Yara is an ironborn, Theon Greyjoy's older sister and his only surviving sibling. She was raised at Pyke, the stronghold of House Greyjoy. Yara is a fierce warrior and commands her own longship.
Yara is the only daughter of Lord Balon and his wife, Lady Alannys of House Harlaw. Balon is the head of House Greyjoy and the Lord of the Iron Islands. The Iron Islands are one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms and House Greyjoy is one of the Great Houses of the realm. House Greyjoy rules the region from their seat at Pyke and Balon also holds the title Lord Reaper of Pyke.
Yara was born and raised at Pyke. She was Balon and Alannys's third child after Rodrik and Maron. She also has a younger brother, Theon. Eight years before the start of the series, Balon rose in rebellion against the Iron Throne and was defeated in a bloody war. Balon's older two sons were killed and Theon was taken by Lord Eddard Stark as a hostage for Balon's good behavior and obedience. With Yara as Balon's only remaining child in the Iron Islands, he raised her as a surrogate son, encouraging her to become a reaver in her own right, which is unusual for women in the misogynistic culture of the ironborn. She is a fierce warrior and commands her own longship, to the disquiet of some of the ironborn who hold that women should not fight or command men in battle.
Theon has returned to Pyke as an envoy from King Robb Stark. Yara rides out to greet him, posing as a commoner to get the measure of her brother. She offers him a lift on her horse up to the castle Pyke. He does not recognize her and is relentless in his attempts to seduce her. He presents Robb's suggested alliance to their father, Balon Greyjoy. Balon roundly rejects the terms, insisting that he is ironborn and will seize his crown. He compares Theon unfavorably to Yara, revealing her identity. He says that Yara will lead his assault. Balon details a plan to attack the poorly defended north while Robb is distracted by his war with House Lannister. Yara is assigned thirty ships to seize Deepwood Motte, the stronghold of House Glover, while Theon is given a single ship to raid fishing villages along the Stony Shore. Theon is baptized by a Drowned Priest on the shores of Pyke in a show of loyalty to his blood relatives. Balon and Yara watch as he proclaims his faith in the Drowned God.
Yara assembles her ships at Red Harbor. She rides to Lordsport to reach her fleet and encounters Theon struggling to command his unruly crew. She seizes the opportunity to mock him again. Her men would wait a year for her if need be, but Theon's crew is not loyal to him. Yara's force takes Deepwood Motte as planned, but Theon ignores his orders and captures Winterfell instead by luring the garrison out to defend Torrhen's Square. He writes to Yara to request reinforcements to hold the castle. He announces to the assembled people of Winterfell that she will be sending him 500 men.
She learns that he has executed Bran Stark and Rickon Stark (who were actually two orphans from the farm) for attempting to escape captivity. She rides to Winterfell with twenty men and tries to convince Theon to return home with her but fails.
Following the events of the Red Wedding and Roose Bolton's ascent to Warden of the North, Ramsay Snow sends a letter and a box containing Theon's genitals to Pyke. In the letter, Ramsay demands that Yara's father order all ironborn to leave the North by the first night of the full moon under threat of flaying all of them alive and further torture and mutilation to Theon. Balon refuses to yield the lands and castles taken by the ironborn and dismisses Theon for having disobeyed him and for no longer "being a man" and unable to continue the Greyjoy line with children of his own. Yara, however decides to take the fastest ship of the Iron Fleet along with the 50 best killers of the Isles, sail up the Narrow Sea and into the Weeping Water, with the intention of marching against the Dreadfort to rescue her brother and bring him home.
Yara carries out her intentions of sailing to rescue Theon. She utilizes longboats and canoes to get upr iver and approach the Dreadfort, and she and the ironborn soldiers use grappling hooks to scale the walls and find out where Theon is being held. However, when they enter the kennels where he is sleeping, Theon claims he is Reek and refuses to go. Ramsay enters with some guards, and in the ensuing fight most of both sides are killed. Ramsay moves to release his hounds, questioning Yara "How fast can you run?", and the Ironborn are forced to retreat without Theon. Once back to the boats, Yara claims her brother is dead.
At Pyke, Yara informs her father that the Glovers have retaken Deepwood Motte and put the ironborn garrison there to the sword. With the loss of Deepwood Motte, the last major ironborn fortress in the North, Yara reasons that the ironborn invasion is a doomed cause. When Balon insists on continuing the fight, Yara argues that while the ironborn are unparalleled in naval warfare, they fare poorly on land, especially against a much larger mainland host. During their conversation, Balon chastises his daughter for wasting men on trying to rescue Theon from the Dreadfort. Yara refuses to apologize for her rescue attempt but tries to convince her father to end their rebellion against the mainland.
She points out that they were only able to take the strongholds in the North because the Northern lords were fighting a war in the South. Now the war is over and the northerners are taking back their strongholds from the ironborn. Yara then reminds her father that the last time they pushed the Northerners too far, they were defeated and she lost her two older brothers. Balon angrily responds that he lost three sons that day and warns Yara that he will replace her with another heir if she does not obey. The two part company and Balon is murdered by his estranged brother Euron Greyjoy.
Balon's body is discovered after the storm and the following day Yara attends hs seaside funeral which is officiated by her uncle Aeron Greyjoy, one of the Drowned Men priests. Following the funeral, she vows to avenge her father's death by finding whoever is responsible and feeding them to the sharks while they're still alive. When Yara announces her intention to succeed her father on the Salt Throne, Aeron reminds his niece that the Kingsmoot chooses the next ruler. While Balon wanted his daughter to succeed him, Aeron firmly points out that Balon does not make the rules. Aeron says that perhaps she will win the Kingsmoot and become the first woman in history to rule the Iron Islands - but then again, perhaps not.
When Theon returns to the Iron Islands, Yara berates him for betraying her at the Dreadfort. She suggests that Theon's arrival just before the Kingsmoot signals his desire to be king, which he denies. After pressuring Theon to tell her what he wants, he tells her that he wants to support her claim to the Salt Throne.
At the Kingsmoot, Yara is the first to claim the Salt Throne. She initially gains the support of those gathered, citing her experience leading the Ironborn and as a sea warrior. One person does not support her claim due to her gender and Theon's return. This remark prompts Theon to speak about Yara's bravery and legitimacy to rule. His speech convinces most of the Ironborn, but just as the Kingsmoot is about to close, Euron arrives. He lays claim, and Yara accuses him of murdering Balon. Euron admits his kinslaying but successfully convinces the Ironborn that their former king was holding them back from greatness. Euron wins the Kingsmoot, but while he is being baptized as the new ruler, Yara and Theon gather those loyal to them and sail with the majority of the Iron Fleet.
Theon's older sister, Yara, is the only child of Balon Greyjoy's who remained on the Iron Islands. Yara tried to rescue Theon from the Dreadfort but a broken Theon refused to come and Yara had no choice but to leave him. After the murder of their father, Yara sought the Salt Throne and found an unlikely backer in her contrite brother. When Euron Greyjoy won the kingsmoot, Yara and Theon fled Pyke for Meereen. There,trhey arranged an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen.