Speaking of likeable murderers, it’s hard to find a better example than Arya Stark.
Much like Tyrion, Arya is easy to love. She’s clever and quick-witted, she’s deeply empathetic, and she wants revenge for her slaughtered family. She’s also a skilled assassin who can literally put on other people’s faces.
A Drink Has No Name
1oz Godiva chocolate vodka
1oz Godiva raspberry vodka
½ oz Mozart chocolate liqueur
Layer Mozart followed by both vodkas
Cocktail cherry impaled on a sword
Silver sugar rim
I am not a bartender by trade, so sometimes when I try something ambitious, it does something else. That is what happened with this drink. What I imagined was a pool of chocolate and a cherry at the bottom of the glass and a lovely layer of clear vodka above it. That is not what happened, as you can see from the photograph. It still, however, tastes pretty good! If I were just going for taste, I’d use Chambord instead of raspberry vodka, but that’s okay.
Which is to say this drink tastes like chocolate and raspberries (with a hint of cherry), and it kicks like a mule. So I do think it works for Arya Stark.
Arya’s chapters in A Song of Ice and Fire are amongst the most compelling and the most horrifying in the series, for it is through her eyes (and later those of Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth) that readers truly experience the devastation of war at first hand. As Septon Meribald aptly points out in A Feast For Crows, “it is being common-born that is dangerous, when the great lords play their game of thrones” (Brienne VII). Arya is a Stark, and therefore not common-born, but she is forced into disguise after her father’s execution as she tries to find the remnants of her family.
Instead, she finds herself with a front-row seat to a parade of horrors that illustrate that there are elements on all sides of the War of the Five Kings who will use that as an excuse to inflict atrocities on innocent people. Her chapters are also some of the most rewarding to reread, because the careful reader can find seeds of events like the Red Wedding or glimpses of how various other timelines fit together since she’s mostly moving around the Riverlands, at the centre of the action.
Every protector she has is taken from her and she’s forced to kill in order to survive. She’s nine years old when the story begins. Witty and adorable as Arya is, this is horrifying on a very real level, and Martin does a great job of bringing those two elements of attraction and repulsion into balance in her narration. (That she’s too young—for now—to be sexualized probably helps.)
Like Tyrion, Arya hits her breaking point at the end of A Storm of Swords when she finds out that her mother and elder brother have been horribly murdered right when she was on the point of reuniting with them. She decides to go to Braavos, on the far side of the Narrow Sea, to train as an assassin so she can return and take revenge on the people who murdered her family—she’s even got a handy list that she recites every night before she sleeps. Names only fall off that list when they’re dead.
I don’t agree with some of the choices the show has made with Arya, most notably the screenwriters’ insistence on making her bash other women when her book counterpart goes out of her way to help women in trouble. But we got a truly thrilling moment at the end of Season 6. One of the names we—and Arya—have long been waiting for has finally fallen off that list.
I have long joked about my concern that Walder Frey, one of several poster children for all that is horrible about Westeros, will somehow survive to the end of the series. At least as far as HBO is concerned, that is not the case. Much like with Varys, I refuse to think about travel times and merely rejoice in the beautifully Shakespearean nature of Arya’s revenge.
Taking a page from the Revenger’s Manual of one Titus Andronicus—who stole it from a gent named Thyestes—Arya infiltrated the kitchen staff at the Twins, killed two of Walder’s sons, and baked them into a pie.
LIKE YOU DO.
But it’s Walder Frey. So I’m kind of okay with it.
All I want is a reunion for my beloved Stark siblings, but all of them have gone down such dreadful roads. Differently dreadful, but all horrible. But winter is coming, and the wolves need to stick together.