If you’ve been paying attention to “Game of Thrones,” you’ll know that the city of Braavos is going to play a continued and vital role in the series. As fans move forward into Season 5, they’ve got precious few clues as to what’s happening in this mysterious city – but there are still some clues.
The Braavosi have played an understated role in the events of the show so far, but that hasn’t stopped them from looming incredibly large over the politics, affecting the outcome of battles and influencing some key characters. Now, as an ambassador for the audience, fan-favorite character Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) was last seen sailing for the continent of Essos to visit the city. To help make sure fans are all caught up on this mysterious group of people ahead of the Season 5 premiere, below is a breakdown of the Braavosi influence in the show thus far.
[SPOILER ALERT FOR SEASON 1-4]
Viewers were first introduced to the Braavosi when Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) hired Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou) to train his daughter Arya, who always seemed more interested in sword play than dolls and dresses. Many may remember him for teaching the young girl how to fight and that there’s only one god of death, to whom we say: “Not today.”
Unfortunately, when the King’s Guard came to collect Arya, Syrio, revealed himself as the former first sword of Braavos. He refused to run from a fight. He held the men off long enough for her to make an escape. Syrio was never heard from again and is presumed dead. However, he began the audience’s obsession with the people of Braavos.
If Syrio peaked fan’s interest, Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) absolutely captivated them. When Arya was on the road hiding with the Night's Watch, King Joffrey's (Jack Gleeson) men attacked her group. Realizing they’d need every strong arm they could use, Arya let Jaqen H'ghar and two other dangerous-looking men free. They were all ultimately captured by the Lannisters and, while held captive at Herrenhal, Jaqen told Arya that he owed her three murders in exchange for saving his life and the lives of his companions.
She used those three murders to escape the Lannisters and hit the road with Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie). While on the road, Jaqen found them and revealed himself to be a member of the Braavosi clan known as “The Faceless Men.” He demonstrated this by literally changing what his face looked like right in front of her. Recognizing Arya as the awesome character fans all know her to be, he invited her to come with him back to Braavos and learn to be one of the Faceless Men.
She reluctantly declined because, at that time, her family was still alive and she thought she had to find them. In case she changed her mind, he gave her a coin and told her to simply give it to any one of his people and say the now famous words: “Valar Morghulis” (All men must die). And with that, just like Syrio before him, Jaqen was in the wind.
With the third season came the reveal that the Braavosi are not only skilled in battle, but they’re some of the richest people in the known world. When Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) became King Joffrey’s master of coin, it’s revealed that the crown, and subsequently the Lannisters, are in gross dept to the Iron Bank of Braavos. According to the show’s Wiki page, The Iron Bank is the most powerful financial institution in the realm. The Lannister’s usually relied on the gold mine under their home of Casterly Rock to pay their debts. However, when that ran out, they started borrowing heavily from the Iron Bank.
So, with the Iron Bank established in the show’s canon, Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) had the brilliant idea to replenish the army of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), which was broken at the Battle of Blackwater at the end of Season 2.
At first, the representatives of the Iron Bank refused his request. However, Seaworth reminded them that, other than Tywin (Charles Dance), none of the Lannisters are likely to have the know-how to repay the bank. With Tywin closer to the grave than the womb, they agreed to give Stannis the money he needed to hire an army of sell swords, which he promptly marched beyond the Wall. As we move into Season 5, The Iron Bank is no longer backing the Lannisters and have made an enemy out of the broken Lion family.
Not much is known about where Season 5 will go with the enigmatic people of Braavos, but the recent Three-Eyed Raven promotional campaign revealed a location known only to book readers. Arya is on her way to The House of Black and White. According to earlier reports, it is the headquarters of The Faceless Men. Not only will fans be treated to their first look at Braavos, but they’ll get to see Arya train and, hopefully, become as deadly as Jaqen.
Only time will tell what’s in store for the youngest Stark girl and the people of Braavos when “Game of Thrones” returns to HBO on April 12.