Arya and Daenerys
Now we move on to Arya. I have to admit, she is one of my favorite characters, but my analysis is done with a deliberate effort to screen out any bias I have. Part of the problem with fan predictions about ASOIAF is that they all too often predict what they want to happen, not what is actually likely.
So here goes. I have to mention that I really wasn’t into GOT until fairly late, about midway through the 4th season. It was from reading all the articles with people speculating about what was going to happen that got me to watch the show. Even then I didn’t take any of the fan theories seriously, not even R+L=J. What really triggered my interest was Lady Stoneheart. To me she makes no sense. I started analyzing this from a story structure standpoint and not from any knowledge of the characters. She just doesn’t really fit any kind of role. When I first read about her my immediate thought was that she was an insert, an idea that seemed good at the time, but which served no purpose. So I starting thinking about what could her purpose be and I immediately fastened onto Jon’s murder. Beric died to bring Catelyn back to life and I thought ‘how cool’, she could do the same thing to resurrect Jon. This was actually a popular notion at the time. Now we know that’s not going to happen because Shireen is the one who dies for Jon.
That then leads to the question of who would she die for. There are only two possible answers: Sansa and Arya. Of those two only Arya makes sense. I have been unable to think of any scenario under which Sansa would die within any proximity to Lady Stoneheart. On the other hand, Arya is almost certainly going to return to the Riverlands at some point. She is going to get into a fight, possibly several. And she is going to encounter the Brotherhood Without Banners again.
In the show, while Beric is shown dying for Arya, they deliberately do not involve resurrection. It is probable that Benioff and Weiss did originally intend for him to fuel Arya's resurrection, but chose not to because it was too much like what happened to Jon.
It is possible that this could happen either before or after she kills Walder Frey. Arya, with the help of the pro-Stark Freys assist Sandor, the Blackfish, and the rest of the Tullys to take over the Twins. I am fairly confident that she will ultimately do this. The only question is if she encounters Lady Stoneheart first or afterward. I have to present the version that most fits Martin's writing style.
When Arya returns to Westeros she will probably appear at the Silent Isle. Her reasons why I leave to you. There she will find the place destroyed, at a guess by the Brave Companions. The Gravedigger, aka: Sandor Clegane, will be the sole survivor. The two will once again team up to obtain revenge.
How this battle develops is one of the hardest events for me to parse out in either of the future books. It might or might not involve Nymeria's wolf pack. It might or might not involve the Brotherhood either as friends or antagonists. In the end at least a few of the Brave Companions will escape, for they play an integral role in Dany's trap for Jon Snow. More on that later.
What's important for this article is that Arya and Sandor will end up as prisoners of the Brotherhood. Arya will recognize her mother, but Lady Stoneheart will not recognize Arya. Stoneheart will give Arya a chose of some kind, perhaps a command to chase down Jamie. Or possibly even an order to go north and kill Jon. This second sounds more likely. This is the version I will be going with in my Winds of Winter summery.
Stoneheart will realize what she's done. Thoros will tell Stoneheart that the Lord of Light might bring Arya back to life, but only if Stoneheart sacrifices herself. This she does and Arya will become the new leader of the Brotherhood.
Arya will lose all interest in her kill list after that. She will never lose her hatred of Cersei. But whatever reckoning happens between them will be very delayed. Instead she will become obsessed with helping Jon. Taking the Twins and killing Walder Frey will be first on the list. This will involve the Blackfish and I am guessing that at some point during these events Arya will once again rejoin Nymeria.
Just how long Arya remains in the Riverlands is still up in the air. What will be established, aside from the Lannisters losing all control of the Riverlands and the death of the anti-Stark Freys, is that Arya has become a real kick-ass warrior. SUPER NINJA ARYA! By the end of the story she will be considered the greatest warrior in Westerosi history. I noticed this from the beginning. The classic trope of the young girl who evolves into the ultimate bad ass. If that sounds very 80s, that's because it is. Martin is a product of his time.
This combines two tropes together - the ultimate girl warrior and the sidekick. If you look at it from a Dungeons&Dragons context, GRRM was an avid gamer, it becomes even more apparent. The Hero/Leader (Jon), the Rogue/Sidekick (Arya), and the Mage/Adviser (Dany). Dany’s part might be a little questionable, but throughout her story magic is far more prevalent than among anyone else’s, with the exception of Bran’s, and it’s not just because of the dragons. There is even the suggestion that Dany herself possesses magic power.
Mirri Maz Duur says to Dany what I always took to be sarcasm, but what Dany interpreted as prophecy: ‘when the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, when mountains blow through the air like leaves, when the seas dry up, and your womb quickens again then he will return.’ Dany naturally interprets this to mean she’s barren and it is a reasonable assumption. I think she’s wrong, but leave that for later.
If you don’t think this is really, really important than you clearly haven’t been paying attention. Family is everything to Dany. She makes this abundantly clear repeatedly. She only decides to go after the Iron Throne after the death of her brother. It is not her personal ambition which is driving her. Rather it is the wrong that was done to her family. She has to be thinking about her legacy. What happens after she dies? I don’t believe Martin intends a feel good ‘Westeros is now a democracy, feudalism is dead’ ending and he has already said it isn’t. How then is Dany going to deal with the future of the Kingdom given that she’s convinced she can’t have children?
Dany is very much a controlling kind of person. She’s been burned repeatedly by trusting others and is unlikely to just let things work themselves out. Given that she’s going to have to accept that whatever man she marries is going to have to sleep with another woman, she is going to want to have some say in who that woman is. Face it, if it’s up to her, and it is, then she is the one picking his mistress. I’ve identified 5 criteria in her choice. Well, 6 really.
The two have to get along. Dany isn’t going to pick anyone she can’t tolerate obviously.
It has to be someone who can reasonably be assumed to be able to have children.
It has to be someone who has strong family ties. It can’t be just any tavern wench.
It has to be someone who can actively promote Dany’s agenda.
Most important, it has to be someone who is NOT afraid of dragons.
There is only one possible candidate who fits all these criteria: Arya.
The two are really very much alike. Both are fundamentally after the same thing, a family. Dany has many followers, people who literally worship her and would die for her. She is indeed a person who inspires devotion. But none of them are her friend, not in the truest sense of the word. She tries to be close with Missandei, but Missandei can never get over her awe. Dany will always be ‘the Queen’ to her. Arya can give Dany want she truly desires, someone to talk to, to be friends with. Someone who will treat her like a sister and not a queen.
Arya is young, in the books only 11, but that’s almost marrying age for Westeros. And she has the Stark name. Enough said.
As mentioned before, Arya is evolving into a hell of a warrior.
Arya is going to be Dany’s right hand, or left hand as the case may be.
Finally, everyone is afraid of the dragons including Dany. Arya isn’t afraid of anything. She demonstrates this fact repeatedly. Being nose to nose, literally, with a dragon she’s probably going to pet it, not scream in terror.
Oh, and here’s the bonus number 6: Arya’s already in love with Jon. There are clear hints of this even in the show. That certainly can’t hurt.
Here’s another point. Dany is identified as fire, but everyone always attributes ice to Jon. This ignores the fact that Jon is both ice and fire. He is the Song of Ice and Fire. Or more specifically, the song is about him. He is the hero of the story. Therefore, who is ice? You can guess already. This is reflected in the triumvirate nature of the dragon which is endlessly repeated. The Dragon has Three heads.
No doubt some readers will be asking by this point how Daenerys and Arya meet. This will be covered more fully in the article on Euron Grayjoy. Suffice it to say, Arya's unique talents will be required to save Dany from a horrible fate. Once the two encounter one another they will get along like a house on fire. Though Martin will portray this relationship ambiguously at first, there will ultimately be no question of who the senior member is.
What will help bring them together is their mutual interest in Jon. Once Arya learns of Dany's visions she will guess who Jon really is, assuming she doesn't already. Rather than drive them apart, as one might normally expect, the two will plot to bind him to them. This will certainly involve deception on Dany's part and almost set her against them. Nevertheless, the three will form a union.
Arya’s greatest dream as a child was to be a dragonrider. They even tell us in a scene between her and Tywin in the show. Arya is going to have a choice. When she goes to rescue Dany from Euron she is going to have to decide where her future is. Whenever Sansa went after what you might call her ‘childish dreams’ she got burned. This is what drives her more and more toward the dark side. Arya deliberately chose to follow the dark side right from the start. Yet it will be her ‘childish dream’ which will prove her salvation. When she sees the dragons I don’t think she’ll be able to resist. Her kill list, her revenge, all of it will go out the window when she sees a chance to become what she always wanted. See my article on Sansa for more.
Now, it won’t be easy. As the books tell us, all the Stark children are wargs. But two stand out, Bran and Arya. Arya doesn’t know how to warg consciously, but I doubt that will stop her from trying. It needs to be said that warging a self-aware, intelligent creature, like a person, is impossible. Bran can do it with Hodor only because Hodor is mentally challenged. Dragons are smarter than people. But I think her attempt will have an unforeseen consequence, causing her to form a telepathic link to the dragons. She’ll be able to actually communicate with them directly. Know exactly what they are thinking. Something even Dany can’t do. This is a power Jon too will posses.
Bear in mind, she won't have any more control of them. On the contrary, Arya will have to be considerably more persuasive since she lacks the blood ties to the dragons.
Before anyone starts getting the idea of happily ever afters going, this is not going to be all roses. I mentioned how Dany inspires devotion, but there is a bad side to devotion: jealousy. How are all those people, some of whom have served her for years, going to react when this girl suddenly turns up and becomes her new BFF? Especially Missandei and Jorah? This is exactly the kind of story Martin writes. How Dany deals with an attack on Arya, especially if she’s hurt real bad, could be a good indicator of where she’s going as a character. All this might be emphasized even more if it appears to everyone, including the reader, that Arya is taking over and giving all the orders.
Given the widely believed theory that Dany will go 'mad queen' how she punishes the two will very much indicate what direction she is going. Now, I don't know which or how they will betray her. But I am certain at least one of them will. In my book summery I assume it will be Missandei. I also work under the assumption that Dany chooses to forgive her. Like just about everyone else, I have always assumed that Jorah would die protecting Dany. This does not preclude him attempting to get rid of Arya. It does increase the likelihood that she will show mercy.
There are two additional points I wish to make.
1) Dany’s pregnancy. As I mentioned before, Dany thinks she’s barren. But that prophecy of Mirri Maz Duur sounds a lot like a volcanic eruption to me.
When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east’.
As others have noted, this effect can be caused by many things, but especially forest fires. And volcanoes cause forest fires.
‘When mountains blow in the wind like leaves’
‘When the seas dry up’.
Volcanoes in and near the ocean can cause tsunamis as well as earthquakes and Hardhome is near the sea. If you remember the Indonesian tsunami the water receded from the shore before rushing back in. ‘When your womb quickens again’. Dany has what some have described as a miscarriage in ADWD. Dany is going to get pregnant again. In fantasy, whenever anyone describes an impossible event that means it is GOING to happen.
2) The true objective of the Faceless Men. There is nothing in the story that says that only Red Priests can see the future. I’m guessing the Kindly Man might also possess the power to see visions. At the very least Quaithe hints that she is connected to the Faceless Men.
I think the Kindly Man knows what Arya’s future is going to be and wants it to happen. It has been mentioned that he advances Arya despite her frequent failures. Why I can’t tell you, but they are far more forgiving than they should be. Even though the Faceless Men would appear to be in favor of genocide, this is a total misunderstanding of the Faceless Men. The Faceless Men aren’t in love with death, or they’d go around killing everyone. They see death as a gift and without life there can be no death. They believe in people living as well as dying, which is why they demand so much to kill people.
The most likely explanation is that the Faceless Men view wights and the Mountain as abominations that must be destroyed. Therefore, they will guarantee Dany’s safety on condition that she destroys the wights and their creators, the Others. In addition, Arya is being groomed for one specific task, to destroy the Mountain and his creator Qyburn. Jaqen is in Old Town probably to get the book(s) on necromancy that Qyburn used to learn how to reanimate the Mountain.