There's a conversation in season one between a couple of Lannister soldiers about who the best swordsman is in the seven kingdoms. Their top picks include "our man Jamie" and the Mountain, Ser Gregor Clegane. But at this point in the story, Jamie's lost his sword hand, the Mountain's condition is unknown, the Hound is dead or near-death, and countless other killers have been killed: Khal Drogo, Ned Stark, Oberyn Martell was clearly well-trained and vicious, and Qhorin Halfhand must've killed his share of wildlings.
But that's the past. Who's left? Well, still plenty of bloodletters on the roster. Here are my picks for the top five fighters (in their current states) in the world of Game of Thrones at the close of season four.
5. Jon Snow - This will probably be the most questionable choice of mine, but here's my logic. Jon Snow is old enough to be plenty capable, even though we've known him from young adulthood. He was trained in Winterfell by presumably skilled warriors, and he's spent basically his whole life being angry about being a bastard. He's also been a brother of the Night's Watch, learned under Jeor Mormont, ranged north of The Wall, survived imprisonment by the wildlings, climbed The Wall, battled and escaped wildlings, and defended The Wall against impossible odds. He's a survivor; he's on my list.
4. Daario Naharis - I'm cheating a little bit here. There's a character from the books named Strong Belwas who's been sort of incorporated into Daario's character, and so I've combined them into a single "show character" in my mind, and Strong Belwas is a badass. But Daario is as well; remember he killed two other killers in his camp and brought their heads before Dany, no small task. His one-shot kill of the champion outside Meereen also displayed his prowess and speed. We haven't really seen much of him in combat, but he, Grey Worm, and Jorah basically took down Yunkai on their own. That's not nothing.
3. Brienne of Tarth - Brienne is far from being the most skilled swordsman(/woman) in the realm, but her size is something she puts to use quite well. When matched one-on-one, she smashed Loras Tyrell (which coincidentally pushed him off of this list) and she bested the Hound. I think the very best fighters would be able to counter her size, but most people can't, and she makes them pay.
2. Tormund Giantsbane - It's tough to judge Tormund against the best fighters in the world, but he certainly had no trouble annihilating the men of the Night's Watch. He's powerful, experienced, and ruthless. He also seems single-minded to the point of madness, where once he decided he was fighting someone, he'd fight them until they were very, very dead.
1. Bronn, son of..."you wouldn't know him." - In the books, Bronn is a skilled fighter who could stand toe-to-toe with most opponents. In the show, Bronn kills whole columns of troops at every turn. He's a cold-blooded killer, and he's got no qualms about getting dirty to win a fight. That plus the fact that he seems as fast and skilled a swordsman as anybody puts him at the top of my list. The scene where he and The Hound are at each other's throats right before the battle of Blackwater Bay had me worried one would get killed, but would've been maybe the best fight of the show. Hopefully we get some more good ones this season.
Tomorrow's the big day! Get hyped!
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