OK, that title alone should constitute a spoiler warning for anyone who might otherwise complain about spoilers.
Kelly and I may have figured out something highly significant, with the assistance of the new book George R.R. Martin released recently, The World of Ice and Fire.
The possible identity of Lightbringer, and boy is this a doozy of a theory.
Kelly managed to read the TWOIAF book before me, and she told me about what she had figured out about this oh-so-important of swords in the world of Westeros. And really, since the legends tell of the Last Hero and prophecies predicting the return of the Prince That Was Promised are known in many lands by many different names (on the TV show and in the books, notably Azor Ahai to Mesliandre and others from her part of Essos), this is something much bigger than just Westeros and its Seven Kingdoms. This may well be important not only because of the commonality of the old legend, but also because of the return of the Others, or as they are commonly known in the TV show, the White Walkers. This is almost certainly the coming darkness that was predicted.
According to Melisandre, Stannis Baratheon is Azor Ahai reborn, and his sword is Lightbringer. In the books, all of this is explained in much more detail, but it is shown in the TV show too. We know that Stannis is no more than Robert Baratheon’s uptight brother. However, there are some things that we have not yet seen on the show, and may very well see in Season Five, which will discuss further. Certainly in Book Five it is discussed at length.
But Book 5, A Dance with Dragons, also makes clear that Melisandre is almost certainly mistaken about that premise. She keeps asking R’hllor to show her Azor Ahai, expecting for him to show her Stannis. But instead he keeps showing her someone else entirely…
Now, some fans seem to think that since it is likely that our favorite bastard of the North is the reborn Last Hero (and I wholeheartedly agree with them on that point), that therefore his Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw, must be Lightbringer. After all, we know from Sam’s research that “dragonsteel” is just as capable of killing White Walkers as dragonglass, and it is highly likely that “dragonsteel” and Valyrian steel are the same. And if so, that it is highly likely that people with Valyrian steel swords will become more important to the storyline in some ways. I also agree that Valyrian steel swords are not just awesome for everyday fighting, but are going to be critical in fighting off the White Walkers when they come South, which I believe they will.
But I don’t think that Longclaw is Lightbringer. In fact, at this point I fully expect that Jorah Mormont will earn his way back into good graces of the people of Westeros, and that his family sword will come back to him. I expect Jon Snow to acquire another sword, and that one will be Lightbringer. And Kelly and I think we have figured out what sword that is.
Dawn. The family sword of the Daynes in Dorne.
Now, bear with me as I explain.
Once Kelly started explaining it to me, it made perfect sense. The Daynes are a very, very old family, ancient even, being descended from the First Men. And the name Dawn – why give a sword such a name? What is the association? Think about it. The end of the Long Night? And the bearer of the sword within the Dayne family (who has to earn the right to carry the sword) is also known as the Sword of the Morning. The big battle that saved the world is even known as the Battle of the Dawn.
Making a little more sense now?
And think about this too – this sword manages to find its way into the story that is the gigantic elephant in the room, the story of the Tower of Joy. The story of what happened there is probably the most important one of the entire Song of Ice and Fire, and yet we know so little about it. Sure, we know some of the details: the drama of the fight that would claim the life of all participants but two; among the dead was Ser Arthur Dayne, widely known as one of the most chivalrous men living and known as the Sword of the Morning because he carried the sword Dawn; the promise Ned Stark made to his dying sister Lyanna; the only known surviving witness being Howland Reed. But there is still SO much we don’t know.
But slowly pieces are starting to fall into place. At least we think so.
Listen to the description of Dawn from TWOIAF:
The Daynes of Starfall are one of the most ancient houses in the Seven Kingdoms, though their fame largely rests on their ancestral sword, called Dawn, and the men who wielded it. Its origins are lost to legend, but it seems likely that the Daynes have carried it for thousands of years. Those who have had the honor of examining it say it looks like no Valyrian steel they know, being pale as milkglass but in all other respects it seems to share the properties of Valyrian blades, being incredibly strong and sharp.
Though many houses have their heirloom swords, they mostly pass the blades down from lord to lord. Some, such as the Corbrays have done, may lend the blade to a son or brother for his lifetime, only to have it return to the lord. But that is not the way of House Dayne. The wielder of Dawn is always given the title of Sword of the Morning, and only a knight of House Dayne who is deemed worthy can carry it.
For this reason, the Swords of the Morning are all famous throughout the Seven Kingdoms. There are boys who secretly dream of being a son of Starfall so they might claim that storied sword and its title. Most famous of all was Ser Arthur Dayne, the deadliest of King Aerys II’s Kingsguard, who defeated the Kingswood Brotherhood and won renown in every tourney and mêlée. He died nobly with his sworn brothers at the end of Robert’s Rebellion, after Lord Eddard Stark was said to have killed him in single combat. Lord Stark then returned Dawn to Starfall, and to Ser Arthur’s kin as a sign of respect.
-page 239, The World of Ice and Fire.
Something about this blade is really, really special. GRRM is trying to tell us that. He was doing it all along, but it took reading it in TWOIAF to have it really sink in for us.
I may well be wrong, but I have a feeling that something extraordinary would happen if Jon Snow were to take hold of this sword.
We know that Dorne is going to take on special significance starting this next season in the show, and it has already been the location of much excitement in Books 4 and 5. I am beginning to understand more about why, I think.