One of the most enduring characters in the series, Arya Stark is the youngest daughter and third child of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn Stark. Her father is the head of House Stark and "Warden of the North".
She is nine years old at the start of the series and has five siblings: an older brother, Robb; two younger brothers, Bran and Rickon; an older sister, Sansa; and an older half-brother, Jon Snow, aka "the Bastard".
Arya is skinny and athletic, and is a very independent and wild-spirited girl. Unlike her sister, she rejects the notion that she must become a lady and marry for influence and power, and she has no interest in the womanly arts of dancing, singing, and sewing. Instead she enjoys fighting and exploring, and is particularly close to her half-brother Jon, who encourages her more masculine pursuits. Arya travels with her father to King's Landing when he is made Hand of the King, but before she leaves Jon gives Arya her first sword as a parting gift which she names "Needle", after her least-favorite ladylike activity. He tells her that she will need to practice to get good, but that the first lesson is to "stick 'em with the pointy end".