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It appears half of internet is in consensus that dual sword wielder in the Tower of Joy scene is Arthur Dayne, sword of the morning. We know that the fight in the book was 7 vs 3, but in the scene it is 6 vs 2, one of the two being Arthur Dayne. However I noticed a few unsettling details:

  1. In the book, there are three kingsguards in the fight. One of them is the Lord Commander Gerold Hightower. Kingsguard is a military organization where rank would be respected utmost. It is conceivable that he did most of the talking.

  2. We know from the books that Dawn is a greatsword. Very few can wield a greatsword single handedly. (Mountain is one of them.) We also know from the books that "“And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light." Hence, Arthur Dayne could not wield dual swords.

  3. The scene starts with a close up to a sword, wielded by some curly haired kingsguard. Dawn is the most famous sword in the whole Westeros. It makes sense that the scene starts with a close up to the most famous sword.

Hence, it might have been Gerold Hightower. However, there are some unsettling details that contradict with my observation.

  1. The last talking I quoted above is done by Arthur Dayne. He was wielding two swords in the scene.

  2. Arthur Dayne should be the most skilled fighter of his age. An easy defeat doesn't fit his legacy.

  3. Bran and Brynden seems to be talking only about one man. And at the beginning of their talk, they use the name explicitly as "Arthur Dayne".

Edit: This is a pro list of the dual wielder being Arthur Dayne. Easy defeat refers to the death of the single sword wielder Kingsguard.

So my question is this: Is the dual wielder Arthur Dayne and the unsettling details I noticed are wrong, or is there no way to connect the portrayal in the series with the portrayal in the books accurately?

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    the tv series does not follow the books to the letter whatsoever, and I'm not quite sure why in observation 2 you say that it was an easy defeat... He almost killed every single one of his opponents which does fit his legacy. – Theyna May 11 '16 at 21:11
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    Another small detail is that, on the pommel of his sword, you can see an image of the rising sun aka dawn. – JS Lavertu May 11 '16 at 21:15
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    When Joffrey is reading the Kingsguard book it is revealed that in the show, Arthur Dayne was the Lord Commander in the show, not Gerold Hightower. – Matthew Stevenson May 11 '16 at 21:34
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    @Mooz Dayne indeed used Dawn in this battle in the TV show - except it was a longsword instead of a greatsword (like in the books). I believe that change was necessary to avoid the "they attack 1 at a time" cliche, which the show did in an (IMHO) awesome way - I just don't see how one can be surrounded by 4 people and not get stabbed by one of them when using a greatsword – Petersaber May 11 '16 at 22:37
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    @c.koca that's my point. Dayne was a skilled enough swordsman that he didn't need two swords. Plus he had Dawn! – Möoz May 14 '16 at 6:03
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It's Arthur Dayne. Gerold Hightower is bypassed for the show (I don't believe he's mentioned at all, even in the scene where Joffrey is reading from the White Book iirc).

Note that the scene doesn't display an "easy victory". Dayne is basically a raid boss who goes into a 1v4 fight and kills 3 people. Ned Stark is shown to have a relatively easy time with the other Kingsguard, and he's shown to be hopelessly outmatched by Dayne. The fact that Howland Reed got a knife into the back is .... basically luck, and is a totally new addition. It's meant to enhance Dayne's legacy that it took that to defeat him.

It's entirely possible that Arthur Dayne dual-wields because Dawn is not made a big mention of in the show, so only book readers would find it a tease, and they wanted a 1v4. Dayne himself was made a big deal of in the show (in the scene with Joffrey and the White Book), but Dawn isn't really. It adds additional exposition to focus on it, when Dayne's legend is already built up.

  • 1
    I'd like to note that in the show, Dawn is one of the longswords Dayne used, rather than a greatsword. When he stabs through one of Ned's last guys through with a sword, you can see it has milky-white inscriptions and patterns all over the blade, as opposed to every other sword in that scene, which is plain steel. – Petersaber May 11 '16 at 22:36
  • It looks like the evidence in favour of Arthur Dayne is overwhelming. I still wish they did not cut off Gerold Hightower. He always seemed like an interesting character. – C.Koca May 13 '16 at 20:31
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    About the thing you mention as "totally new addition" : is it really? I'm pretty sure the book mentions that he saved Ned's life that day, but doesn't give details, so maybe this is really what happened. – Arnaud D. May 14 '16 at 18:36
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    It could be, "totally new addition" just meant that's a detail we've never been told about yet. – DariM May 15 '16 at 21:27
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Show

It is supposed to be Ser Arthur Dayne. The actor Luke Roberts is credited as Ser Arthur Dayne. The other actor is Eddie Eyre, credited as Gerold Hightower.

Furthermore there is some revelation in the episode which was poorly executed, hence causing all the confusion. Bran did note it was Arthur Dayne but somehow it was not clearly aimed at the man.

Bran: That's my father.

Three eyed Raven: The man beside him is Howland Reed, Meera's father.

Bran: Ser Arthur Dayne. The Sword of the Morning. Father said he was the best swordsman he ever saw.

Then he proceeds to say the iconic line Ser Arthur Dayne said in the books:

Arthur Dayne : Lord Stark.

Young Ned : I looked for you on the Trident.

Arthur Dayne : We weren't there.

Gerold Hightower : Your friend the Usurper would lie beneath the ground if we had been.

Young Ned : The Mad King is dead, Rhaegar lies beneath the ground. Why weren't you there to protect your prince?

Arthur Dayne : Our prince wanted us here.

Young Ned : Where's my sister?

Arthur Dayne : I wish you good fortune in the wars to come.

[Arthur and Gerold don their helms]

Arthur Dayne : And now it begins.

[the two Kingsguard draw their swords]

Young Ned : No, now it ends.

There is more evidence when Bran notes his father getting hammered at the hands of the Sword of the Morning.

Bran: He's better than my father.

Three Eyed Raven: Far better.

Bran: But Father beat him.

Three Eyed Raven: Did he?

Bran: I know he did. Heard the story a thousand times.

We know here who exactly did his father beat. He was beaten when Howland Reed stabbed him the back, otherwise Bran's father would have died there.

But of course, it wasn't really the same as the books. In the books, Ned never talked about that to his children. Meera and Jojen were surprised to learn that Bran did not know about the story of Harrenhal either. He never talked about Ashara Dayne, his supposed lover, either as Arya learned from Edric Dayne. Dawn was not shown in the show at all, I guess because of CGI costs as Dawn is supposed to be milky white. They could have used enamel but I don't really know why they chose not to. And of course, Ser Hightower is a lot younger in the show than he actually was. They gave the White-Bull's lines to Arthur Dayne, I guess mostly because he means nothing to the show audience, they don't know him and he is not supposed to leave a lasting impression on them unlike Ser Arthur Dayne.

Books

In the books, this is how it happened:

“I looked for you on the Trident,” Ned said to them.

“We were not there,” Ser Gerold answered. “Woe to the Usurper if we had been,” said Ser Oswell.

“When King's Landing fell, Ser Jaime slew your king with a golden sword, and I wondered where you were.”

“Far away,” Ser Gerold said, “or Aerys would yet sit the Iron Throne, and our false brother would burn in seven hells.”

“I came down on Storm's End to lift the siege,” Ned told them, and the Lords Tyrell and Redwyne dipped their banners, and all their knights bent the knee to pledge us fealty. I was certain you would be among them.”

“Our knees do not bend easily,” said Ser Arthur Dayne.

“Ser Willem Darry is fled to Dragonstone, with your queen and Prince Viserys. I thought you might have sailed with him.”

“Ser Willem is a good man and true,” said Ser Oswell.

“But not of the Kingsguard,” Ser Gerold pointed out. “The Kingsguard does not flee.”

“Then or now,” said Ser Arthur. He donned his helm.

“We swore a vow,” explained old Ser Gerold.

Ned’s wraiths moved up beside him, with shadow swords in hand. They were seven against three.

“And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.

“No,” Ned said with sadness in his voice. “Now it ends.”

So Lord Commander Gerold Hightower, Ser Oswell Whent and Ser Arthur Dayne were present there. And of course, Arthur was wielding his two handed greatsword Dawn.

Show depicted only Ser Hightower and Ser Dayne. In the books as you can see, Ser Gerold was the first to answer and did most of the talking, as befit his rank as Lord Commander of the White Swords.

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