The Waif

After leaving Westeros for Essos, Arya arrives at the temple of the Faceless Men. She meets a Kindly Man and the Waif.

The Definitive Glossary for Game of Thrones

The Waif is a priest of the Many-Faced God in the House of Black and White in Braavos. Her real name is unknown, and The Waif is an alias given to her by Arya Stark of Winterfell. Though having the appearance of a small girl, she was older than Catelyn Stark, Arya’s mother. Upon King Robert Baratheon’s passing, Arya flees from King’s Landing. She meets Jaqen H’ghar, and he tells her to name three people to kill. He gives her a coin to travel to the House of Black and White. Arya later gets captured by Sandor Clegane and abandons him without giving him the gift of death. She then travels to Braavos, where she meets The Waif.

The Waif Personal Details

  • Name: Unknown.
  • Alias: The Waif.
  • Year of Birth: 263 or 264 AC.
  • Culture: Braavosi.
  • Allegiance: The Faceless Men.
  • Title: Priestess.
  • Religion: The Many-Faced God.

Appearance and Personality

The Waif is a pale little girl with large black eyes, hollow cheeks, and a gaunt bony face. Though she looks like a small girl, she is thirty-six years old. Having been in Braavos all her life, she is accustomed to only the Braavosi tongue and cannot speak in the Common Tongue. She is also a priest of the Many-Face God and wears a cowled robe with two colors black on the right and white on the left.

The Waif Biography

According to The Waif, she was once the daughter of a widowed lord and the only child of an ancient noble house. After her mother died while she was still very young, her father remarried. Though her stepmother liked her, everything changed when she gave birth to her daughter. Overwhelmed by jealousy, her stepmother, out of personal hatred, sought the help of the Faceless Men to kill her stepdaughter as she was her father’s heir. 

However, the sacrifice was too much for her, and she tried to poison her stepdaughter. Though she failed, the poison left The Waif with a permanent appearance of a child. After taking his daughter to the House of the Red Hands, the healer revealed what her stepmother had done.

Her father then went to the House of Black and White and offered two-thirds of his wealth and his daughter if the gift of death came to his wife. His prayers got answered, and his daughter became a servant of the Many-Faced God. She became a priest of the Faceless Men and dealt with poisons. She also led the acolytes in the dawn prayer.

Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire

A Feast for Crows

When Arya arrives at the House of Black and White, she meets two priests. The Waif’s face reminds her of Weasel, a little girl Yoren’s party found on their march from King’s Landing. After throwing her possessions away, the Kindly Man, one of the priests, tells Arya and The Waif to teach each other their respective languages. The Waif tells Arya she is thirty-six, and though she does not believe it, the Kindly Man confirms her story.

Arya gets sent to live under the alias Cat. She becomes a fish seller but returns each new moon to serve at the House of Black and White. While at the temple, Arya helps The Waif prepare potions and learns from her. When Arya hears her story, she gets skeptical. She later confesses to killing Dareon, a member of the Night’s Watch, for deserting. The Kindly Man gives Arya some warm milk leading to her blindness the next day.

A Dance with Dragons

Arya remains blind and learns how to live with her new condition. She also teaches her how to detect lies from a person’s facial expressions and how to identify different kinds of coins. Arya becomes Beth, and after passing her test, The Waif gives her a potion that restores her sight.

After a meeting with the priests, Arya gets her first assignment. She gets taken to the holy sanctum, where only Faceless Men priests enter. She gets the appearance of an ugly girl and gets tasked to kill a target. Upon completing her mission, Arya becomes an Acolyte of the Faceless Men.

Appearance in Adaptation

In HBO’s Game of Thrones, Faye Marsay portrayed The Waif. She appeared in seasons 5 and 6 and starred in 11 episodes. When Arya enters the temple of the Many-Faced God, she meets The Waif, who does not hide her dislike for her. Arya gets beaten when she states she is no one. After Arya steals a face from the Hall of Faces, the Waif and Jaqen confront her and make her blind for taking the wrong life. 

When Arya fails to take the life of Lady Crane, the Waif asks Jaqen to let her kill her. She slashes an unsuspecting Arya across the abdomen before repeatedly stabbing her in the stomach. Arya escapes and gets treated by Lady Crane. However, The Waif disguises and kills the unsuspecting woman. She then chases after Arya, who enters an alleyway. Upon retrieving Needle, Arya blows off the candle and kills her. She then gouges out her eyes and places her face in the Hall of Faces.

The Waif: The Mysterious Priest

The Waif is one of the most mysterious characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. She is a capable assassin with a child’s look. Her expertise in poisons makes her one of the deadliest people in the known world. However, The Waif’s story is one shrouded in tragedy and agony. Her life would have been better if not for her stepmother.


Did the Waif hate Arya?

In the tv series, the Waif disliked Arya. She bullied her and even tried to kill her. However, she and Arya are close and barely hate each other in the books.

Who is the Waif?

The Waif is a priest of the House of Black and White. She is an expert in poisons, and when Arya arrives at the temple, she teaches her how to lie. She also teaches Arya the Braavosi tongue.

Does the Waif know Jaqen H’ghar?

In A Song of Ice and Fire, it is unknown if Jaqen and the Waif know each other because Arya never met him again after he changed his appearance. However, it is possible that he was one of the priests that came to the temple for a meeting.

What happened to Waif?

She was the daughter of a noble in Braavos, but after her stepmother poisoned her, she could not grow into adulthood. After asking the Faceless Men to kill his wife, the Waif’s father took her to the House of Black and White as payment.

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