In 289 AL, at Winterfell
Princess of Winterfell
Eddard Stark (deceased)
long face and skinny
Arya Stark is the youngest daughter and third child of Eddard Stark and his wife Catelyn. She is eight years old at the start of A Game of Thrones. When each of the Stark children got a direwolf pup to keep, she named hers Nymeria. They travel to King's Landing with her father. When Nymeria attacks Joffrey, Arya throws rocks at her to scare her away so Cersei will not kill her. Sansa's wolf Lady was killed in place of Nymeria's attack on Prince Joffrey.
When her father is executed, Arya manages to escape with the help of Yoren, posing as a boy named Arry. Lannister freeriders led by Ser Amory Lorch kill Yoren on the shores of Gods Eye. Arya escapes, along with Gendry, Hot Pie, and Lommy Greenhands, and in the process saves the lives of Jaqen H'ghar, Rorge, and Biter, three criminals Yoren was bringing to the wall, who run off on their own. Shortly after, Arya is captured by men under the command of Gregor Clegane and Harrenhal and put to work as a servant in the undermanned castle.
Whilst Arya serves as a servant at Harrenhal, going by the name 'Weasel', H'ghar, Rorge, and Biter reappear as members of the Brave Companions. For saving his life during the attack, H'ghar promises to repay Arya by killing three men of her choice. For her three choices, Arya selects Chiswyck, a soldier in Gregor Clegane's forces, Weese, her servant overseer, and Jaqen H'ghar himself. The first two murders he carries out without question; in lieu of the third choice, Arya leverages H'ghar to help her slay the guards of Robett Glover, who had been taken prisoner by the Brave Companions. Control of Harrenhal is ceded to Tywin Lannister when he arrives with more troops, and Arya becomes his cupbearer.
H'ghar gives Arya a mysterious iron coin and tells her to find him in Braavos if she should ever desire to learn his secrets. He then adopts a new identity and leaves. Arya kills a guard and escapes Harrenhal with Gendry and Hot Pie.
Arya Stark and her friends encounter a group of men known as the Brotherhood Without Banners, led by Lord Beric Dondarrion and the red priest, Thoros of Myr. Arya eventually tires of following the Brotherhood around and tries to break free, but is captured by Sandor Clegane instead. Clegane decides to take her back to her family in exchange for service, and they head north.
Arya and Sandor are in the outskirts of the castle when the 'Red Wedding' takes place, and flee downriver. Arya has a strange dream that she is actually her long-missing direwolf, Nymeria, who now leads a huge pack of wolves in the Riverlands. She dreams of Nymeria finding a corpse floating in the Green Fork south of the Twins and pulling it ashore, only to flee as a group of men approach.
Arya and Sandor Clegane run afoul of some freeriders in the service of Sandor's hated brother, Gregor, in an inn. There is a fight and the freeriders are killed, but Sandor is wounded. Arya leaves him dying under a tree and goes to the nearby port town of Saltpans, on the Trident. She finds a ship from the Free City of Braavos there, but they refuse to take her north. She pulls out the coin Jaqen H'ghar gave her and the ship crew suddenly become more cooperative. They won't take her north, but do agree to take over back to Braavos beyond the Narrow Sea with them. She agrees.
In the Free City of Braavos, Arya Stark finds her way to the House of Black and White, a temple to the Many-Faced God. There Arya is inducted into the ranks of the Faceless Men as a novice. She learns that the Faceless Men are not simply a band of skilled assassins, but also a religious sect dating long before the Doom of Valyria. They consider their assassinations to be holy sacraments to their god of death. As Faceless Men must have no true identity, Arya assumes the role of 'Cat of the Canals' and becomes a familiar sight on the streets of the city. However, her old identity occasionally slips through. She hides her sword Needle rather than discarding it as ordered and later kills Dareon for forsaking his vows to the Night's Watch.
The priests of the House of Black and White strike her blind by some means as part of her training. With her sight gone, she learns to develop her other senses. When her blind training is completed, the priests remove her hearing to further train her other sensory skills.
Arya is a major POV character and the only one confirmed to appear in each of the first five novels of the series.
In the television adaptation of the series, she is played by Maisie Williams.