Eddard Stark: As a boy, even I dreamed sometimes of being not a Stark of Winterfell, but a Dayne of Starfall. Legend has it that the Dornish founder of House Dayne followed a falling star to where it hit the ground. And there, he raised his castle. A fantastic story, I know, but House Dayne has a relic to prove it. Dawn. The most famous sword in Westeros.
Forged from the fallen star's cold heart, and as strong and sharp as Valyrian steel. Many houses have ancestral swords passed from father to oldest son, like my own family's Ice. But Dawn doesn't pass to the Lord of Starfall by right. To wield Dawn, a knight of their House must first be deemed worthy. It doesn't matter if he's the lord, a younger brother or a distant cousin. If none are found to be worthy, the blade stays on the mantle in Starfall until the next generation.
But Dawn hasn't rested there often. From House Dayne have risen some of the greatest warriors in Westeros. Vorian Dayne, who was a king, and the greatest knight in Dorne before he was defeated by Nymeria. Because of his honor, and his prowess, she sent him to the Wall in golden fetters and took his heir as her husband. Joffrey Dayne, who answered Aegon the Conqueror's demand to submit by invading Aegon's Seven Kingdoms and marching an army to the gates of Oldtown, where Aegon had been crowned.
And the greatest of them all: Ser Arthur Dayne. The Sword of the Morning. During the reign of the Mad King, a band of outlaws calling themselves the Kingswood Brotherhood terrorized the forest outside of King's Landing. Every force sent after them either returned empty-handed or vanished into the woods, never to be seen again. The King was furious, and dispatched Ser Arthur of his own Kingsguard to deal with the threat. Ser Arthur didn't put the villagers to the question or set fire to the woods to smoke out the Brotherhood, as other forces had done. He paid the smallfolk for the food his men ate, brought their grievances to the King, even won them the right to take a few of the King's deer during the autumn. The forest folk had looked to the outlaws to defend them. But Ser Arthur did more for them than the outlaws could ever hope to do.
When a villager led Ser Arthur and his knights to the outlaws' secret camp, the Brotherhood, to their credit, didn't flee. One of their leaders, the Smiling Knight, was a madman. Cruelty and honor jumbled together. But he didn't know fear. Not even when Ser Arthur drew Dawn before him. Soon, the outlaw's longsword had so many notches that Ser Arthur stopped to let him fetch a new one. The robber knight chose another, and then asked for Dawn. Ser Arthur replied, "Then you shall have it". The Smiling Knight never smiled again.
The mad fool. Dawn is just a sword. Ser Arthur was the true steel. Strong, brave and loyal to a fault. He would never have aided Rhaegar's abduction of my sister if his vows hadn't compelled him. And though we fought on opposite sides, I admired him. When I was younger, I wanted to be him. Every boy did. And I killed him. Not in single combat, but as he was on his knees, a dagger in his back. I'll never forget the look in his eyes. He wasn't angry or betrayed. He'd done his duty to the last, even though he found it dishonorable. And even though he knew what awaited me in that tower.
Ser Arthur Dayne died the greatest knight who ever lived. After Robert's coronation, I returned Dawn to Starfall. One day, House Dayne will raise a worthy successor to Ser Arthur. Until then, Dawn gathers dust above the fire, with the dream of every boy in Westeros.
- Although not appearing in this specific video, in Season 5's Histories & Lore videos Jaime Lannister explained that he was present at the final confrontation between the Kingsguard (led by Arthur Dayne and Barristan Selmy) and the Kingswood Brotherhood. He was a squire and earned his knighthood that day. During a brief moment in Season 1 of the live-action TV series itself, Jaime and Barristan mentioned to Robert how they both fought against the Kingswood Brotherhood.
- Young Eddard says that Ser Arthur Dayne was the greatest knight who ever lived. This is subjective, of course, and argued about even in the novels - he was certainly the finest living swordsman of his generation. Many other sources argue that Aemon the Dragonknight, who lived about a century before Ser Arthur, was in fact the greatest of all time (he was certainly the best of his own generation): no one lived through both eras to be able to compare them. Another factor is which one was the best swordsman, and which was the best "knight" in general, in terms of valor, bravery, and devotion to justice. Nonetheless everyone who knew Ser Arthur in the novels, from Ned to Jaime to Barristan, speaks of him with nothing but awe.
- When listing the warriors of House Dayne that have wielded Dawn, only Ser Arthur Dayne is specifically called "the Sword of the Morning". However, the "the Sword of the Morning" title is given to anyone who is chosen to wield Dawn. Such others include Ser Ulrick Dayne who has not been mentioned on the show, and Ser Davos Dayne. King Vorian and Ser Joffrey are shown bearing Dawn indicating they must have held the title though there has been no mention in the books of either bearing the title. This is likely a dramatisaton; however, in Vorian's case, he was referred to as the "Sword of the Evening," which may bear some counterpoise as a similar title. The details of this title are unlikely to be known.
- King Vorian Dayne
- Princess Nymeria
- Ser Davos Dayne (indirectly mentioned)
- Ser Joffrey Dayne
- Ser Arthur Dayne
- The Smiling Knight
- King Aerys II Targaryen (mentioned)
- Lord Eddard Stark
- Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (mentioned)
- Lyanna Stark (mentioned)
- Nymeria's War
- First Dornish War
- Robert's Rebellion