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Valyrian steel was invented in Valyria, and was used to make weapons and various other items of unparalleled quality. Magic and spells play a role in its forging, which makes the steel special and gives it magical characteristics.
Valyrian steel, possibly forged with dragons, was manufactured in the Valyrian Freehold of old. Valyrian steel blades are lighter, stronger, and sharper than even the best castle-forged steel. The blades feature distinctive rippled patterns (similar to real-world Damascus steel), the mark of steel that has been folded back on itself many thousands of times. There may be thousands of Valyrian steel blades remaining in the world, but in Westeros there are only 227 such weapons according to Archmaester Thurgood's Inventories, some of which have since been lost or have disappeared from recorded history. Most Valyrian steel blades in Westeros are treasured heirlooms of noble houses, each with its own name and storied history, and even impoverished lesser houses are unwilling to give them up.
Valyrian steel was always costly, but it became considerably more so when there was no more Valyria, the secret of its making lost with the Doom. Only the greatest weaponsmiths can reforge swords from existing Valyrian steel, making those remaining weapons highly treasured and extremely rare. The blacksmiths of Qohor claim to know the magics for reforging Valyrian steel without losing its strength or unsurpassed ability to hold an edge.
A Game of Thrones
A catspaw tries to assassinate Bran Stark with a Valyrian steel dagger, but he is instead slain by Summer. Bran's mother, Catelyn Stark, show the dagger to Petyr Baelish, who claims to have lost the dagger in the tourney on Prince Joffrey's name day.
A Storm of Swords
Lord Tywin Lannister has Tobho Mott, a blacksmith trained in Qohor, reforge Ice into two new Valyrian blades. The first, Widow's Wail, is given to King Joffrey I Baratheon as a wedding gift by his grandfather, Tywin. Joffrey chooses its name from the shouted suggestion of an unnamed guest. Following Joffrey's death at his wedding feast, ownership of Widow's Wail presumably passes to his younger brother, King Tommen I.
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
The Winds of Winter
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This information has thus far been released in a sample chapter for The Winds of Winter, and might therefore not be in finalized form. Keep in mind that the content as described below is still subject to change.
Euron Greyjoy is seen by his captive brother, Aeron, in a suit of black scale armor which Aeron believes to be Valyrian steel. Aeron believes it would have cost a kingdom even before the Doom of Valyria.
List of known Valyrian steel blades
Blades known to still exist:
- Heartsbane, the ancestral two-handed greatsword of House Tarly, currently in the possession of Lord Randyll Tarly.
- Lady Forlorn, the ancestral sword of House Corbray, currently in the possession of Ser Lyn Corbray.
- Longclaw, the ancestral Valyrian steel bastard sword of House Mormont. Currently in the possession of Jon Snow.
- Nightfall, the ancestral blade of House Harlaw and currently wielded by Ser Harras Harlaw.
- Oathkeeper, one of two Valyrian blades reforged by Tobho Mott from Ice. The blade was made for Ser Jaime Lannister, but he has given it to Brienne of Tarth for use in her quest to locate Sansa Stark. The blade was given its name, Oathkeeper, at that time.
- Red Rain, the sword of House Drumm, which was stolen by them in a raid. Given the name and coloring, possibly the ancestral sword of House Reyne.
- Widow's Wail, one of two Valyrian blades reforged by Tobho Mott from Ice. Following Joffrey Baratheon's death, ownership of Widow's Wail has presumably passed to his younger brother, Tommen.
- The dagger with a dragonbone hilt wielded by Bran Stark's failed assassin, and currently in the possession of Petyr Baelish.
- Valyrian steel arakh owned by Caggo.
- Valyrian steel axe reputedly possessed by House Celtigar.
Blades with known fates:
- Ice, the ancestral two-handed greatsword of House Stark. Following Eddard Stark's execution in King's Landing, it is reforged into two longswords (Widow's Wail and Oathkeeper).
Blades with unknown fates:
- Blackfyre, the sword of Aegon I Targaryen. Carried by all Targaryen kings until Aegon IV, who gave it to his bastard Daemon, who rose in rebellion against the Targaryens, taking the sword's name for his house. Its whereabouts are currently unknown.
- Brightroar, the ancestral sword of House Lannister, lost when King Tommen II Lannister of the Rock sailed to Valyria and never returned.
- Dark Sister, the sword wielded by Visenya Targaryen. Its last known owner was Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers.
- Lamentation, the ancestral sword of House Royce, lost in the Storming of the Dragonpit.
- Orphan-Maker, the ancestral sword of House Roxton. Its last known owner was Ser Jon Roxton.
- Truth, a Valyrian steel sword last carried by Moredo Rogare of Lys.
- Vigilance, the ancestral sword of House Hightower. Its last known owner was Lord Ormund Hightower.
- A small number of maesters, including Maester Luwin and Archmaester Marwyn, have Valyrian steel links in their collars, representing their study of magic and occultism. Marwyn also has a ring, a rod and a mask of Valyrian steel. The maesters who gain Valyrian steel links do not have to forge the metal themselves.
- Dragonbinder - a dragon horn banded with red gold and Valyrian steel.
- The crown worn by Aegon I Targaryen and some of his successors in the Targaryen dynasty, a circlet of Valyrian steel studded with rubies. It was last worn by King Daeron I Targaryen, and lost after his death in Dorne.
- A suit of black scale armor worn by Euron Greyjoy.
- thoughts of Bran Stark
I heard of a man who had a razor made of Valyrian steel. He cut his head off trying to shave.
Valyrian steel blades were scarce and costly, yet thousands remained in the world, perhaps two hundred in the Seven Kingdoms alone.
- thoughts of Tyrion Lannister
A man who bears Valyrian steel should use it for more than scratching his arse.
Valyrian steel is a fantasy metal. Which means it has magical characteristics, and magic plays a role in its forging.
Valyrian steel was always costly, but it became considerably more so when there was no more Valyria, and the secret of its making were lost.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- So Spake Martin: Producing Valyrian Steel, March 11, 2001
- So Spake Martin: The Process of Making Valyrian Steel, November 06, 2002
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 72, Daenerys X.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: Valyria's Children.
- So Spake Martin: On Valyrian Steel and Twist Endings, March 16, 2008
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 27, Eddard VI.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 1, Bran I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 60, Jon VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 7, Jon II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 60, The Spurned Suitor.
- The Winds of Winter, The Forsaken
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 19, The Drowned Man.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 25, The Windblown.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire.
- The Princess and the Queen.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Quarrelsome Daughters: Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 28, Bran IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Appendix.
- So Spake Martin: Maester Chains and Valyrian Steel Links, June 20, 2001
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maekar I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 3, Jon I.