Something we come across often in Game Of Thrones is sword-fighting. It’s how characters settle disputes, even official trials in a court of law; it’s also sometimes just what happens when two enemies come across each other, with no regulations. And it’s often tense to watch characters clash their blades, wondering who’s about to come out on top and who’s about to die.
It begs the question: who are the best characters in the series? Who is simply undefeatable when they have a sword in their hand? There’s been some debate surrounding this (especially since the show and books have some notable differences) but overall, this list seems to pretty accurately state the best sword fighters in the series!
Updated July 2nd, 2020 by Sam Hutchinson: Game of Thrones was one of the most popular TV shows of the past few decades. The series was famous for delivering heartwrenching twists, venomous political scheming, and incredible action set pieces – there truly was something for everyone in Game of Thrones. While the show may be over, fans of the series are still just as obsessed with the show as they were when it was on the air. Additionally, the world of Planetos is vast and full of terrors, allowing for any number of discussions to take place about the characters, the lore, and the vast world.
Bronn is far from the best fighter in the Seven Kingdoms, but he is certainly one of the most reliable and consistent warriors on the show. Perhaps Bronn’s best moment came when he fought as Tyrion’s champion in the Eyrie, winning the Lannister’s freedom in the process.
The fight as Tyrion’s champion showed that Bronn, while not being the most skilled swordsmen, is one of the cleverest and is more than able to use his environment to win a fight.
14 Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully
The Blackfish may be one of the most underrated characters in Game of Thrones. The uncle of Catelyn Stark and Edmure Tully, Brynden gained a reputation for being a fearsome warrior and skilled commander during his time fighting during the War of the Ninepenny Kings.
Blackfish would gain his name after refusing to marry a girl from House Redwyne, much to the disappointment and anger of his brother, Hoster Tully.
13 Loras Tyrell
Loras Tyrell’s reputation was played down slightly for the TV series. In the books, Loras Tyrell is compared to Jaime Lannister, with Jaime himself even suggesting that Loras reminds him of himself. Additionally, Loras Tyrell joined the Kingsguard after being a member of Renly Baratheon’s Rainbow Knights.
One doesn’t just join the Kingsguard on a whim, it is a high honor that requires a high level of skill and there’s no denying that Loras Tyrell is one of the best fighters in the Seven Kingdoms.
12 Jon Snow
Whatever you want to call him or consider his real name, Jon has Rhaegar’s genes – and Lyanna’s, who was apparently a force to be reckoned with too. Combine that with the training he got at Winterfell and he shows up to the Wall a much better fighter than the common criminals around him. Jon is willing to teach them though, and shows himself through these lessons and spars to be an excellent sword fighter. He might be near the bottom of this list, but don’t forget, it’s honestly pretty impressive to make the top rankings at all!
11 Mance Rayder
Mance Rayder was another character whose role was greatly reduced in the TV series. While his storyline in the books is similar to the show, in the books Mance isn’t burned alive by Melisandre. A glamoured Rattleshirt is burned in his place, with Mance Rayder heading to Winterfell under the name of Abel.
As King Beyond the Wall and a former member of the Night’s Watch, there’s no denying that Rayder was a strong fighter. In fact, he even defeated Jon Snow in a duel with relative ease.
10 Rhaegar Targaryen
Rhaegar Targaryen was said to be someone who wasn’t too keen on being a knight. He preferred his books and his harp, was actually pretty melancholic and didn’t much like the idea of fighting – and yet, he was spoken to be an amazing knight anyway, and the only reason Robert Baratheon won when dueling him was because he was wielding his hammer, not a sword.
Rhaegar seems pretty deserving of being on this list, even though he’d rather have been known for something other than sword fighting. He might be dead now, much like Arthur, but it wouldn’t be fair to leave him out.
9 Qhorin Halfhand
Qhorin Halfhand didn’t really get the treatment he deserved on the TV series. In the books, the Halfhand was one of the most feared Rangers of the Night’s Watch, with a reputation for being one of the best fighters in the land and was considered a living legend up until he ordered Jon Snow to kill him.
The Halfhand gets his name from the fact that he lost most of the fingers on his right hand to a Wildling axe. However, Qhorin Halfhand taught himself to fight with his left hand and became just as good with his left as he was with his right.
8 Syrio Forel
A man from Braavos, Syrio was specifically hired by Ned Stark to train Arya Stark, and it’s safe to say that as House Stark is a great house and Ned was Hand of the King, Syrio was the absolute best money could buy. We didn’t see very much of Syrio but it was proven pretty quickly that he was an amazing sword fighter and that Arya was learning from the best.
7 Arya Stark
And then there’s Arya, another woman highly deserving of being on this list. From the moment we meet her, she detests the idea of being a typical lady and wants to be a knight. Jon Snow, her brother, forges her a sword named Needle to practice with and after Ned is convinced to hire an instructor, Arya begins to train.
And that’s how she spends most of the series – training. Meaning now that we’re almost at the end, she’s one of the best fighters to come out of all of this, despite being both very young and being female.
6 Brienne Of Tarth
Brienne is one of the few women to make this list. That’s not to say that the women of the series are lesser than the men at all - they just haven’t had the same training with swords as the men have, so their talents shine in other areas. But Brienne, despite not being a knight, manages to best some of the greatest fighters we see, and she almost bests even Jaime Lannister. She’s also very young in the books which suggests that with some training and experience, she won’t only be the best woman sword fighter in Westeros, she’ll be one of the best overall.
5 Sandor Clegane
Though not quite as formidable an opponent as his big brother, Sandor believes he’ll be able to kill the Mountain one day, and Game Of Thrones seems to be heading down that potential path.
Joffrey also had him on his Kingsguard without Sandor being a knight – the usual requirement – so he must have been good. And Cersei trusted him to protect her son, and let’s be honest… Cersei wouldn’t have trusted just anyone with that task. So it seems that although Sandor was mindlessly loyal to the Lannisters, this wasn’t the only thing that attracted him as a guard for them; he must have been a great fighter too.
4 Gregor Clegane
Maybe it’s unfair to put the Mountain on a list of great swordfighters since the Mountain is just… one of the best fighters regardless of weapon but that includes swords, so here he is!
The Mountain is one of the most terrifying characters in the entire series, probably because he fights entirely without conscience and has no problem taking out innocent people. But he’s very efficient at what he does, which is why Tywin kept him around and eventually, why Cersei did too. Jaime himself thinks about two men that might be able to defeat him in a fair fight and although they’re never named, it’s implied the Mountain is one of them.
If he’s in with a chance against Jaime, he must be good.
3 Jaime Lannister
And then there’s Jaime. There’s some debate about this, considering Brienne got the best of him in the show, but she didn’t in the books – and even in the books, she says Jaime was chained and “no knight in the Seven Kingdoms could have stood against him at his full strength.”
And she hated Jaime at that point, so it was a lot for her to admit. Jaime, for all his faults, is definitely one of the best living swordsman in the series. Or, he was before he lost his hand—he’s probably down to about average now, which at least makes it fair for everyone else.
2 Barristan Selmy
Another one from Aerys’ Kingsguard who moved on to Robert’s and served him just as faithfully is Barristan Selmy. It puts into perspective how hard it must be, being a Kingsguard – Aerys and Robert were completely different, and Barristan had to be in full support of them both, one after the other.
It speaks volumes about how great a fighter he is that Robert accepted him in the first place. He must have really needed a good Kingsguard, since Barristan fought for Aerys in the rebellion, fought against Robert. But it’s pretty widely accepted that Barristan Selmy is one of the greatest swordsmen of his time.
1 Arthur Dayne
Arthur Dayne, or the Sword of the Morning, is long-dead, but we’re going to slap him at the top of this list anyway because we wouldn’t be doing him any justice if we didn’t. It doesn’t matter if he’s dead; he was always known as the best sword fighter in Westeros, so he’s staying at the top of the list!
Hailing from Dorne, he was a member of Aerys II’s Kingsguard and the man to knight Jaime Lannister. Jaime himself admired Arthur, thinking about him often and aspiring to be just like him, which shows exactly the kind of knight and fighter that Arthur was. His morals were a little more questionable when it comes to what he was guarding, but on sword fighting alone, he can’t be beaten.
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