Jump to content
sweetsunray

The secret to Valyrian Steel?

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

For another unrelated essay I went out in search for smiths once culturally seen as magicians, when I stumbled upon this gem: https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/norse-rituals

Apparently the Scandinavian smiths made their swords from bog iron, which is low quality. To give it strength and sharpness they performed a ritual in their forges where they attempted to imbue the iron with the spirits of ancestors, heroes and totemic animals. They used bones of animals and people for this and burned them. And yeah they had to dig up interred bones and graves for this... and there is plenty of evidence of tombs that were ransacked of bones not long after people were buried in it. In doing so, they actually created bone-coal, the same way charcoal is made. And so, the Scandinavian smiths who believed they had strengthened the bog iron with ancestral spirits, actually unwittingly made steel.

While this finding is too recent for George to know of it as historical fact when he started to write aGoT, he never needed these archeological findings. All he needs to know is the rudimentary process to forge steel (carbon + iron), and that any coal source would do. So, is bone-coal the secret to making Valyrian Steel? Sure, there are allusions to blood magic, etc... but as magical element that might have no more actual effect than spirits of the dead in the Scandinavian unwittingly forged steel.

There are a few interesting quotes relevant to this idea:

Quote

Tyrion curled up in his fur with his back against the trunk, took a sip of the wine, and began to read about the properties of dragonbone. Dragonbone is black because of its high iron content, the book told him. It is strong as steel, yet lighter and far more flexible, and of course utterly impervious to fire. (aGoT, Tyrion II)

Dragonbone is high in iron content, black, strong as steel and yet light... that compares a lot to the properties of Valyrian Steel. There's one huge issue - dragonbone is impervious to fire. The last rules out the idea that dragonbone was burned and charred into dragonbone-coal to turn iron into Valyrian steel. But what about the bones of dragonlords? 

The next relevant quote is the find of charred human bones in White Tree, the abandoned free folk village north of the Wall.

 
Quote

 

It was the biggest tree Jon Snow had ever seen, the trunk near eight feet wide, the branches spreading so far that the entire village was shaded beneath their canopy. The size did not disturb him so much as the face . . . the mouth especially, no simple carved slash, but a jagged hollow large enough to swallow a sheep.
Those are not sheep bones, though. Nor is that a sheep's skull in the ashes.
"An old tree." Mormont sat his horse, frowning. "Old," his raven agreed from his shoulder. "Old, old, old."
"And powerful." Jon could feel the power.
Thoren Smallwood dismounted beside the trunk, dark in his plate and mail. "Look at that face. Small wonder men feared them, when they first came to Westeros. I'd like to take an axe to the bloody thing myself."
Jon said, "My lord father believed no man could tell a lie in front of a heart tree. The old gods know when men are lying."
"My father believed the same," said the Old Bear. "Let me have a look at that skull."
Jon dismounted. Slung across his back in a black leather shoulder sheath was Longclaw, the hand-and-a-half bastard blade the Old Bear had given him for saving his life. A bastard sword for a bastard, the men joked. The hilt had been fashioned new for him, adorned with a wolf's-head pommel in pale stone, but the blade itself was Valyrian steel, old and light and deadly sharp.
He knelt and reached a gloved hand down into the maw. The inside of the hollow was red with dried sap and blackened by fire. Beneath the skull he saw another, smaller, the jaw broken off. It was half-buried in ash and bits of bone.
When he brought the skull to Mormont, the Old Bear lifted it in both hands and stared into the empty sockets. "The wildlings burn their dead. We've always known that. Now I wished I'd asked them why, when there were still a few around to ask." (aCoK, Jon II)

 

 Of course, the free folk burn their dead to prevent them from being turned into wights, and they're not metal workers. So these particular burned bones of an adult and a child are not being used by Free Folk smiths to give strength to their swords. And they likely placed the skulls into the heart tree so the dead kin can "watch over" their surviving village kin via the weirwood tree, as wildlings believe their spirit go into the trees. Nevertheless, it also reminds us of the tales of blood sacrifices before a heart tree.
 
It therefore serves pretty nicely as a parallel to the Valyrian Steel allusions of blood sacrifice being involved to make it, to Valyrians having a tradition of burning their dead, and I'm pretty sure we would ask them why when there were still a few around to ask.
 
We also get a cryptic hint from George that there's a truth hidden in this scene: for before a heart tree you can't tell or write lies. But you can disguise them right?
 
And right smack in the middle of the scene, for some odd reason, George inserts Longclaw, how it's VS and its properties, which seems completely out of place on the subject matter of that scene. But notice the mention of Longclaw comes right after Jon and Jeor agreeing about the "no lies in front of a heart tree" and right before the inspection of the burned skulls and the question - why did they burn their dead?
 
For me as reader the mystery of this scene was never "why do wildlings burn their dead?" We already knew why by then. The mystery was "why is this scene set up as a mystery at all?" And the answer now seems to me that it is a layered clue to the mystery of Valyrian Steel.
 
And so the secret to forging VS seems to be the burning of dragonlords and the Valyrian smiths used the bone-coal of these dead dragonlords. Not only would it help in forging steel, but the blood of dragonlords is somehow special, having some kind of affinity with dragons. And several theories float around on how Valyrians experimented to genetically fuse the blood of people with the blood of dragons. And then in that way the bone-coal of the dragonlords passed the qualities of dragonbone onto the steel.
 
This "secret" would explain why George insists on Valyrians ultimately not being impervious to fire like dragonbone is, not even Dany. That her survival of the pyre was a one-off. And in fact Fire and Blood reveals something that happend to Aegon's VS Blackfyre:
 
Quote

Prince Maegor, in residence at Dragonstone at the time, spoke the eulogy as his father's body was laid upon a funeral pyre in the castle yard. The king was clad in battle armor, his mailed hands folded over the hilt of Blackfyre. Since the days of Old Valyria, it had ever been the custom of House Targaryen to burn their dead, rather than consigning their remains to the ground. Vhagar supplied the flames to light the fire. Blackfyre was burned with the king, but retrieved by Maegor afterward, its blade darker but elsewise unharmed. No common fire can damage Valyrian Steel. (Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon)

and thanks @the fattest leech for bringing up White Tree and Blackfyre darkening.

Edited by sweetsunray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In addition it would work well with the Nissa Nissa legend in the forging of Lightbringer. If Azor Ahai was a dragonlord, so would have been his wife. Evidently he was apprenticed into smithing too, since he forged swords. Just tempering with water and charcoal was not good enough a sword. Tempering it with bone coal of a lion was not good enough. But tempering it with the bone coal of his "sister-wife" he murdered and then burned was the trick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If Valyrian steel's secret is somehow fusing the souls/power/whatever of dead Dragonlords, I feel like they'd keep them closer. Sure, they're the only ones with the knowledge, but they seemed willing and eager to let the swords spread around the world. Even in relatively recent times, house Stark just straight up bought one. Of course, we know little of Valyrian culture, and maybe they didn't feel attachment to their forefathers like they do in real cultures, but I feel like they wouldn't be so willing to distribute weapons made with their forefathers remains. 

I've always liked the theory that the Lightbringer story lays out the secret of Valyrian Steel - absorbing the life of an innocent during the forging. Azor Ahai didn't temper his sword in Nissa Nissa's "bone coal", he drove it through her still-beating heart. I think Valyrian Steel was finished in the same way, though I figure they could use anyone, like a slave, instead of ancestor remains. Of course, that doesn't explain the chemical properties, but it could be the mystical element most of us believe is involved with Valyrian steel. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, Lord Vance II said:

If Valyrian steel's secret is somehow fusing the souls/power/whatever of dead Dragonlords, I feel like they'd keep them closer. Sure, they're the only ones with the knowledge, but they seemed willing and eager to let the swords spread around the world. Even in relatively recent times, house Stark just straight up bought one. Of course, we know little of Valyrian culture, and maybe they didn't feel attachment to their forefathers like they do in real cultures, but I feel like they wouldn't be so willing to distribute weapons made with their forefathers remains. 

I've always liked the theory that the Lightbringer story lays out the secret of Valyrian Steel - absorbing the life of an innocent during the forging. Azor Ahai didn't temper his sword in Nissa Nissa's "bone coal", he drove it through her still-beating heart. I think Valyrian Steel was finished in the same way, though I figure they could use anyone, like a slave, instead of ancestor remains. Of course, that doesn't explain the chemical properties, but it could be the mystical element most of us believe is involved with Valyrian steel. 

The smiths would have kept the secret of using the charred remains of a funeral pyre close to themselves. Such a secret would have passed down only from smith to his apprentice son. "Son, go gather the bones and ashes of the last funeral". So, most Valyrian dragonlords didn't even know it themselves, hence the families sold them.

And the smith who first discovered it, and the tellers of the legend were not going to give it away either. So, of course the legend does not say AA used Nissa Nissa's bone coal. That's a technological secret. So, instead it's told as striking her living heart so her "blood, soul and strength" went into the sword. None of Wayland's myth or other sword making real world myths give the smith's forging secrets away either.

And Nissa Nissa as wife in relation to a smith's story has a double meaning from the get go: the forge of a smith was classically regarded as his "wife".

Edited by sweetsunray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, sweetsunray said:
 
It therefore serves pretty nicely as a parallel to the Valyrian Steel allusions of blood sacrifice being involved to make it, to Valyrians having a tradition of burning their dead, and I'm pretty sure we would ask them why when there were still a few around to ask.

Never you mind that. :-) This way it's more fun. Lots of awesome ideas! 

Wayland the Smith from the Poetic Edda is said to have used his captors' sons' skulls, teeth and eyes in his works. We are not told he burnt them, he actually is said to make a goblet from a skull, but 'corpse+smith' story. Could be?

And yeah, I can get straight up onboard with the reptilian, 'at any cost' conqueror mentality of the dragonlords. Just how much 'family coal' was used per forging a piece? Sword, knife? Full armor? How long after they found out did any hipothetical 'old timey' burried remains run out? Was it considered a dessecration and had to be done in secret for religious reasons? Or did some dragonlord families' rites simply differ?

Was a purer blooded Valyrian burnt corpse more effective from, presumably, higher iron content? Was this a hidden reason for their marital traditions of 'keeping the blood pure'? Or beyond the dragonlord aptitude could it be genetically coded 'close' to have those 'preferred' physical characteritics, silver hair, purple iris, and bonus, higher iron content in blood and bone?

A cursory read on blacksmithing made me aware that sulfur contamination in average coal is a sure fire way to have lower quality results, or, red short iron or steel. Considering Valyria is a volcanic region, it might be extra in sulfur content.

Did they start using bone coal to escape this and accidentally fell upon extra benefit of creating valyrian steel?

 We are told the Targaryens, though dragonriders, weren't high up on the totem pole, so could their House not be powerful enough to be in on the valuable secret? Considering no new VS is made after the Doom, the secret might be lost, but the habits remained, both the inbreeding due to dragonlord selection and the burning of the dead. Did a smith Guild guard the secret closely and perished to the last man in the Doom? They would certainly be a valuable asset and central to the Freehold.

This is awesome. A working theory for VS that includes a 'sacrifice' element but keeps to 'real world' logic. 

In some other thread, (cheers and thanks to the OP, sorry, can't remembee who it was!) VS was likened to Damascus Steel, or a mystical version of it. The use of vegetable biomass as a carbon source is a suspected process to make the carbon nanotubes that describe the legendary Damascus steel. Substitute vegetable with animal? I can't be sure about the sulfur content of animal protein and how it cause 'red short', but pyre temperatures could certainly remove the 'meat' and leave the actual usable quality carbon.

Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, George had said dragonbone is not used in Valyrian Steel. But he never said people bones aren't.

It would certainly be interesting if the Valyrian/Targaryen custom of cremation stemmed from a commercial reason. And there's no reason any of the dragonlords would necessarily have known it. 

Whatever magic was used to bind the dragons to the people, it could very well have changed their DNA. Do we know whether the VS or the dragonriding came first? If the riding came first, the bone theory gets a boost I think. Why sacrifice valuable dragons when you could just harvest the bones of dead dragonlords? Besides which the dragons had much longer lives than the dragonlords did, so the people would give a more dependable supply. Granted it wouldn't have to be the humans with the dragonblood, it's just tempting to think it would be. And that would even better explain no more VS after the Doom--while it's possible that smiths who knew the secret could have survived in various Valyrian outposts, if the dragonlord bones were the source material then they were out of supply after the peninsula was incinerated. 

Combine the bone-charcoal with the AA/NN tempering and you've got not only a very morbid ingredient source but living human sacrifice to create LB/VS. Creepy, but very possible in this series. Of course it's possible that AA took his work a step further than the Valyrian smiths did, given that he had a supernatural world-killing enemy to defeat. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that.

Very cool stuff, sweetsunray!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

Wayland the Smith from the Poetic Edda is said to have used his captors' sons' skulls, teeth and eyes in his works. We are not told he burnt them, he actually is said to make a goblet from a skull, but 'corpse+smith' story. Could be?

Exactly! And Wayland is actually a "bear" himself... he lived alone in the forest, could skinchange, and left his imprisonment free as a bird spirit. (typical bear motifs, including the "rings"). The legend does not state that out loud, because it's basically "understood" and "hinted" (taboo to name a bear a "bear"). There are other figures of speech in the legend. For example, the cutting of his hamstrings was a euphemism for neutering him. Hence he tooks the "heads" of the two sons to replace his missing ones. And yeah, the skulls would serve as coal fuel. A lot of legendary swords have been claimed to have been made by him.

 

16 minutes ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

We are told the Targaryens, though dragonriders, weren't high up on the totem pole, so could their House not be powerful enough to be in on the valuable secret? Considering no new VS is made after the Doom, the secret might be lost, but the habits remained, both the inbreeding due to dragonlord selection and the burning of the dead. Did a smith Guild guard the secret closely and perished to the last man in the Doom? They would certainly be a valuable asset and central to the Freehold.

Having a secret protects your powerful position. Both masons and smiths were highly respected men in their communities, often given extra responsibilities and leadership roles because of their craft. We know the dragonlord families didn't like to share their dragonriding abilities and keep it in the family. I would think this would even be more true for the dragonlord smith families.... AA's descendants most likely, no? They made sure the dragonlord families kept the customs, and yeah might have gone "graverobbing" or rather "pyrerobbing" after. This makes them sort of "necromancers" no?

As for the Targs... their talent seems more in having "dragondreams" (seeing the future), but beyond that they seem a rather ignorant family, who haven't a clue why they have a certain custom (whether it's incestuous marriage, breeding dragons, keeping your family sword, how to make them, why burn). And it gets worse with each generation, until they even end up locking dragons up so they can get no bigger than the size of a dog, and then there were none left.

If I picture the spirits of the other Valyrian dragonlord families who all died out in Old Valyria looking at what the Targs are up to this time then I see the spirits in Disney's Mulan in my mind's eye, shaking their head and go "hm-hmm, nope!" And them ranting to each other it should have been them who survived the Doom. :lmao: They probably felt like most of us watching S8. They had it all: dragons, eggs, 2 swords, rule over an entire continent, no other rival dragonlord families to content with, and then they had nothing, mostly because of some very spoiled brats as kings who didn't value what they had.

Maybe the Targs were the "flip a coin" family even amongst the Valyrian ranks? Dany though is the exception. Even though at one hand she is not a book learner, she intuitively figures stuff out. If she brought back dragons, she might be able to provide the opportunity to reinvent the method to make VS. We still have Tobho Mott in KL. And though he only knows about reforge spells, he might get the idea to do something with perhaps fAegon's bones?

If this is the secret to making VS, then I think that George might actually have it happen and confirm it. All it requires is a dragon charring one with the blood of a dragonlord and smart inventive smith who knows VS well. There aren't many clues, but the ones he gave are rather heavy handed, once you recognize you can get carbon from human remains to make steel. 

2 hours ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

This is awesome. A working theory for VS that includes a 'sacrifice' element but keeps to 'real world' logic. 

Yeah! It's rather so very simple! Whenever other people speculated about the forging of VS, their ideas seemed possible if you just go with "it's magical", which is probably why I never even bothered exploring an explanation. When the explanation is magic, anything can be the right answer, really.

I know how steel is forged. Explained it to juniors in science class. It just never occured to me that human burned bones would do the trick too, because who'd use human bones, hmmm? And then just googling for some supportive material on the claim "smiths were seen as magicians in ancient times" I stumble on an article explaining that's exactly how Scandinavians ended up making steel without knowing it was steel. They really believed they were putting the soul of their ancestors into the iron, and that it was their magic making the swords stronger. And in the back of my mind I thought "OMG! Valyrian Steel! What if it's this! It's so simple, so elegant an answer." And would be so George, imho.

And this theory can be tested in future books. He already gave us the first test in Fire & Blood. @The Fattest Leech told me Blackfyre had blackened in Aegon's funeral pyre. I had forgotten that Aegon's funeral pyre was ever mentioned.

2 hours ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

In some other thread, (cheers and thanks to the OP, sorry, can't remembee who it was!) VS was likened to Damascus Steel, or a mystical version of it. The use of vegetable biomass as a carbon source is a suspected process to make the carbon nanotubes that describe the legendary Damascus steel. Substitute vegetable with animal? I can't be sure about the sulfur content of animal protein and how it cause 'red short', but pyre temperatures could certainly remove the 'meat' and leave the actual usable quality carbon.

I mentioned the Damascus Steel connection in the Plutonian Others test as one of the examples how George may often make something seem or be magical, but based on real world technology. The other example was wildfire based on RW Greek fire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Whatever magic was used to bind the dragons to the people, it could very well have changed their DNA.

I'm open to that idea. Area's misfortune certainly is one of the indicators of it, and the mentions of the Targs being rather immune to non-magical diseases.

And in the World Book you have certain places near the peninsula where various beastly experiments have been performed of trying to mate people with certain animals and such, as well as having animals mate other animal species, that heavily suggest they were desperately trying to "recreate" dragons and dragonriders that way after the Doom.

9 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Do we know whether the VS or the dragonriding came first?

Traditionally the world book links VS only to Valyria. There are various regions that claim dragon creation/hatching as first. And regardless whether that was Asshai or Valyria, dragons existed in Westeros before the coming of the Targs. But dragonriding is also typically only associated with Valyria. So the two seem to go uniquely in hand.

The question is whether AA was Valyrian or not.

There is a possibility that he might have been, and the solution for that would also solve the seeming contradicting claim of Asshai and Valyria about the hatching of dragons. Ser Jaemes (twitter) proposes that the Long Night was a meteor impact, that not just caused a nuclear winter, but also a plate tectonic drift... That basically, proto-Essos once looked differently, and thus that Yi Ti and Asshai were located somewhere else. You can actually nicely surround them around Valyria. It would make the peninsula the actual location of impact, causing a volcanic plume as it hit the magma levels, and thus created the Fourteen Flames.

I don't necessarily agree with all his conclusions, but I made copies of maps and used my scissors and moved the puzzle pieces myself, and it seems workable. It certainly would explain the coinciding stories by Yi Ti, Asshai and Valyria.

AA came at the end of the Long Night, but it lasted a whole generation, so potentially the dragons and dragonriding could have been done before AA's first VS sword.

25 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

And that would even better explain no more VS after the Doom--while it's possible that smiths who knew the secret could have survived in various Valyrian outposts, if the dragonlord bones were the source material then they were out of supply after the peninsula was incinerated. 

Exactly! That's what I think as well. Smiths who would still have known at the time in a freehold somewhere would have been without the proper carbon source. Only the Targs qualify after that, and they still had dragons to defend themselves. By the time they lost the dragons, the lore was forgotten.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

I'm open to that idea. Area's misfortune certainly is one of the indicators of it, and the mentions of the Targs being rather immune to non-magical diseases.

Well, actually they aren't. The first Princess Daenerys died of the shivers, and several Targs died during the Great Spring Sickness. But the rumors did persist in-world.

4 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

The question is whether AA was Valyrian or not.

I'm not entirely certain he would need to be. The Long Night came millenia before Valyria rose as an empire and it's possible that the recipe for Valyrian Steel was made/created/stumbled upon in an attempt to recreate Lightbringer, in case of another Long Night.

If the Asshai'i already had a prophecy of the Others returning and anything remotely resembling the Dragon that was Promised bit, then the rise of dragonlords in Valyria might well have seemed a sign that Long Night 2.0 was suddenly a lot closer. It makes sense that the smiths of Valyria might start experimenting and never quite get as far as AA did, but still managed to have a major breakthrough and create a huge market for almost magical swords. Kind of like the guy in California who thinks he's cracked Damascus Steel--and it certainly looks like he may have, but even if he has it will never be quite the same or as special as the original DS.

AA could have been Westerosi. It's rather tangential to this thread but if the Last Hero was AA, it's possible that he couldn't live in Westeros anymore after the Long Night. For one thing, he'd be famous. For another, if the AA story is true he had to kill his wife to save the world, and why would he want to live in a land where he would be reminded of that fact? He could have moved to Essos, even Asshai. Just spit-balling of course but it would have been convenient if he lived in that part of the world and maybe left some kind of info the Valyrians later picked up and ran with.

16 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

There is a possibility that he might have been, and the solution for that would also solve the seeming contradicting claim of Asshai and Valyria about the hatching of dragons. Ser Jaemes (twitter) proposes that the Long Night was a meteor impact, that not just caused a nuclear winter, but also a plate tectonic drift... That basically, proto-Essos once looked differently, and thus that Yi Ti and Asshai were located somewhere else. You can actually nicely surround them around Valyria. It would make the peninsula the actual location of impact, causing a volcanic plume as it hit the magma levels, and thus created the Fourteen Flames.

Did the meteor also bring the Others? The series and the author are pretty clear that the Long Night was caused by them showing up. Nothing against nuclear winter, but it has to involve Westeros, per GRRM saying Westeros got the brunt of the Long Night because they are the continent furthest north. Remember that Dawn was forged from the heart of a fallen star, according to legend. If "star" means meteor, then that gives us a Westerosi history of being hit by ice rocks from the sky. Doesn't mean other places can't also be hit. 

An interesting point about tectonic shifts. I don't think it's necessary for the story, but it's certainly possible. 

The Fourteen Flames would be more likely to have formed one at a time, like the Hawaiian islands. Each is its own volcano, so normal tectonic plate movement works fine without any meteor impacts. Volcanoes form over hundreds of years. An instant cataclysmic event is not likely to have formed the FF.

From what you've mentioned above it seems like Ser Jaemes is suggesting that what is now the Valyrian Peninsula was previously an unidentified supervolcanic caldera much like Yellowstone. The whole thing going up (which actually works perfectly for the Doom, and subsequent smoking sea, Aerea's sickness, etc) certainly would have changed the continent, and caused a seriously bad nuclear winter for Planetos but...and it's kind of a big but...Westeros would not have been the hardest hit, so it's inconsistent with what GRRM has said about the Long Night.

Unless...do you still have your pieces of map? Can you fit all the continents together into a supercontinent with Westeros being furthest south but still connected to the spot that would eventually become Valyria? Remember how Quaithe said you must go east to go west? If Westeros was so far south it went north after the caldera went up, then it could still bear the brunt of a nuclear winter. Of course there are still the Others, but they could be separate. It's certainly easier to just go with the magic, since the series does have it, but working out a geographic and tectonic history of Planetos is more fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Well, actually they aren't. The first Princess Daenerys died of the shivers, and several Targs died during the Great Spring Sickness. But the rumors did persist in-world. 

True... I'm just thinking of Septon Barth's remark in Fire and Blood, which only went as far as the regency. But wasn't the "shivers" to be considered a "magical disease"?

5 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

It's rather tangential to this thread but if the Last Hero was AA, it's possible that he couldn't live in Westeros anymore after the Long Night.

I actually don't think the Last Hero was AA. The Last Hero's sword broke, and LH's feat was something entirely else in nature. His heroics was reaching the CotF and making them allies. It was not LH who defeated the Others, but the Children's help given to the proto-NW already set up. While the FM and CotF had peace for several thousand years because of the Pact already, CotF and FM weren't allies yet. I'm more inclined to think LH was Brandon the Builder, for in order to persuade the CotF to help he would have needed to learn to talk True Tongue.

5 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Just spit-balling of course but it would have been convenient if he lived in that part of the world and maybe left some kind of info the Valyrians later picked up and ran with.

But if he was AA, then I do like this idea.

5 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Did the meteor also bring the Others? The series and the author are pretty clear that the Long Night was caused by them showing up. Nothing against nuclear winter, but it has to involve Westeros, per GRRM saying Westeros got the brunt of the Long Night because they are the continent furthest north. Remember that Dawn was forged from the heart of a fallen star, according to legend. If "star" means meteor, then that gives us a Westerosi history of being hit by ice rocks from the sky. Doesn't mean other places can't also be hit. 

That imo would have been a different meteor: the one that landed with lifeform building blocks from which the Others come from. And imo the Others existed prior to the Long Night, so that would be earlier. Children already lived in hidden tree villages (think of Will safely in the tree in the Prologue) and used obsidian before the FM arrived in Westeros (to defend themselves against Others). George is only clear about the fact that the Long Night was the first encounter the First Men had with the Others. I don't think they caused it though. Squabbling people had migrated already into the Lands of Always Winter by the time the Others became a threat.

A "falling star" = "meteor"... However, iron-meteorites would not cause a nuclear winter. It requires a different type of meteor, with atmosphere-entry size of >100 km to cause an "impact event". Nuclear winters are caused by a huge plume of dust, including the meteorite's. There would have been nothing left of the meteorite itself. Iron-meteorites can't cause a nuclear winter, since they're never that big upon entry, and their core obviously survives impact. Our own ancient history was shaped by 3 impact events. One (they haven't found the culprit yet) caused the breaking of Pangea and  a mass extinction that made the dinosaurs the new masters (the mass extinctionhappens a measly 1000 years before the breaking in our geographical timeline). Then a second one hit in what used to be the "heart of Pangea" (what is now the Gulf of Mexico; mind you the Gulf itself is NOT the crater) and caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. A third one, called the Altenin event, hit the deep ocean near Antarctica and Chili, and is linked to causing the ice age by disrupting the ice flows and supertsunamis depositing marine sediment and life along the Pacific shorelines.

5 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

An instant cataclysmic event is not likely to have formed the FF.

Well, impact events could cause a "volcanic plume" as the impact hits the crust and displaces sediment and magma layers.

5 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

From what you've mentioned above it seems like Ser Jaemes is suggesting that what is now the Valyrian Peninsula was previously an unidentified supervolcanic caldera much like Yellowstone. The whole thing going up (which actually works perfectly for the Doom, and subsequent smoking sea, Aerea's sickness, etc) certainly would have changed the continent, and caused a seriously bad nuclear winter for Planetos but...and it's kind of a big but...Westeros would not have been the hardest hit, so it's inconsistent with what GRRM has said about the Long Night. 

The Valyrian Peninsula would have been "land", actually the heart of proto-Essos, surounded by Asshai and Yi Ti (basically cut Essos in half along the "Bones" and turn the Yi Ti and Asshai half 180° and the half moon shape of Yi Ti neatly surrounds the peninsula). The meteor hit the heart of Essos (think of proto-Essos as Nissa Nissa here), dirupted the earth's crust, creating the situation for the Fourteen Flames to grow and effectively breaking the continent along fault lines. You can fit the arm of Dorne neatly south along the Disputed lands all the way to the Valyrian peninsula btw (though it would have already drifted away before this). Asshai took the biggest immediate fall-out. The impact would have sent tons and tons of vaporized earth into the atmosphere (along with other elements), combined with a smoking volcanic sea, and this could cause a generation long nuclear winter. And the Others already present in the North finally dared to come more south in Westeros for the first time to man's knowledge. ( A nuclear winter is something neither the Corpse Queen nor the present Others waited around for).

Westeros was the hardest hit because of the Others, but when it comes to being put into an everlasting shadow Asshai was hit the heaviest.

5 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Unless...do you still have your pieces of map? Can you fit all the continents together into a supercontinent with Westeros being furthest south but still connected to the spot that would eventually become Valyria? Remember how Quaithe said you must go east to go west? If Westeros was so far south it went north after the caldera went up, then it could still bear the brunt of a nuclear winter. Of course there are still the Others, but they could be separate. It's certainly easier to just go with the magic, since the series does have it, but working out a geographic and tectonic history of Planetos is more fun.

Actually, if you "cut the Arm" "cut the Fingers" and "choke the Neck" you can fit most of Westeros NORTH of Essos. And suddenly Skagos and Ib both having similar fauna and geology, and the forest north of the Dothraki Sea with the little people that the Dothraki so loved (very much sounding like CotF) makes a LOT more sense. So, what was once SOUTH, became EAST of the Bones, and what was NORTH became Westeros. Though I think Westeros had already long drifted away prior to this Long Night impact event. If you cut the Vale off along the Mountains of the Moon and turn that 180° you can fit it nicely to the land from Braavos to Pentos. But yeah, a super continent is the Ser Jaemes' idea yeah.

Edited by sweetsunray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

mentioned the Damascus Steel connection in the Plutonian Others test as one of the examples how George may often make something seem or be magical, but based on real world technology. The other example was wildfire based on RW Greek fire

Oops. I guess I got so excited about the ice aspect and my inner sh*t scared of spiders went straight to 'giggly, this is so awesome, oh crap', that I forgot about it. Doh!

It's really a poke in the right direction when you’re repeatedly seeing examples of lost arts that relate to weaponizing fire.

Daenerys as a vehicle through which some of the ancient secrets come to the fore is a pet want of mine too. She's not a 'special one', things happen to her because what would life be if it was all determinism, hm? Bring on the chaos, the drift of storylines on a pool of uncertainty. Like tectonic plaques spinning in themselves on a liquid fire surface. A push from here, then boom, plaque on plaque violence. A push from there, a little spin, and the unthinkable happens, your starmap references are all shot, and you loose your way, friend is foe, ally is enemy. Poor idiot girl simply starts buys into her own hype, sees everything turn sideways and backwards and that way lies madness. 

But the conversation would be awesome. Should Tobho Mott have suspicions or theories about the 'cost' of VS thinking and If he should hear a first hand account of Vyseris' death? Some obscure detail, like 'light boned' giving him the Eureka moment. 

I don't know if anyone has thought of this but I went and looked up the hipothetical extra iron content as a preferred characteristic to the Valyrian 'looks'.

Turns out one disorder, hemochromatosis, as a genetic defect, is especially prevalent in people of Nordic ascendence and could cause symptoms from loss of fertility, neonatal issues and degenerating brain disease, with the most frequent onset being around fourty to sixty, things like osteoporosis, liver failure or diabetes would sort of be under the radar, but Targaryens were actively selecting those traits that manifest from Iron Overload.

As such, we could have a viable-ish 'coin toss' theory to explore along with the Iron content as a 'dragon' aspect that was selectively chosen to perpetuate in dragonlords.

If most individuals were 'functional' or at least symptom free until an advanced age? The coin toss would simply a probability game to when+if the exactly wrong group of symptoms would manifest.

And then you have the Qohoric. Renowned for magic, necromancy. Their goat god demands animal sacrifice every day, more, human, on Holy days, noble blooded in times of strife and danger. Maester Pol's discoveries about their 'like VS' steel and the blood sacrifice required. Blood as in life and body. Bone. 

Now we get to the gory, sketchy details.

Since the resulting bone ash from a person suffering from disease that causes bone loss, like hemochromatosis usually does, is less that a healthy person? (oh holy GRRM, what are you doing to us that I had the thought process that led to searching 'boneloss+cremation'!) You'd need plenty of trueblooded Valyrian bone, more than from a healthy person. If Tobho Mott should find/know it needed to be dragonlord bones, not just valyrian? KL would be the place to be. 

I too suddenly have a very bad feeling about Young Griff. His age might have him not manifest the osteoporosis, if he is the son of Rhaegar. If he isn't, all the better fuel he'd be, ironically enough. And Dany would merely take him burning as 'not a dragon' confirmation in her own delusion that fire cannot touch her because 'she' is the dragon. Oh boy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

Oops. I guess I got so excited about the ice aspect and my inner sh*t scared of spiders went straight to 'giggly, this is so awesome, oh crap', that I forgot about it. Doh!

No worries... you remembered the point made about Damascus steel... that's the most important ;)

22 hours ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

Daenerys as a vehicle through which some of the ancient secrets come to the fore is a pet want of mine too. She's not a 'special one', things happen to her because what would life be if it was all determinism, hm? Bring on the chaos, the drift of storylines on a pool of uncertainty.

There are four learning types (Kolb): as in, everybody has a preferred way to start a cycle of learning. Some learn better through having experienced on something or watching people do something and then reflect on it to formulate a theory. Others prefer directly with the theory. Then a third type learner starts with planning stuff. The fourth type is the "do" type, who go by intuition. For all these types, their natural starting point is their strength. Their weakness is the opposite one. Experiencers are bad in planning, and planners have a hard time reflecting on experience. Theorists shudder at intuition, and intuits will want to run asap when someone takes out a book full of theories. The trick is acquiring the insight that you need to complete a cycle to actually learn. Your starting point preference is your best point to start, but you need to go through the steps you don't like as well to actually grow.

Dany is the intuit. She has books or people who could inform her, and she says she wants to learn, but uses every excuse to not read or let the informer finish speaking. Samwell and Tyrion are theorists. Most of the Stark children seem to be experiencers/reflecting like Ned, except for Robb. He's a planner. Cat's an intuit. Everybody has their "specialty" and their "flaws". 

But yeah, with her intuition and do-style she may indeed be the agent through which the technology to forge VS may be rediscovered. If it's a pure magical process I'd say chances for that are nill, but if it's a tech-secret as the one I propose it's doable.

For herself, she would barely have an interest in acquiring VS, but she does promise Jorah one

Quote

She nodded, as calmly as if she had not heard his answer, and turned to the last of her champions. "Ser Jorah Mormont," she said, "first and greatest of my knights, I have no bride gift to give you, but I swear to you, one day you shall have from my hands a longsword like none the world has ever seen, dragon-forged and made of Valyrian steel. (aGoT, Dany X)

She's not even talking about an existing VS sword, but a newly forged one - one the world has never seen before. We dismiss her promise as an impossible boast. She'd have to acquire an already existing VS sword from someone else, normally, since the tech is lost. But what if it is foreshadowing of what she "unwittingly" will end up doing for him? Well, then the lost technology must not be that hard to re-discover, and it's a technology thingy.

23 hours ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

But the conversation would be awesome. Should Tobho Mott have suspicions or theories about the 'cost' of VS thinking and If he should hear a first hand account of Vyseris' death? Some obscure detail, like 'light boned' giving him the Eureka moment. 

Readers have long suspected that Tobho Mott or his apprentice Gendry would still have a future role to play in forging VS. While the splitting of Ice into 2 new swords hurt emotionally, I do rationally agree that Ice should not be reforged. It can be put to better use as 2 swords. Though I hope LS learns the truth of what happened to Ice at least. I'm also very doubtful that Gendry knows the spells to reforge VS. He has just finished making his first normal steel sword, on his own. But Tobho has been on it for decades. We also know Tobho experiments with forging technologies and become a master in his own invented technologies. Sure, so far it's mostly about coloring steel, but at least it proves he has a mind bent towards experimenting and inventing. Such a mind, can't help but try out stuff. It helps that he's not in Qohor, because that makes him far more independent from any dogmatic ideas there.

So, we have Dany who doesn't seem to be aware that the technology to forge VS is lost, and a renowned smith who likes a challenge and try new stuff out. All they need would be certain circumstances, where the smith can draw his own conclusions... like an existing VS sword being burned along with a certain dragonlord-blood and ending up darker (again). I think that if Tobho Mott were to learn of such a result, he could put two and two together, and demand the remains of said dragonlord.

23 hours ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

I too suddenly have a very bad feeling about Young Griff. His age might have him not manifest the osteoporosis, if he is the son of Rhaegar. If he isn't, all the better fuel he'd be, ironically enough. And Dany would merely take him burning as 'not a dragon' confirmation in her own delusion that fire cannot touch her because 'she' is the dragon. Oh boy.

IMO Young Griff will have a good run for a while and manage to get the IT, shortly before Dany shows up. And that will be his end.

23 hours ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

Turns out one disorder, hemochromatosis, as a genetic defect, is especially prevalent in people of Nordic ascendence and could cause symptoms from loss of fertility, neonatal issues and degenerating brain disease, with the most frequent onset being around fourty to sixty, things like osteoporosis, liver failure or diabetes would sort of be under the radar, but Targaryens were actively selecting those traits that manifest from Iron Overload.

As such, we could have a viable-ish 'coin toss' theory to explore along with the Iron content as a 'dragon' aspect that was selectively chosen to perpetuate in dragonlords.

If most individuals were 'functional' or at least symptom free until an advanced age? The coin toss would simply a probability game to when+if the exactly wrong group of symptoms would manifest.

Interesting. I tried to read up on it. It seems the disorder has a genetic prevalence amongst regions where the Vikings and Normans landed and/or settled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Blackfyre darkened because it drank his soul:

"the ironborn were demons risen from some watery hell, protected by fell sorceries and possessed of foul black weapons that drank the very souls of those they slew."

 

Elric of Melnibone's sword Stormbringer drank the souls of those it killed, it was a black blade imbued with a demon of chaos that has a mind and will of its own and hungered for more souls.

 

Valyrian steel has a memory of its own and drinks the sun:

"But Valyrian steel is stubborn. These old swords remember, it is said, and they do not change easily. I worked half a hundred spells and brightened the red time and time again, but always the color would darken, as if the blade was drinking the sun from it."

 

"Tobho had learned to work Valyrian steel at the forges of Qohor as a boy. Only a man who knew the spells could take old weapons and forge them anew."

"The properties of Valyrian steel are well-known, and are the result of both folding iron many times to balance and remove impurities, and the use of spells—or at least arts we do not know—to give unnatural strength to the resulting steel. Those arts are now lost, though the smiths of Qohor claim to still know magics for reworking Valyrian steel without losing its strength or unsurpassed ability to hold an edge."

"and the city's smiths have perfected the art of infusing deep color into the metals of their work, producing armor and weaponry of lasting beauty. Only here, in all the world, has the art of reworking Valyrian steel been preserved, its secrets jealously guarded. "

"According to Pol, the true reason for his final exile was his discovery of blood sacrifices—including the killing of slaves as young as infants—which the Qohorik smiths used in their efforts to produce a steel to equal that of the Freehold."

Blood sacrifice is what keeps the blade sharp and gives it unnatural strength.  (Ned smearing blood on Ice under the weirwood as some sort of ritual)

 

Tobho Mott's shop has weirwood doors, it is at the top of a hill, "a huge house of timber and plaster (wood and white) whose upper stories loomed over the street", and the forge is cavernous, and when the door opens it is like a blast of dragonfire.  He has a special smith who has ice blue eyes, and bull symbolism. 

Mot is the Semitic god of death, tobo means "burrow or den" in gaelic tob means "up!" and "torch" tobar means "a well, spring, or source"

In gaelic geangaire means "hammer" and geangaireacht means "the act of hammering" 

Tobho Mott is from Qohor where they worship an underground deity that requires blood sacrifice.  Mott and the Qohorik smiths are the only ones who know how to rework Valyrian steel.

Mott's shop is a symbolic weirwood, where he has the Smith inside a cave, and he supplies flaming swords to Red Priests (Thoros).

 

 

"This is Valyrian steel," he said when the link of dark grey metal lay against the apple of his throat. "Only one maester in a hundred wears such a link. This signifies that I have studied what the Citadel calls the higher mysteries—magic, for want of a better word."

Did Luwin kill a baby to forge his Valyrian Steel link?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, By Odin's Beard said:

"This is Valyrian steel," he said when the link of dark grey metal lay against the apple of his throat. "Only one maester in a hundred wears such a link. This signifies that I have studied what the Citadel calls the higher mysteries—magic, for want of a better word."

Did Luwin kill a baby to forge his Valyrian Steel link?

The VS was already "forged". To make the link Luwin could only reforge it, or rather... Luwin didn't physically forge or reforge anything, only symbolically. A smith who can reforge VS physically made the link for him. And it would be "reforging" otherwise that smith capable of "forging" VS, would be making VS swords and get rich.

Edited by sweetsunray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, By Odin's Beard said:

I think Blackfyre darkened because it drank his soul:

"the ironborn were demons risen from some watery hell, protected by fell sorceries and possessed of foul black weapons that drank the very souls of those they slew."

When I see a chemical reaction, I tend to go by "chemical reaction".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I went back to rewriting the "armor" essay (parallels of mirroring shields and armor in relation to the Others), I think I found a hint of a forging arc in Dany's.

The particular mirror I'm using from Dany's story as a parallel to make conclusions with regards' the Others' armor is the 'brass platter' in Dany's last chapter of aCoK. Right before the brass platter gets picked up by Jorah to spy on Selmy and Belwas following Dany, she visited a ship called Quicksilver discussing fees for passage.

@The Fattest Leech once pointed out how George tends to use the word 'quicksilver' always in scenes with mirrors. This is true here as well. The only other time that George uses this particular word is with the name of Aenys I's dragon, and also the dragon of his son Aegon. Both Aegon and Quicksilver died in the battle beneath the Gods Eye against Maegor the Cruel and Balerion. The Gods Eye is often described in terms of smithing and forging: a sheet of hammered of copper both in the Mystery Knight of Dunk & Egg as well Arya's POVs in aCoK.

Traditionally, quicksilver or mercury was regarded as the First Metal in alchemist lore, from which every other metal could be made. In Sanskrit the word for alchemy means "the way of mercury". So, aside from the link of quicksilver and mirrors, George using the word for a name of a ship that Dany left after seeking passage to sail away from Qarth (where her sole plan thus far had been getting a fleet and soldiers to conquer the IT) seems to be a hint that Dany's arc is an alchemist process. Now while alchemy is mostly famous for trying to make gold out of lead, it also incorporated views of metal stages, and these stages were not only about the purity towards gold but also their forgability in temperature. So, bronze would be a lower alloy than brass, because it requires less high temperatures to forge something out of bronze than it would in brass, etc. That's why mercury was regarded to be the fundamental metal: it's a liquid at room temperature.

Now, this platter  - being used as a mirror to spy on Belwas and Selmy following Dany and used as a shield by Jorah to smack Belwas on the head - is made of 'brass' and it's the first time this particular metal is introduced in Dany's arc. Before that the most often appearing metal is bronze: the Dothraki wear bronze medallion belts, Drogo's face is likened to a bronze mask, the gate at Vaes Dothrak are two bronze stallion statues. Bronze is featured again in Qarth. It has a bronze arch and gatedoors. Dany adapts to the Dothraki culture and in this way you can say she's being "bronzed". Eventually she becomes an alchemistic master over the forging of bronze, when she acquires the "bronze-capped" Unsullied as her personal devoted army early on in aSoS.

Except she accomplishes this by being 'brazen'  or 'bold as brass', by not sailing to Pentos and relying on Illyrio, by killing the masters of Astapor, and then continues to free slaves in the cities of Slaver's Bay, until she eventually becomes the queen of Meereen where she has city guards called the "Brazen Beasts" for they wear brass masks.

So, you could say that George likens the phase of Dany becoming khaleesi, discovering her "fate" in the HotU and acquiring the Unsullied as her "bronze phase", while her striking out into Slaver's Bay and conquering it is her "brass phase".

By the end of aDwD we are getting signs of the "gold phase" coming up. The family typically associated with gold are the Lannisters. Tyrion Lannister intends to make the Second Sons turn their cloak back in support of Dany, even though she's not present. Meanwhile the challenge to Dany to master "gold" is out there with Aegon conquering the Stormlands with the Golden Company who follow him, him conquering before her.

Now, while alchemists strived for gold as their ultimate metal, on Planetos the most precious metal is Valyrian steel, not gold. And I'm more inclined that is the end-goal of the arc for each Targ character (whether trueborn or not, or sidetracking via Blackfyre or Saera Targaryen). In Jon's arc we get Donal Noye comparing the Baratheon brothers to metal: true steel, brittle iron and pretty but worthless copper (And BTW the Martells' guards wear copper, which is brittle). Jon sleeps in the armory behind the forge. And half of the Wall from Eastwatch to Castle Black is likened to a sword, while the other half is likened to a serpent. So, there's a forging and reforging happening to both Dany and Jon in this regard.

Anyhow, I think all three will reach a Valyrian Steel state or mastery. Jon already has VS, but he's being reforged. Aegon already has the gold phase "behind him", but together with the "dragonlord-bone" concept I think will end up being the literal part of a newly forged VS by Tobho Mott. This will coincide with Dany becoming the metaphysical VS.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/28/2019 at 11:19 AM, By Odin's Beard said:

Blood sacrifice is what keeps the blade sharp and gives it unnatural strength.  (Ned smearing blood on Ice under the weirwood as some sort of ritual)

Ned wasn't smearing blood on Ice. He was cleaning the blade. But if blood sacrifice is involved in making it, that could potentially be reinforced every time a VS blade draws blood enough to leave some on the blade itself.
 

On 6/28/2019 at 11:19 AM, By Odin's Beard said:

Did Luwin kill a baby to forge his Valyrian Steel link?

Doubtful. He's not necessarily making the link. It's more likely they use existing VS and just know how to rework it, much like the Qohorik, who per your quotes tried blood sacrifice as a measure to attempt to make VS or something like it, but we all know they never figured it out, so reworking the existing VS probably doesn't require blood sacrifice at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×