HBO is on fire with the premier of House Of the Dragon this week. The show broke all audience records. It is the prequel to the hugely successful HBO’s Game of thrones. The 10-episode series brings new characters and a new story to the world of Westeros. Since the two shows belong to the same world of George RR Martin, certain connections and subtle nods between them are inevitable. Notably, one of the main references fans have noticed is a familiar Valyrian steel “Catspaw” dagger.
Let’s talk about it in detail.
What is this Valyrian steel dagger?
When Aegon the Conqueror forged his Seven Kingdoms, he and his descendants often decorated their blades with dragonglass, feeling a kinship with the stone.
The Valyrian steel dagger is made of Valyrian steel and its hilt is made of dragon bone. Valyrian steel is a rare and expensive metal in Westeros. It was forged long ago in Essos (Valyria) using magic and spells to give it unparalleled quality. In Game of Thrones, he was shown to have the ability to kill White Walkers. It indirectly started the War of the Five Kings, and years later ended the Great War when Arya Stark used it to kill the Night King.
In the books, it was mentioned that such Valyrian steel blades would actually be very rare, especially after the destruction of Valyria. There is only two hundred left all over the continent of Westeros (and the Targaryens themselves brought many with them).
The dagger in Game Of Thrones
“You told our mother that knife belonged to Tyrion Lannister. But that was another one of your lies…it was yours. – Arya Stark to Petyr Baelish
The Valyrian Steel Dagger has played a quiet but very important role in Game of Thrones history since the beginning. The knife made its appearance in game of thrones‘ second episode of the first season, which saw a mysterious Cat Paw; hence the nickname, attempt to assassinate a paralyzed Bran Stark using the blade. However, Catelyn Stark and Bran’s werewolf, Summers, managed to stop the attacker. Catelyn learned that the dagger belonged to Tyrion Lannister from Petyr Baelish. Petyr told him that Tyrion won him the dagger in a bet.
In season 4, we learned that Littlefinger had started all the conflicts by having Lysa Arryn (Catelyn’s sister) poisons her husband Jon Arryn, in an effort to incite war between the Lannisters and the Starks. Petyr Baelish ‘Littlefinger’ took possession of the dagger after betraying Ned Stark and then gave it to Bran. Bran Stark, who was now a Three-Eyed Raven, could foresee the future, so he gave it to Arya Stark in Season 7. Later, Arya used the same dagger to execute Littlefinger during his trial for treason. . Finally in season 8, during the Battle of Winterfell, Arya Stark used the Valyrian Steel Dagger to kill the Night King. This caused all white walkers and the ghosts serving under him fall.
The dagger in the House of the Dragon
In the first episode of House of the Dragon, the same Valyrian Steel dagger is in the possession of Viserys I Targaryen. He could be seen holding it in his belt while talking to Rhaenyra about her estate. In the first trailer for the series, the dagger can be seen in the possession of Alice’s High Tower. She seems to be running furiously towards Rhaenyra Targaryen with the same dagger in his hand.
Why she is angry and who is she running to will be seen in later episodes. It is clear that the Valyrian steel blade will be of great importance shortly before the Civil War. The character of Alice could be the central player in the bloody and brutal civil war of the Targaryen family, known as dragon dance.
In the book “Fire and Blood” the quarrel between friends is mentioned. It started after Rhaenyra’s son, Luceryspluck out the eye of Alice’s son, Aemond, Alicent demands that her stepson’s eye be gouged out as well. The moment became one of the final straws in the feud between Alicent and Rhaenyra before the start of the Targaryen War.
The meaning of the dagger
The Valyrians knew about dragonglass long before they came to Westeros. They called it “zirfyl perzfyl” which translated to “frozen fire” in Valyrian and Eastern tales of how their dragons thawed stone with dragon flame until it became molten and malleable.
Surprisingly, although the Catspaw dagger was never mentioned in the book the prequel is adapted from, Fire & Blood. Just as the dagger was not very important in the history of A song of ice and fire. The only specialty the dagger has in the books is the fact that it’s made of Valyrian steel. Since the Night King was created exclusively for the TV series and doesn’t exist in the books, so there’s no prophecy surrounding the dagger either.
However, provided few blades of Valyrian steel exist, certainly, somebody owned the dagger before Littlefinger. It’s also entirely plausible that the Catspaw Valyrian Dagger belonged to a Targaryen prince before it came into Littlefinger’s possession.