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. She is the only character to have POV chapters in every published book of the series.
Introduced in 1996’s A Game of Thrones, Arya is the younger daughter of Lord Eddard Stark and his wife Lady Catelyn Stark. She is headstrong, fiercely independent, disdains traditional female pursuits, and is often mistaken for a boy. She wields a sword named Needle, a gift from her half-brother, Jon Snow, and is trained in the Braavosi style of swordfighting.
Arya is portrayed by Maisie Williams on the HBO series Game of Thrones. Her performance has garnered positive acclaim, particularly in the second season for her work opposite veteran actor Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) when she served as his cupbearer. She is widely regarded among the most popular characters in either version of the story.
Arya is the third child and younger daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark. She has five siblings: older brother Robb, younger brothers Bran and Rickon, older sister Sansa, and the eldest of the group, illegitimate half-brother Jon Snow.
In direct contrast to Sansa, Arya shows no interest in dancing, singing, and sewing, and revels in fighting and exploring, much to the chagrin of her mother and tutor Septa Mordane. She is particularly close to her bastard half-brother Jon Snow, who encourages her to learn to fight and gives her Needle (her sword). Throughout her travels, Arya displays great resourcefulness and cunning, and becomes increasingly ruthless.
She is said to take after her fiery aunt Lyanna in temperament. At the start of the series, she is generally regarded as plain-looking, and often mistaken for a boy; but there are multiple instances in the books of her (favorable) comparison to the beautiful Lyanna, and catching the eye of men. She is capable of possessing her direwolf Nymeria in dreams.
A Game of Thrones
While taking a walk together, Prince Joffrey and her sister Sansa happen upon Arya and her friend, the low-born Mycah, sparring 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 chases her wolf away; but Sansa’s direwolf is killed in Nymeria’s stead and Mycah is killed by Sandor Clegane.
In King’s Landing, her father arranges for fencing lessons under the Braavosi swordsmaster Syrio Forel, who teaches her the style of fighting known as ‘water dancing’. After her father’s arrest, Syrio fights off the Lannister guards and Arya narrowly escapes capture. She later witnesses the execution of her father before falling under the protection of the Night’s Watch recruiter Yoren.
A Clash of Kings
Arya escapes King’s Landing with Yoren and his party of recruits; and on the road, she clashes with the other Night’s Watch child recruits Lommy, Gendry, and Hot Pie but eventually befriends them. On the way, the party is attacked by Amory Lorch when Yoren refuses to yield Gendry to the Lannisters. Arya and the other children escape; but the rest of the party is massacred. Before escaping, she saves the prisoner Jaqen H’ghar.
Arya and her friends are later captured by Gregor Clegane and taken to Harrenhal. After witnessing the death of her relatives there, Arya begins nightly reciting the names of the people upon whom she wishes to exact revenge. At Harrenhal she is reunited with Jaqen, now under the employ of the Lannisters, who offers to kill any three people she names; whereupon she names two people who hurt her at Harrenhal; the third person is Jaqen himself. In exchange for his life, Jaqen helps her stage an uprising. Afterwards, Jaqen gives Arya an iron coin to ensure her safe-conduct to his colleagues, the Faceless Men, and tells her to remember the phrase “Valar Morghulis” (“all men must die” in High Valyrian). The next morning, Roose Bolton acquires the castle, and Arya is made one of Roose’s cup-bearers. Fearful of Bolton, Arya kills the sentinel at the gate, and escapes.
A Storm of Swords
While Arya and her companions are making their way north, she begins dreaming of her lost direwolf, Nymeria. Later, she and her companions are discovered by the mercenary group, The Brotherhood Without Banners, and is recognized as Arya Stark. At the Brotherhood’s secret base, Arya encounters Sandor Clegane, where she accuses him of Mycah’s murder; but the Hound survives a trial by combat and is released.
Arya eventually escapes alone before being captured by the Hound, who plans to return her to her family for a reward. They reach the Twins just as her brother and mother are killed therein, and Sandor strikes her senseless to prevent her own death. Later, Sandor decides to ransom her to her uncle at Riverrun. On their way they meet two men on Arya’s death list; and in the ensuing fight, Arya reclaims Needle, but Sandor is severely injured, whereupon Arya leaves him to die. She gains passage on a boat to Braavos with the iron coin that Jaqen gave her along with the Valyrian phrase “Valar Morghulis.”
A Feast for Crows
Arriving in Braavos, Arya makes her way to the headquarters of the Faceless Men, the House of Black and White, where she is initiated into the guild at the expense of her possessions, but secretly retains Needle. She continues having wolf-dreams, which prevents Arya from discarding her identity, and her master repeatedly chastises her for this. During her training, she murders a Night’s Watch deserter and briefly meets Samwell Tarly. After admitting her unauthorized murder to her mentor, she is given milk to drink; the next morning, she wakes up blind.
A Dance with Dragons
Arya remains blind and in the service of the House of Black and White in Braavos. She continues to dream through the eyes of her direwolf, Nymeria, but speaks of it to no one. While she is blind, Arya wanders the streets of Braavos, and becomes better at lying and detecting the lies of others.
Arya receives her sight after she is able to identify the Kindly Man while blind. After regaining her sight, Arya is given her first assassination assignment. When she succeeds, the Kindly Man gives Arya an acolyte’s robe and assigns her to begin her first apprenticeship.
Arya’s storyline begins to diverge from the books in the fourth season, as Sandor Clegane is not fatally wounded in his fight with Polliver and the Lannister soldiers, and the duo manage to reach the Eyrie, only to be turned away when they are informed that Arya’s aunt Lysa Arryn has apparently committed suicide. Returning from the Bloody Gate, they encounter Brienne of Tarth, who had sworn to Catelyn Stark to take Arya to safety. Distrusting Brienne’s allegiances, the Hound attempts to kill her but is severely beaten and mortally wounded. Arya manages to hide from Brienne in the confusion, and after Brienne leaves Arya takes the Hound’s silver, leaving him to die. She then encounters a Braavosi captain, who offers her passage to Braavos.
Arya is accepted into the House of Black and White by a man who wears Jaqen H’ghar’s face. After impressing Jaqen with her ability to lie undetected by convincing a terminally ill girl to drink poison, she is given the assignment of assassinating a corrupt insurance salesman. However, she is distracted from her mission by the arrival in Braavos of Ser Meryn Trant, who had tried to apprehend her during the purge of the Stark household in King’s Landing and seemingly killed Syrio Forel. Assuming the identity of the girl she had poisoned, Arya disguises herself as a prostitute and infiltrates a brothel, where she kills Ser Meryn. However, when she returns to the House of Black and White she is caught by Jaqen, who chides that Arya has not dissociated from her identity and that as a result wearing another person’s face will poison her. Arya is subsequently struck blind.
Family tree of House Stark
- See: Extended family tree of House Stark
|Family tree of Rickard Stark|