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The Grey Fox

The best (living) swordsman in WoT

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Pretty simple question, although one which has raised extended and heated debate between friends and family of mine - who do you feel is the best swordsman in Wheel of Time?

I mean, obviously there are so many Blademasters around and characters to choose from, so we should probably keep this to discussing people we've actually seen fight at length in the series and leave out Blademasters who are confirmed but only take part in large scale battles and few duels (like Rodel Ituralde and the other Great Captains).

So with that in mind, a (very) short list of people to expand upon as potential nominees would be more along the lines of:

Rand (obviously)
Lan
Gawyn
Galad
Tam al'Thor

and anyone else who seems relevant.

Discuss :)

Edited by The Grey Fox

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It's hard to say really. Of the 5 you mentioned, two of them are older and have more experience but the younger three seem to be just as skilled. Gawyn fights off Warders aplenty when Suian gets deposed.

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Yeah that's what makes the discussion so interesting.

 

My brother is adamant that Rand is definitely the best swordsman, and yet he gets beaten by Toram Riatin in the woods in Cairhien (albeit while distracted by the mist conjured by Padan Fain).

 

Likewise Gawyn defeats two warders simultaneously multiple times, something no one else is shown to do in the series (although Rand kills one with his bare hands and another with the first warders sword in a matter of seconds).

 

And then ofcourse Lan kills Toram Riatin in Far Madding without breaking a sweat.

 

It's really quite tricky to gauge them against each other, although I have to say I lean against the idea that Rand would be the best (even with both hands) since he has so many other skills to focus on that it seems like he wouldn't be quite as dedicated to the sword as some of the other candidates.

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Well, sadly, we kind of have to remove Stumpy from contention.

 

Of the four remaining I would go with Lan.

 

He has the experience, he's bonded so he has expanded physical skills, he has been through much more then Gawyn or Galad so when it came right down to it I think Lan would hack his way through situations even Gawyn and Galad would be shaken by. I am thinking in particular of some of the post-Moiraine debonding where people look into Lan's eyes and can describe it only as looking at death. I mean, before that Lan already had decades of experience over the two boys.....now?

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Yeah Lan has always been a strong contender for me also, although purely for the purpose of argument we can feel free to include "Stumpy" (although since he never had access to both Lews Therins complete memories and two hands at the same time he loses the advantage of experience).

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Yeah it did seem like a bit of an odd moment... all those fights... all that build up...

Maybe there is something about getting his hand back in the whole resurrection deal. I'm just waiting for him to go full Neo and get blinded and start seeing the world in the matrix... I mean, Pattern. *

 

*pure speculation, I know nothing about aMoL so nothing I post will be spoilers.

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Damn. That settles that.

 

... so where do we slot in Rand assuming he has both hands? :P

RJ said Rand was 2nd behind Lan when he had both hands.

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Lan and Galad are very close to a tie for first and anyone else...is a distant second, third etc...

 

 

Fish

 

I'm pretty sure this isn't true....   I'm a Galad apologist, but he struggled way too much, and should have lost, to Eamon Valda.  I realize Valda was extremely high on the list at the time, but when reading that fight scene it seemed pretty clear to me that Valda was definitely the more skilled swordsman of the two, and by a healthy enough margin that the disparity was obvious.

 

Lan on the other hand seems to be #1 in the world.  Rand was getting close until he lost his hand, but he was still close.  I think there's a large gap after Lan these days.

 

Anyone know where any of the Forsaken rank?

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Bel'al was the only blademaster, as far as I know, and he got killed off early, before we could see his badassery.

Edited by Whizbang

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My brother is adamant that Rand is definitely the best swordsman, and yet he gets beaten by Toram Riatin in the woods in Cairhien (albeit while distracted by the mist conjured by Padan Fain).

That was a Bubble of Evil, not Fain's work (as was revealed in the PoD Glossary, entry for Daved Hanlon - no surprise a lot of people miss it).

 

In terms of skill, while Lan is regarded as the best, bear in mind that in an actual fight between any two swordsmen, victory could go either way (we've seen Lan beat a better fighter than himself in Ryne in NS). As for the Chosen and LTT, blademasters in the way known in the present of the series didn't exist in the same way back in the AoL - the heron mark was a sign of a general rather than a mark of skill, with OP forged swords that were unmarked (such as Lan's) being for regular soldiers. Thus LTT and Be'lal are entitled to carry the Heron for reasons that have nothing to do with their skills. They turned a sport into a form of combat, and indicators are that they were quite good, but hard rankings can't be stated with any degree of accuracy. Regardless of their skills, neither of them is a blademaster by the reckoning of the Third Age, unless Be'lal killed a blademaster without our knowing it prior to his death.

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I would agree that Rand was second to Lan before he lost his hand (and maybe after, who knows how having Justice, a one-handed sword, will affect his skill?). Rand trained under Lan for a long time, every day that he possibly could. Yes, Gawyn and Galad trained under warders for just about the same amount of time, they weren't nearly as dedicated to it as Rand, though Gawyn came close as he became more and more obsessed with Egwene and Elayne being missing. Per BS, though, he was still behind Galad. Since then, Galad and Gawyn haven't really been training. Yes, they've been in battles and skirmishes, which hones their skills somewhat, but not hard training. Rand, though, has been training with the best people he can find, including Aiel (which, though not in swords, at least teaches his body and mind to be a weapon, and certainly teaches focus and reflexes).

 

Two-hand-Rand = 2nd behind Lan

One-hand-Rand is probably not as good as Gawyn, but still a blademaster.

 

I'd say Valda, on skill alone (ignoring his underestimating Galad), is/was better than Galad. Toram certainly is in the running for the top 10, though Lan handled him fairly quickly, and the sparring between Rand and Toram was interrupted while it was still in the "testing each other's skill" phase. I think Rand could easily have beat him if he went all out. Maybe Galad and Gawyn could have too, but who knows?

 

We haven't seen too many other blademaster battles to judge, though. Rand v Turak obviously shows Turak was at the bottom of the barrel. We haven't seen Tam fight one-on-one with anyone, but simply by being him, we can assume he is in the running for top 10, if not top 5. Rodel Itarulde killed Turan, so he is obviously highly skilled.

 

Looking on the WoT Wikia, it lists Gareth as a blademaster. I never got that impression from the books. Good with a sword? Sure. He is a soldier and a general. Blademaster? Where does that come from? If true, I'd put him at a level with Hammar, but not the top blademasters.

 

It also lists Sammael as a blademaster, though I don't know what evidence there is to support this.

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Early on in the series Galad was better than Gawyn, but after the splitting of the Tower Gawyn gained experience that Galad did not.  Both are incredibly dangerous and would cut any of us to ribbons, but I would have to go with Gawyn over Galad(and I like Galad more).  I don't believe there can be a clear 1,2,3, etc since we don't know all the Blademasters in WoT- Ituralde is one- but I think we can say that Tam is fairly low simply because he spent 18 years farming after returning to the TR without picking up his sword again on Winter' Night.  Overall I would have to say Lan is the best living swordsman and everyone after that is debatable.

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Early on in the series Galad was better than Gawyn, but after the splitting of the Tower Gawyn gained experience that Galad did not.  Both are incredibly dangerous and would cut any of us to ribbons, but I would have to go with Gawyn over Galad(and I like Galad more).

I've never understood why some fans seem to think more screen time=enough of an experience leap to jump Gawyn over Galad. We have an author quote stating Galad is still better after ToM so really there is no argument. Galad was much better early on, we have a number of characters stating how much better he was(more natural, things come easier, learns faster etc.), and we have no way to say how either would do in the others fights. Bottom line there is zero evidence that he has surpassed Galad.

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One thing that no one has mentioned yet is that Lan has extensive experience against shadowspawn and Aiel.
Even if we could argue that he's not #1 (and we can't), Galad and Gawyn have only trained against other swordsmen. They wouldn't fare nearly so well against Trollocs, Algai d'siswai, or farmers with quarterstaves.

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Galad had a bit of a crash course in hacking down Trollocs, I suppose :) He did well enough, if not superbly (but then, neither did most people in their first fights with Trollocs).

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I would agree that Rand was second to Lan before he lost his hand (and maybe after, who knows how having Justice, a one-handed sword, will affect his skill?). Rand trained under Lan for a long time, every day that he possibly could. Yes, Gawyn and Galad trained under warders for just about the same amount of time, they weren't nearly as dedicated to it as Rand, though Gawyn came close as he became more and more obsessed with Egwene and Elayne being missing. Per BS, though, he was still behind Galad. Since then, Galad and Gawyn haven't really been training. Yes, they've been in battles and skirmishes, which hones their skills somewhat, but not hard training. Rand, though, has been training with the best people he can find, including Aiel (which, though not in swords, at least teaches his body and mind to be a weapon, and certainly teaches focus and reflexes).

 

Two-hand-Rand = 2nd behind Lan

One-hand-Rand is probably not as good as Gawyn, but still a blademaster.

 

I'd say Valda, on skill alone (ignoring his underestimating Galad), is/was better than Galad. Toram certainly is in the running for the top 10, though Lan handled him fairly quickly, and the sparring between Rand and Toram was interrupted while it was still in the "testing each other's skill" phase. I think Rand could easily have beat him if he went all out. Maybe Galad and Gawyn could have too, but who knows?

 

We haven't seen too many other blademaster battles to judge, though. Rand v Turak obviously shows Turak was at the bottom of the barrel. We haven't seen Tam fight one-on-one with anyone, but simply by being him, we can assume he is in the running for top 10, if not top 5. Rodel Itarulde killed Turan, so he is obviously highly skilled.

 

Looking on the WoT Wikia, it lists Gareth as a blademaster. I never got that impression from the books. Good with a sword? Sure. He is a soldier and a general. Blademaster? Where does that come from? If true, I'd put him at a level with Hammar, but not the top blademasters.

 

It also lists Sammael as a blademaster, though I don't know what evidence there is to support this.

Wasn't there something in an interview (I'm so not good at finding things) where it was said that the Blademasters in Seandar were of a lesser caliber than those in Randland? I think this was in response to a question that was essentially, "How can Rand already defeat a Blademaster?".

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Looking on the WoT Wikia, it lists Gareth as a blademaster. I never got that impression from the books. Good with a sword? Sure. He is a soldier and a general. Blademaster? Where does that come from? If true, I'd put him at a level with Hammar, but not the top blademasters.

It's mentioned in the series that Byrne is a blademaster, Brandon also discusses it in an interview.

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LTT, Sammael and Be'lal all took up the "sport" of Sword fighting in the AoL.

Likely Demandred did as well but I don't recall that being mentioned explicitly like it was with Sammy and Be'lal.

Sammael's scar is from a session with LTT that he refused to have healed.

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I would agree that Rand was second to Lan before he lost his hand (and maybe after, who knows how having Justice, a one-handed sword, will affect his skill?). Rand trained under Lan for a long time, every day that he possibly could. Yes, Gawyn and Galad trained under warders for just about the same amount of time, they weren't nearly as dedicated to it as Rand, though Gawyn came close as he became more and more obsessed with Egwene and Elayne being missing. Per BS, though, he was still behind Galad. Since then, Galad and Gawyn haven't really been training. Yes, they've been in battles and skirmishes, which hones their skills somewhat, but not hard training. Rand, though, has been training with the best people he can find, including Aiel (which, though not in swords, at least teaches his body and mind to be a weapon, and certainly teaches focus and reflexes).

Where do you get this from? Why wouldn't Gawyn and Galad have been training hard since then?

 

Didn't Rand stop training for the most part since Dumai's wells, being too busy with other things? And even before this, he had no more than an hour or two per day to spare on weapon training, since he had so many other things to do.

 

Not that in this series you need much training to become a super badass with a weapon, as the likes of Perrin and Aram demonstrate. ;)

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