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There's a Real-Life Inspiration for Game of Thrones' Valyrian Steel

Posted by Lily Rothman on Apr 22, 2019

As the Game of Thrones saga winds down, Valyrian steel has never been more important. It’s one of the few substances known to kill White Walkers, but only about a half-dozen known characters currently wield weapons made from the magical material — and it’s not possible to make more. That’s because, according to the lore of the show and A Song of Ice and Fire books, the secret for forging the metal was lost long before the Game of Thrones story starts.

Valyrian steel is also one more way in which Game of Thrones, fantastical though it is, has links to real history. George R.R. Martin himself has told fans that Valyrian steel’s “closest real life analog is Damascus steel,” which is similarly renowned for its sharpness and strength. Valyrian steel also has a signature pattern that Martin describes as seeming to “ripple and dance down the dark metal.” Real-life ancient writers described Damascus steel’s “wavy marks like the tracks of ants.”

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