There is a great number of named swords in A Song of Ice and Fire, or as it is more popularly known, Game of Thrones universe. They serve as status symbols and sources of prestige and fear. However, out of all the named swords, the ones made of Valyrian steel are the most precious. These blades are relics of Old Valyria that was destroyed and rendered inhabitable by a mysterious event known as The Doom. Several blades were brought with Aegon the Conqueror from Old Valyria on his conquest of Westeros. They were given as gifts to the Andal rulers of the land for their fealty and passed down through their family lines or taken by other houses.
What Makes Valyrian Steel so Precious?
It is said that no metal holds and edge like Valyrian steel, a useful asset during a long battle. It is also both strong and light, distinctive with its own ripple patterns on the metal. However, what truly makes Valyrian steel blades so special is that no more can ever be made. This steel was woven with the magic of dragonfire by the smiths of Old Valyria. While the blacksmiths of Westeros and Essos can melt the blades and create new weapons from the steel, they cannot make the steel itself. The knowledge of how to do so and the magic used was lost when The Doom came.
The Westerosi believe that Valyrian steel was created using magic and spells, however Samwell Tarly read about dragonsteel in the Night's Watch Library on The Wall. He believes that the text actually refers to Valyrian steel, meaning it is not magic, but the fire of dragons that forged them. With the rebirth of dragons to the world, this means that essentially the ability to forge this steel may return. It seems that Valyrian steel may become more important than ever in the unstable timeline of the Game of Thrones universe.
Brightroar is the ancient greatsword that belongs to House Lannister. The sword was originally given to the last King of the Rock Loren after he was defeated by Aegon the Conqueror and swore his fealty. The sword was passed down through his line all the way to Tommen II Lannister. Tommen set off to explore Valyria and sift through the wreckage that The Doom left, but never returned.
Tywin Lannister believed that his house should have a Valyrian blade of its own. He even went so far as to buy a blade from lesser, poorer houses but never succeeded. Tywin's younger, more reckless, brother Gerion Lannister set out to find Brightroar, but like his ancestor, he never returned.
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Blackfyre was one of two Valyrian steel swords that belonged to the Targaryen family. It was used by Aegon the Conqueror himself during his conquest of Westeros and eventually passed down to his heirs apparent. Over time, it fell into the hands of Aegon IV, known as Aegon the Unworthy, who gave it to his illegitimate son Daemon after his feats in battle. This was seen by the lords as his recognition for this illegitimate son and demonstrated his intentions to have him succeed his throne instead of his trueborn son Daeron.
To make matters worse, on his deathbed Aegon the Unworthy legitimized all his illegitimate children. Daemon renamed his father's sword Blackfyre as well as took the name as his surname. The country was split between recognizing Daemon's rule or recognizing Daeron's. Daemon led the rebellion for the crown that was later named the Blackfyre Rebellion.
The Blackfyre's were crushed with Daemon and his twin sons struck down in the field. Daemon's half-brother Bittersteel took the sword and his remaining kin across the sea to the Free Cities of Essos and founded the mercenary force known as the Golden Company. The whereabouts of this sword are unknown.
Dark Sister was the second Valyrian steel sword belonging to the Targaryen family. This sword was wielded by Visenya Targaryen, Aegon the Conqueror's elder sister and one of his wives. The sword is described as long and thin, fit for a woman's hand. After Visenya's death, it was usually passed down to the lesser sons of the Targaryen family.
The sword was given to Aegon the Unworthy's illegitimate son Bryden Rivers by his Aegon's trueborn son Daeron Targaryen. While Aegon the Unworthy's other illegitimate children rebelled in the Blackfyre Rebellion, Bryden Rivers remained loyal to his half-brother Daeron, thus earning him the honor of carrying the blade.
While he used Dark Sister occasionally, Bryden Rivers much preferred his weirwood bow, which he used to kill his half-brother Daemon Blackfyre. Some years after the rebellion, he was sent to The Wall for an unknown crime. He would eventually become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, but it is unknown whether he was allowed to take Dark Sister with him. The whereabouts are unknown or not otherwise revealed yet.
Little is known about Heartsbane aside from its name. It is a Valyrian steel greatsword that belongs to the Tarly family. It has been with them for five hundred years. Currently, it is wielded by Randyll Tarly who used it while he backed Renly's army and during the battles to quash the army's of the rebelling forces after he sword fealty to Joffery.
The sword was meant to go to his eldest son Samwell Tarly. However, when Samwell proved unworthy and was sent to The Wall by his father, Randyll declared it would go to his second son and heir Dickon Tarly.
Ice is the Valyrian steel greatsword that belonged to House Stark. It is described as being as wide as a man's hand with a blade that is dark and smoky in appearance. Very little has been revealed about the history of Ice, but it was thought to be given to the northern lords that ruled during Aegon the Conqueror and eventually ended up with House Stark.
It eventually fell into the hands of the current Lord of Winterfell, Eddard Stark. After Robert's Rebellion, he used it to execute prisoners and deserters from the Night's Watch. In King's Landing, Illyn Payne is given the sword and uses it to execute Eddard himself.
The blade remains with Illyn Payne until Tywin Lannister takes it back. It is reforged by Tohbo Mott into the two longswords, Widow's Wail and Oathkeeper.
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Lady Forlorn is the Valyrian steel longsword that belongs to House Corbray. It is described as having a heart-shaped pommel. The sword is first mentioned in the Blackfyre Rebellion as being used by Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard while he dueled Daemon Blackfyre.
During the Battle of the Trident in Robert Baratheon's Rebellion, and unnamed Lord Corbray wielded the sword under Robert's banner. He was wounded and his youngest son Lyn Corbray picked up his father's sword, slew his opponent and led the charge against the Dornish army. Lyn Corbray was killed in the charge by Prince Lewyn Martell of the Kingsguard, however his father recovered. Due to his feat, his father had the sword entombed with his son.
Longclaw is the Valyrian steel bastard sword that belonged to house Mormont. Jeor Mormont gave Longclaw to his son Jorah Mormont when he went to join the Night's Watch. However, Jorah later brought dishonor to House Mormont and fled to the Free Cities of Essos. The sword was returned to Jeor by his aunt Maege Mormont and he kept it at Castle Black.
After Eddard Stark's illegitimate son Jon Snow saved then Lord Commander Jeor Mormont's life from White Walkers, he gifted the sword to Jon. Mormont replaced the bear pommel with a wolf. The sword currently resides with Jon Snow.
Nightfall is the Valyrian steel longsword that belongs to House Harlaw, described with a moonstone pommel. The Harlaw's are a powerful house on the Iron Islands, second only to the Greyjoys that rule at Pike. Although the current Lord Harlaw is Rodrik, the sword is in the hands of Harras Harlaw. He is cousin to Rodrik and oversees one of the many cadet branches of the house. As Rodrik has no surviving children, Harras Harlaw is named his heir. Whereas Rodrik is an avid reader, Harras is an accomplished warrior, worthy of wielding the sword. The sword is still in his possession.
Oathkeeper was one of two longswords that was made from the reforged Ice, the Valyrian steel that belonged to House Stark. It is described as having black and red ripples in the steel with a pommel of a golden lion's head with two ruby eyes.
The sword was given as a gift from Tywin Lannister to his son Jaime Lannister. Jamie had just lost his sword hand and felt that his father was mocking him with the gift. Instead of using it as his own, he gives it to Brienne of Tarth to aid on her quest to find Sansa Stark. Jaime finds it appropriate that Eddard Stark's own steel should be used to protect his daughter. Brienne gives the sword its name of Oathkeeper in honor of Jaime and to play on his reputation of Oathbreaker. The sword is still in the possession of Brienne, but her fate is yet to be determined.
Orphan-Maker is the Valyrian steel sword that belongs to House Roxton. It is said to have a black blade, but has not been seen in some time. The sword was last seen with Jon Roxton, otherwise known as Bold Jon who fought for King Aegon II to quell several rebellions during his reign. His greatest feat was to slay Hugh Hammer during the Second Battle of Tumbleton. He was said to use Orphan-Maker to split him from groin to throat. Afterwards, he was surrounded by Hugh's men and able to slay three men in a ten on one fight before, in a touch of irony, slipped on Hugh's entrails and lost his life. The sword was likely taken by one of these men, but has since never been seen.
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Red Rain is the Valyrian steel sword that belongs to House Drumm on the Iron islands. It once belonged to another, supposedly well armored, knight. However, Hilmar Drumm took the blade with nothing more than his wits and his wooden cudgel while he was reaving on the shoreline. This earned him the name Hilmar the Cunning. It is thought that because of its name and the unique red coloring that it belonged to House Reyne of Castamere, but that has never been confirmed. Nothing more is said of this sword and its whereabouts are unknown or else never mentioned.
Vigilance is the Valyrian steel longsword that belonged to House Hightower. It was carried by Lord Ormund Hightower when he fought for Aegon II. Lord Hightower used this sword to knight his squire, the king's brother, Prince Daeron the Daring for using his dragon Tessarion to turn the tides of the battle. Lord Ormund Hightower was later killed by Roddy the Ruin at the Battle of Tumbleton. It is unknown was happened to his sword.
Aside from Oathkeeper, Widow's Wail was the second longsword to be forged from House Stark's Valyrian steel greatsword Ice. Widow's Wail is the smaller of the two blades as it was forged to fit the boy king Joffery Baratheon. The blade was described as having red and black ripples with a lion's head pommel with two rubies for eyes, an exact replica of Oathkeeper but smaller.
After King Joffery's death, it was presumably passed to his younger brother and heir to the throne King Tommen. However, Tommen, being a gentle boy, is never mentioned carrying it.