Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Game of Thrones” season seven, including speculation of future events.
In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment from the “Game of Thrones” season seven premiere, viewers were given a glimpse of a very important drawing of a dagger in one of Sam’s stolen Citadel books.
The drawing showed the “catspaw blade” — the Valyrian steel dagger used in the assassination attempt against Bran on season one. Catelyn Stark took the blade to King’s Landing, where Littlefinger told her it had belonged to him before Tyrion Lannister won it from him in a bet. After that, it was in Ned Stark’s possession. But where is it now? And why did a drawing of it appear in an ancient text about Targaryens and dragonglass?
We’ll walk you through everything we know about this blade, and why it might matter for the future of both Arya Stark and Littlefinger.
The blade as seen in season one
As mentioned, the blade first appeared on season one, episode two (“The Kingsroad”) when an assassin was sent to kill Bran Stark. Catelyn managed to hold the attacker off long enough for Bran’s direwolf Summer to come in and rip the man’s throat.
Catelyn then showed the dagger to Maester Luwin, Ser Rodrik, Robb, and Theon.
Rodrik pointed out that the blade was too high-quality to have belonged to the would-be killer. He said it was made from Valyrian steel and had a “dragonbone” hilt.
Valyrian steel is a rare and costly metal in Westeros, forged long ago in Essos (Valyria) using magic and spells to give it an unrivaled quality. Thanks to Jon Snow’s Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw, we know the metal is one of the few substances that can kill White Walkers.
So Catelyn Stark brings the blade to King’s Landing to show Ned and tell him that she believes the Lannisters tried to kill their son not once, but twice. She winds up revealing the blade to Littlefinger and Varys first, who confirm her suspicions.
Littlefinger convinced Catelyn and Ned that Tyrion was the last known owner of it. Littlefinger claims he bet that Jaime Lannister would win a tournament event while Tyrion bet on Loras Tyrell. When Jaime was unhorsed, Tyrion won the dagger from Littlefinger.
We later find out that this was a lie — Tyrion would never bet against his own family, after all. But the show never clearly explains who did send the assassin.
So who was the true owner of the catspaw blade and where is it now?
In the books, Jaime remembers King Robert Baratheon displaying the Valyrian steel dagger at a feast after a tournament. We also learn that both Tyrion and Jaime believe Joffrey was the one who sent the assassin after Bran.
They agree that he likely did it in a weird, backwards attempt to please his “father.” Joffrey overheard King Robert saying it would be a mercy to kill Bran rather than let him be crippled, and so Joffrey likely took the blade from the royal carriage.
In the books, it’s made clear that Littlefinger then takes the blade after he betrays Ned Stark and has the gold cloaks arrest him for treason. The blade is seen in Littlefinger’s possession in the third book, “A Storm of Swords.”
But the show hasn’t made it clear that Littlefinger has the blade now. The last time it was seen was on season one, episode four, “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things.”
The blade was shown clearly on Ned’s desk when Cersei walks in to speak with him at the end of the episode. After that, the dagger hasn’t been seen again on the show. Some people think Littlefinger held the dagger up to Ned’s neck in the show’s adaptation of the betrayal scene in the throne room, but it’s not the same blade.
The catspaw blade is wider and curved, whereas the dagger Littlefinger has on season one, episode seven is thin and straight. You can see the detail of the catspaw dagger clearly in a replica version sold on HBO’s official store:
Of course, it makes sense that Littlefinger would be in possession of it on the show, given how clear cut it’s made in the books that he takes it from Ned. But keep in mind that “Game of Thrones” has made many changes to the book series, so there’s a decent chance that the dagger has been hiding somewhere unexpected on the show.
Why this matters for season seven
First, it feels significant that the showrunners chose to include an ancient drawing of the blade in a book kept behind a locked door in the Citadel. How old is the blade, and why was it important enough to be documented in an old text? When Sam is reading the book, he says “the Targaryens used dragonglass to decorate their weapons without even knowing what the First Men used it for.”
Is there a chance the “dragonbone” hilt on the catspaw blade is actually dragonglass? Or perhaps dragonbone is also a material that can kill a White Walker?
But even more importantly than the dagger’s appearance in the season seven premiere is the fact that it also appeared in a promotional photo. Back in June, Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson noted that the catspaw blade was clearly shown at the hip of Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
How will Arya come to hold this important dagger? Given that the EW cover issue photoshoot was all about the Stark children, we believe Arya will arrive in Winterfell at some point this season and join the Stark family reunion. Is she going to steal the blade from Littlefinger? Since many fans are yearning to see Littlefinger’s death, perhaps this dagger could play a part in that demise.
Or maybe Littlefinger doesn’t have the dagger at all on the show, and it’s still somewhere in King’s Landing. After all, Arya says on the season seven premiere that she’s headed south to kill Cersei — not north towards Winterfell.
No matter how the blade exchange shakes down, it’s exciting to know Arya will soon be in possession of two extremely badass weapons. Her Needle was forged in Winterfell and gifted to her by Jon Snow, the now-legendary King in the North. And soon she’ll have a supposedly ancient Targaryen weapon at her side, capable of killing White Walkers.
If Arya wasn’t already considered one of the greatest rising warriors of Westeros, her lethal capabilities are about to grow exponentially. Get hype, “Game of Thrones” fans, and be on the alert for more catspaw dagger sightings.
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