Lyanna is the only daughter of Lord Rickard Stark and Lady Flint. She is described by her brother Eddard as being "wolf-blooded", willful, rebellious, courageous, and headstrong, much like his daughter Arya. She is particularly fond of the blue winter roses that grow in the glass gardens at Winterfell. She is also described as an extremely skilled horse rider and is skilled at swordfighting.
She was betrothed to Robert Baratheon, who was infatuated with her, and continued to love her memory even longer than a decade after her death. Ned however, points out that Robert barely even knew her, and suggests that they might not have gotten along as well as he imagines. He also states that Robert only ever saw her beauty, and not her boldness or willfulness. Lyanna was less than enthusiastic about the betrothal, and confessed to her brother that she was concerned about his lecherous ways.
Lyanna was present at the tourney of Harrenhal, and she befriended the crannogman Howland Reed after defending him from some bullies. At Harrenhal, she met Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, who performed a sad and beautiful melody that made her weep. It is rumored that Lyanna performed in the tourney under the guise of the Knight of the Laughing Tree, where she defeated the squires that bullied Howland Reed. The next day, the knight is said to have disappeared, leaving behind only his shield. Prince Rhaegar managed to unseat many skilled warriors in the joust, and was declared the champion. He then crowned Lyanna the queen of love and beauty with a laurel made of blue winter roses.
Not long after the tournament, Lyanna disappeared with Rhaegar, who took her to the Tower of Joy in Dorne. Lord Rickard Stark and Brandon Stark then journeyed to King's Landing and demanded from King Aerys that the prince release Lyanna. The king then murdered them both for their insolence, and demanded the heads of Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark. The two then rose in rebellion, along with Lord Jon Arryn. The battle was decided at the Trident, where Robert murdered Prince Rhaegar. Eddard then rode to Dorne with six companions to rescue Lyanna, but the tower was guarded by three members of the Kingsguard. Only Howland Reed and Ned survived the battle. Ned then found Lyanna in the tower, dying on a bed of blood, who made him promise something. She was later buried in the crypts at Winterfell.