Arya Stark

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Arya Stark
A Song of Ice and Fire character
First appearance A Game of Thrones
Created by George R. R. Martin
Portrayed by Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones)
Aliases Arya Horseface
Arya Underfoot
Cat of the Canals
Blind Beth
Gender Female
Occupation Princess of Winterfell
Family Lord Eddard Stark (father, deceased)
Catelyn Stark (mother, deceased)
Robb Stark (brother, deceased)
Sansa Stark (sister)
Bran Stark (brother)
Rickon Stark (brother)
Jon Snow (paternal half-brother)
Nationality Westerosi (of House Stark)

Arya Stark is a fictional character created by American author George R. R. Martin. She is a prominent point of view character in Martin's award-winning A Song of Ice and Fire series, and also a main character in HBO's adaptation of the series, Game of Thrones, where she is portrayed by Maisie Williams.[1][2] She is the only character in the entire series to have POV chapters in all the published novels.



Arya is the fourth child and younger daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark. She has five siblings: brothers Robb, Bran, Rickon, half-brother Jon Snow, and older sister Sansa.

In her nine years, she has quickly shown herself to be an independent and wild-spirited girl. Unlike her sister, she rejects the notion that she must become a lady and marry for influence and power, showing no interest in the womanly arts of dancing, singing, and sewing; instead she revels in fighting and exploring, to the bemusement of her tutor Septa Mordane and parents. She is known affectionately as "Arya Underfoot" by the staff and servants of Winterfell.

Appearance and personality[edit]

Arya is a spirited girl interested in fighting and exploration, unlike her older sister, Sansa. Arya wants to learn how to fight with a sword and ride in tourneys, which annoys Sansa, who enjoys the more traditional pursuits of a noblewoman. Arya is particularly close to her half brother Jon Snow, who encourages her martial pursuits. Jon Snow gives Arya her first sword, Needle, as a gift. Throughout her travels, Arya displays great resourcefulness, cunning, and an unflinching ability to accept hard necessity. As the series progresses, she becomes increasingly ruthless, committing multiple acts of murder with little hesitation or remorse.

She is said to take after her fiery aunt Lyanna in temperament.[3] Arya's appearance is more Stark than Tully, with a long face, grey eyes, and brown hair. She is skinny and athletic. At the start of the story, she is generally regarded as plain, as exemplified by her nickname "Arya Horseface", and often mistaken for a boy. However, there are instances of her being called pretty, compared to the beautiful Lyanna,[3] and catching the eye of men later in the books. In Braavos, the Kindly Man says she has a pretty face.[4] She is left-handed, quick, and dexterous. She learned basic swordplay in the Braavosi Water Dancer tradition and later learns how to handle knives. She is a warg, entering her direwolf Nymeria in her dreams.[5] She received a noble's education at Winterfell and is said to be good with mathematics and an excellent horse rider. She has proved to know at least a bit of High Valyrian.[4] She also speaks Braavosi with a strong accent and has put some effort into learning the language, under orders from the Kindly Man. She has a quick and curious mind and a pragmatic outlook.


A Game of Thrones[edit]

Arya's sword "Needle" as shown in the TV series Game of Thrones.

Arya travels with her father, Eddard, to King's Landing when he is made Hand of the King. Before she leaves, her half-brother Jon Snow gives her a sword called Needle, after her least favourite ladylike activity, as a parting gift. He tells her she will need to practice to get good, but that the first lesson is to "stick 'em with the pointy end". On the way south, she befriends a peasant boy named Mycah; they often play at swords.

While taking a walk together, Prince Joffrey and her sister Sansa happen upon Arya and Mycah "battling" in the woods. Arya defends Mycah from Joffrey's torments and her direwolf Nymeria helps Arya fight off Joffrey, wounding his arm in the process. Knowing that Nymeria will likely be killed in retribution, Arya and Jory Cassel chase her wolf away.[6] Arya is brought before King Robert, who counsels Eddard to handle punishment himself, but Queen Cersei is not satisfied with this and orders Sansa's direwolf, Lady, to be killed in Nymeria's place. The peasant boy, Mycah, having fled, is tracked and killed by Joffrey's "dog, Sandor Clegane, known as "the Hound".[7] From this moment, Arya harbors a lasting enmity for Clegane.

While in King's Landing, her father discovers Needle, but she refuses to give up Jon's name as the gift giver. Eddard realizes that she must be trained if she is entertaining ideas about swordsmanship. Arya begins training under Syrio Forel, a celebrated Braavosi swordsman. Under his strict, but creative, tutelage, Arya learns to fight in the Braavosi style.[3] She spends most of her time doing balancing and swordplay exercises as Forel instructed her. During one of these she discovers a secret passage in the castle. She overhears two men, who by description seem to be Varys and Illyrio, speaking about her father, Cersei and Varys' children-spies.[8]

During the purge of the Starks from the Red Keep, Syrio realises the Lannister guardsman were not sent by her father as they said. He holds off Arya's attackers with a practice sword so she can escape.[9] Arya got out of the castle using the passage she found earlier, but she could not get out of the city since the gates are heavily guarded. She lives on the streets of Flea Bottom, catching pigeons and rats to trade for food, until the day she witnesses her father's public condemnation. She is found in the crowd by Yoren of the Night's Watch, who recognizes her and then saves her from the sight of Eddard's execution and drags her from King's Landing.[10]

A Clash of Kings[edit]

Arya escapes King's Landing with Yoren and his party of Night's Watch recruits, with Yoren planning to return her to Winterfell on his way back from the Wall. Yoren cuts her hair and makes Arya assume the identity of Arry, a boy recruit traveling with Yoren to the Wall.[11] They made it as far as a deserted town near the God's Eye lake, where they are attacked by raiders led by Ser Amory Lorch. Arya is one of the few to escape alive, along with Gendry, Hot Pie, Lommy Greenhands, and Weasel. Before escaping, she saves the lives of the chained Night's Watch prisoners Jaqen H'ghar, Rorge and Biter.[12]

Arya heads out with the survivors until they are captured by Ser Gregor and his men in the next town, where they are held for eight days, while the Tickler questions the villagers.[13] Then they are taken to Harrenhal and made servants. On the journey, every night before she sleeps, she begins whispering the names of all those she wishes to kill. At Harrenhal she is assigned to the steward Weese to work at the Wailing Tower.[14] Several days later, she reunites with Jaqen and the two other prisoners she saved, who are now in the employ of Ser Amory Lorch.

Jaqen comes to her at night and offers her three murders for the three lives she saved. After several days, Arya names Chiswyck after she overhears him boast at how he participated in a gang rape. He dies three days later.[15] Next she names Weese, for striking her. Weese's death is untraceable, apparently linked to his small dog that he raised from a pup.[16] Whilst trying to figure out the last name to say, she realises she should have said a more important name, such as Tywin Lannister or Amory Lorch. A bit regretful, she thinks hard about how to make the last name count. Finally, she names Jaqen himself. To make her unsay his name, Jaqen helps her free the Northmen in the dungeon and stage an uprising. Afterwards, to Arya's amazement, Jaqen changes his face and manner in front of her, saying it was time for that person to die. He gives Arya an iron coin so she can find him again and leaves. The next morning, Lord Roose Bolton arrives to take charge of the castle. Arya, now calling herself Nymeria, or Nan for short, is made one of Roose's cup-bearers for her role in the freeing of the prisoners. She inadvertently meets the squire she would have to marry under Robb's agreement with the Freys, though they remain unknown to each other.[17]

She realizes she has been treated quite well under Roose and wishes to leave with him in an effort to get back to Winterfell and her family. She speaks out of turn to ask him what will happen to her. He treats her unkindly, so she keeps to herself until he goes. Arya then decides to flee Harrenhal, and eventually convinces Gendry and Hot Pie to come with her that night. They meet at the Tower of Ghosts, Gendry says the postern gate is guarded, and Arya says she will get rid of the guard. She approaches him openly and tells him that Lord Roose has her giving a silver piece to all the guards for their service. She takes out the coin Jaqen gave her and drops it. When the guard reach for it, she slits his throat and the three ride out through a sally port and away from Harrenhal.[18]

A Storm of Swords[edit]

The costumes worn by Arya and her companion in A Storm of Swords, Sandor Clegane, in the TV series Game of Thrones.

While Arya and her companions are making their way north, Arya wargs into Nymeria during a dream and sees Nymeria kill the members of the Brave Companions that were sent after them.[5] Not long afterwards, she and her companions are discovered by a group of the Brotherhood Without Banners and taken to Inn of the Kneeling Man, where she meets one of her father's former guards, Harwin, who recognizes her as Arya Stark.[19] Arya travels with the group to their hideout. At the Brotherhood's camp Arya encounters the recently captured Sandor Clegane standing for trial. She accuses him of murdering Mycah, earning him a trial by combat. He survives and so is set free.[20]

Disappointed with the Brotherhood and feeling alone in the world after Hot Pie and Gendry go their separate ways, Arya attempts to flee and ends up being captured by Sandor Clegane, who was trailing the group.[21] Sandor takes her to the Twins, where he plans to return her to her brother Robb and win a place in his service.[22] They reach the Twins just as the slaughter of the Red Wedding begins. The Hound prevents Arya from running into the castle (and certain death) by knocking her out with the flat of his axe.[23] Sandor decides that the only place left to take her is to the Vale of Arryn, which is ruled by Arya's aunt, Lysa. On the way east, Arya finds a saddled horse. She takes him as her mount and names him Craven. However, it is soon discovered they cannot reach the Eyrie, and they are forced to head back towards Riverrun to ransom her to Ser Brynden Tully instead.[24]

On their way they stop at an inn where they meet the Tickler and Polliver, two of the men on Arya's death list, as well as a young squire. The Hound gets drunk and a fight ensues. Arya manages to stab the squire in the belly while The Hound kills Polliver, though he is badly wounded in the fight. As the Tickler closes in on Sandor, Arya is able to sneak behind him and stab him. She continues to stab him while savagely echoing the questions he asked of his victims on their journey to Harrenhal. After, Sandor directs her to finish off the squire, who is dying of his wound. Arya reclaims Needle from Polliver's corpse and stabs the squire in the heart.

Arya and Sandor head towards the town of Saltpans, but Sandor is too weak to continue and falls from his horse. Arya draws Needle, intending to kill him, but decides to leave him to die instead of administering the mercy of a quick death. She sells Craven at Saltpans and gains passage on the Titan's Daughter, a ship headed to Braavos, by using the coin that Jaqen H'ghar had given her, along with the Valyrian phrase "Valar Morghulis."[25]

A Feast for Crows[edit]

During the voyage to Braavos on the Titan's Daughter, Arya uses the name Salty as her alias. Many of the sailors, including Captain Ternesio Terys, ask her to learn and remember their names. Many seem afraid of her. The captain has his older son Yorko row Arya to shore so as to get her off the ship prior to customs coming aboard.

In Braavos, Arya Stark finds her way to the House of Black and White, where a kindly old man initiates her into the guild of the Faceless Men. She is required to discard her old personality, including her belongings, to begin the training. She follows these orders, but keeps Needle as a way to hold on to her previous life at Winterfell, fondly remembering her family, for whom she still yearns.

Arya's training requires her to go out into the city under the identity of Cat of the Canals, a street urchin, learn secrets, and report what she has learned to the Kindly Man. She also begins learning the Braavosi language and the art of lying from the Waif. During this time, she kills a deserter from the Night's Watch named Dareon and briefly meets Samwell Tarly, though they do not introduce themselves to each other. Months after these incidents, she accepts milk meant for "Arya". When she wakes the next morning, she is blind.

A Dance with Dragons[edit]

Arya remains blind and in the service of the House of Black and White in Braavos. The blindness is induced by the milk she drinks every night. She continues to dream through the eyes of her direwolf, Nymeria, but speaks of it to no one. She still struggles with leaving her identity as Arya Stark behind. While she is blind, Arya wears the guise of Beth, a beggar girl. She wanders the streets of Braavos, begging for money and listening for bits and pieces of information. She becomes better at lying and detecting the lies of others.[citation needed])

Arya receives her sight again after she is able to identify the Kindly Man and hit him with a stick when he sneaks up on her. It is implied, however, that she does not simply sense his presence (as he assumes) but sees him through the eyes of a cat hiding in the rafters.

After regaining her sight, Arya is given her first assassination assignment. She is asked to give "the gift" to an old man who sells a type of insurance for ships. The Kindly Man takes her to the secret lower chambers of the House of Black and White, where thousands of faces are hung on the walls. She is given the face of an ugly, broken girl who had been beaten by her father and came to the House of Black and White to seek the gift. Arya watches her target carefully for days. She notices that the old man has guards with him wherever he goes, and always tests the coin he is given with his teeth. While watching him, she attempts to find ways to justify his fate, but the Kindly Man tells her it is not for her to judge the old man.

In the end, she feigns stealing a bag of coins from a captain on his way to meet with the old man. She splits the bag in the attempt, and switches one of the captain's coins with one of her own, coated in poison. After the switch, she escapes. Later, the old man's heart mysteriously gives out.

The Kindly Man then gives Arya an acolyte's robe and assigns her to begin her first apprenticeship with Izembaro.


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