Game Of Thrones is about to heat up again when season six debuts on April 24. And if you haven’t seen the new trailer, check it out. This is going to be one action-packed season, and in a way it’s the most interesting one yet because it’ll take us beyond George R.R. Martin’s novels (as the author struggles with writer’s block producing the sixth book). Fans all over the world can barely wait.
With that in mind, now is the perfect time to have a little bit of fun talking about the series. Discussions about Game Of Thrones revolve in one way or another around who will “win,” so to speak. I want to start a similar discussion here, but instead of discussing who might yet win the Iron Throne, I want to limit things to actual combat, with the simple question: who is the best warrior in the series?
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to this question, and in fact one of the frustrating aspects of the series is that we don’t see more one-on-one duels between prominent soldiers. Then again, speculation is the fun part, so without further ado, here is my ranking of the 10 deadliest warriors in Westeros and the surrounding lands.
10. Jon Snow
He’s more or less unproven in actual combat, but Jon Snow’s rise through the ranks of the Night’s Watch is telling. The kid knows how to handle his sword, and here’s hoping we get to see him do it some more.
9. Daario Naharis
In the books, Daario Naharis might be as deadly a warrior as we’ve come across. In the show he carries the same reputation, but he’s actually been oddly downplayed in action. For instance, Tyrion does about as much damage as Daario in the arena brawl. He’s pretty low on my list for that reason, though there’s likely more ahead for Dany’s mercenary warrior. In fact, if you believe a certain theory about Darrio that was summarized by Vanity Fair, there could be much more ahead.
8. Oberyn Martell
Oberyn’s one of those characters whose reputation implies he might just be the best warrior around. And boy, does he show off his skill in his one big fight in the show. Unfortunately, his own arrogance pretty much does him in, so he’s outside the top five.
7. Sandor “The Hound” Clegane
The Hound seems at once unbeatable and vulnerable every time he’s on screen, which makes him perhaps the most realistic warrior of the show. He might rank higher based on pure reliability, but that fear of fire thing kind of gets in the way… Also, he might be a bit of a coward.
6. Ned Stark
Ned might appear to be a bizarre choice given his unfortunate fate, but let’s not forget his reputation or his big fight scene in season one. Ned is known as a great soldier, and when he takes on Jaime Lannister—two-handed Jaime Lannister, mind you—he fights him pretty evenly.
5. Brienne of Tarth
Brienne is thus far a pretty unstoppable force and even boasts the much-heralded Ser Loras Tyrell in a tournament. She’d rank higher on the list, because she’s basically undefeated, but we have to remember Jaime gives her a run for her money fighting with his left hand.
4. Barristan Selmy
It’s implied that Ser Barristan was the greatest knight in the realm in his prime, and perhaps the greatest ever (though a long-lost character named Arthur Dayne may ultimately win the best ever reputation, as pointed out by What Culture). And even as an old man, he protects Dany admirably and fights off a wave of Sons of the Harpy like a member of the Spartan 300.
3. Khal Drogo
One of the most enjoyable Game Of Thrones character comparisons out there was a Hunger Games-style analysis composed by Lottoland. The analysis ranked characters based on several categories and discussed supremacy with the angle of which duo would survive longest in the Hunger Games. And Khal Drogo was one of a very few characters to get a 5/5 on combat. If you’re not sure why, it’s time to re-watch season one.
2. Jaime Lannister
The way Jaime is talked about certainly makes it sound as if he can rival the likes of Barristan Selmy and the mythical Arthur Dayne for the status of the greatest Westerosi warrior of all time. Unfortunately, he’s lost his hand, but he’s still good enough to hang with one of the other great warriors, Brienne of Tarth, with his left hand. The aforementioned trailer seems to hint at a Jaime revival of some kind, and we’ve seen stranger things in Game Of Thrones than magical hand regeneration. Should that happen, everyone not named Lannister ought to be very afraid.
Bronn isn’t the pick most would expect, but we’ve seen him fight as often as anybody. We’ve also never seen him come close to losing. It would be very like George R.R. Martin to craft a lowly sellsword as the best fighter in the realm, and if that’s the plan, Bronn is off to a nice start.
That, I believe, is where the warriors of Game Of Thrones stand (even though some have been killed off). Who would make your top 10?