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What Will "The Winds of Winter" Bring For Arya Stark?

Updated on June 8, 2014
Arya of House Stark
Arya of House Stark

Spoilers Lie Ahead

The Winds of Winter is the sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This article will take a look back at the events of the first five books as well as make predictions on what the next installment will bring. Reader has been warned of the spoilers ahead.

Arya learning from her dancing master, Syrio Forel.
Arya learning from her dancing master, Syrio Forel.
Jaqen H'ghar giving Arya his coin.
Jaqen H'ghar giving Arya his coin.
The Hound and all his epic awesomeness.
The Hound and all his epic awesomeness.

From Arya to Cat of the Canals

From the start of the series, Arya Stark has been a fan favorite of the readers of George R R Martins epic fantasy novels. The tomboy, youngest daughter of the supposed main character pulled readers of any background in with her defiance of authority and underdog status.

She is a stark contrast to her older sister, Sansa, who plays the role of girly girl for the Stark household. The difference puts the girls at odds and allows her to relate more closely with her brothers.

Arya is plucked from her northern castle when her father is named Hand of the King early on in the series. She is excited to move to the capitol but not for the obvious girl reasons of handsome knights and romantic tales.

She becomes entranced in her "dance" lessons once she arrives to the capitol. Her father notices her blatant differences from her sister and allows her to be tutored by a swordsman from Braavos after discovering her with a hidden blade. Syrio Forel, her teacher, and the young girl instantly form a bond in their lessons as he teachers her the intricacies of swordplay. She looks up to him and takes all his lessons to heart. Arya's greatest characteristic is her loyalty to the people she allows to get close to her and Syrio is definitely in that category.

As events of the first book spiral out of control she finds herself on the run disguised as a lowborn boy after witnessing her father's decapitation at the hands of the King Joffrey who is to be wed to Sansa.

She spends time over the next book under the name of many different characters. She is wisked away by a friend of her father's under the name Arry only to be captured by men supporting King Joffrey and put to work in the ghost castle of Harrenhal. She becomes Weasel and the Ghost of Harrenhal while a captive of the hospital. Another character Arya lets closer than most is a fellow captor named Jaqen H'ghar who seems to have some magic to him. She saves his life and in return he promises her three deaths he will fulfill for her. She spends her time as the Ghost of the castle, killing off those who do wrong to her. Upon her escape from the castle, Jaqen gives her a gift of a coin and mentions if she is ever in Braavos to use this coin and say the words "Valar Morghulis". Apparently, she is predestined to be involved in some way with this mysterious place called Braavos.

As she escapes, bringing along two of her friends, she is subsequently recaptured by the Brotherhood Without Banners, a rogue group who supported the former king. This eccentric group of misfits carry her all over the riverlands as they wage their war, exposing her to even darker realities of the world than she had been before.

At this point, still a young child, she had seen her father murdered before her eyes, her friends killed, had been murdered at her command, killed a few herself and seen a man reincarnated. Even in all of this killing, she remains strong, growing colder by the day and more distant from the family loving tomboy we came to meet.

As the Brotherhood Without Banners realizes she is the daughter of a high lord, they entertain the thought of returning her to her family for a ransom. Nothing goes as planned in this series, however. She is kidnapped again by The Hound, perhaps the most viciously awesome fighter in the kingdoms. The Hound is not a good man but has redeeming qualities as well.


He had previously had a complicated and twisted relationship with Sansa in the capitol, Kings Landing, but had been on the run since abandoning his king. His kidnapping of Arya is with the specific purpose of using her as an olive branch in offering her services to her eldest brother Robb, the recently deemed King of the North. The Hound seemingly has decided to flip his alliance in the war between the Starks and the king and is using Arya as his offering.


Perhaps Arya's final blow against any type of normal life occurs as she is about to be reunited with her mother, Catelyn, and Robb at the castle The Twins. As The Hound is leading her to the entrance to the castle her mother and brother are violently backstabbed and murdered by their own supporters. Arya has now lost both parents and her siblings all seem to be lost.

An incredibly violent scene occurs as they are fleeing from the riverlands and encounter a group of her former tormentors at Harrenhal, Arya the innocent girl stabs a man over and over screaming at him and taking pleasure in his death. The girl transformed into the killer.

As The Hound dies sometime after, she contemplates killing him as well but decides against it, showing some humanity still lives inside the girl who is dead to the world. She catches a ship and uses the coin Jaqen and previously given her. Uttering "Valar Morghulis", the ship whisks her away to Braavos on the other side of the Narrow Sea. A port city, Braavos is unlike anywhere she has ever seen. The city houses ever house or worship she could imagine and somehow finds herself at the House of the Many Faced God. She demands to be apart of the church, which in reality is an assassin training facility for the Faceless Men, but is denied until she can meet their requests.

Her entry into their ranks comes with a price, her vision. She is blinded by the church and spends a time learning to use her other senses. The church serves as a place for the fatally ill to come and ease the pain of death as well as for people to hire a hit on whoever they like. The end of the first book comes with Arya, now called Cat of the Canals, and her first contract. She succeeds in her kill and the future seems full of murderous possibilities.

What Will The Winds Bring Arya

As far as this strong, young girl has come, seemingly seeing the complete destruction of her family and leaving no hope for a future would crack most her age. She has been surrounded by death at every corner and the future doesn't look to change.

I believe the next book is set up to continue her path with the Faceless Men. Something in me tells me that the people she has met along the way, Syrio, Jaqen, the man at the church are somehow connected, maybe not obviously but they have each taught her something.

I believe her training will lead to her having to make a decision by the end of the sixth book that could have epic consequences. Currently the Faceless Men are a group for hire and another group originating from Braavos may have need for them. The Bank of Braavos that has made it an issue of collecting their money from the king in power in Westeros may find a need for the Faceless Men in eliminating some of their targets.

I believe the book will see Arya continue her assassin training and traveling back to Westeros with the mission to eliminate one of the banks loan perpetrators. Queen Cersei would obviously make the most sense as she has blatantly spit in the face of the bank and told them to wait their turn.

She would make a lot of sense for the crimes she has committed against Arya's family and could lead to the emotional moment where she avenges her parents and siblings.

My thoughts are that the man who Arya's sister Sansa currently resides with, Lord Baelish, has a special gift for acquiring money where none seems to be had which leads me to believe he has banking connections across the Narrow Sea. I would love to see Arya sent back to Westeros to eliminate a target for the bank and sent to meet with Baelish before. She would then be reunited with Sansa and hopefully for everything the pair has been through they could reunite and have a happy ending. What do you think The Winds of Winter will bring for everyones favorite little assassin? Discuss your thoughts below.

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      Anam Cara 2 years ago

      I think with the recently released Mercy pages, Arya has overstepped what the FM allow. She will be told to leave and made go back to Westeros and learn of her marriage and what is happening to Jon. She will open a can of whoop@$$ all over The Bolton Bastard and possibly go North of Wall to look for Bran. I have a theory of Bran calling her home thru the left door on the House of Black and White. It's made of Weirwood.

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      Veerle 3 years ago

      Indeed a ruinion with arya and sansa will be nice and alsoo that se takes revenges to murder Queen Cersei. But any possibility would also be that they continue the work of her eldest brother and oa brings together a new army with the support of the arryns

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      konrAD 3 years ago

      You seem to be mixing the storylines of the show and the book a lot in your post. The show combines a lot of characters, and as a result Arya carries out a premeditated killing far later then she did in the book.

      In any case I predict that Arya will at some point admit that she can't give up her identity, which will end her apprenticeship with the faceless men. After which she will end up back on the other side. A reunion with Sansa seems dramatically necessary. I'd also expect her to end up killing Lady Stoneheart.

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      CM 3 years ago

      From what I understand of Cersei, that prophecy she bought as a young girl predicts she'll be killed by her brother. My money is on Jaime, as it will complete his redemption by putting an end to the psychopath that twisted his childhood and life. Tyrion is too obvious.

      As a dragon rider, I was hoping Bran (he can fly!) or Jon (possible Targaryen), but their lines are such a clusterfuck after DwD, there's no telling. Arya would be cool, but I'd rather see her on the ground in the final battle for Westeros. Putting her on a dragon makes her training as a faceless assassin useless.

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      george 3 years ago

      I think that arya'll coming to the Wall. Jon' ll give Winterfall Her. Stanis 'll wanted she married to some by his knights \if Stanis is alive\. Arya is ready Killer - Jon has many Šµnemys.

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      r2k-in-the-vortex 3 years ago

      Faceless men can't kill anyone they are not contracted to, they can't decide who they kill, they can't kill people they personally know. That is not going to work with Arya. And GRRM didn't write 5 books of character development for Arya to just fade away, without doing anything to affect greater story. So if i were to speculate id say Arya will have a falling out with the temple of Black&White.

      Let me throw some even wilder speculation out there. There are 3 dragons, but only one rider, dragon without a rider is just an eye candy prop. 2 more riders are needed. But who? Unless GRRM decides to pull a suitable character out of the hedge id say a character that has had lots of development through the books is needed. There are not that many suitable candidates, none in Mereen i could see take the spot, nor any in Westeros. But Arya... ability to look death in the eye - check, has had lots of character development - check, warg - definitely a bonus.

      Always thought a Targaryen is needed to ride a dragon, but apparently not:

      "The Princess and the Queen by George R. R. Martin" - there is a precedent of a scrawny urchin (female) taming a dragon.

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      Lazl 3 years ago

      I'd expect her to continue her training, she might get to Old Town or something and likely we get a bigger involvement with her Warg abilities, though in the end she just becomes 'no one' and disappears from the story.

      Not a death, just disappears.

      Her story will make up for a fancy new novel in the future or something, give her some progression.. being an 11 year old kid right now, even if she can poison people it feels she won't be able to do much at all right now.

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      GazW 3 years ago

      I think Arya will complete her training but use her skills for her own purposes knowing that none of the faceless men can kill her for going against their rules because they all know her.

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      Dissatisfied 3 years ago

      My problem with Arya's current arc is that it feels like a dead end. Honestly, it's just been this exercise of stripping away all of her own personality and character, literally turning her into "no one". She even dismisses her prayers as "someone else's". Since her prayers were effectively her tie to her need for revenge, she's now left with no goal, no motivation, because she doesn't even exist anymore.

      I don't think this is something I necessarily wanted to see time devoted to. It's pretty depressing. Take Theon- in one book he was himself, and two books later he was Reek, and it only took some tight writing to explain exactly what happened there, explaining under the surface of some productive plot-ish chapters. Especially after aFfC, aDwD certainly didn't need to devote MORE time to the unravelling of Arya's character right down to nothing.

      Honestly, I just feel like this is setting up huge expectations for some pay-off with this storyline. I don't think I would be satisfied with anything less than Arya regaining her character and taking her knowledge of assassination with her in her quest for vengeance- otherwise, why should I care what happens to her? She doesn't exist anymore, she has no goals, and she is entirely disconnected from the drama.

      Also, by this point in the series, I can really feel Martin constantly repeating himself. What was fresh and interesting in the first few books is now kind of tired. He really needs a strong climax and conclusion in the next two books to really cement his series as the piece of good writing that everyone loves.

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      TranslucentPineapple 3 years ago

      @Arya the assassin

      oh my sweet summer child. To the Faceless Men the red god is just one more form of "Him of many faces". I do not believe that the FM have any special loyalty to R'hllor.

      Go back and read all the Ayra chapters in Feast and Dance, because it sounds like you just skimmed them. The FM would never send Ayra to Winterfell that would be a conflict of interest. On the off chance you learn to read hmu with your real theories.

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      Arya the assassin 3 years ago

      Most probable case: Arya leaves the FM with her own Identity. Therefore the faceless men have contracted her for a mission. Her mission is to kill someone that she does not know. If you remember Stanis is getting beat down by ramsey in the riverlands. Bolton is married to "fake arya"

      With this being said, whom is likely to hire the FM? Someone with money... Balon got killed recently and Jaqun Hagar is in Old town. The Maesters have something "knowledge" jaquin is after.

      Now whom is likely to be the contractee? Remember Jaquin says "the red god is owed 3 deaths". Having this info we can assume:

      FM loyal to the red god.

      Stanis is getting beat by ramsey.

      Arya is married to ramsey.

      Arya's mission to take out ramsey to let stanis take the north.

      Arya then either goes back to FM, old town, the north, or save jon.

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      No one 3 years ago

      Small comment on above storyline summary: Arya's decision not kill the Hound is deliberate - but far from humane motivations, she lets him suffer because she disdains him. She refuses him the mercy of a quick and more dignified end. Later though she has doubts about having been deaf to his plea - that shows her humanity.

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      No one 3 years ago

      I think Arya will leave the FM on bad terms somehow - killing both the Kindly Man and the Waif - resuming her identity, picking up Needle & returning to Westeros to play a big part in WoW. Perhaps she will kill the Bolton bastard - outsmarting him in one of his sick games.

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      EdtheBes 3 years ago

      I think that, ultimately, Arya will reject the principals of the faceless men. Her warging has already provided her with a loophole in some of their training, and more importantly Needle is still sitting under the House's stairs like a big flashing Chekhov's gun.

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      Meow 3 years ago

      She will be sent to kill one of the main characters: Jon, Daenarys or Tyrion (but most likely it will be someone good / someone she loves) and she will do so consciously, otherwise the whole concept of training her to be "no one", to leave Arya behind, and not to questions whether a target of the Faceless Men deserves death would have no purpose. ALso i think it would fit with GRRMs nasty propensity for twist/turns and killing off protagonists. It would also be epic and make people freak out, which is what he goes for! ;)

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      merlynhawk 4 years ago

      I've read them all and think that Martin is far from brilliant. I only kept reading because I kept thinking that he was going to bring it all back together.

      Now it seems he's written himself into a corner with no way out, because he's killed too many of the main characters.

      Arya and Jon Snow are the ONLY reason I keep reading, but cannot see how he's going to wrap up this epic farce to a conclusion that makes any sense in just 2 books.

      Then there's Danaerys and her dragons ...

      Oh please, Martin ... pull your head out of your backside and wrap this up already.

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      Johnny 4 years ago

      Cersei is not dead yet. but is going to have a trial by combat with the re animated Gregor clean by qyburn

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      Vadrigos 4 years ago

      Actually it's implied that Faceless Men may not kill anyone they know. There's a scene in ADwD where a council of Faceless Men are speaking about giving someone 'the gift' (their term for assassinating someone). Each member says they know the man who is to receive the gift until one of them says they do not know him, and that he will give him the gift...

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      MzChaos 4 years ago from Indianapolis

      I read all those books so long ago...I kept waiting for the next one...and I am not sure if it ever came out. I was left with John on the wall, and waiting for the Dragons to really come into their own! Arya was always one of my favorite characters, even though George seemed to lose here there for a moment.

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      Author

      deealvar 4 years ago from Indianapolis

      Obviously you quit to soon my friend. Cersei's trial hasn't even begun and she's got the reanimated corpse of The Mountain fighting on her side! It's only just begun!

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      Ghost32 4 years ago

      Martin ticked me off so much I quit reading the series, simply due to his killing people off so endlessly. Not that it would be unrealistic in such an environment as the Seven Kingom (plus outlying lands), but I'd had enough.

      Nonetheless, you've got a great review and thoughtful query here--except for the fact that Cersei's already dead, executed by the Church, with Jamie tossing her final desperate letter for his help in the mud.