In spite of being one of the youngest characters in the series, Arya Stark has had an eventful life and is definitely one of the key players in the Game of Thrones. Although it does not seem that her destiny is to rule over Winterfell or Westeros, she certainly has a sharp ability to gather information, understand politics, and even assassinate her enemies. This can make her a useful Hand of the King, or a part of the Kingsguard – if she survives till the end of the series.
Her journey has contributed vastly to the way she has acquired skills. Arya has always demonstrated an ability to choose her own path and pursue what interests her. In season 1, we see her out-shoot Bran during his archery practice, spar with Mycah, and eventually take proper lessons from Syrio Forel. We also see her living off the streets in Kings Landing – something that in all probability should have been very challenging for someone who is from a privileged background.
In Season 2, the young Stark finds herself travelling with Yoren’s group of recruits for the Night’s Watch. She mainly joins this group because she knows that Jon Snow is at the wall, and she wants to be reunited with someone she can call family. However, things don’t quite work out that way. Arya befriends Jaqen H’gar, and when their group is captured and taken to Harrenhal, she redeems her favour of saving his life by naming people she wants killed. This is her first introduction to the world of assassination. We see that Arya certainly has the stomach for murder, and is comfortable using any means to achieve her goals. At the end of the season, Arya escapes Harrenhal with her friends, Hot Pie and Gendry, and begins her journey to Riverrun to find her mother.
In Season 3, Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry are captured by the Brotherhood without Banners, who then take their captives to an inn for a meal. Shortly before they leave, Sandor Cleagane (The Hound), is also brought into the inn, and he recognises Arya for who she is. He reveals her identity, and the group is taken to the Brotherhood’s hideout in Riverruns. Here, Arya calls out for the Hound’s death, but he overpowers Deric Dondarrion in a trial and kills him. We see Dondarrion resurrected by the Lord of Light. The group runs into Melisandre, who buys Gendry from the Brotherhood. This disillusions Arya about this group of people and she eventually runs away, only to be captured by the Hound.
The Hound plans to take Arya Stark to her mother in exchange for the ransom on her head. He plans to take her to the Twins, which is the seat of the Freys, as he knows that her family will be present for her uncle’s marriage there. Unfortunately, this is when the Red Wedding happens. Arya and the Hound witness Robb’s body being paraded around with Grey Wind’s head sewn onto it. They understand that the Starks are all dead. This scene is a turning point for Arya, who had earlier declared that the only god she worships is Death. It is during this point that she truly accepts the mindset of an assassin. When she and the Hound encounter Frey soldiers boasting about killing Robb and Catelyn, Arya tricks one of them into bending down to pick up a coin and then stabs him repeatedly with the Hound’s knife. This is what she considers to be her first kill.
During Season 4, Arya and the Hound travel to the Eyrie so that he can sell Arya to his aunt, Lysa Arryn. However, when they arrive there, they learn that Lysa is already dead. They leave the Eyrie only to encounter Brienne of Tarth and Podrick. Eventually, Brienne and the Hound get into a fight during which she wounds him significantly. Arya hides from Brienne until she leaves, before climbing down a cliff to see the Hound’s injured body. Instead of killing him, she leaves him there to die on his own and reaches a port, from where she boards a ship on its way to the Free city of Braavos.
Season 5 is when Arya joins the House of Black and White to learn how to become a Faceless Man. She reunites with Jaqen H’gar, and trains under him. She learns how to become ‘no one’ and is repeatedly tested by the Waif and Jaqen H’gar. After they believe that she is ready to give up her identity, she is given her first assignment. She must pose as a shellfish merchant to study her new target. However, during one of her excursions, she spots Meryn Trent, a man she’s hoped to kill for a long time. Instead of killing her target, she kills him in a brothel. As punishment, Jaqen H’gar blinds Arya so that she can learn to rely on her other senses.
In Season 6, we see Arya growing stronger as an assassin. She poses as a blind beggar in the streets where she is repeatedly accosted by the Waif, who wins every spar. After a while, Jaqen restores her sight and gives her a second assignment. She must kill an actress who is known as Lady Crane. When Arya fails to kill her, the Waif asks Jaqen if she can kill Arya. Her wish is granted. She stabs Arya in the stomach many times until the Stark girl escapes by jumping into a river. Arya hides at Lady Crane’s quarters but is found by the Waif who murders Lady Crane. Stumbling through the streets, Arya leads her to a dark cave where she has hidden Needle. When the Waif enters, Arya cuts the head off a candle, and fights the Waif in the dark. We later see Arya return to the House of Black and White, declare her identity as Arya Stark, and reveal that she is going home.
Arya reaches the Twins after a long journey and kills Walder Frey’s sons. She cooks them in a pie and serves them to Frey, who she also kills as revenge for what he did to her family.
Season 7 opens with Arya posing as Walder Frey and killing the entire Frey house with poison. She then leaves on a journey towards Kings Landing to kill Cersei, but then changes her mind when she hears that her sister Sansa is alive and in Winterfell, along with Jon Snow. She then goes to Winterfell and is reunited with her sister after years of separation. While she is at Winterfell, Littlefinger tries his best to sow the seeds of strife between the two sisters, but Arya is 2 steps ahead of him. They accuse Petyr Baelish of crimes against their house and Arya Stark slits his throat while he begs for his life.
With everything that she has learnt throughout her journey, Arya Stark is a very independent and fierce character. We hope that her journey in Season 8 is equally thrilling, and that she receives a happy ending, or at least an ending that is worthy of her bravery.
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