The third of Lord Eddard’s legitimate children, Arya is the very picture of a tomboy, spending her time among the servants and their children, asking questions and playing games and avoiding all kind of of more lady-like pursuits. She exasperates her mother Lady Catelyn, who sometimes wishes she was more like her elder sister Sansa; it’s no surprise that the sisters do not get along. Closest with her bastard half-brother Jon, like him she’s the only other child of Eddard Stark who takes after him with her brown hair and grey eyes.
On the show, Arya started the show as being aged 11, whereas in the novels she starts at 9 years old.
Traveling with Yoren, Arya becomes acquainted with one of the prisoners he is transporting to the Wall, Jaqen H’ghar. While stopping at an abandoned tower, Yoren reveals the murder of his brother many years before, and the mantra he made of the perpetrator’s name until he had his vengeance. Shortly after, they are beset by Amory Lorch and Lannister soldiers. Yoren and several others are killed, while Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie are taken as prisoners to Harrenhal. Gendry is nearly killed by Ser Gregor Clegane’s torturers as Arya watched, only for Lord Tywin to arrive and put a stop to it. He takes Arya—whom he immediately recognizes as a girl—as a cupbearer, and spends some time in conversation with her, which seems to amuse him. In the meantime, Arya receives the promise of three deaths from Jaqen H’ghar, in payment for saving his life and that of his fellow prisoners, Rorge and Biter. She proceeds to have him kill the torturer called the Tickler, and then Ser Amory Lorch when he catches her with one of Lord Tywin’s orders to his forces. After Lord Tywin meets with Littlefinger—who does not recognize Arya—he eventually decides to attack, and leaves Harrenhal in charge of Ser Gregor Clegane. Fearing what will happen when he does this, Arya forces Jaqen H’ghar to open a way for her and her friends to leave the castle, which he does so. On the road away from Harrenhal, he appears and gives her a black iron coin, telling her to remember the words, “Valar morghulis.” He then changes his appearance before her eyes, and leaves.