Dawn is a greatsword. Its blade is as pale as milkglass, unlike dark Valyrian steel, but is similar in strength and sharpness. Per legend, it was forged from the heart of a fallen star, likely meteoric iron. The coat of arms of House Dayne depicts the white sword and falling star. Unlike other houses who have ancestral swords, House Dayne does not pass its sword from lord to heir. Only a knight of House Dayne who is deemed worthy can wield Dawn, and the Sword of the Morning is envied throughout the Seven Kingdoms.
According to legend, the founder of House Dayne tracked a falling star to an island at the mouth of the Torentine. He discovered there a stone with magical powers, and the castle of Starfall was constructed on that spot. The greatsword Dawn was forged from the heart of this fallen star, and has possibly been wielded by Daynes for ten thousand years.
The last known wielder of Dawn was Ser Arthur Dayne, a chivalrous knight in the Kingsguard of Aerys II Targaryen. The Smiling Knight of the Kingswood Brotherhood tried to claim Dawn from Arthur through combat, but the robber knight was killed by the Sword of the Morning. Arthur granted knighthood to Jaime Lannister after the battle. When Arthur tapped Dawn on the youth's shoulder, the blade went through Jaime's tunic and caused him to bleed.
A Game of Thrones
The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.—thoughts of Eddard Stark
The finest knight I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed.
Smiling Knight: It's that white sword of yours I want.
Arthur: Then you shall have it, ser.
Oh, I'd say Dawn goes back a couple thousand years... and before that, things get a little fuzzy anyway.
Behind the Scenes
House Dayne's sword Dawn may have been inspired by the Ebony Blade, a sword carved from a fallen meteor and wielded by Dane Whitman, a comic book superhero known as the Black Knight. George R. R. Martin grew up a fan of Marvel Comics, including the Avengers.
When asked which sword he would wield if he could, Martin said he would choose Dawn.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 39, Eddard X.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: The Andals Arrive.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 21, Bran III.
- The Citadel. Heraldry: Houses from Dorne
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Kingdoms of the First Men.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8, Jaime I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
- So Spake Martin: Concerning Dorne (October 28, 2001).
- So Spake Martin: Valyria-related Subjects (January 1, 2002).
- Not A Blog: Farewell to a Marvel, November 16, 2018
- So Spake Martin: Waterstones Event (August 8, 2019).