At this rate, that Valyrian steel dagger is going to be the “one ring” of the franchise.
Spoilers for ‘House of the Dragon’ episode 7 below
It’s taken seven episodes and a ten-year time jump, but the growing tensions between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower finally began to boil over in Driftmark, widening the schism between the two characters and setting the stage for the impending civil war that follows. the showrunners have promised from the beginning.
Until now, the queen’s machinations have revolved around grooming her sons to rule, spreading rumors about the legitimacy of Rhaenyra’s offspring, and accidentally inciting the vicious massacre of House Strong. (RIP, Ser Harwin) But when a truly twisted fight between Rhaenyra, Alicent, and Daemon’s respective children over Vhaegar’s claim resulted in Prince Aemond losing an eye, Alicent’s fury drove her to take more direct action. In a moment of anger, she took the dagger that Viserys always carries at her side and attempted revenge on the young prince Lucerys. When Rhaenyra blocked her path, she tried to stab her, eventually cutting her forearm before giving in and letting the knife fall to the ground.
This was quite a dire moment for Alicent, as it was the first time she had lost her composure in public, though it made her all the more convincing to lead the Greens. But the scene had additional meaning, as it adds Rhaenyra to a ‘Game of Thrones’ -a connected roster that also includes Bran Stark, Catelyn Stark, Petyr Baelish and the Night King himself. That is to say, she is the last character in Westeros to have been attacked by the Valyrian steel blade.
What is the history of the Valyrian steel dagger?
We first saw this dagger in Game of Thrones season 1, when it was wielded by an assassin who made an attempt on Bran Stark’s life while he was in a coma after Jaime Lannister pushed him from the tower. Her mother, Cat Stark, suffered severe cuts to her hands while she was protecting Bran. The origins of the dagger and the question of who sent it to kill Bran lead to some of the most pivotal moments of Season 1. Cat’s arrest of Tyrion, as she believes he is behind the assassination attempt. , triggers the initial conflict between the Starks and the Lannisters, which eventually escalates into the War of the Five Kings after the deaths of Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark.
We don’t see the dagger again until Season 7, when Littlefinger presents it to Bran at Winterfell, who subsequently gives it to his sister Arya. Littlefinger originally led Cat to believe that the dagger belonged to Tyrion, but it is eventually determined that he owned the blade and therefore must have been the one who sent the assassin. Arya then uses the dagger to execute Littlefinger.
Arya proceeds to wield the dagger for the rest of the series and saves all of Westeros by defeating the Night King (it had previously been established that Valyrian steel and dragonglass were the only two things the White Walkers are vulnerable to) . In the final chapter of the series “The Iron Throne”, Arya can be seen putting the dagger in her belt as she sets sail to explore distant seas.
And that was it. Until ‘House of the Dragon’ took us almost 200 years back in time to show us the Targaryen dynasty at the height of its power, before the Dance with Dragons. Viserys is seen using the dagger throughout the series, and after naming his daughter Rhaenyra as his heir, he shares with her the history of the dagger: it once belonged to his ancestor Aenar Targaryen, who brought the family to Dragonstone before he died. the Death of Valyria, although it goes back even further.
When Aenar passed the blade to his son Aegon the Conqueror, Aegon commanded that the last of the Valyrian pyromancers conceal their prophecy in the sword, so that it can only be seen when exposed to fire: “From my blood shall come the promised prince, and His will be the song of ice and fire.”
Of course, we as viewers know that Aegon’s prophecy will not be fulfilled for almost two centuries (and will feature a very disappointing ending for the last remaining Targaryens). But the constant presence of the dagger in House of the Dragon, given its pivotal role in both starting and ending a war in the original series, is a great way to foreshadow the upcoming A Dance with Dragons.
It’s unclear if future episodes of the series will fill in exactly how the Valyrian steel dagger passed from the king’s side into Littlefinger’s possession. But it’s certainly amusing to think that long before Arya did that cool sleight of hand with the King tonight, the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms was using it to try and stab her former best friend.