This article includes content relating to the Dance of the Dragons, and therefore contains potential spoilers for House of the Dragon, as revealed in GRRM's writings. Anyone wishing to remain completely spoiler free for the new show should avoid any articles displaying this tag.
An unnamed Valyrian steel dagger was used by a catspaw during an assassination attempt on Bran Stark. Although plain in design, the blade is finely made of Valyrian steel, and the smooth hilt is made of dragonbone. This dagger would indirectly begin the War of the Five Kings and, years later, end the Great War when Arya Stark used it to kill the Night King.
The dagger is carried by the assassin who attempted to kill Bran as he lies in a coma at Winterfell, following his fall from a tower. The attempt is thwarted by Bran's mother Catelyn, and his direwolf, Summer.
Following this incident, Catelyn shows the dagger to Maester Luwin, Ser Rodrik Cassel, Robb, and Theon. They conclude, in view of the weapon's materials (a dragonbone hilt and a Valyrian steel blade) that whoever had ordered the attack and armed the catspaw must be very wealthy.
Catelyn resolves to carry the blade to her husband in King's Landing to investigate further. Varys and Littlefinger both examine the blade, to which Littlefinger claims that the dagger originally belonged to him, and he lost it in a bet to Tyrion. After he is kidnapped, Tyrion denies that, but Catelyn does not believe him.
Afterward, Eddard keeps the blade with him. During a conversation with Littlefinger, in which he tries to persuade Ned to make peace with the Lannisters, Ned disdainfully says "with the people who tried to murder my boy" and puts the dagger on the desk, to make a point.
After betraying Ned, Littlefinger takes the blade for himself.
While reading, Sam lingers on a page detailing the use of dragonglass to decorate weapons. The page contains a drawing of the Valyrian steel dagger:
The Valyrians were familiar with dragonglass long before they came to Westeros. They called it "zīrtys perzys" which translated to “frozen fire” in Valyrian and eastern tales tell of how their dragons would thaw the stone with dragonflame until it became molten and malleable. The Valyrians then used it to build their strange monuments and building without seams and joints of our modern castles.
When Aegon the Conqueror forged his Seven Kingdoms, he and his descendants would often decorate their blades with dragonglass feeling a kinship with the stone. The royal fashion for dragonglass ornamentation soon spread throughout the Seven Kingdoms to those wealthy enough to afford it. Hilts and pommels were and are the most common decoration for dragonglass if too brittle to make a useful crossguard. Indeed, its very brittleness is what relegate it to the great houses and the most successful merchants.
Littlefinger later gives the dagger to Bran. Bran, however, is now the Three-Eyed Raven and incapable of fighting on his own, so he gives the dagger to Arya, in the presence of Sansa. Sansa notes that Littlefinger never gives away anything for free, and suggests that he must have some sort of ulterior motive. Later, Arya uses the dagger when sparring with Brienne.
In an appropriate twist of fate, the blade is used by Arya to execute Littlefinger during his trial for treason. During the trial, it is deduced that the dagger did in fact belong to Littlefinger all along, leaving open the possibility that he was the one who sent the catspaw assassin to kill Bran in the first place.
|Game of Thrones: Season 1 appearances|
|Winter Is Coming||The Kingsroad||Lord Snow||Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things||The Wolf and the Lion|
|A Golden Crown||You Win or You Die||The Pointy End||Baelor||Fire and Blood|
|Game of Thrones: Season 7 appearances|
|Dragonstone||Stormborn||The Queen's Justice||The Spoils of War|
|Eastwatch||Beyond the Wall||The Dragon and the Wolf|
|Game of Thrones: Season 8 appearances|
|Winterfell||A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms||The Long Night|
|The Last of the Starks||The Bells||The Iron Throne|
Behind the scenes
- Although the dagger had not been seen in the series since Season 1, the cover of a June 2017 issue of Entertainment Weekly showed Arya Stark with the dagger on her belt. This was somewhat of a spoiler that the dagger would reappear in the TV series.
- Actor John Bradley (Samwell Tarly) explained in interviews that in the Season 7 premiere, when Sam is reading a book, he was specifically instructed to linger on a detailed sketch of the Valyrian steel dagger - as this was apparently intended to remind the audience about it: "When we were shooting that scene, I was literally told 'make sure that you linger on this page.' They were shooting over my shoulder and said make sure to linger on it. Make sure we get a good shot of this page before you turn the page over."
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the dagger originally belonged to Littlefinger. During the tourney held to celebrate Joffrey Baratheon's twelfth nameday, Littlefinger lost it to Robert Baratheon, not to Tyrion. Later it was used by the catspaw assassin.
Similarly to the show, Catelyn shows the dagger to Littlefinger and Varys. Littlefinger hands it to Ned Stark and advises him to throw it away.
Later, Ned examines the dagger, trying to figure why Tyrion or anyone else would want Bran dead. He has a strong (but incorrect) feeling that the dagger and Bran's fall have something to do with Jon Arryn's murder.
While Robert is lying near death, Ned considers what he should do. Littlefinger advises him to make peace with the Lannisters. Ned firmly refuses; to emphasize his stand, he places the dagger on the table, a reminder that the Lannisters sought to murder his son.
During the brawl in the throne room, Littlefinger slides the dagger from its sheath and shoves it up under Ned's chin.
Unlike in the show, Catelyn reveals to Tyrion that it was Littlefinger who told her the dagger belonged to him. Later, by interrogating Jaime, she discovers that Littlefinger lied to her, but it is too late to undo the damage she caused by kidnapping Tyrion.
Some time after Tyrion returns to King's Landing, he chats with Littlefinger, commenting about his dagger. Littlefinger draws the dagger, glances at it casually as if he had never seen it before, then says with mischief in his eyes: "Valyrian steel, and a dragonbone hilt. A trifle plain, though. It's yours, if you would like it". Tyrion muses "He knows, the insolent wretch. He knows and he knows that I know, and he thinks that I cannot touch him".
It is unknown what has become of the dagger afterwards; Littlefinger presumably still has it in possession. In A Storm of Swords it is mentioned that Littlefinger carries a dagger and uses it to cut food, but it is not specified whether it is the Valyrian steel dagger – if it is, it is certainly an ignoble use of such a material.
House of the Dragon
The dagger appears again in the first teaser trailer for the prequel series House of the Dragon - it actually wasn't mentioned in any of the prequel stories and may have just been put in as an Easter Egg. Nor is it a particularly special weapon (other than the fact that it's Valyrian steel), because the Night King was created for the TV series and doesn't exist in the books (thus there is no prophecy surrounding it).
On the other hand, Valyrian steel blades are actually said to be very rare, particularly after Valyria was destroyed, to the point that there are only two hundred left in the entire continent of Westeros (and the Targaryens themselves brought many of those with them). Certainly, someone owned the dagger before Littlefinger did. Given how few of the blades exist, it's therefore entirely plausible that the dagger which came into Littlefinger's possession once belonged to some Targaryen prince.