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The Significance Of Valyrian “Catspaw” Dagger In GOT And HOTD

By Mohit Srivastava
August 24,2022

HBO is on fire with the premier of House Of the Dragon this week. The show is shattering all the viewership records. It is the prequel to the highly successful HBO’s Game of Thrones. The 10-episode series brings with it new characters and a new storyline to the world of Westeros. Since both the shows belong to the same world of George R. R. Martin, some connections and subtle nods between them are inevitable. Notably, one of the major references that fans have noticed is a familiar Valyrian Steel “Catspaw” dagger.

Let’s talk about it in detail.

What is this Valyrian Steel Dagger?

The Catspaw Dagger as seen in Game of Thrones

The Catspaw Dagger as seen in Game of Thrones

When Aegon the Conquerer forged his Seven Kingdoms, he and his descendants would often decorate their blades with dragonglass, feeling a kinship with the stone.

The Valyrian Steel Dagger is made of Valyrian Steel, and its hilt is made of Dragonbone. Valyrian steel is a rare and costly metal in Westeros. It was forged long ago in Essos (Valyria) using magic and spells to give it an unrivaled quality. In Game of Thrones, it was shown to have the ability to kill White Walkers. It indirectly began the War of the Five Kings and, years later, ended the Great War when Arya Stark used it to kill the Night King.

In the books, it has been mentioned that such Valyrian steel blades are actually said to be very rare, particularly after Valyria was destroyed. There are only two hundred left in the entire continent of Westeros (and the Targaryens themselves brought many of those with them).

The Dagger in Game Of Thrones

Arya Stark killing the Night King with the dagger

Arya Stark kills the Night King with the dagger

“You told our mother this knife belonged to Tyrion Lannister. But that was another one of your lies…it was yours.” – Arya Stark to Petyr Baelish

The Valyrian Steel Dagger played a silent, but very significant role in the Game of Thrones storyline from the beginning. The knife first made its appearance in Game of Thrones’ first season’s second episode, which saw a mysterious catspaw; hence the nickname, attempt to murder crippled Bran Stark using the blade. However Catelyn Stark and Bran’s direwolf – Summers, successfully stopped the assailant. Catelyn was told that the dagger belonged to Tyrion Lannister by Petyr Baelish. Petyr told her that Tyrion had won the dagger from him in a bet.

In Season 4, we learned that Littlefinger set all the conflicts in motion by having Lysa Arryn (Catelyn’s sister) poison her husband Jon Arryn, in an effort to incite war between the Lannisters and Starks. Petyr Baelish ‘Littlefinger’ took the possession of dagger after betraying Ned Stark and later gave it to Bran. Bran Stark, who now was Three-Eyed-raven could foresee the future, so he gave it to Arya Stark in Season 7. Later on, Arya used the same dagger to execute Littlefinger during his trial for treason. Finally in season 8, during the Battle of Winterfell, Arya Stark used the Valyrian steel dagger to kill the Night King. This caused all of the White Walkers and the wights serving under him to fall.

The Dagger in House of the Dragon

Alicent Hightower with the Catspaw Dagger

Alicent Hightower with the Catspaw Dagger

In the first episode of the House of the Dragon, the same Valyrian Steel dagger is shown to be in possession of Viserys I Targaryen. He could be seen holding it in his belt while talking to Rhaenyra about his succession. In the first teaser trailer of the series, the dagger can be seen in the possession of Alicent Hightower. She seemingly is running furiously towards Rhaenyra Targaryen with the same dagger in hand.

Why she is angry and who is she running towards, shall be seen in the later episodes. It’s clear that the Valyrian steel blade will have great significance shortly before the civil war. Alicent’s character could be the central player in the bloody and brutal Targaryen family civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons.

In the book ‘Fire and Blood’ the feud between the friends is mentioned. It began after Rhaenyra’s son, Lucerys, takes out the eye of Alicent’s son, Aemond, Alicent demands that her step-grandchild’s eye also be taken out. The moment became one of the final straws in the feud between Alicent and Rhaenyra before the Targaryen war began.

The Dagger’s Significance

The significance of the Valyrian Steel Dagger

The significance of the Valyrian Steel Dagger

The Valyrians were familiar with dragonglass long before they came to Westeros. They called it “zirfyl perzfyl” which translated to “frozen fire” in Valyrian and eastern tales tell of how their dragons would thaw the stone with dragonflame until it became molten and malleable.

Surprisingly though the Catspaw Dagger was never mentioned in the book that the prequel is adapted from, Fire & Blood. Just as the dagger was not very significant in the storyline of A Song of Ice and Fire. The only specialty that the dagger has in the books is the fact that it’s made of Valyrian steel. Since the Night King was exclusively created for the TV series and doesn’t exist in the books, therefore there is no prophecy surrounding the dagger too.

However, provided how few of the Valyrian steel blades exist, certainly, someone owned the dagger before Littlefinger did. It is also entirely plausible that the Catspaw Valyrian Dagger once belonged to some Targaryen prince before coming into Littlefinger’s possession.