We are days away from the final season of Game of Thrones; one of the greatest shows of all-time! In preparation for the season premiere on April 14th, we are looking back at the first seven seasons and making lists about…everything!
Today, we are looking at best battles in Game of Thrones. As Hot Pie says, if they have armor, it is a battle…
Here we go!
Top Ten(ish) Battles
10-tied. Showdown at the Tower of Joy
The Combatants: Eddard Stark and his men fight two Kings Guard members; mainly Ser Arthur Dayne…the Sword of the Morning… because the leader of the Kings Guard, Gerold Hightower, dies quickly.
At Stake: The Kings Guard defends the tower where Ned’s sister has been “kidnapped” by the late Rhaegar Targaryen.
Outcome: Dane slices through most of Ned’s men, and Ned only survives because Howland Reed kills Dane by stabbing him in the neck.
Why it Mattered: First, it is the only time we got to see the legendary sword play of Arthur Dane, who according to the books surpassed even Barristan Selmy’s swordsmanship. Second, it was before the most critical moment of the whole series; where we begin to learn about Jon Snow’s true parentage.
10-tied. The Fight For Two Chickens
The Combatants: Arya and The Hound versus Poliver and some Lannister men.
At Stake: Two chickens! Plus… Poliver is on Arya’s list for killing Lommy and taking her sword, Needle.
Outcome: The duo rip through the Lannisters in an epic close quarter battle. The end result reveals Arya as a brutal killer; executing Poliver with the same dialogue from Lommy’s death.
Why it Mattered: Because it showed how far Arya had come and how committed she was to crossing names off her list. (ok…so MY list is a top 11…sue me…)
9. Brienne vs The Hound
The Combatants: Brienne….and the Hound….!!!
At Stake: Arya. Brienne has been searching the countryside for Stark girls; coming up empty in her honor quest. Hot Pie puts her and Pod on the trail of Arya and they happen upon her and the Hound on a mountain pass. The Hound, who has grown fond of Arya, will not surrender her to Brienne without a ransom…and because he doesn’t trust her. Swords cross!
Outcome: Brienne defeats The Hound in single combat, but Arya sneaks away and heads to Braavos.
Why it Mattered: It was a turning point for Brienne’s character. She finally got to show her fierce skills against a worthy opponent. Oddly enough, both were fighting for the same thing; to protect Arya.
8. The Mountain and the Viper
The Combatants: The Mountain…and the Viper…!!!
At Stake: The Red Viper of Dorne agreed to fight The Mountain in Tyrion’s trial by combat. Martell wants revenge because the Mountain taped his sister and murdered her and her children years before.
Outcome: After ripping the Mountain to shreds and leaving him for dead on the ground, Oberyn pauses to accuse Tywin of complicity with the plot to murder his sister. While he is bleeding out, the Mountain musters the strength to knock Oberyn to the ground, roll on top of him, and crush his skull with his bare hands. It was shocking, brutal, and pure Game of Thrones.
Why it Mattered:The Mountain famously rapes Martell’s sister and killed her and her children during Robert’s Rebellion. Oberyn wants revenge and uses Tyrion’s trial to get it without starting a war. His death later causes much havoc as his lover and daughters revel and kill Cersei’s daughter as revenge.
7. The Battle of Blackwater Bay
The Combatants: Stannis’ Army invades Kings Landing, which is defended by Tyrion’s scheming and eventually, the Lannister and Tyrell forces.
At Stake: Nothing less than the Iron Throne itself!
Outcome: House Lannister won the day with Tyrion bravely holding off the superior armies (via some Wildfire trickery that wiped out a big part of the attacking force) until Tywin and Loras could finish the victory.
Why it Mattered: If King’s Landing had fallen, where would the series have gone? Robb would have made peace with Stannis (whose claim his father supported) and the realm would have fallen into a peace under a religious zealot.
6. The Red Wedding
The Combatants: The Stark loyalists were betrayed and attacked by Bolton and Frey men at the wedding of Edmure Tully and a Frey daughter.
At Stake: The future of the newly formed monarchy to the North.
Outcome: King Robb, his pregnant wife, and his mother were killed; along with several Northern lords. The only major loss of the Frey side was Walder Frey’s wife…but he didn’t seem to mind…
Why it Mattered: Well…. first…. it was the most brutal scene in a very brutal show, so we need to recognize it even though it wasn’t much of a fight… Second, it really did bring on a brief cessation in the hostilities because, after Stannis’ defeat at Blackwater, he was no longer a real threat. Robb was the only truly overt obstacle remaining to Tywin ruling the Seven Kingdoms.
5. Second Siege of Meereen
The Combatants: Also known as the Battle of Slavers Bay, the Siege featured the forces of Daenerys Stormborn, including all three of her dragons, and the attacking forces of he Good and Wise Masters of Astapor and Yunkai.
At Stake: Danerys’ potential to both liberate the slaver cities AND launch an assault on Westeros.
Outcome: The Masters’ troops abandon them, Greyworm executes two of their leaders, and Daenerys then uses her dragons to destroy the ships attacking her capitol.
Why it Mattered: It kept Daenerys in the Game and showed how deadly three fully grown dragons could be when used in combat. The dragons had been used in skirmishes before, but nothing this organized. It was an amazing thing to behold…
The Combatants: The living versus the dead. A small force of Nights Watch, led by Lord Commander Jon Snow, joins with the Wildling camp to fight off an attack by the Night King’s army.
At Stake: The survival of the Wildlings, and the denial of nearly 100,000 troops for the dead.
Outcome: The living fought bravely, with Jon killing an actual White Walker (the rest of the undead killed were wraiths), but the army of the dead forced a retreat of a small group and claimed the rest of the Wildlings.
Why it Mattered: This was the first BIG battle between the living and the dead.
3. Battle of the Loot Train
The Combatants: Off a victorious sacking of The Reach, the Lannister army’s caravan taking the loot back to King’s Landing is attacked by Daenerys, Drogo, and the Dothraki.
At Stake: Loot! It was also the first time the Dothraki had fought on Westerosi soil. Oh…and this was the first time the Lannister army saw the power of Dragonfire.
Outcome: The Lannisters got “thumped” as Bronn would say… Drogo took an injury, but ultimately the Targaryens took the day. Jamie and Bronn escaped, but the Tarley house would ultimately be executed via dragonfire.
Why it Mattered: This was the first big battle that had been building since the very first episode. When Viserys married Daenerys to Khal Drogo to gain a Dothraki army to take to Westeros, this was his vision. This show is as much about Daenerys versus the Usurpers to her throne, as it is about stopping the undead. In the first battle of that brewing conflict, one side crushed the other.
2. The Battle for Castle Black
The Combatants: The undermanned forces of the Night’s Watch versus the Wildling army of Mance Rayder.
At Stake: Stopping the Wildling forces from crossing the Wall and spilling into the North.
Outcome: The Night’s Watch took great losses, but held the Wall through the night. Before Mance could attack again, and crush Jon and company, Stannis’ army arrived and crushed the Wildlings.
Why it Mattered: If the Wildlings had come across the Wall without Jon’s later invitation, they would have started a new wave of violence in Westeros; raiding and pillaging the country. Instead, they later became a force defending the realm of men from the Boltons and the Dead.
1. Battle of the Bastards
The Combatants: Jon Snow leading a collective of Wildlings and 62 Mormont Fighters from Bear Island (and eventually the Knights of the Vale) against Ramsey Bolton’s army of treasonous Northern houses.
At Stake: The North.
Outcome: Ramsey seemed to have Jon defeated (after killing Stark lord, Rickon), but Sansa secretly called in the Knights of the Vale, who come in when everyone is done, to defeat the Bolton forces. Think America in either World War.
Why it Mattered: Jon knew he needed to take back the North to fight the Night King’s army. So really, the fate of the living was at stake. Plus, from a fan’s perspective, this was as good a battle as any feature film’s final battle.
Honorable Mentions: Sirio Forrel versus the Kings Guard, Jamie and Brienne on the Bridge, Dario/Greyworm/Jorah sneak into Yunkai, Stannis’ Attack on Winterfell, Hold the Door, Drago’s defense of Daenerys, Dario defeats the Yunkai champion and pee-pees.