There are some men who become famous. Others become heroes. And rarer are those who become legends. History tells of these men time and time again. Some argue they are just born at the right time and place. Others, however, argue these men grew to what they were, not through advantage or opportunity, but through their character alone.
This is Arthur Dayne
The Sword of the Morning.
Arthur Dayne hails from a castle named Starfall in Dorne. The Dayne’s are sworn to house Martell and are one of the most ancient houses in the Seven Kingdoms. They are also one of the most famous. Everyone in Westeros has heard the name Dayne, be it a lowly born Northern bastard, or a highborn lady of the court.
This is Dawn
The sword, not the hand. The Daynes’ fame is largely attributed to this ancestral greatsword.
“It’s just Valyrian steel, there’s a bunch of those.” – You (probably)
You are wrong. Dawn’s blade is pale, like milkglass. No other valyrian steel sword has ever resembled Dawn. For good reason. Dawn was forged from the metal of a fallen star, and although shares all the same properties as valyrian steel, it’s not. Dawn’s uniqueness doesn’t end there. An ancestral sword is passed down from lord to lord of a house until it either gets lost, stolen, or occasionally given to a bastard by an unworthy king. Dawn is THE exception to this rule. Dawn is not just given to anyone, not even the Lord of the house. For a Dayne to wield Dawn, they must prove themselves worthy. They are granted the title “Sword of the Morning” and go down in the history books for this is a very rare occurrence. Arthur Dayne is the most recent to be found worthy of the title. Dawn was taken from its resting place in Starfall and given to Arthur to wield. He eventually landed up in the Kingsguard of King Aerys, Dawn strapped across his back.
The Kingswood Brotherhood
Taking their name from where they resided, the Kingswood Brotherhood were an outlaw organization and a thorn in Aerys’ side. They gained public infamy after kidnapping a few nobles and being nearly impossible to catch. Aerys sent a detachment, led by a few Kingsguard, to deal with them. Arthur Dayne was leading the mission, Barristan Selmy at his side. Also along for the ride was a squire who had dreams of being a great knight. Jaime Lannister.
Upon arriving at the Kingswood, the detachment faced the same problems as those before them. The smallfolk were protecting the Brotherhood and prevented the royal forces from finding the outlaws. They believed the Brotherhood were the only ones who were protecting their rights.
Arthur Dayne, however, gained their confidence. He petitioned to King Aerys for better rights of the smallfolk, and ensured they were paid in full for any items the royal forces had taken from them. Arthur gained their trust and allegiance. Without the smallfolk’s protection, the Brotherhood was vulnerable. Arthur Dayne and his forces moved in for the kill.
This is the Smiling Knight
The Kingswood Brotherhood was led by Simon Toyne, but it was this infamous outlaw called the Smiling Knight who made men shit themselves at night.
“The Mountain of my boyhood. Half as big but twice as mad.” – Jaime
There’s no worse combination than insane and deadly. The Brotherhood and the royal detachment clashed in the Kingswood. Jaime, Barristan, and Arthur took on the big boys. Barristan fought Simon Toyne in single combat and won. Jaime briefly held his own against the Smiling Knight before Arthur took over.
The duel between the Smiling Knight and Arthur Dayne was said to be of notable length. The two clashed until the Smiling Knight’s blade broke beneath Dawn’s superior make. The duel was Arthur’s for the taking, but instead of lopping off the man’s head, he lowered Dawn and allowed the Knight to get another sword. His honor wouldn’t allow him to win because of flawed steel. As the Smiling Knight picked a fresh sword from the ground he looked at Arthur.
“It’s that white sword of yours I want.”
“Then you shall have it, ser”
Later, after cleaning the Smiling Knight’s blood off of Dawn, Arthur knighted Jamie, who would go on to become his sworn brother in the Kingsguard.
“I learned from Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, who could have slain all five of you with his left hand while he was taking a piss with the right.” – Jaime
Later in the series Jamie reflects back on his past.
“That boy had wanted to be Ser Arthur Dayne, but someplace along the way he had become the Smiling Knight instead” – Jaime’s thoughts on himself
This is the Dusk
Arthur Dayne was Rhaegar Targaryen’s closest friend. When Rhaegar came to him and asked Arthur for his aid he, of course, agreed. Arthur would follow his crowned prince to the end. And he does.
Rhaegar takes Lyanna to the Tower of Joy. Robert’s Rebellion goes into full swing, and Rhaegar is recalled to fight in the war. He leaves his trusted Kingsguard to guard the Tower.
“They waited before the round tower, the red mountains of Dorne at their backs, their white cloaks blowing in the wind. And these were no shadows; their faces burned clear, even now. Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, had a sad smile on his lips.”
“And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.
“No,” Ned said with sadness in his voice. “Now it ends.”
Arthur Dayne and his two Kingsguard brothers stand three versus seven, yet they still fight. There is no other option. And at the end only two remain. Arthur’s blood seeps into the dirt, Dawn laying beside him.
This is Ashara Dayne
Sister of Arthur Dayne. In a happier time, before Robert’s Rebellion, she attended a tourney. There, she danced with many men, including a wolf too shy to stand from his bench. That wolf’s older brother approaches Ashara and asks her to dance with the shy wolf. The shy wolf was supposedly infatuated with her. She agrees and dances with the shy wolf and after the tourney, they part ways.
After Robert’s Rebellion, the shy wolf rides into Starfall. And there before Ashara Dayne, Ned unwraps Dawn and returns it to its rightful home. He later departs and rides for Winterfell, a baby bastard in his arms.
Ashara Dayne jumps from a tower overlooking the sea. Her body is never recovered. Rumors spread of the shy wolf’s bastard.
The tale of Arthur Dayne, Sword of the Morning, is, admittedly, a sad one. He devoted his life to truth, honor, and valiance. In return his sworn brother, that Arthur knighted and believed in, kills their king in cold blood. Then his truest friend dies on the Trident while Arthur is leagues away, helpless to do anything. Then honorable men come riding up to his doorstep. The sad smile on his lips tells us everything. He understood the irony of the situation. That these honorable men stood face to face and were compelled to fight, not because they bore ill will toward each other, but merely because of bad circumstance. A brick wall staring at another brick wall. One side would have to come down. There was no helping it and in a way, Arthur was killed by his honor. His sister follows him shortly after, stricken with grief.
But there’s also a hope found in Arthur’s story. His legacy lives on in the history books, and many consider him to be the most chivalrous knight of the entire Seven Kingdoms. When squires talk of becoming a great Kingsguard, they think of Arthur Dayne. He set an example and didn’t allow himself anything less than his best. Even now, Dawn sits in Starfall waiting to be taken up by someone as worthy of it as Arthur Dayne was.
A few bonus items today! All info came from the A Song of Ice and Fire series and The World of Ice and Fire.
https://youtu.be/q6GW03WsFgU?t=196 – ‘War Stories’. A mention of the Kingswood Brotherhood fight as seen in Season 1 Episode 3.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgFPVae1Cb8 – ‘The Tower of Joy’ as seen in Season 6 Episode 3.