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From what I can tell of Jaime Lannister, he is a good swordsman, because he has fought numerous battles and lived to tell the tale.

What I can't find is any evidence of him beating anyone in a duel with anyone actually good with a sword. All the one-on-one fights he has taken part in with anyone who is particularly skilled with a sword have been inconclusive.

These include:

  • Big Belly Ben of the Kingswood Brotherhood: He saves Lord Sumner Crakehall, but Ben escapes.
  • The Smiling Knight of the Kingswood Brotherhood: He managed to hold him back until Ser Arthur Dayne managed to take over and kill him.
  • Ned Stark: One of Jaime's guards manages to intervene by attacking Ned before the fight is over.
  • Brienne of Tarth: Their fight is interrupted my Vargo Hoat (Locke in the TV series).

There might be more, but I can't find anything about them on the wiki.

He might have won a tourney melée or two in his youth, but from what I can tell most of the better knights joust, so I doubt he would have bested anyone noteworthy in a sword fight during a tourney.

And he was only given the position of Kingsguard by Aerys because he wanted to make sure that Tywin's heir couldn't inherit his lands.

Every other scenario I can think of that he has fought in throughout the timeline of the books/tv show have been in a group, like the Battle of the Whispering Wood and when he attempted to escape from Riverrun (books).

Of course, now that he has lost his right hand it is likely that he will never be good again, but with his left hand he can't even compete with Ser Ilyn Payne/Bronn.

I have no doubt that Jaime was good, as he is an heir of one of the greater houses, so would have had the best training, but where did he gain this fearsome reputation of being one of the best? Was it simply because he became a Kingsguard so young?


EDIT: Thanks to the comment of Nika G for pointing out the feats of Barristan the Bold, this is the exact kind of thing I'm looking for.

There's not much in the White Book about Jaime, and that's kind of what I mean. Whilst he has shown his bravery (protecting Brienne from being killed) and ferocity (trying to kill Robb after he had already lost the Battle of the Whispering Wood), we haven't had much proof of his supposed legendary skill.

I don't doubt that Jaime is actually a good swordsman, he has cut down knights left, right and center. But they were all less experienced/not as well trained, that's nothing more than many others have done. People like Ned Stark, Jon Snow & Stannis Baratheon are all considered good swordsmen, but none of them are called the best.

I'm saying that Jaime hasn't done much to claim the mantle of the best (or one of) other than being appointed the youngest Kingsguard in history, which he didn't get on battle merits alone. I'm asking if his reputation might have originated from somewhere other than that, or if people had given him this accolade simply from seeing him fight (like Barristan Selmy).

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    @Gaius can you elaborate? – Daft Apr 23 '15 at 11:56
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    @Daft: 4 books and 4 seasons, but it doesn't matter. My point was that the OP shouldn't expect superpowers of a good swordsman. The listed battles are already a good achievement for Jaime and get him into the top 10 of alive swordsmen. – Chris Apr 23 '15 at 13:15
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    In a world where people routinely die by the sword, being able to say you've fought the best and lived is enough to be counted AMONG the best. – Omegacron Apr 23 '15 at 13:46
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    So his fight with Brienne was interrupted. Wasn't he literally fighting with his hands tied? I think fighting a great (or even good) swords(wo)man with a significant handicap and holding his own qualifies him as "great", too. – KSmarts Apr 24 '15 at 2:59
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    @KSmarts When fighting Brienne he was also emaciated from months of imprisonment. – ssell Apr 24 '15 at 17:14
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A Dance With Dragons, Barristan Selmy's chapter "The Kingbreaker".

Barristan Selmy's thoughts about one of his squires -

Tumco Lho. Black as maester's ink he was, but fast and strong, the best natural swordsman he has seen since Jaime Lannister.

When you get credit from Barristan Selmy that definitely counts for something.

  • That's about as solid a proof as you can find in the books. He had the skill and the attitude that kept his reputation as one of the best in the land. – Mikey Mouse Apr 23 '15 at 15:14
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    But what about Barristan's reputation? I mean, sure, they call him "the Bold," but is there any evidence that he's actually a great swordsman? :P – KSmarts Apr 24 '15 at 3:01
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    @KSmarts The White Book records should be enough :D – Nika G. Apr 24 '15 at 5:45
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    Apparently, even a :P emoticon in your comment isn't enough to make it clear that you're joking... – KSmarts Apr 24 '15 at 15:50
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    @KSmarts - ASOIAF fandom is serious, serious business. We have to do something while we wait for book 6 :D – System Down Apr 25 '15 at 16:47
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His reputation is established long before the books or the show take place. But once he loses his hand we never really see him anywhere near as dangerous as he was at his peak. His accomplishments before he lost his hand definitely justify his reputation though:

He won his first tourney at the age of 13:

At the age of eleven, Jaime was sent to Crakehall to squire for old Lord Sumner Crakehall alongside Merrett Frey. Two years later, while still a squire, he won his first tourney melee.

He was fighting against adult knights, which is pretty impressive.

Possibly Jaime's greatest achievement was his ascension to knighthood at the age of 15. He was knighted by Ser Arthur Dayne, after he held his own against the Smiling Knight of the Kingswood Brotherhood.

He was also the youngest ever to become a Kingsguard. Although it's possible that Aerys II only chose Jaime in order to keep him close as a form of insurance to keep Tywin in check.

And thanks to Mighty Mouse for the comment :

Also in the Battle of the Whispering Wood he made an impression on the north men, killing many soldiers on his way to challenge Rob in single combat. This would add to his reputation

The opinions of a few of the main characters regarding Jaime' prowess in battle :

Sansa Stark (A Game of Thrones) :

In the end it came down to four; the Hound and his monstrous brother Gregor, Jaime Lannister the Kingslayer, and Ser Loras Tyrell, the youth they called the Knight of Flowers.

Catelyn Stark (A Game of Thrones) :

“No one can fault Lannister on his courage,” Glover said. “When he saw that he was lost, he rallied his retainers and fought his way up to the valley, hoping to reach Lord Robb and cut him down. And almost did.” “He mislaid his sword in Eddard Karstark’s neck, after he took Torrhen’s hand off and split Daryn Hornwood’s skull open,” Robb said. “All the time he was shouting for me. If they hadn’t tried to stop him--”

Brienne (A Feast for the Crows) :

Brienne remembered her fight with Jaime Lannister in the woods. It had been all that she could do to keep his blade at bay. He was weak from his imprisonment, and chained at the wrists. No knight in the Seven Kingdoms could have stood against him at his full strength, with no chains to hamper him. Jaime had done many wicked things, but the man could fight! His maiming had been monstrously cruel. It was one thing to slay a lion, another to hack his paw off and leave him broken and bewildered.

Kingbreaker (A Dance with Dragons) (possible spoiler) :

Black as maester’s ink he was, but fast and strong, the best natural swordsman Selmy had seen since Jaime Lannister.

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    Also in the battle of the whispering wood he made an impression on the north men, killing many soldiers on his way to challenge Rob in single combat. This would add to his reputation – Mikey Mouse Apr 23 '15 at 11:07
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    By the Battle of the Whispering Wood, it was quite likely the last time he fought to an audience, he already had the reputation. And the age thing is impressive, but Robb was an undefeated battle strategist at the age of 14. And like I said earlier, the best knights did not generally fight in the melée. Was it enough to make him reportedly one of the greatest fighters in the land? – Mike.C.Ford Apr 23 '15 at 11:17
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    He killed two of Lord Karstark's sons while trying to reach Robb. – TLP Apr 23 '15 at 11:32
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    I get the impression getting the reputation is the easy part. You get lucky in a fight against your superior when you're young and word of your brilliance spreads. Keeping that reputation and not backing down from a fight is the hard part and that's exactly what he did in the Whispering Wood. The evidence of good swordsmanship in that he behaved like that since his knighting. – Mikey Mouse Apr 23 '15 at 12:51
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    @MikeyMouse I think that's the point of the OP's question: was he actually good, or did people just say he was? – Möoz Apr 23 '15 at 21:03
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Well, it seems that most of his reputation is based on his exploits before the start of the show. Now I have not read the books, but if the show is accurate, then it seems as though a big part of why he is considered one of the best is not who he has beaten but how he has won the battles he has been in and that is without ever being injured. So for him to never get injured in a battle up until his capture by Rob Stark is pretty great.

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