- "The First Sword of Braavos does not run."
- ―Syrio Forel
After arriving in King's Landing, Lord Eddard Stark discovers that his daughter Arya owns a sword (Needle, a gift from her half-brother Jon Snow) but has not been properly trained to use it. He hires Syrio Forel to train Arya in its use. Forel accepts the commission and begins to train Arya in how to use the sword in the Braavosi style. Arya's lessons are kept a secret; her sister Sansa believes that Arya is getting 'dancing lessons'.
Eddard finds Arya balancing on the top of some stairs. She tells him that Syrio set her the task to improve her balance. Arya chases cats to improve her dexterity and speed on Syrio's suggestion.
Syrio and Arya have another lesson, but Arya is distracted. Syrio tells her that she is more vulnerable when she is 'with her trouble' rather than concentrating on the here and now. He teaches her how to forget her troubles so she can concentrate on fighting. After Eddard's arrest for treason, Lannister guards led by Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard arrive to take Arya into custody. Syrio informs them that he will protect her. When they try to barge past him, he disarms one guard with a training sword. He fights off a massed attack by the guardsmen and then engages Ser Meryn, telling Arya to run. When she asks him to come with her, he tells her, "The First Sword of Braavos does not run." Arya flees as Syrio's battle cry and the sounds of fighting erupt behind her.
|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|
In the books
In the Song of Ice and Fire novels Syrio Forel was once the First Sword of Braavos, the most skilled bravo or swordfighter of the city, in the service of the Sealord himself. He specialized in a style of combat known as 'water dancing', favoring a light sword and expert balance over the Westerosi style of hacking at one another with massive swords in heavy armor. It is unclear why he departed Braavos to relocate to King's Landing.
Syrio tells Arya how he became the first sword of Braavos. He was chosen over stronger, faster and younger men because he was perceptive - he saw while others were blind. He was invited to an audience with the ruler of Braavos, who had a cat on his lap. The ruler asked Syrio what he saw. Syrio replied "I see a tomcat." The ruler pressed him with questions on the ears and the belly but Syrio maintained his answer. Others answered with flattery and unfounded claims about the virtues of the animal. Syrio was chosen over all of them. The lesson to look carefully and see what is truly there is taken to heart by Arya.
His appearance differs from his TV series' counterpart, described in the book as a slight, bald man with a beaked nose. In the DVD commentary, author George R.R. Martin himself said that he didn't care about such minor differences, being more concerned with the satisfying performance of the actor.
Syrio's death in the TV series much as it did in the books: Syrio continues to fight the Kingsguard even after is wooden sword is broken, and as Arya runs away she hears his battle cry. In both cases he doesn't die "on screen". Some book fans have inferred from this that there is a possibility that he didn't die but was simply taken prisoner, possibly for fear of angering the government of the Free City of Braavos for killing their First Sword. Viewers and readers are free to make what inferences they want about what might be revealed in the future, but as of the fifth novel, A Dance with Dragons, Syrio has not been revealed as alive.