What Will "The Winds of Winter" Bring For Arya 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.
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.