Lord Eddard Stark, also known as Ned Stark, was the Lord of Winterfell, head of House Stark and Warden of the North. He was the second son of Rickard Stark and Lyarra Stark. He had an older brother, Brandon Stark, and a younger brother, Benjen Stark, as well as a younger sister, Lyanna Stark. He was married to Catelyn Tully and has five trueborn children with her: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon Stark. Eddard also had an illegitimate son Jon Snow who he raised alongside his trueborn children at Winterfell. Eddard was executed for treason on the orders of King Joffrey I Baratheon.
Appearance and Personality
Eddard Stark is a long-faced man with thick brown hair, but he looks older because his beard has begun to grey. He has cautious grey eyes, often reflecting his outward mood. However, despite his gruff, hard and watchful nature, Ned is an extremely affectionate, kind-hearted and loving man, especially towards his family.
Eddard is a man who is well respected and remembered among his people as possessing a keen sense of honour, which rules every action he takes, to the point that he refuses to partake in anything he doesn't consider honourable or noble. This has led him into a more polarising reputation than he deserves, since he returned Arthur Dayne's sword Dawn to his sister Ashara after their duel at the Tower of Joy, but shortly afterwards she killed herself - this led to rampant rumours that the bastard Jon Snow was Ashara's, and that Eddard killing Ashara's brother led her to take her own life. He was also merciful enough to take Theon Greyjoy as his ward after the Greyjoy Rebellion, hoping to raise him to be a much better man than his father, but contrary to this Theon grew up terrified of the Stark lord, thinking that he was more of a prisoner than a ward.
As a young man, Eddard was a very quiet person, much in contrast to his older and much more fiery brother Brandon. Whilst Brandon was a warrior and a leader, Ned never expected to find himself ruling Winterfell, and after the War of the Five Kings he would sometimes believe that Brandon would have done a better job at ruling the North than him, or would not have found much difficulty with the decisions Ned would have to make. He was, to his credit, an effective administrator, and served well enough as Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon, but was karmically ill-suited to the political manoeuvring of the southern kingdoms, and ultimately unable to play the game of thrones as well as those around him. This made him lack proper cunning, and a poor political strategist - this would spell his doom when dealing with individuals like Cersei Lannister or Petyr Baelish.
Eddard was a loyal, dutiful and staunchly moral man - Stannis Baratheon acknowledged that, while he never loved the man, only a fool could doubt his honourable nature and how well he served his close friends. Robert believed that he should have been king, not Robert, but Ned would never have taken the throne for himself if given the chance.
Even though he didn't think himself as good as Brandon Stark, Ned was a very capable warrior and battle commander - he served on the front line in both Robert's Rebellion and the Greyjoy's Rebellion, notably saving Robert from the Mad King's men in the Battle of the Bells, and surviving the fateful showdown at the Tower of Joy against three of the greatest Kingsguard of their time (including, most notably, the apparently invincible Ser Arthur Dayne). However, Ned admitted that if it weren't for Howland Reed, Arthur Dayne would have killed him. This implied that Ned was secure enough to admit that he was not an invincible swordsman.
Eddard was the second son of Lord Rickard Stark of Winterfell, the elder being Brandon. He was sent to the Eyrie as a boy to be raised by Lord Jon Arryn, where he met and struck up a firm friendship with young Robert Baratheon. The two became inseparable and as close as brothers, even though Ned remained incredibly close with Brandon, Lyanna and Benjen, especially Lyanna.
When he was eighteen, Eddard came down from the Eyrie to attend the Great Tourney of Harrenhal, alongside his friend Robert and Lord Jon, and each of his siblings. There, he met his father's bannerman Howland Reed, with whom he created a lifelong friendship. He also met Ashara Dayne, a lady-in-waiting to Princess Elia Martell of Dorne. His older brother Brandon persuaded Ashara to dance with him at the feast, since Ned was too shy around her to ask personally.at some point during the tourney, Ned saw Jaime lannister get sworn into the Kingsguard.Later, when Tourney reached it's height, Eddard watched as Prince Rhaegar Targaryen crowned Lyanna as the queen of love and beauty. He remembers this for years afterwards as the 'moment when all smiles died'. A year later, Lyanna was abducted by Prince Rhaegar, who then disappeared.
Brandon stormed over to King's Landing to demand justice and his sister's return, but he and his father were executed savagely by King Aerys II Targaryen. The Mad King later demanded that both Eddard and Robert be sent to him to answer for the 'crimes' of Ned's kin. Jon's immediate response was to call the banners of the North, the Vale and the Stormlands, and declare war on House Targaryen.
Eddard fought in many battles during the war, including the Battle of the Bells and the Battle of the Trident. He was joined in the fighting by Lord Howland Reed. He arrived too late to stop the Sack of King's Landing, and instead rode south to lift the Siege of Storm's End. After lifting the Siege of Storm's End, Eddard rode with six men to Dorne in search of his sister Lyanna. The search led them to the tower of joy in the red mountains. There, the seven encountered Ser Gerold Hightower, Ser Arthur Dayne and Ser Oswell Whent, who declared eternal loyalty to Rhaegar in spite of his death. A ferocious battle broke out between the northmen and the Kingsguard, and despite superior numbers Ned and Howland Reed were the only survivors. Eddard was rumoured to have killed Ser Arthur Dayne, but only ever survived against the man because Howland Reed intervened.
Despite defeating the three knights, Eddard was too late to save Lyanna, who died in his arms, but not before begging him to make a mysterious promise. The death of Lyanna, and the grief that fell over both men, was the main reason that Ned and Robert reconciled after the war, with Robert now King of the Seven Kingdoms. Ned returned home to Winterfell after the Rebellion was finished, bringing with him a bastard son named Jon Snow. This caused a rift between him and his bride Catelyn Tully, since she had married him and given birth to a boy Robb. Ned never talked about Jon's mother, and on the one occasion Catelyn asked him point-blank he coldly stated that the only relevant factor was that Jon was his blood. Afterwards, Eddard silenced all rumours, including the one that he had sired Jon with Ashara Dayne, the sister to the Kingsguard he presumably killed; it is noted that Ashara killed herself after he returned Dawn to her.
Ned became Lord of Winterfell, with his brother Benjen taking the black and joining the Night's Watch as a ranger. Ned never felt comfortable nor worthy of the lordship of the North, thinking that Brandon was more suited to him. He cared precious little for anything taking place south of the Neck, including rulership of the other six kingdoms.
When Balon Greyjoy assailed the Seven Kingdoms, Ned answered his old friend's call and fought in the Greyjoy's Rebellion in 289 AC. When the ironborn were shattered in battle, culminating in the Siege of Pyke, Ned took Lord Greyjoy's only surviving son, a ten-year-old boy named Theon, to Winterfell as a ward and an (unspoken) hostage in case Balon had any other ideas of invasion. Ned tried to treat Theon as a son throughout his wardship at Winterfell, but Theon grew up very afraid of the man, and that he would execute Theon if Balon ever misbehaved.
Eddard voyaged to Bear Island after Lord Jorah Mormont tried selling poachers to slavery four years after the Rebellion, intent on executing him for his crime. However, Jorah eluded him, disappearing into exile across the Narrow Sea. Ned woud have a lingering disdain for Ser Jorah afterwards, seeing him as a dishonourable disgrace to his proud and ancient house.
Ned had five children with Catelyn - Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon. He raised them firmly and generously, and even taught command to his eldest sons Robb and Jon Snow.
A Game of Thrones
Lord Stark is summoned to dispense the king's justice upon Gared, a deserter from the Night's Watch. He decides to bring with him his second youngest son, Bran Stark, as one of the witnesses of the execution. Afterwards, he speaks with Bran about bravery, before their conversation is interrupted by two more of his two elder sons, Robb and Jon, who have discovered a litter of direwolf pups. After some convincing, Ned allows the pups to be brought back to Winterfell, with one each going to his children. Afterwards, he is visited in the Godswood by his wife, who informs him that Robert is planning a royal visit to Winterfell.
Upon Robert's arrival, Ned escorts him into the crypts, to visit the grave of his sister, Lyanna. Afterwards, Robert asks Ned to take the position of Hand of the King, recently vacated after the death of their shared father figure, Jon Arryn. Ned is reluctant to accept the offer, believing his place to be at Winterfell, however Catelyn insists that he cannot refuse. After being sent word from Catelyn's sister, Lysa Arryn, that Jon may have been murdered, Ned agrees to go south to investigate. His decision is further tested after Bran falls from a high tower and is left comatose, however he has already accepted the post, and so is forced into leaving.
Ned is woken one morning on the journey south and is told he must rid with the king. Robert talks to Ned about assassinating Daenerys Targaryen, and Ned pushes for Robert Arryn or Stannis Baratheon to be named Warden of the East. Further down the Kingsroad, an altercation between Arya and Prince Joffrey leads to the former going missing. Ned personally leads the search for her, barely sleeping. After she is found, Ned argues with Robert and the Queen,Cersei Lannister, over the matter of punishment. Eventually it is decided that Sansa's direwolf, Lady, must be executed in the stead of Nymeria, who had attacked Joffrey. Ned does the deed himself, and has Jory Cassel arrange for the body to be taken back to Winterfell and buried, so that the queen cannot get her hands on the pelt.
Upon arriving in King's Landing, Ned attends a meeting of the small council, where he is joined by Grand Maester Pycelle, Lords Petyr Baelish and Renly Baratheon, and Varys, the eunuch Master of Whisperers. Renly informs them that Robert has decided to host a tourney in Ned's honour, though this is the last thing he desires. Baelish informs Stark that the crown is heavily indebted, and then, after the meeting, takes him to meet Catelyn, who has sailed south after an attempt on Bran's life. He commits to working with Baelish to unmask the perpetrators, believing Tyrion Lannister, the queen's brother, to be involved.
Ned also finds himself having to deal with a feud between his two daughters. After one outburst from Arya, angering Septa Mordane, Ned comes to her chambers. There, he discovers Needle, and reminds Arya to only use it against their actual enemies, and not Sansa. He then arranges for her to have lessons under her new dancing master, Syrio Forel. Ned subsequently goes to meet with Grand Maester Pycelle in private, inquiring about the manner of Jon Arryn's death. He later meets with Petyr Baelish, who informs him about Ser Hugh of the Vale, who had been Jon's squire, and is currently serving in King's Landing. He suggests that Ned send a man he trusts implicitly to speak with him. He then chastises Ned for thanking him, saying that not trusting him had been the wisest thing he had done since arriving in the capital.
Ned skips the first day of the tourney in his honour, but attends the second, after making a promise to Sansa. After Ser Hugh's death at the hands of Ser Gregor Clegane, he speaks with Ser Barristan Selmy, and the two then convince King Robert to withdraw from fighting in the melee. After Anguy's victory in the archery competition, Ned sends Alyn to ask him to join his household guard, but he is refused. That evening, Ned is visited by a disguised Varys, who says that he believes Ned may be Robert's only true friend. He then reveals that Jon Arryn was murdered with the Tears of Lys, and suggests that Ser Hugh may have done the deed.
- A Game of Thrones, Arya V.