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How much White Walker-killing Valyrian steel exists in Game of Thrones?

Season six of Game of Thrones continues the tradition the show began in season two when Samwell Tarly found a buried cache of obsidian at the Fist of the First Men. A Song of Ice and Fire might depend on weapons forged in dragon fire to fight and defeat the White Walkers (who we’ve now learned were created by The Children of the Forest), which means it’s still important to keep an eye on how much tempered Valyrian steel exists in Westeros. We learned this particular type of metal was important in the eighth episode of the fifth season, “Hardhome,” when Jon Snow took out a White Walker all by his lonesome.

Previous to Jon’s massive battle with the undead wights (any creature that has been reanimated by the White Walkers), he took possession of the late Lord Commander Mormont’s sword, Longclaw. It’s a sword made of Valyrian steel, forged with dragon fire in ancient Valyria. It has a bit of magic in it so it always stays sharp, and it can do stuff like:

Jon Snow kills White Walker

It not only stops White Walker weapons (which destroy regular, human weapons), but turns out it melts White Walkers, which is no small feat. Unlike wights, which can be killed with fire, White Walkers have only a few vulnerabilities that we know of; most of them involve dragons and dragon fire. Maybe George RR Martin was being very literal with his Song of Ice and Fire master title for his series of novels.

We know that “dragonglass” (obsidian) is capable of hurting the White Walkers thanks to the actions of Samwell Tarly in season three. It looked like the same bag of dragonglass Sam found buried at the Fist of  the First Men was going to come in handy for Jon at Hardhome (but he ended up having to leave it there when his search was interrupted by the doomed White Walker quelling part of the fire with his chilly aura) and for Meera at the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave (though she left all the obsidian spears when she fled in “The Door”).

At Hardhome, it was Longclaw that ended up saving Jon. That opened up the show’s mythology to include the fact that Valyrian steel kills White Walkers.

We saw ancient Valyria in season five, when Tyrion and Jorah were attacked by the Stone Men and performed a rocking call and response poem about the “Doom” that consumed Valyria. Now, mostly a place for those driven crazy by greyscale, 200 years before Aegon Targaryen made it to Westeros, the city used dragon fire to forge their magic steel.

There aren’t a lot of Valyrian steel weapons left in Westeros, and even fewer that we have actually seen on the HBO show. The first we see is Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) sword, “Ice,” in the series premiere. Many of the great families in Westeros pass down their Valyrian steel weapons through generations because of their usefulness and value.

When Ned met an unfortunate end, we caught up with Ice in season four’s “Two Swords,” when Tywin Lannister melted it down to reforge them into two smaller swords. He gave one to his son Jamie, and Jamie gave it to Brienne two episodes later in “Oathkeeper,” which is also the name of the third Valyrian steel weapon we saw on the show (we’ll get to the second steel in a moment).

The parts of Ice that didn’t go into Oathkeeper went into a sword for Joffrey named “Widow’s Wail,” which we briefly saw at Joffrey’s “Purple Wedding.” George RR Martin says that Widow’s Wail wasn’t buried with the boy king (because Valyrian steel is too valuable) and was passed on to Tommen, but the show hasn’t confirmed this as of yet.


The second chronological appearance of a Valyrian steel weapon on the show was the dagger used in an attempt on the life of recently crippled Bran Stark in season one, episode two. It’s the dagger Littlefinger would later lie about to Catelyn Stark (RIP) in King’s Landing, and claim it belonged to Tyrion, which led Catelyn to arrest the Lannister, which in turn potentially set off the entire events of the series.


That dagger technically belonged to House Baratheon, I believe, but until we see it pop up elsewhere, Littlefinger probably still has it (begin Littlefinger’s secret dagger theories now).

Season six, episode six contributed yet another Valyrian steel sword to the show’s version of Westeros. House Tarly, which sent Samwell to the Night’s Watch to make a man out of him, is cloistered off from the coming winter in the castle of Horn Hill. Sam goes there with Gilly intending to drop them off before heading to Oldtown, but decides against it and ends up stealing the family sword instead. That sword is called “Heartsbane,” and according to George RR Martin’s text, has been in the Tarly family for over 500 years.

Those are the only blades we’ve seen on the show, but other families have ancestral Valyrian steel weapons. A quote that Vanity Fair highlighted from Tyrion in the novels gives us a rough idea of how many ancestral weapons there are: “Valyrian steel blades were scarce and costly, yet thousands remained in the world, perhaps two hundred in the Seven Kingdoms alone.”

The only things we know that the Westerosi people can use to kill White Walkers are dragonglass (all the show pieces have been lost, though Stannis has implied there is more at Dragonstone) and Valyrian steel (three swords and one dagger on the show), which are very rare in the world of Game of Thrones. Wouldn’t it be great if someone had some dragons that could maybe help out when the Night’s King finally attacks?

This post originally went up on June 3rd 2015 and has been updated to include information from Game of Thrones season six, episodes one through six.

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