After the beheading of Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, Yoren helped Arya by taking her with him with a crew of newly recruited people and prisoners for joining the Night's Watch. He cuts her hair and asks her to pretend to be a boy so that no one will recognize her.

However, at first I thought he is doing this as he is a Northerner and knows Ned Stark. But he is a sworn brother of the Night's Watch. He is not supposed to intervene in conflict within the realm. Even with the boys/men, we can assume he is helping so that he can recruit them, however Arya is a girl and will not be allowed to join the Night's Watch. So why does he help her?


3 Answers 3


Yoren was taking Arya back to Winterfell because he knew she would be in danger in King's Landing (whether Ned lives or not), and because Ned had (essentially) asked him to do it

We know that Yoren is the same black brother that Ned allowed to "recruit" from the prisons and streets of King's Landing. Arya recognizes him, and he mentioned "Lord Stark" giving him run of the prisons. He was in the square when Ned's execution happened because he expected Ned to be going with him:

"It wasn't supposed to happen like it did. I was set to leave, wagons bought and loaded, and a man comes with a boy for me, and a purse of coin, and a message, nevermind who it's from. Lord Eddard's to take the black, he says to me, wait, he'll be going with you. Why d'you think I was there?"

As far as I can tell, we never find out who wrote the message, but clearly someone (and probably not Ned, since he was locked up) knew enough to get Robert's bastard son out of King's Landing. Whoever that was also expected Eddard to go with him.

As Ned is being led to his execution, he passes Yoren (as seen here at about 0:30) and says the word "Baelor" to him. This is the name of the statue that Arya's standing on; when she tries to run from the statue to her father, Yoren grabs her. At the time Ned was being led to the stage, he doesn't think he's going to be executed, but remember that Arya was already on the run from the Kingsguard. Even if he lived in exile, she would still be a valuable political prisoner (like Sansa was) if she was found in King's Landing. Most likely, Ned was trying to ask Yoren to catch Arya and keep her safe so she could accompany them as they went North, presumably dropping her off at home. When Ned died, Yoren decided to take Arya with him anyway.

In the novels, Yoren's decision appears more spontaneous; there's no indication that he and Ned spoke after Ned was imprisoned, and certainly not as he was being led away. It appears that he just coincidentally saw Arya in the crowd as her father was executed, and decided to take her back with him North on his own.

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    Ned kinda asks Yoren to look after Arya with the almost-last thing he says - he sees Yoren in the crowd, shouts "Baelor" at him, which is the name of the statue Arya is watching from, so a confused Yoren looks at the statue, sees Arya there, figures out what Ned was getting at and goes to help her Dec 8, 2016 at 15:56
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    Good catch; that part isn't in the novel (that I can find).
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 8, 2016 at 16:04
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    @KutuluMike could you please let me know the source of quotes. Where you find exact dialogues :-)
    – Panther
    Dec 8, 2016 at 16:45
  • sorry. the quote is from the novels, specifically Arya's first chapter in A Clash of Kings; I dunno if the dialogue occurs in the show.
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 8, 2016 at 17:02
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    I'm not sure if it's worth noting, but Yoren is at Winterfell when the king is there and takes Jon and Tyrion to the wall, as well as being the one who tells Ned that Catelyn has taken Tyrion captive, so they are quite familiar with each other before the scene at the sept. Dec 9, 2016 at 14:59

Beside the previously mentioned points (Yoren understands that Arya is in danger and Ned told him where to find her). I think we can understand his motives from the words he said the first time he met Ned when he came to warn him that Catelyn Stark "arrested" Tyrion Lannister "the imp":

Your brother Benjen, his blood runs black... makes him as much my brother as yours. It's for his sake I rode here so hard I damn near killed my horse. There are others riding too. The whole city will know by tomorrow...


Evidently there's an indication that Yoren helped Arya because of a letter. Yoren says that someone has given him a letter regarding waiting at the Baelor so that he can take Lord Eddard into the Night's Watch... It was Varys (or his accomplice) who delivered the message to Yoren.

In the novel when Eddard Stark was imprisoned Varys visited him. As we all know Varys serves only the realm and wants peace. Varys told him that Arya had escaped and Sansa is being kept by the Lannisters.

Varys also told him that if he were to confess his crimes he would be able to stop the war and save his daughter's by living his rest of his life in Night's Watch. And when Varys was about to leave, Lord Eddard told him to deliver a message. For that Varys told that "only if it is in my interests".

After all, Varys wants peace and he gets it when Lord Eddard confessed his crimes in front of the people or at least he thought up until the moment Joffrey Baratheon decides cut his head off.

Yoren protects Arya because Lord Eddard told him to protect Arya in the letter that Varys had delivered.

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