Dame of Thrones: Arya Stark
By Rebecca Pahle on in Editorial.

Thus begins Dame of Thrones, Hiatus Edition. Let’s start where season five left off: Arya Stark. Valar morghulis.

Book spoilers in this one!

Name: No one.

Family: Father: Dead. Mother: Dead. Siblings: Some combination of dead/she thinks they’re dead/they’re on the other side of the world from her. It’s a terrible life, Arya Stark.

Known Associates: At various points: Assassins, commoners, the First Sword of Braavos, and Sandor Clegane. At least until she let him die a slow, painful death. (Well, she thought she did.)

Weapon of Choice: Unlike sister Sansa, Arya’s weapon is a literal weapon, her sword Needle. Like her sister, she also has on her side a frankly insane level of resiliency. There’s violence, death, and trauma at every turn, but she just… keeps on surviving. Shit, I’m sorry, Arya. I’ve jinxed you. Martin, don’t you dare!

What’s Her Deal?: The tomboy of the Stark family, Arya didn’t adjust too well to her, her sister, and her father relocating to King’s Landing. Sansa didn’t understand her, The Hound killed her only friend, she hated the artifice of court life… it couldn’t get any worse. And then, because Game of Thrones, it did. A life on the road, traveling with various ruffians and getting captured a few times, turned Lady Stark into a stone-cold killer… or at least a stone-cold killer in training, which is where Assassins’ University in Braavos comes in. The Faceless Men want Arya to give up her identity and her quest for vengeance, but we know that’s never gonna happen.

Why Is She Awesome?: Because she’s a totes li’l badass and she kills a lot of people. Er… no. Not for me, at least. Though if that’s what draws you to Arya, more power to ya. Her appeal to me is that aforementioned resilience, and the effect that everything she’s lived through has on her. Arya’s not a killer just because she wants revenge on the many, many people who have wronged her family. Also at play is the fact that in her short life she’s seen more horrors and suffered through more pain and heartbreak than many adults in the series (and that’s saying something). Every time she begins to get close to someone, they die or they leave. She had to turn hard, to shut off some of her kinder, less preservation-oriented instincts, just to deal with the reality of her life. My love of Arya is less who she is now and who she could become: A screwed up adult, twisted and warped by an adolescence spent in a series of brutal environments, determined to fulfill her bloody goal… for what? There’s no happy ending at the end of the tunnel for Arya. No family, no fun adventures, no quiet old age surrounded by loved ones. At least she can’t operate under the assumption that there might, because in her mind that would make her lose weak. She’s living for one thing, and one thing only… and I’m not sure how long that can last. I’m going to out on on a limb and say it won’t end well for her.

It’s probably too much to ask for, but I want Arya and Rickon to grow up and swoop back into Westeros to mess some assholes up, Rickon with his rage and Arya with her cold fury, while Sansa uses politics-fu in the background to direct the enemies of House Stark right into her younger siblings’ waiting, bloody hands. BWAHAHAHAHA.

Most Badass Scene: There are a lot to choose from here, and I invite you to leave yours in the comments, but a personal favorite of mine is Arya manipulating scary assassin Jaqen H’ghar into killing more people for her than the three he agreed to. “A girl lacks honor.” “*shrug”*

Best Quote: Arya’s blessed with some truly great ones: “Fear cuts deeper than swords” or “Stick ‘em with the pointy end,” for example. And “Valar Morghulis” is, of course, iconic. But my favorite has to be “Anyone can be killed,” from the show. Simple. Succinct. Game of Thrones in a nutshell.

Fan Theory du Jour: The Faceless Men knew to keep an eye on Arya from the get-go, at least if you believe the theory that her old “dancing” instructor Syrio Forel is actually Jaqen H’ghar. There’s a fan theory that everyone is Jaqen H’ghar. There’s probably a thread buried in the depths of Westeros.org positing that Jaqen H’ghar shot Kennedy.

Merch Me Up: Feel immeasurable pain every time you look down at your torso with this Stark children sweatshirt. There’s also a keychain that reminds you how to use a sword and an abundance of Valar Morghulis jewelry. And it’s not merch, but: direwolf bread recipe!

It Belongs In a Museum, AKA Fanart:

Austen Mengler did a whole series of Game of Thrones characters drawn as White Walkers, and the rest are just as creepygood.

That’s it for this installment of Dame of Thrones! Leave a comment and let me know whom I should tackle next time. As always, you can find me on The Mary Sue, Pajiba, and Twitter.


19 Comments

  1. BranSnow
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    The Waif!

  2. Turncloak
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Amazing how well they handled Arya this year. She made no progress at all in terms of getting somewhere this season until episode 10 but the show never made her storyline feel dull. Wish Bran got the same treatment. Would have been nice to hear the knight of the laughing tree story and the tourney at Harrenhall. I’m hoping we get Ser Barristans account of the Tourney when Dany asks him if he ever loved someone. Then this will lead to the Ashara Dayne=Jon Snows mom red herring :).

  3. RobbBreakWind
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Hodoberyn.

  4. smitzzz
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    My most badass scene for Arya was when she went madieval on Poliver and his men during the fight at the inn , the buildup between her/the Hound and Poliver was hilarious and the fight was awesome with quite a brutal end if you think about it , a young girl stabbing a man though the throat with her sword ,truly badass xD

    Edit – Oh yeah almost forgot , I will never believe the Hound is dead until we see wight Hound wandering around looking for his chicken , until then he is Syrio Forel #2 = not dead xD

  5. All Hail the Wolf Girl
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Book reader speaking! Arya is my favourite GoT character for the reason that she is a complex indivudualist who has no time for politesse, speaks her mind and is a plucky survivor (GRMM permitting!). She was always going to be rebellious as she grew older but the ton of crap that has been dropped on her since her escape from Kings Landing, the loss of most of her closest family and the lack of a positive role model in her life (something that could have been fulfilled by Brienne in other circumstances) has stolen away her childhood and innocence.

    She held the Stark values of honour and justice only to see these values constantly betrayed. It’s no wonder that the trauma has turned her into a ‘Child Soldier’ as GRRM would have it, because being resourceful and resilient the best way to deal with it is to become it ( but as Babylon 5’s Sheridan once said “When you become obsessed with the enemy you BECOME the enemy.”.

    That said she hasn’t completely lost her humanity and we can hold out hope that she doesn’t become psychologically damaged but we also have to fear that she can ever be reintegrated as a truly balanced individual.

    And does she have a key role still to play in GRRMs great scheme of things? Will she ever makes it back to Westeros and see Sansa and Jon (or Rickon) again? I really look forward to seeing how her story plays out in the show and after A Dance with Dragons ( and “Mercy”) in the novel [/optimist]. I do think GRRM may well try to push readers into a complete re-appraisal of the character by having her do things which even diehard fans like me may question whether we still admire Arya…

    Loved the ending scene of season 4, quite bitterwsweet. I just hope the show does justice to Arya and her story once it overtakes the books.

    And Maisie just totally rocks! I read the books before seeing the show but it’s Maisie’s face and voice that is now forever Arya for me.
    ———————————————–
    “I wish I was home”, She said miserably.
    She tried so hard to be brave, to be fierce as a wolverine and all,
    but sometimes she felt she was a little girl after all.
    Clash of Kings

  6. Walter Harrow
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Arya Stark is by far my favourite character in the books (i love complex characters who always develop) and Maisie Williams has made her even better in my opinion. She is probably my favourite actor on the show as well.

    I know she wont, but i really hope she gets an emmy or golden globe nomination this year. Her performances in the first and last episode alone deserve it (she didnt even say much in the scene with the Hound but her face was brilliant)

  7. NedsHead
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    That picture isn’t creepy at all…

  8. Nessa
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Love Arya. I always switch who my favorite is but Arya is constantly in my top 3. Can’t wait to watch Maisie bring Arya’s next adventure to life.

    I had a dream the other night that I had an iron Valar Morghulis coin keychain and I really want to make that a reality (I have big dreams and goals in life).

    That picture is amazing! Very Stephen Gammell inspired.

  9. Half Foot
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    If anyone can get access to the BBC Bristol (UK) facebook page, there is a feature on Maisie visiting Clutton, North Somerset, where she used to live.

    She really is a lovely girl.

  10. All Hail the Wolf Girl
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
  11. Jon Snow
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I Consider Arya a villain and a murderer, Arya killed multiple innocent men, an assassin without a heart, killing and killing and killing. Despicable. Ned would be ashamed.
    Just my opinion.

  12. strokememarge
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Maisie is one of the most talented Thespians for her age and her totally owning the role of Arya gives credence to this statement. Arya is a complex character, that evolves on an emotional and psychological level as she encounters each high point in her story, and Ms Williams has shown that she excels when paired with experienced and award winning actors such as Charles, Rory and Sean.
    I for one cannot wait to where her journey leads because she is such a wild card, and GRRM has given no clues as to her direction. Will the Iron Bank send her to KL, will the KM send her to Westeros or will she end up in Meereen? If Winds isn’t published by next year, we may well have to learn it through the show, unless that is D&D create their own unique story which will have different conclusions than the books, so as not to spoil them.

    OT NOW: Everyone’s favorite Lysene is starring as the leading lady in SyFy’s new Dominion series, she is just as good in that series as she was in GoT. The show isn’t on the same level as the best in this Golden Age, but it is very entertaining, at least the first episode. Hopefully it maintains its quality, the more Ms McKee the better. Oh and Sean Bean is headlining his own series this fall, Legends. Finally a role he doesn’t die in.

    Can we start having Casting Suggestions please before they start announcing them in the coming weeks, the first could very well be next week.

  13. smitzzz
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Jon Snow:
    I Consider Arya a villain and a murderer, Arya killed multiple innocent men, an assassin without a heart, killing and killing and killing. Despicable. Ned would be ashamed.
    Just my opinion.

    Which innocent men did she kill ,in the TV show at least?

  14. maelys blackfyre
    Posted June 24, 2014 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    Turncloak,

    What if Jon is Brandon + ashara, and aegon is r + l ??????

  15. vlad
    Posted June 24, 2014 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Yeah, the Faceless Men change their face, but how could they change their height?? Syrio was very short, Jaqen is tall. I guess they could use a glamor (like we see others do), but why go to all that trouble just to meet Arya? a girl that meant nothing until then?? No :).

    Arya is one of my favorite characters in the book and she’s a lot higher in the show thanks to Maisie Williams. Recently, GRRM released a teaser chapter with Arya in Braavos, and it shocked me, it really did. I can no longer see a nice ending for Arya, to me it felt like she has gone a little too far. I am worried what George RR Martin has planned for her, how do you bring back someone that is so cold?? Sure, she’s not no one, like they want her to be, she is still a warg, still keeps Needle, she won’t be a Faceless Man, but can she be a normal person in Westeros??? I thought that maybe meeting Bran and Jon could do that, bring her back. Unfortunately, after reading that, I don’t anymore.

  16. A Man Grown
    Posted June 24, 2014 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Jon Snow,

    I too believe Arya is becoming a villain, though I don’t think it’s a bad thing. More of a nice (and believable) twist by GRRM. I expect Arya will kill a character that everyone loves before the series is over.

  17. Ginevra
    Posted June 24, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Jon Snow:
    I Consider Arya a villain and a murderer, Arya killed multiple innocent men, an assassin without a heart, killing and killing and killing. Despicable. Ned would be ashamed.
    Just my opinion.

    You know nothing, Jon Snow.

    No one in Game of Thrones is infallible, not nearly so. Ned Stark might be the closest, but he’s about as guilty as Arya. The first man that we see Ned kill (Will, who ran away from the Night’s Watch) seems just as innocent as any Arya has killed. Ned also killed several Kingsguard knights who were only doing their jobs exactly as they should have been. You might say this is war, but it is a war he and his BFF started. You might say he has good reason, but so does Arya.

    Perhaps I’m defensive because Arya and Tyrion are tied for my favorite characters. But since they are also GRRM’s two favorite characters, I won’t feel guilty loving them.

  18. Fancy word for a sellsword
    Posted June 24, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    maelys blackfyre:
    Turncloak,

    What if Jon is Brandon + ashara, and aegon is r + l ??????

    I had that thought too.

    Not likely, but you never know.

  19. Fancy word for a sellsword
    Posted June 24, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    A Man Grown:
    Jon Snow,

    I too believe Arya is becoming a villain, though I don’t think it’s a bad thing. More of a nice (and believable) twist by GRRM. I expect Arya will kill a character that everyone loves before the series is over.

    This


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