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Curled Finger

Lost and Found: The Series & Histories of Valyrian Swords of Westeros

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Posted (edited)

Hola!  Another eruption of swords thoughts happening.  Not so much matching up this time, as a look at how Martin writes these magical items and their purpose.   En garde.

I came to ASOIAF by way of the books in 2013.   I didn’t even know there was a television show.  So many priceless named swords with minds of their own intrigued me from the 1st read and are what actually engaged me in the story.  What do I care about politics or zombies, really?  In retrospect via research I think GRRM has placed importance on these 15 swords and a couple of arakhs that may be overlooked and undervalued by so many readers interested in politics and zombies.

The glorious bastard sword of Kings, Blackfyre, does not appear until ASOS.  Ice is explained in Bran 1, AGOT.  Longclaw, that bastard sword of bastards is first mentioned in AGOT Jon VIII with the fact that it appears to move of its own will.  Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail are Ice reforged in ASOS.  House Tarly’s wicked great sword Heartsbane is introduced in AGOT. Lady Forlorn, Nightfall and Red Rain appear fashionably late in AFFC.   Vigilance, Lamentation and Orphan-Maker make their appearances in 2013 in the retelling of the dance of the dragons, TPATQ.  Mean, decisive Dark Sister emerges in the hand of Daemon Targaryan in 2013, TPATQ with a little more detail in TRP 2014.  TWOIAF provides a smidge more detail in the histories released in 2014.  Looks like Valyrian Steel was really on GRRM’s mind 2013 - 2014.  Brightroar is mentioned only once in the main series in ASOS, with 2 mentions in TWOAIF.  Truth doesn’t seem to show up with any detail until TWOIAF with even greater illumination in B&F released in 2018.   I have a pin stuck in that one. 

Placement of the swords glared at me upon the reading of Blood and Fire with some featured roles for 2 obscure swords, Orphan-Maker and Truth, as well as Shadoq’s arakh. We got some really interesting novel mentions of Heartsbane and Lady Forlorn along with general intel about how Valyrian Steel behaves...and RULES about how VS should react to different types of fire.   The enhanced histories smacked of things GRRM wanted to say but had not yet got to in the main series.  Heck yes, bring on 3 more history books. 

It’s interesting that the Targaryan swords don’t even get mentioned until ASOS and so many new swords are dumped into the story in TPATQ.  Yet Ice, Longclaw and Heartsbane are already seared into our consciousness.  There were no Targ swords.  How is that even possible that there were no Targ swords until 2000?  Martin made up for all of it in his histories and AFFC where we actually saw no less than 3 freaking existing viable named Valyrian Steel Swords.   Geez.  In that our 1st 3 swords are heavy hitters it’s easy to see where VS swords have always been integral characters to ASOIAF.  I reckon GRRM got as caught up in his characters and stories as I did and imagined there would be a big old paragraph to explain all we really need to know in the next book.  Tricked me for sure.  Then again there is a whole lot of material that is moved from 1 book to the next, so who knows?  Maybe that paragraph has been written since ACOK and those editors just won’t put it in yet. 

It’s obvious to me that the VS Swords are crucial to the fighting of the Others.  Oh, come on, they are all magical swords.  But why?  Why would Valyrians want to recreate frozen fire or employ the properties of dragon glass in anything?  Surely any sword forged in dragon fire would be awesomely awesome?  Valyria wasn’t even a blip on the radar when The Long Night occurred.  Is destroying the Others what the dragons are made for and Valyrians are compelled to create these weapons because they can?  No Long Night so long as Valyria and dragons were numerous.  Did the Valyrians have some knowledge of the weapons the COTF gifted the Nights Watch for centuries and decided to help out?   Is that how Longclaw made it to the Mormonts?  Valyrian:  Yo, Big Bear, lookee here at this bitchen sword.  Hang on to it in case those bugger Others make another appearance.  Mormont: Um, sure.  Of course I have no idea how or why Valyrians would make such a gift unless there really is something to the families of the 1st Men who fought in the original battle.  Magical appointment by bloodline type thing?  No, don’t go there.   There lies madness. 

Was Valyrian Steel intended to be legendary like say Dawn?  Did the Valyrians know what Dawn is?  Could VS have been intended to compliment the properties of Dawn for the purpose Dawn was created for?  Was VS just a one up ours is better thing they could market to everyone who didn’t actually have Dawn?  Bah, maybe the Westerosi swords were all stolen from the stock pile, never intended for outsiders but a really sweet back of the truck deal for some nutball merchant/wizard.  Maybe the people of Westeros asked Valyria for VS in hopes of having both dragon glass and Dawn level properties?  So more than where, though I would love to talk the where of Westeros’ Valyrian Steel swords, the why has got my attention.  Why is there Valyrian Steel and so little of it in Westeros? 

 

 

Edited by Curled Finger
Stinkin Roman Numerals

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We know that Valyrians used a lot of magic and they had about 40 important houses who played their own very nasty version of game of thrones. Or they used magic to harm their enemies. So it would make sense that VIPs of Freehold needed some counter measures to survive possible hostile spells.

So I assume that having weapons that could harm magical beings or armors that would make their wearer magic proof would have been high demand.

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12 minutes ago, Loose Bolt said:

We know that Valyrians used a lot of magic and they had about 40 important houses who played their own very nasty version of game of thrones. Or they used magic to harm their enemies. So it would make sense that VIPs of Freehold needed some counter measures to survive possible hostile spells.

So I assume that having weapons that could harm magical beings or armors that would make their wearer magic proof would have been high demand.

You know, that's pretty practical thinking.  With so few Valyrian pieces in Westeros, particularly the swords, but 200 blades is not a whole lot and 15 is pathetic, I wonder if VS was intended for use in Essos exclusively, as you say to keep the conquests in check.  So why would any of this valuable magic be permitted in a place Valyria had seemingly little interest?  Do you reckon the Valyrians understood the need for protection in Westeros?  

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10 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

You know, that's pretty practical thinking.  With so few Valyrian pieces in Westeros, particularly the swords, but 200 blades is not a whole lot and 15 is pathetic, I wonder if VS was intended for use in Essos exclusively, as you say to keep the conquests in check.  So why would any of this valuable magic be permitted in a place Valyria had seemingly little interest?  Do you reckon the Valyrians understood the need for protection in Westeros?  

I assume that gifted magicians were rare and almost certainly tried to keep their spells and their tools only for their own family use. But those "gifted" persons and almost certainly their children were first rate targets for any enemy of their house. So supply of VS was always very limited.

My theory why there are any VS in Westeros is that relatives of those mages who where neither gifted enough to became warlocks nor had access to dragon had to find their future in colonies of empire. Those lesser members of ruling families of freehold were elite of later free cities. Like most elites of empires many of them were not very popular among local people they ruled. But that was not serious problem as long as they could call dragons to punish possible trouble makers.

But when dragons disappeared those people suddenly found themselves in deep trouble. Luckiest among those survived. But there almost certainly were many who died or lost their property including VS to looters. Those looters and less lucky families among old elite had to sold their VS to anyone who could buy them just to survive. So suddenly there were supply of VS blades and smarter houses in Westeros used that opportunity to gain VS for their house.

I suspect that ruling elite of Valyria cared as much about Westeros as average American nowadays cares about Finland. Or not very much.

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@Loose Bolt, your opening statement has me reeling with the possibility that these wizards and magicians were in fact Valyrians, not slaves or captured magic practitioners.  And why not?  Daenys dreamed, Rhaenyra hatched--sure, absolutely why not?  I am seeing Houses Celtigar and Velaryon in a new light here.   We know Velaryon could ride and command dragons despite having none of their own, but it is Celtigar with all the cool stuff.  I assume their kraken summoning horn is embellished with VS, as Dragon-binder is.  And there is that bitchen axe we have zero mention of having ever left Crab Isle, even when Aegon was conquering Westeros.  Perhaps that is a tell of sorts?  This ancient Valyrian transplant won't take their magic items out even to play war with.  Come to think of it, I don't recall any intermarrying between the Celtigars and any Velaryon or more suspiciously, Targaryan.  They have served on various small councils and held high offices, but no marriages?  As I take a step back from that idea closer to your own statements I think I may have seriously underestimated the Valyrian bloodline insofar as magic goes.  Of course, with so little information I don't feel stupid about this yet.  House Celtigar is said to be packed with riches--enough to be nearly the only thing I can actually recall about them.  You have opened up a whole new mystery that's been there all along, Ser.  Thankee, Sai. 

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I also think that it makes sense that there is a "magical" component to the smithing process of VS that is now lost. Think about it, Blackfyre is engulfed in a dragon fire fed funeral pyre and comes out slightly darkened.....but it's also possible to melt down Ice and forge it into two swords? There is a missing piece here.

It's my opinion also that VS seems to be slightly more common in Essos. I have no proof and kinds just base it off several snippets of dialogue and bits of info.

Examples include Caggo's  VS arahk itself, dude is from a middling sellsword company and he has a weapon that only Lords and Kings in Westeros would have, and Dani promising to give Jorah a sword to replace Longclaw, she seemed pretty sure she would find one.

 

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16 minutes ago, Back door hodor said:

I also think that it makes sense that there is a "magical" component to the smithing process of VS that is now lost. Think about it, Blackfyre is engulfed in a dragon fire fed funeral pyre and comes out slightly darkened.....but it's also possible to melt down Ice and forge it into two swords? There is a missing piece here.

It's my opinion also that VS seems to be slightly more common in Essos. I have no proof and kinds just base it off several snippets of dialogue and bits of info.

Examples include Caggo's  VS arahk itself, dude is from a middling sellsword company and he has a weapon that only Lords and Kings in Westeros would have, and Dani promising to give Jorah a sword to replace Longclaw, she seemed pretty sure she would find one.

 

Hey Man!  How are ya?  Good to see you!  If you want the truth I think the Quohori do better than anyone could expect with their reforging process.  They don't have dragons and dragonfire seems to be a big deal in the original forging.   Could be it's only required to make the ingredients meld properly, but it's still a piece of magic that is not present when Tobho works his reconfiguration of Ice.  Conversely, does the lack of dragonfire somehow compromise the finished product?   Jamie dreams of blue flame for himself and Brienne.  Should we brace for a problem when OK and WW have their turns at bat when it really matters?   I think not, but it has always been in the back of my mind.  

I think you're 100% right about there being more VS in Essos than Westeros.   Valyria was in Essos and Essos is what they seemed to want to rule.  Which is in itself kinda strange seeing as how Dragonstone was an outpost of power.   What power, really?  Seemed like a good place to hide if you ask me.  

I get Caggo's deal.  The arakh is likely a spoil of war, as the Dothraki don't seem to value the same material things most others do.   Take that God Garden.  What's up with that?  Why not destroy the idols instead of hauling them all back to headquarters?   It's likely they are trying to posses the conquered places power, or the idols are prisoners of war?  Maybe hostages to good behavior?   Who knows?   The point is that their culture is very different from so many others we become acquainted with.   I'm still trying to figure out how the Valyrians even had the idea to make an arakh?  Did some other culture use them as the main weapon before the Dothraki became powerful...after the Doom IIRC?   

As to Dany's statement to Jorah, all bets are off.   She's just a little girl, for all we know she could think she can make a sword with her dragons, all other components be damned.   She could reckon someone will gift her one and that's not really a stretch considering all the crap Robert had in his armory of gifts.  She may have it already set in her mind she's going to kick Ned Stark's ass and take Ice and give it to Jorah.   Just too many variables to be sure when teen aged girls are at the root of a statement.   Whatever her thinking, I think Jorah is a perfect fit for Heartsbane.  So totally Jorah.  

We know Nightfall and Truth (not to mention Blackfyre and Dark Sister) came from elsewhere, that is they were not commissioned in Westeros.  So sure, in light of Tyrion's assessment of the availability of VS, Essos should have a whole bunch more than anywhere else, certainly Westeros.  

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

Hey Man!  How are ya?  Good to see you!  If you want the truth I think the Quohori do better than anyone could expect with their reforging process.  They don't have dragons and dragonfire seems to be a big deal in the original forging.   Could be it's only required to make the ingredients meld properly, but it's still a piece of magic that is not present when Tobho works his reconfiguration of Ice.  Conversely, does the lack of dragonfire somehow compromise the finished product?   Jamie dreams of blue flame for himself and Brienne.  Should we brace for a problem when OK and WW have their turns at bat when it really matters?   I think not, but it has always been in the back of my mind.  

I think you're 100% right about there being more VS in Essos than Westeros.   Valyria was in Essos and Essos is what they seemed to want to rule.  Which is in itself kinda strange seeing as how Dragonstone was an outpost of power.   What power, really?  Seemed like a good place to hide if you ask me.  

I get Caggo's deal.  The arakh is likely a spoil of war, as the Dothraki don't seem to value the same material things most others do.   Take that God Garden.  What's up with that?  Why not destroy the idols instead of hauling them all back to headquarters?   It's likely they are trying to posses the conquered places power, or the idols are prisoners of war?  Maybe hostages to good behavior?   Who knows?   The point is that their culture is very different from so many others we become acquainted with.   I'm still trying to figure out how the Valyrians even had the idea to make an arakh?  Did some other culture use them as the main weapon before the Dothraki became powerful...after the Doom IIRC?   

As to Dany's statement to Jorah, all bets are off.   She's just a little girl, for all we know she could think she can make a sword with her dragons, all other components be damned.   She could reckon someone will gift her one and that's not really a stretch considering all the crap Robert had in his armory of gifts.  She may have it already set in her mind she's going to kick Ned Stark's ass and take Ice and give it to Jorah.   Just too many variables to be sure when teen aged girls are at the root of a statement.   Whatever her thinking, I think Jorah is a perfect fit for Heartsbane.  So totally Jorah.  

We know Nightfall and Truth (not to mention Blackfyre and Dark Sister) came from elsewhere, that is they were not commissioned in Westeros.  So sure, in light of Tyrion's assessment of the availability of VS, Essos should have a whole bunch more than anywhere else, certainly Westeros.  

Very good to hear from you as well...

Definitely a lot going on here but I'm going to focus on your point about Caggos' arahk, because it's a very good one, and it implies that the arahk is not, in fact, a dothraki weapon. Which makes sense really considering what we know about the dothraki. So where did the arahk as a whole come from? and who commissioned the VS one?

The two best possibilities in can come up with are the Sarnori and the Quartheen, strong because the dothraki did not totally wipe them out, so the remaining city could trade weapons for slaves/safety, similar to the way Pentos pays off the kalasars.

I totally agree about Dani and Jorah and dont think she had anything specific in mind. I also really like your idea about Jorah and Hearstbane, but I like it's also possible that he and Tryion could find Brightroar at some point( maybe).

I'd also like to add that I fully expect to see Lady Forlorn in action in the next book, so I'll be on the lookout for it in the Sansa chapters, rather exciting considering the only other time we actually see anyone actually use a VS sword is Brienne, Jon and the aforementioned Caggo. If I'm not mistaken, they each only use them once on page(Jon is the one I'm not sure of, 90 percent sure the only time he actually fights with Longclaw is against the half hand, his other battle is all archery, and he doesn't actually use it in Mance's camp when Stannis shows up.), so that could be another pattern as well.

Edit: Forgot about Brienne and the Just Maid story for a sec, also pretty sure she used hers at least twice but I can't remember so I'll leave it until I can look it up

 

Edited by Back door hodor

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@Back door hodor,  Isolation did little for my ability to focus so I apologize for jumping all over the place.  Lady Forlorn sure sounds like a badass weapon and I can't wait to see who pries it from Lyn Corbray's death grip.  I had myself convinced the arakh was a Sarnori weapon as they were immensely powerful in their day--I will throw in with you on that since I don't see much soldiering in Qarth.  There is a glass candle in Qarth so they have their magical item as far as I'm concerned!  Qarth is such a weird place.  

I studied the names of the swords with regard to matching characters.  If Heartsbane wasn't actually always intended for Jorah I will eat your hat.  THis is actually where I was trying to go in the OP.  Heartsbane is one of the original swords mentioned in AGOT.  It was always a part of this story, just as Jorah was.  What do we do with Longclaw now that we know the eventuality of Ice?  I have my own reasons for assigning Widows wail to Jamie, but I can't prove that until it actually happens.  GRRM has plans for these swords.  Oathkeeper is perfect for Brienne and Dark Sister sure seems to match our Arya.  As to Brightroar, I am more convinced than ever that it was lost but not because lousy misdirecting GRRM told us it was lost.  Tywin imposed an awful lot of his Lannisterishness in the making of OK & WW.  The red dye, the opulent hilt, exchanging garnets for rubies--that's some real reclamation right there.  I am left thinking OK & WW are not only the reforging of Ice, but of Brightroar as well.  For all it's worth.  

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On 6/14/2020 at 1:17 PM, Curled Finger said:

Of course, with so little information I don't feel stupid about this yet.

hi CF !! 
may i use this fuckin'a sentence as our current work project motto? 
it just sums everything up tidily-idily-idily   :)

 

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1 hour ago, Yaya said:

hi CF !! 
may i use this fuckin'a sentence as our current work project motto? 
it just sums everything up tidily-idily-idily   :)

 

You know you are an owner wherever I'm saying stupid things.  Have at it!  

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