Artwork by Rene Aigner©
Cat of the Canals
The Blind Girl
The Ugly Little Girl
|Title||Princess of Winterfell|
|Born||In 289 AC, at Winterfell|
A Game of Thrones (POV)|
A Clash of Kings (POV)
A Storm of Swords (POV)
A Feast for Crows (POV)
A Dance with Dragons (POV)
The Winds of Winter (POV)
|Played by||Maisie Williams|
|TV series||Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4|
Arya Stark is the third child and second daughter of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn Stark. She is nine at the start of A Game of Thrones. She has five siblings: brothers Robb, Bran, Rickon, half-brother Jon Snow, and older sister Sansa.
Arya is the only character to have at least one POV chapter in each of the five books.
Appearance and Character
- See also: Images of Arya Stark
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, to the horror of 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. She is said to take after her fiery aunt Lyanna in temperament.
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, and catching the eye of men later in the books. In Braavos the Kindly Man says she has a pretty face.
She is left-handed, quick, and dexterous. She learned basic swordplay in the Braavosi Water Dancer tradition and later learned how to handle knives. She is a warg, entering her direwolf Nymeria in her dreams, as well as cats in Braavos. 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. 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.
Arya is the youngest daughter and third child of Lady Catelyn and Lord Eddard Stark, head of House Stark and Warden of the North. She was born soon after Eddard Stark's return from the Greyjoy Rebellion and raised at Winterfell. Arya has an older sister Sansa. She has an older brother Robb and two younger brothers Bran and Rickon. She also has a bastard half-brother Jon Snow.
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. Known affectionately as "Arya Underfoot" by the staff and servants of Winterfell.
A Game of Thrones
Arya travels with her father, Eddard, to King's Landing when he is made Hand. 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. 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," the Hound. 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. Her father 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 with Needle. 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.
During the purge of Stark 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. 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 recognises her and then saves her from the sight of Eddard's execution and drags her from King's Landing.
A Clash of Kings
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 the Wall. Yoren shaves her head and makes Arya assume the identity of Arry, a boy recruit traveling with Yoren to the Wall. They make 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. Hot Pie calls her Lumpyface and Lommy calls her Lumpyhead.
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. Then they are taken to Harrenhal and made servants. On the journey, she creates a Hit List of all those she hates and wants to kill. At Harrenhal she is assigned to the steward Weese to work at the Wailing Tower. 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. Next she names Weese, for striking her. Weese's death is untraceable, apparently linked to his small dog that he raised from a pup. Whilst trying to figure out the last name to say, she realises she should have said a more important name, such as Tywin 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.
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. After Harrenhal is left to Vargo Hoat, Arya escapes with Gendry and Hot Pie, killing a gate guard.
A Storm of Swords
While Arya and her companions are making their way north, Arya enters Nymeria during a dream and sees Nymeria kill the members of the Brave Companions that were sent after them. 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. 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.
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. Sandor takes her to the Twins, where he plans to return her to her brother Robb and win a place in his service. They reach the Twins just as the slaughter of the Red Wedding begins. The Hound has to prevent Arya from running into the castle (and certain death) by knocking her out with the flat of his axe.
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.
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."
A Feast for Crows
During the voyage to Braavos on the Titan's Daughter Arya uses the name Salty. Many of the sailors and even 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 does this, except for Needle, which she hides in a safe location. 
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. After these incidents, she accepts milk meant for "Arya". When she wakes the next morning, she is blind.
A Dance with Dragons
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.
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 Winds of Winter
When Ser Harys Swyft arrives in Braavos on a mission to negotiate with the Iron Bank of Braavos, the mummers of the Gate perform The Bloody Hand, a play presumably about Tyrion Lannister's tenure as Hand of the King to Joffrey. Arya plays a maid, presumably Sansa Stark, who is raped by Tyrion, played by a dwarf named Bobono.
However, as the play is about to begin, Arya notices two of Swyft's guards talking. One of them is Raff the Sweetling. She seduces him and takes him to her room. She tires him out by running there, and thus she is able to stab him in his thigh, cutting his femoral artery and rendering him unable to walk. Rafford pleads to have him carried to a healer, but Arya replies: "Think so?" and stabs him in the throat, just as he did to the disabled Lommy Greenhands. Arya throws his corpse in a canal and heads back to the Gate before she is due to come on stage.
Arya and Death
During her journey, Arya is subjected to many hard situations in the war-torn Riverlands. Her fiery personality prompts her to take the initiative and fight back, and so she is led to kill and ultimately wishes to murder specific characters herself. This course of action is supposed to end as of A Feast for Crows with her being an assassin trainee in Braavos, as the leader stresses becoming indifferent to death and killing. She continues, however, to repeat to herself the names of the people she wishes dead. Some names are added as she goes, and others are dropped when the character dies or becomes closer to her. She calls it a prayer, and ends it with the words Valar Morghulis. The names are:
- King Joffrey. Posioned by Olenna Tyrell.
- Ser Amory. Eaten by Vargo Hoat's bear.
- The Tickler. Arya killed him herself at the Crossroads Inn.
- Polliver. Killed by The Hound at the Crossroads Inn.
- Ser Gregor. Died in extreme pain due to the thickened manticore venom that coated Prince Oberyn's spear. (Arya currently is unaware of this and Gregor is still on her list).
- Chiswyck. Pushed off a wall by Jaqen H'ghar.
- Weese. His own dog tore out his throat.
She also killed a number of people who were not on her list herself:
- a King's Landing stableboy
- several soldiers of Amory Lorch
- a Bolton guard at Harrenhal
- a Sarsfield squire
- a Braavosi insurance salesman 
She also initiated and, along with Jaqen H'ghar, Rorge, and Biter, took part in the killing of eight Harrenhal jailors, an event that would be remembered as the "weasel soup," from the nickname she used at the time.
Quotes by Arya
Swift as a deer. Quiet as a shadow. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Quick as a snake. Calm as still water. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Strong as a bear. Fierce as a wolverine. Fear cuts deeper than swords. The man who fears losing has already lost. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Fear cuts deeper than swords.
– after the killing of Chiswyck
Gendry: If you need help, bark like a dog.
Arya: That's stupid. If I need help, I'll shout 'help'.
– Gendry and Arya
Gendry: What kind of lady are you?
Arya: This kind.
– Gendry and Arya
The Many-Faced God can have the rest, she thought, but he can't have this.
Quotes about Arya
A boy has more courage than sense.
Arya had always been harder to tame.
And Arya, well...Ned's visitors would oft mistake her for a stableboy if they rode into the yard unannounced. Arya was a trial, it must be said. Half a boy, half a wolf pup. Forbid her anything and it became her heart's desire. She had Ned's long face, and brown hair that always looked as though a bird had been nesting in it. I despaired of ever making a lady of her. She collected scabs as other girls collected dolls, and would say anything that came into her head.
– Catelyn Tully remembers her daughter
– Theon Greyjoy realizing that Ramsay's bride is not Arya Stark
References and Notes
- See the Arya Stark calculation.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 3, Arya I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 22, Arya II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 64, The Ugly Little Girl.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 10, Jon II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 16, Eddard III.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 32, Arya III.
- "Eastern Cities and Peoples". So Spake Martin. Westeros.org. June 12, 2002. http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/1214. "It was Varys."
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 50, Arya IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 1, Arya I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 15, Tyrion III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 19, Arya V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 26, Arya VI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47, Arya IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 64, Arya X.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 13, Arya II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 34, Arya VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 47, Arya IX.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 52, Arya XI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 65, Arya XII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 74, Arya XIII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 6, Arya I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 22, Arya II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 34, Cat Of The Canals.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
- The Winds of Winter, Mercy
- The Winds of Winter, Mercy
- The Winds of Winter, Mercy
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 52, Jon VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 38, Arya VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 5, Arya II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 12, Reek I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
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