Braavos is one of the Free Cities located on the continent of Essos. It lies east of Westeros, across the Narrow Sea. It is the northern-most, the richest, and arguably the most powerful of the Free Cities. The city spans hundreds of tiny islands connected by small stone bridges. As well as the city itself, the rulers of Braavos also control the surrounding lagoon and a strip of the coastline southwards towards Pentos.
A giant statue of the Titan of Braavos guards the harbor entrance to the city. The people of Braavos are known as Braavosi. Braavosi are revered seafarers and swordsmen.
Unlike Westerosi nobility, wealthy and powerful Braavosi favor wearing dark colors.
Braavos was founded as a secret city by escaped slaves and refugees from the Valyrian Freehold. After the Doom of Valyria, it rose to prominence, becoming a major trade and banking center. Its most powerful institution is the Iron Bank of Braavos.
Lord Eddard Stark hires Syrio Forel, of Braavos, as a sword tutor for his daughter, Arya. Syrio tells Arya that he was the First Sword of the city for nine years. Syrio later says that the First Sword of Braavos never runs from a fight, no matter how hopeless.
Jaqen H'ghar offers three deaths to Arya Stark as payment for her having saved his life and the lives of two other men. After Arya uses her third wish to escape from Harrenhal, she meets Jaqen on the road who tells and shows her that he is one of the Faceless Men of Braavos and invites her to follow him back there. When Arya grudgingly declines, Jaqen gives her a coin and tells her to show it to a Braavosi and recite the words 'Valar Morghulis' should she ever decide to visit Braavos.
Tyrion Lannister learns after becoming Master of Coin that the Iron Throne is deeply in debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos.
King Stannis Baratheon and Ser Davos Seaworth visit Braavos to treat with the Iron Bank. The Bank initially refuses to financially back Stannis, but changes their mind after Davos points out that, apart from the aged Tywin Lannister, none of the members of House Lannister are reliable trading or banking partners likely to make good on their debts, whereas Stannis is not only in his prime and a proven battle commander, but also a man who fulfills his promises. The Iron Bank then agrees to help fund Stannis' war effort. Davos then recruits Salladhor Saan, who is in Braavos at the time.
Arya Stark approaches a ship's captain, wanting to book passage to the North. He turns her down, saying that he is actually bound for his home city of Braavos. Remembering the iron coin and instructions given to her by Jaqen H'ghar, Arya hands Terys the coin and whispers the words valar morghulis. Startled, he responds valar dohaeris and promises that she will have a cabin.
Arya marvels at the Titan of Braavos as Captain Terys's ship sails beneath it. She later observes the massive city, wealthy yet somehow austere, as Terys rows her across the lagoon to the House of Black and White. After being refused entry, Arya spends a few days as a street urchin in one of Braavos's many markets.She is accosted by some thugs and prepares to defend herself with her sword Needle, but they are scared off by the man who had met her at the House of Black and White. Arya follows him back to the house and demands he reveal his identity, after which he unveils himself as the man whom she knew as Jaqen H'ghar. She calls him this, but he replies that he is really no one, and that she must be the same, inviting her inside.
Arya is put to work sweeping up the floors of main sanctuary in the House of Black and White, watching Jaqen assist a man to drink from the temple's well. She protests that she wants to learn, but he brushes this aside. Later, Arya is accosted in her by the Waif, another novice of the temple, who asks her repeatedly who she is, hitting her whenever she answers with "Arya Stark". Jaqen eventually enters and stops this when the girl says she was playing the "game of faces", saying Arya is not ready. He notes that Arya still wears her clothes, carries her sword, her stolen silver and thus cannot be "no one". Arya accepts this, weighing down her clothes with rocks then sinking them in the lagoon along with her stolen silver. However, she cannot bring herself to do the same with Needle, hiding it in the rocks nearby instead. Jaqen allows her into an inner chamber to clean the bodies of supplicants that came into the temple. The Waif does not respond when she asks what happens to them after this.
In a Small Council meeting Mace reveals that the Iron Bank has called in one tenth of the Crown's debts. When asked by Cersei, Mace admits that the Crown cannot pay back more than half of the demanded sum. When Mace offers that House Tyrell could lend the needed money to the Iron Throne, Cersei politely refuses, stating that the Tyrells have already given too much. She then tasks Mace with personally travelling to Braavos to negotiate better terms with the Iron Bank. She also tells Mace that the king, concerned for his father-in-law's safety, has assigned Ser Meryn Trant to escort Mace to Braavos. Mace and Meryn leave immediately, prompting Pycelle to state that the Small Council grows smaller and smaller.
Arya, continuing to clean corpses in her training with the Faceless Men, is curious at where they are taken after the cleaning. She is about to follow the men that take the corpses away through the door, but is stopped by the Waif. When Arya asks what happens with them, the Waif answers that she will learn this when she's ready. Frustrated, she demands to play the game of faces, only to be told she tried that but failed. The Waif asks who she is, and Arya answers "no one". At this, the Waif orders Arya back to work. She is about to walk off when Arya asks who she is. The Waif answers that like Arya she is from Westeros, daughter to a lord. Her father was widowed, and remarried, producing another daughter with his new wife. To secure the inheritance for her daughter, her step-mother tried to poison her. Finding this out, the Waif asked the Faceless Men for help to avenge her. She then asks Arya whether she believes this story, to her surprise. When Arya does not answer, the Waif again orders her back to work, implying that to win the game of faces and become a Faceless Man Arya must also lie convincingly.
Later, when she is asleep, Jaqen comes to her bedside. He asks her who she is again, and this time she slips lies into her story. Jaqen detects this however and hits her with a switch every time she tells a lie. When she says she hated the Hound, he hits her multiple times as Arya repeats this. Jaqen retorts that she is lying to herself along with him, and leaves.
A man brings his little daughter to the House of Black and White, distraught as she is dying from sickness, telling Arya he has been to every healer in Braavos without success and spent all the money he had. He says his daughter suffers, and must have peace. Arya sits with her, saying she was once sick too, but that her father brought her here and when she drank from the temple's well, it healed her. The girl drinks from it, and dies a swift, peaceful death. Arya, having proven her ability to lie, is brought into the Hall of Faces by Jaqen, a huge chamber that holds thousands of faces set in the alcoves of its vast columns. They were taken from the corpses that the acolytes wash. He asks Arya if she is ready up her identity and become "no one". Jaqen is silent for a moment, then states she is not, but is ready to become "someone else".
Arya disguises herself as Lanna, a girl who sells clams, proving to Jaqen that she can become someone else, and comes up with a convincing story of her false life. He sends her to the harbor where she observes someone he calls "the thin man", who refuses the contract to insure another man's beat, leaving him desperate. Jaqen tells her that the thin man is a gambler, except he does not honor his debts. He gambles that ship's captains will not die at sea, but when they do, he is supposed to pay their families for the loss, but he often refuses to. Jaqen says that Arya will kill him, and hands a "gift" for the thin man to her-a vial of poison-while the Waif is skeptical that she will succeed.
Arya, as "Lanna", is once again selling her wares in the streets of Braavos, and passes the "thin man" whom she has been tasked to kill with poisoned oysters. After passing him, however, she stops and stars fixedly at someone-Mace Tyrell, arriving in Braavos with with Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard, who she is sworn to kill for killing Syrio Forel. Lord Tyrell is greeted by Tycho Nestoris, who welcomes him in the name of the Iron Bank. Arriving at the Iron Bank, Mace admires the facade of the enormous building, stating that the men of the Iron Bank are the world's best gamblers, much to Tycho Nestoris' disapproval. After an unspecified time of negotiation, Tycho tries to bid farewell to Mace (whom he clearly dislikes due to his bumbling behavior), but Mace does not realize this and continues plaguing Tycho on the way to the docks, loudly singing, as Arya follows, watching them fixedly, ignoring the thin man who asks for oysters.
Abandoning her mission, Arya follows Trant into a brothel he visits after leaving Tyrell in the evening. The bouncer at first attempts to stop Arya as she comes in with the guise of selling her oysters, but relents after Lhara, one of the prostitutes and regular customer of "Lanna"'s, tells him to let her be, saying oysters are an aphrodisiac. Arya sells some and then moves to the back chambers Trant is, spying from behind some shutters on him. He glances at her briefly, almost seems to recognize Arya, but then ignores it as she looks different now in the Braavosi disguise. The madam presents several girls to Trant, but turns them all down, always asking for younger ones. She brings him her youngest and most expensive, named Anara, but Trent still turns her down for the same reason. At this the madam realizes his interest lies with girls barely in their teens, and she brings him one. Trant accepts her gruffly, saying he expects another "fresh" one for the next day. After he leaves, the madam runs into Arya, shooing her out the door.
Returning to the temple, Arya claims the thin man simply wasn't hungry to Jaqen, who quips "perhaps that is a why a man is thin". Arya promises to succeed the next day. She leaves, and though Jaqen appears to know she was lying, makes no move to confront her.
On the next day, Trant is reviewing three young girls in the brothel. Two cry when he begins whipping them with a switch, but one does not react. Trans sends the two that cried away, then punches the last in the stomach. With her face hidden by her hair, the last girl reveals herself as Arya, who pulls off a face mask. She leaps on Trant with a knife, stabbing him the chest and putting out both his eyes. Gagging him to silence his screams, she then reveals her identity, reminding Trant of how he killed Syrio Forel, calling him "no one" and then cutting his throat.
Back in the Hall of Faces, Arya returns the face she used to its alcove, but is caught when the Waif and Jaqen appear. Jaqen says she stole from the Many-Faced-God, and that a debt is now owed. The Waif grabs Arya, holding her as Jaqen pulls forth a vial which she clearly fears is poison and will be forced down her throat. However, he drinks the poison himself and falls, while Arya begs him to stay alive. Saying he was her friend, she hears Jaqen's voice behind her and sees the Waif now has Jaqen's face. Asking who the person on the floor is, Jaqen tells Arya he was "no one" in the Waif's voice. She removes faces from the person on the floor in succession, finally coming to her own. Arya then loses her sight, her eyes turning white as she screams for someone to help.
Now blind, Arya is reduced to begging on the streets of Braavos. The Waif comes up to her carrying two sticks, giving her one. Arya protests that she can't fight when she's blind, to which the Waif retorts that it's not her problem. When the Waif begins to beat Arya, she feebly tries to defend herself, but soon fails. The Waif relents and says she'll be back on the next day.
Still a beggar on the streets, Arya is again approached by the Waif, who asks her name. Arya says she is "no one", at which the Waif hits her. The Waif retorts that she doesn't believe that and neither does Arya. She tries to fight back, but the Waif vanishes, replaced with Jaqen H'ghar. He promises that if she says her name, Arya will sleep under a roof that night, that she will eat, and he will restore her eyes. Each time however Arya says she has no name. Satisfied, he tells Arya to follow him, and that she is a beggar no more.
Still blind, Arya resumes training in the House of Black and White. She spars with the Waif and tells her of her life in Westeros. Arya also learns to mix potions by smell and touch. When Jaqen decides she has held her own, he gives her a cup from the well and tells her that if she is truly no one, she has nothing to fear. Arya drinks and her sight is restored.
Arya is tasked with killing an actress named Lady Crane, who is performing in Sheelba Square.. Jaqen warns that this is her second chance and there will not be a third. Arya attends the play, The Bloody Hand, and goes backstage to observe her target. She reports back to Jaqen and asks if a fellow mummer named Bianca was the person who ordered the assassination. Jaqen reminds her that servants don't ask questions. Arya returns and watches the play again. As the performance nears the end, she slips backstage and poisons the rum Lady Crane drinks. Later, Arya speaks with Lady Crane and seems to leave afterward, but as Lady Crane is about to drink, Arya reappears, knocking the cup from the actress's hand and warning her that Bianca wants her dead. Then, Arya retrieves Needle and hides out in a windowless room. Presumably, she's given up on her quest to become a Faceless Man.
Unbeknownst to Arya, The Waif had been following her and witnesses her aborted attempt to kill Lady Crane. The Waif reports this to Jaqen and, disappointed, he tasks the Waif with executing Arya, but prompts her to be mercifully quick.
Afterwards, Arya secures passage back to Westeros by bribing a Westerosi trader. However, she is attacked and repeatedly stabbed in the stomach by the Waif, and only barely escapes by jumping into the canal. She surfaces, climbs out of the water, and is left stumbling through the streets of Braavos, critically wounded and extremely paranoid.
Braavos, Free City. A city of seafarers and master swordmen, Braavos consists of hundreds of tiny islands connected by stone bridges. Notable Braavosi landmarks include the Titan of Braavos, a giant statue that guards the harbor entrance to the city. The Iron Bank, the richest financial institution in the known world, and the House of Black and White, a centuries-old temple to the Many-Faced God.