Arya Stark water danced her way into the hearts of Game of Thrones fans immediately — how could audiences everywhere not fall in love with the feisty tomboy who stood up to Joffrey’s lying, sadistic prince when her big sister wouldn’t? From her service as Tywin Lannister’s cupbearer to her pairing with Rory McCann’s Hound to her stint in the House of Black and White, Arya’s journey has always been fun and entertaining, yet laden with heartbreak.
The show hit a home run by casting the mega-charismatic Maisie Williams to play the fan favorite from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series (ASOIAF). Williams scored her first Emmy nomination in 2016, and with Arya finally back in Westeros working on crossing names off that infamous list of hers, her story shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. But Game of Thrones doesn’t return until July, and to fill the emptiness in our lives, we decided to compile a list of little-known facts about our favorite almost-Faceless Girl. The list includes some things that only the most careful of book readers know, and some things they don’t, so be warned: there will be spoilers from the ASOIAF series.
Here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Arya Stark:
10 ARYA STARK, LIKE BRAN, IS A WARG
Book readers know that it’s not just Bran who has warging capabilities — Jon Snow and Arya have them, too. Arya, however, only has warging abilities when she is dreaming. And, as you’d expect, her warged out dreams are very … Arya-esque: “She was strong and swift and fierce, and her pack was all around her, her brothers and her sisters. They ran down a frightened horse together, tore its throat out, and feasted.” Naturally. But, in true Arya fashion, one of her warg-centric dreams was devastating.
One night, while warging into Nymeria while sleeping, the direwolf sniffs out Lady Catelyn’s body in the river after she was killed at the Red Wedding. Nymeria/Arya drags the body from the water and makes a gut-wrenching plea while staring at Catelyn’s corpse: “Rise, she thought. Rise and eat and run with us.” Ugh. Poor Arya. Even her dreams are prone to immense sadness!
9. SHE KILLED ONE OF JON SNOW’S BROTHERS
In the books, Jon Snow assigns a brother from the Night’s Watch, a singer named Dareon, with recruiting much-needed brothers to boost the Watch’s dwindling numbers –Yoren’s old job, basically. Dareon travels with Sam, Gilly, and Maester Aemon towards Oldtown, but stops in Braavos, where he immediately takes a wife and abandons his mission with the Watch. Arya, who is there in the midst of her Faceless Man training, takes umbrage one day when she overhears Dareon bragging about ditching Jon Snow and co.
8. SHE’S A LOT YOUNGER THAN PEOPLE REALIZE
We’ve gotten to watch Maisie Williams (and much of the cast) grow up over the last six years, so she doesn’t seem so young to us anymore. But considering how much murdering Arya does (her death count is way higher in the books), it’s alarming when bearing in mind the fact that she was 9 years old in the first book and is still only around 11 years old in the most recent one.
It’s also alarming when you consider the ways (and ease) in which she disposes of her victims. On the show alone, she has gauged mens’ eyes out, carved the Waif’s face off, and killed Freys so that she could use their corpses to bake into people pies to serve to their dad. In the books, she’s arguably even scarier. After killing her way out of Harrenhal, she looks at her hands, which are covered in blood. “It’s no matter, she thought, swinging up into the saddle.The rain will wash them clean again.” Most terrifying ten year-old ever?
7. SHE PLANS AN UPRISING AT HARRENHAL ALL BY HERSELF
Not only did Arya kill a few guards so that she and her friends could escape captivity, in the books, she is pretty much single-handedly responsible for helping the North take Harrenhal back from Tywin Lannister and his men. Just after Tywin rides off into battle, Arya, hatches a plan to free the Northmen trapped in Harrenhal’s dungeons, and she pulls it off with very little manpower/help.
6. WILL THIS BE HOW SHE MEETS HER END?
Prepare thyself: this may be one of the most tragic and sad Game of Thrones theories we’ve heard yet. Could the reunion of a girl and her direwolf be the most tear-inducing reunion ever? A fan theory considers Arya’s aforementioned warging tendencies, as well as a very brief scene from season three in which wildling Warg Orell entered the body of his crow just before he died. When Wargs die, it is possible for their minds and spirits to enter the bodies of the animals they typically warg into — but they will eventually lose all humanity living in the bodies of their spirit animals.
In the books, this could very well be the fate of Jon Snow … or Arya. The theory also considers the fact that Arya is a stone cold killer, and George R.R. Martin is a pacifist — it’s not likely she will get a totally happy ending considering how many people she has killed. Time will tell, but Arya warging into Nymeria might make our tear ducts dry out for good.
5. SHE’S A HUGE SUBJECT OF RESEARCH IN MEDIA ARTS ACADEMIC STUDIES
The world of ASOIAF and Game of Thrones is so dense, it’s no surprise to learn that over nine major colleges and universities teach courses related to material found in the show and/or the books. Many scholarly articles have also been written dissecting and analyzing the roles females play in George R.R. Martin’s universe, and Arya is front and center in many of these articles.
4. SHE IS A LOT LIKE NED STARK’S SISTER (AND JON SNOW’S MOM) LYANNA
Both the books and the show have told the audience that Ned’s youngest daughter is very much like his late sister Lyanna in looks, temperament, personality, and more. In episode two of season six, we see a flashback to Winterfell when Ned was a wee lad, and we saw young Lyanna Stark for the first time. Mirroring the first time we met young Arya at Winterfell, Lyanna gallops in on horseback and shows her brothers up, doing tricks on her horse and getting all the attention — the same way Arya stole Bran’s spotlight early on by showing everyone that her archery skills were superior to his.
Ned also notices how similar his daughter is to his sister. In one of his POV chapters in Game of Thrones, he tells Arya: “Lyanna might have carried a sword…you remind me of her sometimes. You even look like her.” Let’s hope Arya’s fate isn’t as similar…
3. SHE IS HUGELY CONNECTED TO ANIMALIA.
In the books, Arya’s connection to and identification with animals is abundant in every volume. She’s always a direwolf in her dreams, and she refers to herself as several different animals multiple times throughout the books (at different points in the story, she calls herself a wolf, weasel, sheep, mouse, cat, and more). Sample dialogue from the books: “On the road, Arya had felt like a sheep, but Harrenhal turned her into a mouse … and like a mouse, she kept to the crannies and crevices and dark holes…”
Wherever she goes, she seems to identify with animals more than she does with people. During her time in Braavos, at least in the books, she is referred to as Cat of the Canals, a nickname of her own choosing. Oh, and she used to hang with a certain Hound, and she’s one of only two Stark sibs with a living direwolf, so the connections only deepen. We really, really hope she gets to meet a dragon or two!
2. SHE’S MULTILINGUAL
The training Arya goes through to be a Faceless Man in the books is much more extensive and exhaustive than the truncated training she goes through on the TV series. In the books, she is tasked with frequently becoming different people, each of whom must work hours of manual labor every day and bring home three new pieces of information at the end of the day. Her training also required her to learn to speak not only Bravosi, but several other tongues as well.
While staying at the House of Black and White, Arya also bulked up her High Valyrian (so if Dany were to belt out orders to her dragons, Arya would understand every word), and she also learned how to speak the languages of Lys and Pentos, too, making her one formidable Faceless assassin.
1. ANYONE CAN BE KILLED. EXCEPT MAYBE ARYA!
In a series that has pretty much killed off our favorite characters from the beginning on (we’ll never be over you, Prince Oberyn!), fans of Arya might have one thing going for them: the man who created her has been told that he must keep her alive, or else. See, George R.R. Martin’s wife Parris has two favorite characters in the entire series: the Stark sisters, and she has reportedly told him that she will leave him if he kills either Arya Stark or Sansa Stark of.
Williams has confirmed this in a 2015 interview: “I’ll just keep smiling, and say ‘if you want to stay with your wife, you’ve got to keep me alive!’” she said. Martin seems ever-smitten with his wife, so we’re hoping he doesn’t jeopardize his marriage by killing off his wife’s favorite character (and one of ours as well, obviously).
What little-known facts about Arya Stark of Winterfell did we leave out? Let us know in the comments!