- "Valar Morghulis."
- ―Jaqen H'ghar to Arya Stark
Jaqen H'ghar is a mysterious man - introducing himself as a Lorathi criminal - who was arrested and put in the dungeons of King's Landing, before being recruited by Yoren to join the Night's Watch. He is in Yoren's party as the latter smuggles Arya Stark out of King's Landing. He travels with them to the lands south of Harrenhal, where they are captured by Lannister forces.
In reality, "Jaqen H'ghar" is just an assumed identity of one of the Faceless Men of Braavos, a feared order of mysterious assassins with the ability to change their appearance at will. After the Jaqen persona is of no more use to him, the Faceless Man shapeshifts into a new appearance. It is unknown whether this new appearance is his true one or just another assumed identity.
Jaqen is surprisingly calm in the face of danger, yet courteous. He uses an odd speech pattern in which he refers to both himself and others using the third person indefinite, e.g. saying "a man thanks a girl" when he is directly addressing Arya and expressing his own thanks.
Jaqen is a criminal from the Free Cities, arrested by the City Watch and thrown into the dungeons of the Red Keep in King's Landing. When looking for fresh recruits for the Night's Watch, Yoren was given permission by Lord Eddard Stark, Hand of the King to go through the dungeons and take any criminals who would swear to take the black. He chose H'ghar as a potential candidate, as well as two other murderers Biter and Rorge from the black cells, where the worst criminals are kept.
Jaqen H'ghar is in the party led by Yoren that leaves King's Landing for the Wall, along with Hot Pie, Lommy Greenhands, Gendry, and Arya Stark who is being smuggled out to be returned to Winterfell. Because Yoren is traveling so far with so few men, the worst three are kept in a locked barred cell on the back of a wagon.
Jaqen calls over "Arry" (who is actually Arya Stark). He asks her to fill a tankard with water and tells her that he has not drunk for a day and a night, always referring to himself as “a man” and her as “a boy”. Rorge, one of the other prisoners, rattles the cage and threatens Arya. Jaqen tells her that he has not chosen his companions and asks Arya's forgiveness. He confirms her identity as Arry and introduces himself, saying that he comes from Lorath. Rorge demands beer and insults Arya. She says that he should have asked nicely, drops all but one of her sticks and uses it to hit his hand. He recoils and then tries to grab her through the cage. Biter moves up behind Rorge and hisses as Rorge threatens Arya again. Jaqen smiles and tells Arya that she has more courage than sense as she backs away.
The group is resting in a barn when they are roused to arms by Yoren and told they are being attacked. As they rush outside one man trips and drops his torch, setting a fire near the prisoner wagon. They are met by Ser Amory Lorch and a force of men loyal to House Lannister. Lorch points out the Gold Cloaks with him and says that they have come for Gendry, a royal bastard. Lorch orders Yoren and the recruits to drop their weapons. Yoren remains defiant and Lorch orders him shot.
Seeing their leader killed, Gendry and many of the other recruits join the fight. Arya is distracted by Jaqen calling for help as the flames lick the bars of his cage. She hands him an axe before rushing to join the fray. Gendry is overwhelmed and knocked down. As Arya runs round a corner she is knocked over and taken prisoner along with the other survivors. Jaqen does not fight against the Lannister men, though he's surprised that Arya helped him.
The prisoners are taken to Harrenhal, one being picked each day by Ser Gregor Clegane to be tortured and killed under the supervision of a man called the Tickler. Lord Tywin Lannister arrives and ends the pointless brutality, choosing Arya as his cupbearer. After being told to fetch water by Tywin Lannister, Arya meets Jaqen again, however, he is dressed in a Lannister uniform. She accuses him of being "one of them now", but he counters her, questioning for whom she is fetching water.
Jaqen says he always knew she was a girl, but she was entitled to her secret. He then informs her of the debt he, Rorge, and Biter owe her. Because she saved three lives, she has taken three lives from the Red God. He says that they must be given back and that she is to name three people who will be killed to repay the debt. Arya names the torturer known as The Tickler. The Tickler is found dead in the courtyard, under the windows of a raised walkway. Arya goes to the body and looks up to see Jaqen staring down. He touches his cheek with one finger, indicating that the first death has been repaid.
Jaqen is approached by a panicked Arya, who desperately requests her second death; Ser Amory Lorch. He had become suspicious of her intent while ferreting Lannister documents. Jaqen bristles at her insistence on urgency. Arya explains the situation and he reluctantly obliges, assassinating Ser Amory with a dart dipped in wolfsbane to the neck seconds before he reaches Tywin Lannister.
The assassination triggers the suspicion of Tywin and he orders the interrogation and execution of dozens of his own men in trying to solve it, but does not uncover Jaqen. Tywin leaves Harrenhal while Jaqen is on patrol; Arya is frustrated as she had decided to make him her last name. Instead she asks Jaqen to aid her in escaping but he refuses as it is outside of their arrangement. She asks if she can name anyone and Jaqen swears an oath that who ever she names he will kill. To his horror, she then says his own name and tells him to go kill himself. When he says, "a girl lacks honor.", she shrugs. She agrees to revoke his name only if he will help her. He reluctantly tells her to assemble her friends at the courtyard gate at midnight. Once there they realize that Jaqen has killed all of the guards on the gate and pinned them in place with spears to avoid arousing suspicion. They are able to walk through the gate unnoticed.Having left Harrenhal, Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie see Jaqen on top of a cliff. Arya approaches him and he offers to take her with him to Braavos to join the Faceless Men. Though she wants to, Arya declines saying she must find her brother, mother and sister. Jaqen gives her a coin and tells her that if she decides to go to Braavos she must show the coin to a Braavosi and say the words "Valar Morghulis". He tells her to say the words and then announces that Jaqen H'ghar is dead. He turns his face away from Arya and when he turns back his face has changed. "Jaqen" then says "Farewell, Arya Stark" and walks away, seeming to have known her true identity all along.
Behind the scenes
Jaqen is not identified in the Season 1 finale, as the actor had not been cast at this point. Instead, a cloaked and hooded figure is seen in the wagon, obscuring his face, so the character could be cast later.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Jaqen is described as having longish red and white hair, i.e. one half is white, and the other red. The TV series gives Jaqen red hair that has white streaks interspersed throughout it.
"Jaqen H'ghar" is just a persona adopted by one of the Faceless Men of Braavos, but the Faceless Men have no personal names. While as "Jaqen H'ghar" he claimed to be from Lorath, this was just part of his fake identity, and there is no indication that he has ever even set foot in Lorath.
When Arya first sees Jaqen, he somewhat reminds her of Syrio Forel. This led to fan speculation that Jaqen and Syrio are the same person, but so far it has not been verified.
In the books, Arya asks Jaqen to kill different men than in the series. One is Chiswyck, a man-at-arms in service of Gregor Clegane. The second is Weese, the understeward of Harrenhal, who served as the basis for Weasel. Arya asks Jaqen to help her free the northern prisoners, but he refuses, till she names him as the third to be killed. Reluctantly Jaqen agrees to her request, and together with Rorge and Biter they kill several guards and free the prisoners. Soon afterwards Jaqen disappears. He does not help Arya to escape from Harrenhal.
|Season One appearances|
|Winter is Coming||The Kingsroad||Lord Snow||Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things||The Wolf and the Lion|
|A Golden Crown||You Win or You Die||The Pointy End||Baelor||Fire and Blood *|
*- played by an uncredited extra, face not shown.
|Season Two appearances|
|The North Remembers||The Night Lands||What is Dead May Never Die||Garden of Bones||The Ghost of Harrenhal|
|The Old Gods and the New||A Man Without Honor||The Prince of Winterfell||Blackwater||Valar Morghulis|
- "You stole three deaths from the Red God. We have to give them back."
- ―Jaqen H'ghar to Arya Stark
- "Help was not promised, lovely girl. Only death."
- ―Jaqen H'ghar
- "A man has a thirst. A boy can make a friend."
- ―To Arya Stark
- Jaqen H'ghar at A Wiki of Ice and Fire (major spoilers from the books)