WATCH | 3 of the most epic 'Game of Thrones' fights of all time
Words almost inevitably give way to steel in the harsh world of Westeros
SPOILER ALERT! This article contains spoilers for various seasons of 'Game of Thrones'. The videos are not for sensitive viewers.
HBO is never shy with visceral portrayals of sex and violence to flavour their storytelling. And the seven seasons of Game of Thrones has been no exception.
Westeros and Essos, the lands of George RR Martin's books, is a harsh and unforgiving place where seemingly only the strong and ruthless survive. Hence the series is littered with encounters where words eventually give way to steel.
As season 8 gears up for what will invariably be the most epic battle in the history of Game of Thrones, we look back at some of the most memorable fights in the series so far:
1. JAIME LANNISTER (THE LION) VS EDDARD STARK (THE WOLF)
When it takes place: Season 1 Episode 5
The lead-up: Up to episode 5, tensions between these two vastly different characters had been simmering. Jaime's assassination of king Aerys Targaryen was considered cowardly by the honourable Eddard. Jaime, at that point, was every bit a conniving pretty boy who threw Bran Stark out of a tower window when the boy witnessed Jaime and his sister, Cersei, having sex.
The action: On the way out of King's Landing, Eddard and his men are stopped by Jaime and a large force of men demanding the return of Jaime's younger brother after being arrested by Eddard's wife, Catelyn.
In the ensuing melee Eddard's men are all killed, leaving him to face Jaime alone. They are surprisingly equally matched given Eddard's older age, and for a moment it seemed as if the Wolf's ferocity will give him the stamina to beat his younger opponent.
The duel is undecided, however, when one of Jaime's men spears Eddard from behind, crippling him.
Why it's good: It sets precedence in the series that success has little to do with honour.
Watch it now:
2. GREGOR CLEGANE (THE MOUNTAIN) VS OBERYN MARTELL (THE VIPER)
When it takes place: Season 4 Episode 8
The lead-up: Season 4 saw Prince Oberyn and his wife, Ellaria, from the exotic Southern states of Dorne, steaming up the screens with their sexual escapades. Attending Joffrey and Margaery's wedding, Oberyn decides to stay in King's Landing after Joffrey is poisoned to death, supposedly by his uncle and audience fave, Tyrion.
Oberyn decides to champion the accused in a trial by combat, and faces off with the giant Gregor Clegane. Oberyn's ulterior motive is to exact vengeance on Clegane for raping and murdering his sister.
The action: The odds seem stacked against Oberyn. Clegane is over seven foot tall, and earlier scenes of him sparring against hapless opponents reveal his bloodthirsty and merciless nature.
Oberyn, however, is agile, preferring a spear to a cumbersome sword. The Viper's acrobatics pay off when he manages to hamstring and skewer the Mountain. The collective sigh of relief is short-lived. What comes next is literally a crushing lesson in resting on your laurels.
Taunting the dying Clegane, Oberyn drops his guard and is swept to the ground. In one of the more disturbing scenes of the series, the Mountain grips the Viper's skull in his monstrous hands, gouges out Oberyn's eyes and then smashes his head.
Why it's good: The high-stakes roller-coaster and Oberyn's shocking demise.
Watch it now:
3. BRIENNE OF TARTH VS SANDOR CLEGANE (THE HOUND)
When it takes place: Season 4 Episode 10
The lead-up: This is one of those unexpected fight scenes. Brienne of Tarth, on oath to find and take Sansa Stark to safety after her escape from Kings Landing, stumbles across Arya Stark and Sandor Clegane.
Called "The Hound", by season 4 Clegane is endeared to audiences as a big, scary guy (he is the brother of the Mountain), with a good heart. He is protective of Arya, and when Brienne realises Arya is Sansa's sister, she is obliged to bring Arya under her oath.
However, Clegane is suspicious of Brienne's armour and weaponry, which bears the hallmark of the Lannisters, the enemies of House Stark.
The action: Both Brienne and the Hound are fierce warriors. They both have "armour and big f**king swords", as Clegane puts it, and hammer away at each other until Brienne forces him to submit. Clegane in unknightly fashion grabs the sword blade with bare hands and decks Brienne. From here on the fight gets ugly, groins are smashed and ear parts are ripped off.
Why it's good: The duel ends up as a realistic bloody brawl and, sadly, audiences ostensibly have to say goodbye to one of their favorite characters in the Hound — at least for a little while.
Watch it now:
OTHER NOTABLE DUELS
KHAL DROGO VS MAGO
Talk about toxic masculinity. Mago, one of Drogo's henchmen, questions Daenerys's influence on the Khal - distasteful in patriarchal Dothraki culture. Challenged by Mago's scimitar blade pressed into Drogo's bulging pec, the Khal responds by dropping his knives and fighting unarmed.
Drogo, the athletic warrior, turns the scimitar back onto his enemy, slices his throat and pulls his tongue out through the wound. You were saying?
JON SNOW VS STYR
In the defence of Castle Black, Jon Snow's sword skill turns the tide against those pesky wildlings breaching the walls, until he meets Styr, the intimidating leader of the cannibalistic Thenn tribe.
Styr disarms the Night's Watchman of his sword, Longclaw, and strangles him until Jon discovers that an ironmonger's hammer can do the same job as Valerian steel.
BRONN VS SER VARDIS EGAN
In the halls of Eyrie, a stronghold set high in the mountain peaks, Bronn, a mercenary, champions Tyrion Lannister in a trial by combat. His motive is gold, but his opponent is the strapping knight Ser Vardis.
Unfortunately for the knight, Bronn cunningly tires Ser Vardis before slashing his poor opponents' vulnerable spots. Eventually the corpse of Ser Vardis is sent flying through a hole in the floor of the hall.
Incensed, Tyrion's accuser, Lysa Arryn, disses Bronn's style as "fighting without honour" to which he replies, "No I don't, but he did." Talk about a sharp wit.
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