Warning: Spoilers for Season 8 episode 1 ahead.
The first episode of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones just aired this week, after an almost two-year wait that felt like it lasted as long as the Long Night itself, at least for us sweet summer children. As if we needed confirmation on how important a substance it is, dragonglass made multiple appearances in episode one.
But show watchers have known that dragonglass was sure to play a pivotal role since (at the very least) season three, when Samwell Tarly killed a White Walker with a dagger made of the substance. So, we know who dragonglass can kill, and we know that our heroes have enough of it (hopefully) to make a difference in The Great War, but there are plenty of other facts about dragonglass that you may have missed along the way.
10 Dragonglass Is Merely Its "Common Name"
As frequently as the term "dragonglass" is used throughout the show and in the books, this is actually just the name attributed to it by the common folk of Westeros. The maesters call it by its simpler, and less magically charged name: obsidian.
If you are quick, have a great memory, or just binge-watched all of the seasons in preparation for winter, you will recall that Sam tells us of this nomenclature back in season two, when he finds the cache of dragonglass at the Fist of the First Men.
“It must be dragonglass... the maesters call it obsidian,” Sam says.
9 It Was Used To Create The First White Walker
As is revealed in Season 6, the first White Walker, who we now know as the Night King, was created when Leaf, one of the Children of the Forest, shoved a dragonglass dagger into the chest of a First Man. According to the Children of the Forest, the creation of the White Walkers was a form of retaliatory defense, for the First Men had invaded Westeros and were slaughtering the Children. The White Walkers soon turned on all of the living, forcing the Children of the Forest to work alongside the First Men to fight against their creation, and force the Others back to the "Land of Always Winter."
A perhaps lesser known nugget of information beneath this umbrella of dragonglass life creations, is that Benjen Stark was saved by the Children from this same "magic." During his last Ranging mission, he was stabbed by a White Walker and left for dead, sure to become a wight. The Children of the Forest arrived and plunged a dragonglass dagger into his chest, saving his "life."
8 Important For Children Of The Forest
Separate from the Children's use of it to create White Walkers, dragonglass was a necessity for this ancient, non-human race.
Having a peak existence of over 6,000 years ago, the Children of the Forest were not technologically advanced, meaning that they did not have steel forges or other metallurgy capabilities. Because of this, they utilized dragonglass for hunting weapons, because it was readily available and easily turned into weaponry.
7 Sharper Than Steel
A fact that points to an advantage for our heroes in Season 8 is that dragonglass is sharper than steel. This means weapons crafted from it are likely to do more damage, and can be blocked by only the strongest of armors.
You may remember back in Season 6, when the White Walkers attacked the three-eyed raven's cave, one of the Children tried to kill a White Walker with a dragon glass spear, only to have the attack blocked by the Walker's breast plate. It is possible that Season 8 may teach Jon and the gang to learn from Thor in Avengers: Infinity War, and "go for the head."
6 Extremely Brittle
Not so fast; what makes dragonglass so useful, also results in its most glaring flaw - it is very brittle. This fact explains why all of the dragonglass weapons we have seen are smaller weapons made of the substance.
Daggers, spears, arrowheads, and even axe heads will work just fine as dragonglass weaponry. However, dragonglass swords are not possible, for they would only shatter on impact.
5 Not Only for Weapons
As much dragonglass weaponry is being discussed, it is important to remember that it is not only used to impale. In fact, much of the history of dragonglass revolves around it being used for many things other than weapons.
According to the books, the Valyrians used dragonglass to make glass candles. Additionally, Mors Umber uses a piece of dragonglass in place of his lost eye ball.
4 "Frozen Fire"
Speaking of Old Valyria, they referred to the substance by the name zīrtys perzys, which translates to the common tongue as meaning "frozen fire."
Dragonglass, obsidian, zīrtys perzys, frozen fire - you now have a number of names to choose from to impress your friends during your next Game of Thrones watch party.
3 Used By Wildlings
In the books, when the wildlings arrive at Castle Black, Jon Snow inspects their weaponry and notices that many of them are wielding items fashioned of dragonglass. Although at this point, it is unclear whether the wildlings know of its necessity to killing White Walkers, it is yet another example of dragonglass' wide reach, and usefulness to many.
2 Useless Against Wights
Show-only fans may be surprised to find that in the books, dragonglass only kills White Walkers, but is absolutely useless against wights. Sam is the one who discovers this, in A Storm of Swords. His dragonglass dagger shatters when he attempts to kill a wight, leaving the undead creature unharmed. Melisandre clears up his confusion, as he has already killed a White Walker with dragonglass at this point.
"Necromancy animates these wights, yet they are still only dead flesh," The Red Woman tells Sam. "Steel and fire will serve for them."
1 Dual Origins
In a similar way that the dragonglass vs. obsidian terminology is contrasted between common folk and maesters, so too is how dragonglass is created.
Commoners of Westeros widely hold the belief that dragonglass is akin to volcanic rock, in that it is formed by fire. However, what they believe makes dragonglass special, is that it can only be formed by dragon fire.
Maesters agree that dragonglass is volcanic rock, but in the same way they absolve themselves of the mysticism by referring to it only as obsidian, they hold steady the belief that it is formed naturally from the fires of the earth.