capital, these cities became the only remains of a great civilization. Valyria has since become a disease and smoky ruin, uninhabitable and abandoned but the other cities continue to thrive. Since the Doom, the Free Cities have involved themselves in numerous petty wars against each other seeking to install a new hegemony to replace the Freehold.

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    General Tropes 
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Valyrian and Rhoynish cultures are made into a single place in the show. The Stone Men colony is located on the Rhoyne River while Valyria is still a burnt out husk of a ruin in the Smoking Sea that cannot be sailed into.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Of Medieval and Renaissance Italy (the extinct Valyrian Freehold is itself a Roman Republic analogue). Braavos is also modeled on the Dutch Golden Age.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Played With. Most of the Free Cities are just as class-driven as Westeros and unlike Westeros (and of course Braavos) it practices slavery. Braavos which is an abolitionist city is however a proud Merchant City run by the Iron Bank, an N.G.O. Superpower Mega-Corp that bullies states via expensive loans and its other famous export is a band of super-assassins that operates like a Mystery Cult. Braavos notably does not put emphasis on bloodlines the way Westeros does, however, their class system is purely based on how much wealth you currently have, so it's a bit more mobile.
  • Merchant City: To the point that some of these cities are only known for a special article or product. Myr is famous for its lenses, Tyrosh is renowned for its colored dyes, Qohor for its blacksmiths who can reforge Valyrian steel (though some craftsmen in Volantis also seem to have this skill who reforged Ice, though the TV series invented this detail for unknown reasons).
  • Mordor: We finally see Valyria in Season 5 and it's on the whole vastly more walkable than the Valyria in the books, but it's still a burnt out, ruined world, permanently gray and converted into a leper colony that is scary enough that it scares away pirates.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Volantis in Seasons 5 and 6. Pentos appeared since the premiere, but was filmed on location with a decent amount of costumes relative to its minimal appearance. Braavos became a major set piece in Season 5 with fully realized sets and new costume designs. Volantis, however, was only the third of the Free Cities to actually appear on-screen, would only appear relatively briefly in Season 5, and they totally ran out of budge to make completely new sets and costumes. In a rather impressive show of ingenuity, everything that appears on-screen when Volantis appears in Episode 5.3 is actually a kitbash of parts of old sets, mixed and matched to make them look different: a door from King's Landing, a window from Winterfell, a chair from Meereen, etc. The costumes for Volantis are also just a kitbash of costumes from the Vale of all places, cut to be a little more loose, and with jewelry from Meereen added to them. This is most obvious in Episode 6.4, when right after a scene set in the Vale itself, an ambassador from Volantis is shown arriving in Meereen — making it even easier to see that his costume is a mashup of the other two styles. Considering that they feared Volantis wouldn't appear in the TV series at all, they worked out pretty well.
  • Private Military Contractors: Like the Italian city-states it derives from, the Freehold lack the numbers to a field a regular, disciplined, standing army leading many of them to depend on mercenary companies and sell-swords to fight their wars.
  • Puppet King: The Prince of Pentos rules In Name Only, it is the Magisters who hold all the power though they use the Prince as The Scapegoat and sacrifice him if a crop fails or a war is lost.
  • Slave Liberation: Daenerys' actions in Meereen has badly affected the slave trade. Slaves in Volantis brand her a savior and long for her arrival to liberate them.
  • The Remnant: Of the Valyrian Freehold, except for Braavos, which was not a colony but a city founded by runaway slaves.
  • Vice City: Lys.

Pentos

    Magister Illyrio Mopatis 

Magister Illyrio Mopatis

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/illyrio_mopatis_3.png
"What good is war now? We are not ready."

Played By: Roger Allam

A wealthy magister of the free city of Pentos. Illiyrio was the host of the Targaryens after their escape from Westeros. He arranged Daenerys' marriage to Khal Drogo. He conspires with Lord Varys for the returning of the Targaryens to the Iron Throne.


  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the books, he's morbidly obese and has yellow, crooked teeth.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the books, he has yellow hair.
  • Adapted Out: His mansion reappears and his name is mentioned as well in Season 5, but his role is taken by Varys.
  • Adipose Rex: He's overweight and unlike his pal Varys, Illyrio tends to mastermind from the comfort of his home save for the occasional meeting.
  • Ambiguously Evil: His motivations, purposes and goals are unclear for the moment but there's an unmistakable sinister undercurrent to him.
  • Beard of Evil: He has a pretty thick beard, although he's Ambiguously Evil.
  • The Chessmaster: Illyrio rather expertly and easily pushed a few key players into place; Viserys, Dany, Drogo and Jorah were all his pieces. Dany to solidify an alliance, Viserys to give the go-ahead, Drogo to provide the army, and Jorah to keep Varys informed.
  • The Man Behind the Man: He's one of the masterminds behind the Dothraki invasion and re-emergence of the Targaryens.
  • Mr. Exposition: With regards to the Dothraki, whose culture he explains to Viserys. This role is later taken up by Jorah Mormont.
  • Villainous Friendship: He seems to have a genuine friendship with his partner in chessmastering, Varys.

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Volantis

    Clea 

Clea

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/clea_0.png

Played By: Gwyneth Keyworth

A Volantene prostitute and a slave.


  • Always Someone Better: She seems a little bitter that visitors prefer the Daenerys-lookalike prostitute ahead of her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In her brief appearance.
    Tyrion Lannister: You've got no drink.
    Clea: You've got no money.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Although she's a tad blunt, she certainly isn't a bad sort as evidenced by how she's charmed by Tyrion.

The Valyrian Freehold/Old Valyria

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/old_valyria.png

"At its height, the Valyrian Freehold ruled over half the known world. Not bad for former shepherds."
Ser Jorah Mormont, History and Lore: The Free Cities

The former seat of the Dragon Lords of Valyria, ancestral home to House Targaryen, and former capital of the Valyrian Empire, widely considered the greatest civilization to have ever existed. Several centuries before the start of the series Old Valyria was set upon by some natural/cosmic event that destroyed the entire landmass to the point where it was physically broken into several islands surrounded by a smoking ocean. This event is referred to as the Doom of Valyria, and the islands are now only inhabited by victims of advanced Greyscale disease, known as the Stone Men.

    Stone Men 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/stone_man_3.png

Victims of advanced Greyscale infection, these semi-humans are shipped off to Old Valyria to prevent their disease from reaching pandemic levels in Westeros and elsewhere.


  • Bald of Evil: All of the ones seen so far are distinctly lacking in any sort of hair, be it head hair, facial hair, or eyebrows. Having a serious skin condition like Greyscale would probably block off one's follicles, making this a justified case.
  • Body Horror: As the name of the disease would imply, their bodies are covered head to toe in grey, scale like growths that make them appear to be made of stone.
  • Hero Killer: Even seasoned warriors fear them, because being touched by the Stone Men is tantamount to a Fate Worse than Death by greyscale.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: They exhibit several zombie like traits, namely sub-human intellect, feral reactions to the uninfected, and the ability to transfer their condition through physical contact, but they are never referred to as such because they aren't dead or reanimated and because of the time period the setting is in.
  • Sanity Slippage: The disease has a gradual effect to the infected's mind.
  • Technically Living Zombie: While they react to the uninfected like a standard zombie would, they are simply victims of an advanced Greyscale infection that has addled their minds and marred their skin.

    The Dragon Lords of Valyria 

The former inhabitants of The Valyrian Freehold and ruling class of the Valyrian Empire, the Dragon Lords of Valyria came from a tribe of shepherds, until they happened upon the dragons that shared their continent. Over time they figured out how to tame and control the dragons as well as forge the legendary Valyrian Steel, and with this they spread across their continent and conquered it wholly from the backs of their dragons, and later moved on to Westeros and Essos. They created wonders of architecture and their civilization was considered the pinnacle of all civilizations at that time. Unfortunately, it was not to last, and their great empire was laid to waist to by the Doom of Valyria and now their once proud homeland lies in ruin and they are all but forgotten.


  • Ancient Grome: While they lean farther towards the Roman side of this trope, they do blend Greco-Roman symbolism and culture together.
  • Beastmaster: They were an entire civilization of these, given how no one before or since them has figured out how to control the dragons the way that they did. It doesn't help that, until recently, all of the dragons had gone extinct.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Given how they are compared to the Roman Empire, it is fitting that they were presented this way.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Given their origins as shepherds, the rest of the inhabitants of their continent pre-Doom probably saw them as this before either bending the knee to them or being immolated by dragonfire. Proof that those who underestimate the power of agriculture do so at their peril.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Given how no one managed to figure out how to tame dragons aside from them and the fact that the exact method they used to tame and train them is unknown, there may have been a bit of magic involved in it given that dragons are explicitly described as magical creatures along the lines of the White Walkers.
  • Mysterious Waif: They were often described as being tall, thin (excepting their warriors), and pale and possessed platinum blonde hair and historically violet eyes. Deconstructed in that this wasn't due to any innate magic but through weird genetics, and their habit of inbreeding to preserve these features lead to the rather infamous problems with insanity that House Targeryen dealt with, including Aerys II Targaryen (aka the Mad King) and Viserys Targaryen.
  • Posthumous Character: Their entire empire and nearly every Valyrian Dragon Lord was wiped out in the Doom, leaving House Targaryen as the last of the blood of Old Valyria as they are often called. People descended from Valyrians exist in the Free Cities (especially Lys, where almost every noble and commoner have the Purple Eyes and Mystical White Hair of Valyria), but they are merely remnants of Valyria and don't possess the dragons, magic, or knowledge that the Dragon Lords did.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Having the power of dragons and Valyrian steel backing you up will probably result in you becoming one of these, as Westeros found out when Aegon the Conqueror came over and had his way with the place.

Braavos

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/braavos_9.png

"Braavos is the strangest, a city erected not by the Freehold, but against it. A labyrinth of illusion and deceit to hide the refugees from Valyria's slave-lords. After the Doom, the city emerged from the shadows to become one of the greatest banking centers in the world."
Ser Jorah Mormont, History and Lore, "The Free Cities"

Braavos is the richest of the Free Cities, located North of Essos across the Narrow Sea from the Vale of Arryn. Syrio Forel and Jaqen H'ghar hail from this city and as of Season 5, Arya Stark of Winterfell, exiled from Westeros, has become a resident of the city. Its feared Iron Bank has also made its presence felt in Westerosi politics. It is a City of Canals that is guarded by a massive statute, the Titan of Braavos.

    General 
  • Bystander Syndrome: The general population seems completely unfazed by things like blind beggars being beaten up, teenage girls parkouring through the town in deadly hunts, girls limping around with heavy stab wounds. The House of Black and White must have a very flashy expulsion process in general, or that they are based in the city's poor district which like many real-life ghettoes and slums in major free cities tend not to be well policed.
  • City of Adventure: A city of magical assassins, iron banks, busy wharfs guarded by a Giant Statue and a place of refuge for a runaway orphan like Arya. Two of her mentors, Syrio Forel and Jaqen H'ghar were Braavosi.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Of Renaissance Venice and the Dutch Free State. The outfits of the Braavosi were modelled on Dutch painting and intended to reflect a more advanced culture than Westeros.
  • Gate Guardian: The Titan of Braavos is a massive stone and bronze statue that guards the entrance to Braavos. Aside of its military importance, it's also an iconic monument of the city and a counterpart of The Colossus of Rhodes.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Braavos is the only Free City that is abolitionist, and refuses to participate in the slave trade. It also seems less class obsessed than Westeros as even Iron Bankers refuse titles. That said, this is a city whose power and influence comes from the ruthless Mega-Corp that is the Iron Bank and a fearless band of assassins.
  • Shining City: Not how it looks on screen but this is how Tycho Nestoris describes it the History and Lore video, not only the richest and most powerful of the Free Cities but also the most beautiful.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: As Tycho Nestoris points out in the Histories and Lore video, the First Law of Braavos forbids slavery of any form.
  • Urban Segregation: The poor district of the city is concentrated near Ragman's Harbor while the Iron Bank is located at a more tony part of the city.
  • Weaponized Landmark: The Titan of Braavos according to Ternesio Terys.

    Syrio Forel 

Syrio Forel

Played By: Miltos Yerolemou

Syrio Forel was the former First Sword of Braavos to the Sealord. After completing his service, he arrived at King's Landing in Westeros where former Hand of the King Ned Stark invited him to train his daughter Arya in the Braavosi fencing technique. See House Stark Household.

    Ternesio Terys 

Ternesio Terys

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ternesio_terys_7.png

Played By: Gary Oliver

The captain of the Titan's Daughter, a trading galleon from Braavos.


  • The Everyman: Terys isn't doing anything grand or important aside from giving Arya a lift. He's just a trader.
  • The Good Captain: He's the captain of the Titan's Daughter, and a nice guy to boot.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Arya shows him the coin given to her by Jaqen, his face has this expression and he immediately agrees to give her safe passage.

    Lhara 

Lhara

Played By: Sarine Sofair

A prostitute living in Braavos.


The Iron Bank of Braavos

    General 

"Across the Narrow Sea, your books are filled with words like 'Usurper,' 'Madman,' and 'Blood-right.' Here our books are filled with numbers. We prefer the stories they tell. More plain. Less open for interpretation."
Tycho Nestoris

The Iron Bank is an almost-incalculably wealthy banking organization based in the Free City of Braavos. It is perhaps the single largest economic force in the known world. As a result of the War of the Five Kings and mysterious transactions by former Master of Coin, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (and, more generally, the post-Targaryen Kings of Westeros), the Iron Throne is tens of millions in debt to the Bank.


  • Adaptational Badass: The Iron Bank of Braavos make their presence felt in Book 4 and Book 5 and have a similar reputation and sense of mystery. But while they are regarded as a dangerous force, the kind of hushed tones and faux-religious awe that Tywin regards them in considerably raises their profileFrom the Books... .
  • Adaptational Villainy: Cersei states to Tycho Nestoris in "The Queen's Justice" that the Iron Bank invested in the slave trade. Not only is this not mentioned once in the books, but it is repeatedly stated that Braavos is an abolitionist city and forbids all transactions and dealing with slave cities (this also contradicts information from the "History and Lore" videos from DVDs which are official information narrated by the characters). However, it is known that the Iron Bank loaned to Volantis and cities in Slaver's Bay whose economies are reliant on slave labor so it is possible that they are only indirectly involved in slavery.
  • Artifact Title / Meaningful Name: The Iron Bank was formed when Braavos was still a "secret city" of slaves fleeing their Valyrian masters. The original bank comprised of an abandoned iron mine that was used to store gold from which it derived its title of "Iron Bank". Since the bank became a major financial institution, the original mine has become one of its reserve deposits and a historical site in Braavos.
  • The Dreaded: The Lannisters of all people are rather afraid of the Iron Bank... well, except for Cersei, who keeps slighting them. For that matter, Lady Olena Tyrell isn't all that joyful at the thought of them, either. And, although Davos sees them as a solution, he's run into trouble enough with them before to know how serious they are. Basically, if you can rub two brain cells and some common sense together, you fear what they can do.
  • Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction: The Iron Bank doesn't care who sits on the Iron Throne — or any throne. Their only concern is who owes themnote , how much and if they can pay them back or not.
    Cersei: There must be someone at the Iron Bank you can speak to. Come to some arrangement.
    Tywin: The Iron Bank is the Iron Bank. There is no someone.
    Cersei: Someone does work there. It is comprised of people.
    Tywin: And a temple is comprised of stones. One stone crumbles and another takes its place and the temple holds its form for a thousand years or more. And that's what the Iron Bank is, a temple. We all live in its shadow and almost none of us know it.
  • Informed Attribute: For all the hushed tones it's spoken about and its status as The Dreaded, The Iron Bank ultimately doesn't live up to its feared reputation of being able to decide the fate of entire kingdoms in the series. It twice makes attempts to influence the political situation in Westeros, and both end in disaster: their financing of Stannis Baratheon's quest for the throne ends with him being utterly defeated without even managing to capture Winterfell, and their backing of Cersei to allow her to hire the Golden Company accomplishes nothing except getting the entire company wiped out by dragonfire before they so much as raise a blade to their enemies.
  • Loan Shark: The Iron Bank is essentially a loan shark that owns several states, including the one it is nominally loyal to. You really don't want a kneecapping from them, as they are totally without sentiment and no one's beyond their reach, not even Tywin Lannister (a man who, it should be emphasized, has an entire continent in his grip):
    Lord Tywin: You can't run from them, you can't cheat them, you can't sway them with excuses. If you owe them money and you don't want to crumble yourself, you pay it back.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: Are willing to lend out money to anyone as long as they are sure that their client is likely to repay the debt owed... but if said client defaults, they'll turn to anyone else who will get their money back.
  • Mega-Corp / N.G.O. Superpower: To the point where they're large enough to threaten the whole of Westeros, and especially the Lannisters. Indeed, they essentially own Braavos. Davos tells Shireen about a run-in he had with the First Sword to the Sealord of Braavos, but doesn't mention the Sealord at all. Rather, Davos emphasizes that he worked for the Iron Bank, despite being the Sealord's chief bodyguard and one of his most important subordinates.
  • Playing Both Sides: The Iron Bank is fully willing to back enemy factions to a ruling party if the latter defaults, as noted by Tyrion to Bronn. Indeed, Ser Davos manages to successfully convince the Iron Bank that Stannis is far more likely to pay them than the Lannisters are, since Tywin is old and has no heir that they can rely on, while Stannis has a reputation for integrity and battle prowess despite having the weaker strategic position.
  • Retcon: In previous History and Lore videos (which are canon information) its stressed that Braavos is against slavery, so much so that they pressure allied Free Cities to abandon it and they rely on loopholes like indentured servitued to preserve it. In Season 7, its revealed that the Iron Bank indeed had a hand in the slave market and they were negatively affected by Daenerys' campaigning against it.
    • This is actually consistent with the History and Lore of Braavos. The Iron Bank has a history of being indirectly involved with slavery. For example, the bank paid the Valyrians for the escaped slaves who founded the city but officially only paid for "the ships" the slaves stole. Since the economy of Slaver's Bay is based on slave labor, any business the Iron Bank lent to would have used slave labor and Daenerys' freeing all the slaves is stated in universe to have negatively impacted the economy of Slaver's Bay. This probably prevented many people from being able to pay back the loans they got from the Iron Bank.
  • Simple, yet Opulent: The fashion choice of the bankers consists of high-quality material in subdued color to convey the idea of wealth through austerity.
  • Supervillain Lair: Have a mammoth large white building with impressive Renaissance-style architecture as their base.

    Tycho Nestoris 

Tycho Nestoris

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tycho_nestoris_6.png
"Across the Narrow Sea your books are filled with words like 'usurper' and 'madman' and 'blood right'. Here our books are filled with numbers. We prefer the stories they tell. Less... open to interpretation."

Played by: Mark Gatiss

Nestoris: And you feel your blood gives you a claim on our gold?
Stannis: More than any man living.

A representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos, with whom Stannis negotiates for a loan to fund his efforts against his enemies.


  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Lacks his book counterpart's more distinctive features, such as a multi-tiered Nice Hat and a waist-length skinny beard, and instead is played as more conventionally attractive by the quite handsome Mark Gatiss.
  • Adaptational Badass: He seemed to possess a lot more authority than in the book. In the book, he had to seek out Stannis and show him every respect when they were making a deal. Here, he threw Stealth Insult in Stannis's face without fear because he knew very well how much higher his bargaining position was compared to Stannis', though it also helped that the deal-making was moved in the show to an Iron Bank meeting hall.
  • Badass Beard: Despite being a fairly mild-mannered banker, considering the power he wields as an executive at the Iron Bank, he definitely qualifies as a badass, and he sports a impressively large red beard. By Season 7, he shaves it off.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: He speaks softly, but you'd better believe he carries a big stick.
  • The Comically Serious: He does a great effort to keep a straight face when dealing with people that don't amuse him, but his body language betrays him at times. His stoic, deadpan nature also adds to his no-nonsene driven hilarity.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Nestoris has no problem backing a corrupt tyrant like Cersei, specially when she plans on ravaging defeated enemies' treasures to pay off House Lannister's debt to his bosses.
  • Culture Clash: Tycho has barely disguised contempt for Westeros' obsession for titles and bloodlines and regards their wars as fairly petty. He also resents addressing Davos as "Ser" despite being a former smuggler who once tried to rob their bank:
    Nestoris: I am not a lord, "Ser" Davos Seaworth. You would not be either, here. In Braavos, thieves are not rewarded with titles.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The man can't resist dropping some polite but dry sarcasm every now and then. He gets in some digs at Stannis' expense.
  • Evil Makeover: When he's parlaying with Davos and later Mace, he is displaying some dry wit but still appears quite personable and polite. Come Season 7, he's dealing with Cersei and adopts a full-on Morally Bankrupt Banker persona, with his Face Framed in Shadow and talking in a low purring tone.
  • Insistent Terminology: Refers to Stannis as Lord Stannis, despite Davos' protestations of Stannis being the King of Westeros. Tycho, to his credit, refuses to be called "Lord" himself. He's a merchant banker that's part of a rising middle-class in a City State, thank you very much.
  • Hates Small Talk: Nestoris wastes no time in getting down to business and matters of real importance. Stannis Baratheon is much the same, and unsurprisingly Davos manages to win him over.
  • Hypocrite: For someone who denounces Davos as a thief and states the Iron Bank doesn't reward those that engage in such activity, Nestoris has no problem backing Cersei Lannister in Season 7, when she openly gloats about stealing rations and gold from vassal states to pay off its debt.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Nestoris condescendingly shuts down Stannis's plea, but he has perfectly astute reasons for being skeptical of Stannis' claim and capacity to repay a loan: In banking terms Stannis has serious liabilities, lacking men, supplies and the powerbase to sustain the war, while the Lannisters have both.
    • He also points out to Cersei that her position as Queen is far from stable, as most of her allies have either declared war on her (like House Tyrell) or like Euron Greyjoy, are completely untrustworthy.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Compare Cersei with her late father favourably, knowing full well she doesn't have his skill at ruling and she puts too much trust in Euron Greyjoy, but she's a vain person who always thought herself to be her father's true heir. It's likely Tycho does this in order to goad Cersei into taking out further loans as she is vindictive enough to rob other houses blind to pay it back.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: Played with. He's fairly clerical in temperament and tends to look down on Westerosi's feudal leaders as serious liabilities but he's also logical and honest about the Bank's legitimate reasons for not wanting to engage any further than they have to with Westerosi's Succession Crisis, namely about whether the person on the throne is legitimate or not. Lord Tyrell calls him a usurer to his face, but the word doesn't carry negative connotations as far as Mace knows.
  • No-Sell: He isn't impressed by Stannis' claims to the Iron Throne, at least not on the basis of birthright. He only cares about his ability and skill to win a war and reliability to repay a large debt (both the existing Iron Throne debt and whatever debts Stannis would rack up in taking the throne). To him, Stannis is just another supplicant coming for a loan, and one seemingly less reliable than King Tommen Baratheon and his capable wealthy Hand, Tywin Lannister.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite riding a hard bargain and having contempt for the former smuggler Davos, when Davos presents a solid argument in favor of Stannis, Tycho and his fellow bankers come around and offer him a loan.
  • The Teetotaler: When Mace Tyrell offers him some fine Arbor wine, Tycho politely reefuses, saying he doesn't drink wine.
  • Villain Respect: While he isn't necessarily malicious, its shown that the feeling for respect and reverence Tywin had for the Iron Bank is very much mutual, and when Nestoris arranges a new deal with Cersei, he does note she is his father's daughter though it could likely be flattery which works well on Cersei. He later says she exceeds him when she reveals her paying debt plan by stealing from peasants and defeated nobles their valuable contents to pay the Iron Bank.

The Faceless Men

    General 
An ancient order of Assassins located in a tiny Island in the city of Braavos. They are the most feared Assassins in the world.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Faceless Men have a code of ethics that has nothing to do with conventional ideas of good and evil, revenge or attacking "bad guys". They see themselves as Balancing Death's Books. As "Jaqen H'ghar" reminds Arya, the world isn't so fair that only evil people die and the decent live.
    • Jaqen gives Arya three wishes after she saved his life by releasing him in Season 2, remarking that she saved him (and Rorge and Biter) from "the Red God" (i.e. fire) so Arya can ask for three lives to die in repayment of the ones she saved.
    • Later, in Season 5, Jaqen punishes Arya by reminding him that she stole a life from the "Many-Faced God" by attacking Meryn Trant who was not her specified target. Arya goes blind as a result of hallucinations created by a poison in the Face she stole.
  • Conspicuously Public Assassination: Generally not what they are interested in. They prefer to Make It Look Like an Accident.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: As per their belief in Death of Personality, their doors are open for anyone deemed worthy and willing to make the necessary sacrifices. In fact, the two acolytes that we have seen are both teenaged girls.
  • Facial Horror: The faces in their halls were literally carved out of dead people.
  • Grim Reaper: The Faceless Men worship the Many-Faced God which is Death and grant the gift of death to people seeking euthanasia and their targets.
  • Hive Mind: The fifth season finale implies that they operate in this manner.
  • Human Resources: The bodies that Arya has been preparing in her time there are revealed to be the source of all the different faces that the Faceless Men can take on. They are housed in a massive underground warehouse of sorts, with the faces being embedded into grooves on large stone pillars.
  • Implacable Man: The Many-Faced God will have its due. The Faceless Men are relentless. When a name is promised, somebody does die.
  • Ironic Nickname: They are called the Faceless Men, while in fact their Operatives have hundreds of faces. (Not one of them their own)
  • Karma Houdini: For a band of assassins, they have a remarkable public profile, having a headquarters on an island whose location is known to all Braavosi and seems to escape any policing and scrutiny. Then again, it is probably exceedingly hard to root out a bunch of assassins that can literally look like anyone and make their marks unfailingly.
    • "The Door" explains why the Faceless Men have never been extricated from Braavos; simply put, they founded the city after being driven from the Valyrian Freehold.
  • Loss of Identity: They want all their members to become no-one. The hallucinations Arya experiences at the end of Season 5 suggest that The Waif and "Jaqen" are either the same person or interchangable and that when Arya finally becomes "no-one" her identity will be gone as well. The sixth season, however, shows that despite constantly claiming to be "no-one", each of them still has some degree of individuality left in them. The Waif's hatred towards Arya leads her to drag out her assassination attempt so that she can watch her squirm, rather than go for a quick kill as Jaqen ordered her to. Jaqen himself shows a bit of pride that Arya escaped the Many-Faced God and gave him the Waif's face instead, and when she asserts herself as Arya Stark and renounces the Faceless Men he lets her go.
  • Mercy Kill: As per their belief in the Many Faced God, anyone that manages to reach their temple and asks for it, will be given whatever comforts that is possible and a deep drink from their pool of painless poision, the only payment being that they get to keep their corpse and add their face to their collection.
  • Motive Decay: invoked Jaqen claims that the first Faceless Man was a slave in Valyria that delivered mercy killings to his fellow slaves to free them from their lives of suffering, and eventually began killing the slave masters to free the slaves. By the time of the show, they've devolved into a band of assassins who kill for money, stripped away of any justice or righteousness the original Faceless Men had.
  • Murder, Inc.: They are a band of Assassins. They are the best, and most expensive in the world. From the books 
  • Mystery Cult: Their initiations and ways of functioning are highly secret. Arya gets the Iron Coin from Jaqen and she arrives in Braavos solely on the basis of that, and even after arriving, Jaqen H'ghar doesn't explain what or how she should proceed.
  • No Need for Names: Every faceless man is "no one", they use aliases in the field and take on other faces when they need to but their real name is long gone.
  • Oddly Small Organization: The only members seen in the House of Black and White are Jaqen and the Waif. In the books, there are several more.
  • Our Founder: The Faceless Men founded Braavos and the faces they wore are still in the Hall of Faces. Fittingly, the first Faceless Man is no one.
  • The Social Expert: One aspect of becoming "no one" is to effortlessly slip into any role, be anyone and say anything convincingly.
    Arya Stark: I'm not playing this stupid game anymore.
    Jaqen H'ghar: We never stop playing.
  • Supervillain Lair: The House of Black and White, a huge building guarded by double doors (one is black and one is white) that is publicly known to all Braavosi.
  • That Man Is Dead: Anyone who wants to join has to abandon their identity.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Their hat and secrets. Of course in order to change a face, they have to collect faces from the dead. They have a nice underground room where all faces are stored.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Their members seem to have a high social standing in Braavos, despite their relations to assassinations and death. Arya managed to get free premium passage to the city with only her iron coin that turned out to be some admission voucher for the House. Justified, since they were the ones who founded Braavos in the first place.

    "Jaqen H'ghar" 

"Jaqen H'ghar"

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jaqen_hghar_6.png
"Help was not promised, lovely girl. Only death."

Played By: Tom Wlaschiha, Patrick O'Kane & Cedric Henderson

"You stole three deaths from the Red God. We have to give them back. Speak three names, and the man will do the rest."

One of the feared Faceless Men who are headquartered in Braavos, he took the alias Jaqen H'ghar and ended up imprisoned in the Red Keep. He was being transported to the Wall to serve in the Night's Watch when the convoy was attacked, after which he was released. During his travels, he made the acquaintance of fellow fugitive Arya Stark, who he later invited to Braavos. In Season 5, Arya arrives in Braavos and finds him in a new role as her Mentor in the House of Black and White. His character is actually a combination of several Faceless Men bearing his face.


  • Affably Evil: He's rather friendly and personable in his interactions with Arya even when he's seemingly just a prisoner of Yoren's, even apologizing for Rorge's cravenness and threatsnote  and grinning as Arya pokes at Rorge, but he's potentially one of the most dangerous characters in the series. His entire relationship with Arya sums this up: he pays her back for saving three lives including his own by killing any three people she names.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Probably the reason why the instructors at the House wear his face when training Arya.
  • The Bus Came Back: Potentially. The Season 5 finale suggests that the Jaqen who appears in Season 5 is not the one from Season 2, but instead another Faceless Man using the same identity.
  • Cast as a Mask: Technically, this is the case of all Faceless Men, but there is a specific case for this man. In Season 5, this is one possibility, as shown in the finale, "Mother's Mercy". There, at least two Faceless Men, one of whom might be the Waif herself, take on the face of "Jaqen", bringing into doubt the idea that the man teaching Arya is the same person at all.
  • Cold Ham: He speaks very theatrical despite not being over the top.
  • Composite Character: Maybe; in the books, Arya's instructor from the Faceless Men is known only as the Kindly Man, and is popularly believed to be Jaqen. In the show the man who greets Arya explicitly takes Jaqen's face, but given the Faceless Men can take on many faces including faces others use, it may just be a different Faceless Man using Jaqen's face. From the books 
  • Crazy-Prepared: Carries wolfsbane-poisoned darts on hand just in case he needs to kill someone immediately without time to prepare as he would prefer... which he also managed to hide from Yoren, Rorge, and Biter.
  • The Dreaded: A gang of Braavosi street thugs head for the hills at the sight of him, though it's not indicated if they recognized his then-current face or his robes.
    • On the way to the Wall, soft-spoken and calm Jaqen is locked up with a pair of raving, sadistic murderers. They are both terrified of him.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: When Arya meets him the second time after her capture he's wearing the armor of a Lannister soldier, which leads her to accuse him of having joined them. He doesn't deny her accusation, but by the time of her "third name"note  he claims that "A man has patrol duty."
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: His teaching methods include waking up his students in the middle of the night for spontaneous training sessions and giving them a caning if they perform poorly.
  • Graceful Loser: He's impressed when Arya kills the Waif and reinstates his offer to let her join the Faceless Men. When Arya refuses, he's still smiling: according to Executive Producer D.B. Weiss, the small trace of individuality that still exists within Jaqen is glad to see Arya leave the Faceless Men alive.
  • Hypocrite: For all his talk of serving the Many Faced God and balancing out life with death, he still resorts to hiring out the Faceless Men as contract hitmen to petty people like a jealous actress.
  • I Never Told You My Name: He refers to Arya as "Arya Stark" as he departs, though it's subtle since she doesn't mention that she never told him.
    • Although she did tell him before that Tywin was going to attack her brother, so it's not hard to figure out how he knew.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest:
    • The Braavosi coin that he gives to Arya before they part ways.
      Jaqen: If the day comes when you must find me again, just give that coin to any man from Braavos and say these words to him: "Valar Morghulis".note 
    • Even before she makes use of it according to Jaqen's instruction, she used it as the distraction with which to make her first killnote .
  • Last Episode, New Character: He, or at least the one Arya met donning his face, first appears in the Season 1 finale.
  • Leitmotif: He has a special, eerie tune that plays whenever he comes on screen. Appropriately enough, it is titled Valar Morghulis.
  • Living Lie Detector: Faceless Men in general have to be this, but it becomes clear when playing the "game of faces" with Arya that this guy is exceptionally good. He even could tell Arya was lying when she believed her own lies.
  • Loophole Abuse: Jaqen claims that he only offered three deaths, no more and no less, and that helping Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie escape Harrenhal would need more than onenote , so the third kill that Arya names is Jaqen himself. He is both understandably perturbed and at the same time seemingly impressed at her audacity.
    • This trope is also more than likely the reason he didn't go through with it. After all, the real Jaqen is dead, and more than likely has been since before the series began.
  • Mentor: Offers to take Arya to Braavos and teach her his trade, but Arya declines because she has to find her family. She finally decides to take him up on it after leaving the Hound for dead, having nowhere else to turn.
  • Metaphorically True: When inviting Arya to join the Faceless Men, he implies they would teach her how to be a killer, and she could begin crossing names off her kill list. This is not what they teach her, and they disapprove of Arya killing people for personal reasons. However, the Faceless Men teach that "all men must die", so what Jaqen promised is an Exact Words kind of true — they are teaching Arya how to kill to the point she could begin working on her list, and those targets will die sooner or later, it just probably won't be Arya that's doing the killing at the time.
  • Morphic Resonance: His voice.
  • Mysterious Backer: Jaqen's offer to kill three people for Arya is ultimately what helps her escape from Harrenhal. Whether he does it out of simple gratitude, or because he has ulterior motives, remains unclear...
  • No Name Given: "Jaqen H'ghar" was a pseudonym. When Arya finds him at the House of Black and White, he doesn't answer to that name at first, because "a man is not Jaqen H'ghar."
  • Not So Above It All: Despite Jaqen's claims to be No One, there is still a small park of individuality buried within him. Said spark is visibly proud when Arya kills the Waif and quits the Faceless Men.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Arya names Jaqen himself as her third kill because he refused to help her, Gendry, and Hot Pie escape Harrenhal (on the grounds that he would have to kill more people than he promised her), he very subtly panics. Since his order performs their assassinations as much as a religious practice as they do it professionally, this would leave him marked. Presumably the price one would need to pay to have a Faceless Man killed would be astronomically high, but since he made an oath to carry out the killings for Arya, he either had to go through it or some other Faceless Man might make the attempt if they caught wind of it. Might be a case of Honor Before Reason as he could just kill Arya to keep it secret, but it seems that they fear their god especially when it comes to oath breaking.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In every "repayment of the debt to the Red God", only the outcome or the final stage at most is shown. Special mention for when he not only killed every Lannister guard at the Harrenhal gates but then propped the corpses up to make it look like they're still alive, all unseen.
  • Professional Killer: With a particular preference for carefully-planned and timed kills that either look like accidents or like they're not dead.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Starting Season 5.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: If he's been hired to kill you, you're almost certainly going to die.
  • Secret Keeper: He knew all along that Arya was a girl, but "it is not for a man to spoil them".
  • Skunk Stripe: White and Red. From the books... 
  • Stern Teacher: Not shy of caning Arya for lying to him about the test, though he is fair to her when he sees some improvement. He tells her that if she isn't ready to become "no one", she can at least be "some one."
  • Super Strength: Appears to have some degree of this, as one of his more common methods is to twist necks and one case impaled a guard onto a stone wall with a sword.
  • That Man Is Dead: During his final meeting with Arya in Season 2, Jaqen deflects the request that he stay with a remark of "Jaqen is dead." For good measure, he alters his face almost immediately afterwards.
    • Although, if the Faceless Man that trains Arya in Braavos is the real Jaqen H'Ghar, he may not be as dead as we're led to believe; when Arya reasserts herself as an individual and leaves the House of Black and White in "No One", Jaqen gives her a smile as he watches her leave. Whatever individuality Jaqen may have left is probably proud of Arya for finally asserting herself rather than becoming "No One" like he is.
  • Third-Person Person: Jaqen rarely says the word "I", usually referring to himself as "a man" while in conversation. Taken even a step further when he even uses third person for whomever he's speaking to, e.g. addressing Arya as "a girl" rather than "you."From the Books...  He's inconsistent with it in his first Harrenhal conversation with Arya, but then after some time of sticking to that he subverts it VERY briefly in a moment of O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    Jaqen: [subtly panicking] Unname me.
  • Three Wishes: In a way; Arya having denied the Red God by saving the lives of Jaqen, Rorge, and Biter, Jaqen offers that for repayment she need only "speak three names, and a man will do the rest."
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In Season 5, if he is in fact the same guy who rescued Arya in Harrenhal, he's far less of the dashing cool assassin, slipping firmly in the role of a stern mentor, being much more cold and less mischievous. Of course, the last episode of Season 5 really casts doubt on the prospect of Arya's mentor being the same Faceless Man.
  • Voluntary Shape Shifting: One of his abilities.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Apparently, the Free City of Lorath lies in Germany. Lampshaded in "Blackwater", wherein Cersei pegs Shae (played by a German actress) as Lorathi based upon her accent.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Pun intended. He doesn't refrain from the good old cane. Or at least the Faceless Men who use his face in the House of Black and White don't, in any case.

    "The Waif" 

"The Waif"

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/waif_3.png

Played By: Faye Marsay

An acolyte of the Faceless Men serving in the House of Black and White in Braavos.


  • Adaptation Personality Change: In the books, she isn't quite the horrible bitch she is in the show, with her relationship with Arya being more akin to Vitriolic Best Buds as opposed to murderous loathing.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the books, she is an ally of Arya's. In the show, she's Arya's sworn enemy.
  • Alpha Bitch: The Game of Thrones equivalent of an irritable girl looking down on a newcomer.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: She's many lessons ahead of Arya in her training and makes sure to remind her of that on every occasion. This comes back to bite her hard.
  • Asshole Victim: She's an insufferable bully, a Hypocrite and sadistic killer. When Arya kills her in their final showdown and cuts her face off (judging from the heavy bloodflow around the incisions, probably while she was still alive), you don't feel sorry for her at all.
  • The Bully: She beats Arya far more severely than Arya's training calls for and jumps at the chance to kill Arya for sparing Lady Crane.
  • Consummate Liar: She tells Arya a long complicated backstory in such a way that Arya is convinced (even smiling at what she sees as a similar background), until she asks:
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • She wipes the floor with Arya. Repeatedly.
    • Arya then does the same to her after luring her into a dark room where she has the advantage. We don't actually see the the fight, but the next scene shows the Waif's face adorning one of the mask alcoves.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: During a training session, after disarming Arya she uses nothing but boxing to pummel her into the ground.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: She trained Arya to fight while blind. Arya kills her by fighting her in a room so dark that neither of them can see.
  • Hypocrite: She thinks Arya has no business joining them because she is still Arya Stark, not no one. Yet her sadistic glee in beating the snot out of Arya in training and her personal request to "Jaqen" to be the one to kill her speak to personal grudges and motivations that don't seem in-line with the Faceless Men's philosophy.
  • Implacable Woman: Chases Arya relentlessly (with the glee and focus you only see on a predator stalking its quarry), almost like a Terminator. After an extended chase sequence, she isn't breathing hard, while Arya is.
  • Jerkass: Treats Arya like dirt.
  • Kick the Dog: Quite a few:
    • Mercilessly beats and torments Arya even after the poor girl has been blinded.
    • Her brutal murder of Lady Crane for providing shelter to Arya after the Waif wounded her.
  • Killed Offscreen: Her final fight is not shown.
  • No Name Given: She's just 'The Waif'.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Introduced as blind and needing a cane. Turns out the only thing she needed that cane for was beating Arya. After that scene there is no indication that she was actually blind.
  • Older Than They Look: Very likely. Despite looking and acting like Arya's insufferable school bully, Faye Marsay is in fact almost 11 years older than Maisie Williams. Since we don't know how long the Waif has been in the House and at what age her training started, she could very well be in her late twenties already. Her book counterpart, despite looking like a child, claims to be 36.
  • The Rival: She frequently butt heads with Arya.
  • Sadist Teacher: She trains Arya more harshly than what's necessary.
  • Waif-Fu: Pun intended. She's ridiculously strong (though skilled) for a girl her stature.

The Golden Company

    General 
  • Adaptational Wimp: Book Golden Company is a legendary sellsword company that can take on a city defended by the Unsullied and wins. Show Golden Company gets obliterated in one fell swoop by Danaerys without contributing anything to the siege of King's Landing. Their leader also gets a very undignified death.
  • Adapted Out: Their literary counterpart has a complex backstory that isn't so much as hinted out in the show. House Blackfyre, a cadet branch of house Targaryen founded by a legitimized bastard, tried to rebel and were crushed, with the survivors fleeing to Essos where they founded the company. The Golden Company would later fight in subsequent attempts of house Blackfyre to seize the throne, only to loose each time and for more Westerosi exiles and their descendants to join their ranks.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Despite some build-up to be a serious threat to Daenerys, they're all beaten rather quickly.
  • Bling of War: The Golden Company fight clad in golden plate armour.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: They're mentioned in season 4, by Daenerys who brings up Jorah's past employment, and Davos, who proposes hiring them to fight for Stannis.
  • Private Military Contractors: A sellsword company in Essos and one of the largest and best with 20,000 men. They have a reputation of never breaking a contract.
  • War Elephants: Subverted; while the Golden Company has war elephants, it's too difficult to transport them across the Narrow Sea to Westeros.

    Harry Strickland 

Harry Strickland

Played by: Marc Rissmann

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/harry_strickland.png

The captain of the Golden Company.


  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Harry Strickland from the books has a stout build and thinning gray hair with a bald spot. Marc Rissmann is much more leanly built, his blonde hair shows no balding, and he projects a much more martial appearance.
  • Bling of War: Clad in the same golden plate armor as his subordinates.
  • Dirty Coward: Despite having the appearance of an Adaptational Badass, he proves as much a wimp in battle as his book counterpart. His only contribution to the battle of King's Landing is making a desperate attempt to flee before getting stabbed in the back.
  • In the Back: Courtesy of Grey Worm.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Follows Cersei merely because she pays him, and is never shown being particularly cruel or malicious.

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