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 are 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—or at least, I think so!
10. 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 bottom of this list, but don’t forget, it’s honestly pretty impressive to make the top ten at all!
9. 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.
Therefore, I think Rhaegar is 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.
8. Syrio Forel
A man from Braavos, Syrio was specifically hired by Ned Stark to train Arya Stark, and I think 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, so I feel pretty confident putting him on the list of greatest fighters.
Alas, he died in the book one, but he died off-screen so I’m secretly hoping he’s going to make a return and prove me right that he was one of the best fighters in the series.
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.
I have no doubt she could take on most of the men and win!
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, so I’m happy to classify him as one of the best sword fighters.
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. 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 swordsman of his time, so I suppose Robert really wanted that on his side. Fair!
3. 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.
2. 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 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.
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 beat.