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How did Rhaegar get his reputation as a warrior?

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8 hours ago, corbon said:

No.
Its not just 'expert knowledge' on one side, its that there are a host of other factors in the assessment that we, with our limited textual data, don't have available. And much of the time 'they' do.

But that's just your guesswork, no? I'm certainly willing to accept that a character has a solid empirical basis when there are hints that one exists, but this is not always the case.

I mean, take a moron like Jaime. He gives us contradictory assessments of Littlefinger's character in AGoT and AFfC. This would be one example of a man not exactly knowing what he is talking about.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

We have too limited a dataset to do that accurately. So instead what we do is assess the assessors and judge for ourselves whether they are likely to have reasonable grounds to make such an assessment.

At times we do know much more than the characters - and then we actually see how stupid and ill-informed they are and can be. This reflects very poorly on their actual knowledge of things.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

Barristan said outright that Rhaegar was "a most puissant warrior" (and indicated that was not the whole story). Barristan knew his character, saw him lead men, saw him train, saw him joust in tourneys (probably both trained against him and definitely jousted against him) and saw him campaign in the field leading an army.

Yeah, and you also do recall the context here - him talking to his new queen, the sister of Rhaegar. He is very reluctant to tell her the truth about her dear father, isn't he? Always pointing out that it isn't his place to contradict what Viserys told Dany. So it stands to reason that when talking about Rhaegar he has as little interest to destroy Dany's picture of him than he is keen to put Aerys II in a bad light - even if that were more realistic.

'Most puissant warrior' can pretty much mean anything. And I never said Rhaegar was a bad or mediocre knight. I just said that nobody ever said Rhaegar was even remotely in the same league as the truly powerful warriors of his generation.

I mean, history also claims that Aegon the Conqueror was a great warrior - despite the fact that he never did any great feats of arms. And @Ran actually dismisses the claim that Jaehaerys I was a better warrior than Maegor the Cruel despite the fact that the master-at-arms of Dragonstone made that assessment. It is part of being a prince or king to be a great warrior, and they use different standards to assess that if the princes and kings in question are better than adequate material (which Rhaegar certainly was).

8 hours ago, corbon said:

They didn't actually say that (at least that I can find).
Cersei tells us not that Rhaegar was a great tourney knight, but that two of her uncles and a dozen of her fathers finest knights fell before him. The same with others. Mostly the speak of his results or skills, not greatness as a tourney knight (I don't have time to source all the quotes).

Well, okay, what we know is that Rhaegar had definitely more success as a tourney knight than a warrior. This is where empirical evidence comes in. Technically Selmy could have said that Rhaegar's training was successful, that he fought really great in the practice yard, etc. Part of being a warrior is to actually fight - which Rhaegar never did until the Trident. I'm not sure anyone would refer to a man as a 'most puissant warrior' if he had never shed any blood in actual combat. It is like saying a man is a battle surgeon who, at this point, has only stitched up people in hospitals.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

Given that they both actually did throw him to the dirt, what have you got except your own feelings to doubt them?
I'll accept that you might not have been able to try in their position. But not that they couldn't have. In fact, I take Barristan's regret that he wasn't a finer knight as evidence that he did try with his whole heart, but Rhaegar was better on the day (I do understand that others read that a different way and would use it as evidence that Barristan didn't try, I just don't agree with their reading - it doesn't fit with Barristan's character, or any other thoughts or words).

Oh, I'm sure Selmy really wanted to defeat Rhaegar in that particular tourney at that particular time (or at least he tells himself that in retrospect). But my point simply was that I find it hard to believe that the average Kingsguard riding against the future king in a tourney really rides with the same determination and the same desire to win than he does when he faces any other opponent. They must be aware that there is always a risk of them killing the prince and that should influence them - at least if the whole Kingsguard vow thing is important to them.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

Oberyn Martell?
Brandon Stark?
Steffon Baratheon?
Simon Toyne (perhaps)?

We don't know whether either of those men ever was a particularly competent jouster. Three a big names, that's all we know. I assume Oberyn Martell and Simon Toyne may have been pretty good, and Brandon Stark likely wasn't that bad, either, but we don't know anything about Steffon Baratheon.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

Franky, your a claiming to not talk of rigged tourneys, while talking of rigged tourneys, just in a more subtle way.

Well, I guess I made it clear how it is difficult to imagine that the Kingsguard really try to endanger the life of the Prince of Dragonstone in the lists. And the same certainly also goes for lesser men playing the Kyle the Cat card. This is not always the case but if only a quarter or half of your opponents defer to you in this fashion you look much better than you'd look if your name wasn't Targaryen, no?

8 hours ago, corbon said:

Really? And what to Selmy or Dayne truly have to gain from throwing their matches (12 lances!) against Rhaegar. And why sometimes but not always.

To make a better show, perhaps? But as I said - I was making a general observation. I did not say Dayne or Selmy never tried to win against Rhaegar. In fact, Dayne and Rhaegar being such close friends could mean they knew each other very well, so that Dayne's risk of accidentally killing or injuring Rhaegar was comparably low, so that theirs were different jousts than that between Rhaegar and a KG who didn't spend as much time with him.

But we cannot just pretend friends who are also your bodyguard(s) completely ignore their relationship in a tourney. They could not, even if they tried. And it is quite clear that Selmy or Dayne accidentally killing or crippling Rhaegar would be their worst nightmares...

8 hours ago, corbon said:

Yep. Thats the level of your argument. Despite the campaign against the Kingswood Brotherhood (and we know that wasn't going well for a start, until Dayne changed tacks), you argue Arthur Dayne, of Aerys' Kingsguard, doesn't truly know about killing people. 
That speaks for itself.

No, it does not, because a super great warrior who basically just fought in one campaign to deal with outlaws (!) is just a completely weird image. I mean, what did Arthur Dayne do to get Dawn? Just beat up a lot of people in the practice yard? He clearly never fought in a war if he is roughly Rhaegar's age - and he would have to be at least 15 years older to fight on the Stepstones.

I know that Dayne was crucial in dealing with the outlaws - but that doesn't change the fact that they were still outlaws. Dealing with them is not exactly a great accomplishment.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

Not to mention that its Barristan Selmy who tells us most about Rhaegar. Like he's not fit to judge...

See above. Also keep in mind that fifteen years have past, and the past looks always brighter. Rhaegar is the tragic hero of House Targaryen, the last dragon, a man larger than life even for a man like Barristan Selmy - who was never close to Rhaegar, nor ever trusted by Rhaegar.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

Ramsay has no record for anything other than brutality. None in play-war (tourneys), none in personal combat, none in leading men. I think Stannis is putting together all the things he's heard about Ramsey and the Boltons and the north, and made a judgement. He might be wrong. But I think its a more expert and more likely to be correct judgement than your or I can make at this stage - though only GRRM will actually decide. Ramsay might be the new Robb Stark for all we, or Stannis, knows.
Tywin, a better judge than most I think, did after all get his assessment of Robb Stark completely wrong for a start. 
I think Stannis would have (did?) make a similar judgement about Robb as he does about Ramsay, but been less sure of it, due to the respect he has for Ned.

Well, actually, Ramsay did lead when he took Lady Donella and when he killed Ser Rodrik and his men, etc. I'd say he has about as much battlefield experience than Ser Arthur Dayne, no?

I never made any judgment on any of the characters based on my 'expert knowledge'. And I don't think Rhaegar was actually a bad or average knight. I think he was pretty good, actually. But I don't think he was even remotely in the same league as Robert.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

But it is highly relevant. Its not the only thing, but it is a very big thing and its the main thing that can be assessed.

It is highly relevant to assess what kind of warrior a man can be once he is bloodied, perhaps. But beating up men in the practice yard doesn't make you a warrior. Because training for war simply isn't combat, battle, or war. It is training. It is not serious. People are not killed intentionally in the practice yard.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

and that sort of gross misrepresentation doesn't help you either :rolleyes:

Tell that to the guys who suck up to their betters in the books. Nobody called out Prince Valarr for being a failure in the lists. Not even Aerion. Nobody ever called the Brown Dragon a failure until he was thrown in the dirt. These people all want to believe that their princes and kings are great warriors. But not all of them are.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

But, to some extent they are just celebrating their class. They have their own blinkers, which few can past, which is why Tywin underestimated Robb so badly early on.

As I think I said already - Tywin himself was Robb when he dealt with the Tarbecks and Reynes. He forgot how it was to be a brash youth. That certainly was a mistake.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

That doesn't mean we should dismiss their judgement. 
And whether we accept or dismiss it, chances are they will be right sometimes and wrong sometimes.

I'm not saying to dismiss it all, I just say we should always keep in mind that the characters are often wrong, are often biased, are often not really knowing what they are talking about.

8 hours ago, corbon said:

We are talking about the judgment of a character as a warrior. In the OP case, Rhaegar, but I think we are talking more generally than that now - I think your Ramsey case is a valid example, for example. What that means is different in different circumstances, but in a generalised case like this I personally see it as the sum of personal combat skills, leadership of men and leadership or armies, probably leaning on personal combat skills but with the other aspects having the ability to 'cancel' status.

I think now are you just shifting the goal posts. Rhaegar never fought in any battle but the Trident - which he lost, both personally as a warrior and as a general. Selmy cannot say he was a puissant warrior because of the Trident. And since he never fought in any battle that we know he clearly couldn't have included anything in his 'assessment' there besides practice yard stuff, tourneys, and the Trident itself. That's it. And that simply doesn't make a Rhaegar a particularly great warrior - because for that he must have actually have fought against people in real combat situations, and he must have won. That's what a great warrior is and how you get the reputation to be one.

And in Rhaegar's case one could also make the case that Selmy - not being close to him - would have misjudged the affect Rhaegar's melancholy and depression had on him. As I laid out somewhere above - a man suffering from depression his entire life has much more trouble mastering things than one with a different character. If you wonder the entire day 'What's the point of my life?' then it is much harder to do things than if you are sure of yourself, etc. Rhaegar may have looked pretty shiny and good from the outside, but he may not have felt that way inside. Selmy wouldn't have known.

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Barristan is already denying that he's a "peerless warrior", so why then do we need to assume that when he admits he was skilled, because he was skilled at everything he turned his hand to, that this can be questioned? He rode well in the few tournaments he participated in, including winning. There's not a single tournament champion described across all the WoIaF canon who proved to not be a skilled warrior.

As to the random Jaehaerys thing, someone telling someone else, "You're so amazing!" isn't really the same thing as people at a remove telling others that someone is skilled. As I noted, Scales sounds like a flatterer. We already know that Maegor was a remarkable warrior thanks to his trial of seven and tourney performances, with his having defeated Warrior's Sons and Kingsguard knights respectively, so how is someone who Scales admit isn't up to snuff for the Kingsguard going to be better than him? It's flattery, perhaps meant encouragingly or kindly, but it's flattery none the less.

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Ran said:

Barristan is already denying that he's a "peerless warrior", so why then do we need to assume that when he admits he was skilled, because he was skilled at everything he turned his hand to, that this can be questioned? He rode well in the few tournaments he participated in, including winning. There's not a single tournament champion described across all the WoIaF canon who proved to not be a skilled warrior.

I'd say that the entire phrase of a man excelling at everything he does or undertakes is flattery up to a point. After all, nobody is really good at everything he does. I certainly buy that Rhaegar was a very gifted and talented person - smart, able-bodied, diligent, dutiful, etc. - but he also had many personal issues. We would all agree, I'd think, that if Rhaegar was truly one of the best knights of his generation people would describe him differently.

Quote

As to the random Jaehaerys thing, someone telling someone else, "You're so amazing!" isn't really the same thing as people at a remove telling others that someone is skilled. As I noted, Scales sounds like a flatterer. We already know that Maegor was a remarkable warrior thanks to his trial of seven and tourney performances, with his having defeated Warrior's Sons and Kingsguard knights respectively, so how is someone who Scales admit isn't up to snuff for the Kingsguard going to be better than him? It's flattery, perhaps meant encouragingly or kindly, but it's flattery none the less.

But you have to keep in mind that Gyldayn also calls Jaehaerys I's Kingsguard - the knights Jaehaerys I trains with on Dragonstone - basically the greatest KG of all time. The most legendary Seven. Thus I find it not particularly strange that Jaehaerys doesn't deserve a place among those men - whereas we know that Maegor's Seven were old men and cravens, basically. KG does not equal KG. Scales did not only know Maegor and Jaehaerys, he also knew the new KG of Jaehaerys I and the old KG of Maegor.

I mean, that's not that difficult to wrap your hand around. Jaehaerys I's Seven were basically chosen from a pool of the most talented knights and warriors the Seven Kingdoms had to offer. To our knowledge, this is not the case for the men King Aenys and King Maegor gave white cloaks. Nepotism, favoritism, carelessness, ignorance, opportunism, etc. would have figured into the earlier choices, but Jaehaerys' Seven were all chosen in this great tourney where they had truly show their mettle in a way no KG had before (and, perhaps, thereafter).

Also, if one keeps in mind that Maegor and Jaehaerys basically look the same (very evident when Jaehaerys was furious), chances are pretty high that they also were similarly/identically built, meaning they were may have been of equal or identical phyiscal strength.

And I really would say that Jaehaerys I in his late forties making short work of a man who is described as 'the finest lance of the Reach' is certainly a sign that the old man never lost the edge he acquired in those early years of training. He would no longer be as talented as he was in his youth, of course, but he was still better than the Stinger.

And regaring Selmy and flattery:

Wouldn't you agree that Selmy really does his best to paint Dany's family in as favorable a light as possible when talking to her about her father and brother? He could have told her what he father did after Duskendale, how many men he roasted alive, what he did to her poor mother, etc. but he chooses to treat his former king with the respect due to his station. And that certainly also extends to Rhaegar. He ever tries to get around clear answers by insisting that it isn't his place to contradict the words of Viserys III, etc.

Edited by Lord Varys

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On 6/24/2019 at 8:59 AM, Lord Varys said:

Thus goes: If Arthur Dayne's great reputation rests almost exclusively on his prowess in the training yard (he certainly could have fought in some campaigns back in Dorne for some reason before he joined the KG) then the judgment of him being this great guy might rest on a rather narrow empirical basis.

Ned says Arthur Dayne was the finest knight he ever saw, and Ned would know having been nearly killed by Dayne (like most of his companions at the Tower of Joy). Jon Connington also uses Dayne as his standard for what a good military encampment should be like, so he wasn't just known for jousting. Arthur might also be highly regarded by contemporaries for chivalrously letting the Smiling Knight replace his sword, although moderns would just consider that stupidly letting your opponent have an extra chance to kill you.

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2 hours ago, FictionIsntReal said:

Ned says Arthur Dayne was the finest knight he ever saw, and Ned would know having been nearly killed by Dayne (like most of his companions at the Tower of Joy).

Ned didn't actually know Arthur Dayne all that well, did he? And we don't know whether his words refer to Dayne's qualities as a fighter or more to him embodying the virtues of chivalry. I don't doubt that Dayne was a great duelist and a very well-trained fighter - he obviously was. But he never fought in any war.

2 hours ago, FictionIsntReal said:

Jon Connington also uses Dayne as his standard for what a good military encampment should be like, so he wasn't just known for jousting. Arthur might also be highly regarded by contemporaries for chivalrously letting the Smiling Knight replace his sword, although moderns would just consider that stupidly letting your opponent have an extra chance to kill you.

That is just the thing - did Connington ever march to war with/under the command of Ser Arthur Dayne? No. Thus his assessment there is sort of weird - which is my entire point. If I praise your abilities as a battle surgeon - and then it turns out that you have never seen proper combat, then my praise of you is weird. And all praise for Ser Arthur as a great fighter is weird in that sense. Because the man never fought in a war nor was he ever known as a great general or leader of men.

The whole replacement thing there seems to underline him embodying knightly virtues - but this was never in doubt.

My issue is not mainly that people can be mistaken about other people - although they can - it is that certainly people give us very weird expert opinions on the qualities of other people when the facts really make it more or less impossible that they can have seen much combat or have fought in a lot of proper military campaigns.

This is not just a problem for Ser Arthur Dayne - it is also a problem for Rhaegar, Tarly, and, in fact, all of Aerys II's Seven who aren't old enough to have fought on the Stepstones (which, at this point, are only Gerold Hightower, Barristan Selmy, and, one assumes, Harlan Grandison). Dayne, Whent, Martell, and Darry are not confirmed to have fought on the Stepstones - and even if some of them had been around then it is still clear that not all KG could have accompanied Prince Aerys since some likely stayed back to protect the king and queen and princess in KL.

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Posted (edited)

It's not really a problem for any of those characters. 

George isn't playing a game where every assessment made of a character's skill or ability has to be questioned. George has even confirmed things outside of the books  like Jaime being the kind of swordsman who came along once in a thousand years, Barristan in his prime and Arthur Dayne being equals (until Dawn is factored into the equation), etc. that show that opinions expressed in the novels about ability and skill levels of knights and warriors are generally congruent with his actual intentions.

If it's more like, "How does this make sense in reality, in a world where wars or battles are so few, that people have accurate knowledge of skill levels?", well, gosh, maybe it doesn't and it's just a conceit on GRRM's part. Or maybe he really feels that there's a very, very strong correlation between tournament and sparring evidence and actual battlefield prowess, and that's that.

In any case, we've pretty much answered how Rhaegar's reputation came about.

Edited by Ran

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He was the first born son of the king (and only son for a while) trained presumably by the man of arms at the Red Keep and with Kingsguard, the guys who are supposed to be the best in the realm. While he might have been a book worm initially, he was always receiving the best training possible at the time. When it "clicked" mentally for him to want to train well, it only furthers that cause.

As a result, it is no surprise that he was a good "warrior" (being trained by the likes of the White Bull, Barristan the Bold, and Arthur Dayne? Please). The results of his training were likely that he was VERY CAPABLE, particularly with the lance in tourney. I am sure it was SOMEWHAT of an indicator of how he MIGHT perform on the battlefield.

 

However, it does not appear that he had real combat experience until the rebellion. Therefore, while he was as well trained as he could possibly be, there were attributes and variables unaccounted for. Robert had more experience and had what appears to be stronger intrinsic motivation to win. He did. 

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Don't think the books put him up there with likes of Aemon the dragon knight or Daemon Blackfyre etc al, but the gGeneral consensus is he was capable at whatever he turned his hand to...

 

  So bookish they joked his mother swallowed a book during pregnancy, so skilled at mudic that he reduced a "Tom boy" like Lyanna to tears and although a late starter, he obviously did well in his weapons training. 

His reputation is more of a capable and focussed mind who did well when set out to learn something, including weapon training. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, nyser1 said:

He was the first born son of the king (and only son for a while) trained presumably by the man of arms at the Red Keep and with Kingsguard, the guys who are supposed to be the best in the realm. While he might have been a book worm initially, he was always receiving the best training possible at the time. When it "clicked" mentally for him to want to train well, it only furthers that cause.

As a result, it is no surprise that he was a good "warrior" (being trained by the likes of the White Bull, Barristan the Bold, and Arthur Dayne? Please). The results of his training were likely that he was VERY CAPABLE, particularly with the lance in tourney. I am sure it was SOMEWHAT of an indicator of how he MIGHT perform on the battlefield.

 

However, it does not appear that he had real combat experience until the rebellion. Therefore, while he was as well trained as he could possibly be, there were attributes and variables unaccounted for. Robert had more experience and had what appears to be stronger intrinsic motivation to win. He did. 

You mean like Joffrey? 

I do think Rhaegar is a pretty good swordsman, but that's not the right way to say he is.

Edited by RYShh

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15 minutes ago, RYShh said:

You mean like Joffrey? 

I do think Rhaegar is a pretty good swordsman, but that's not the right way to say he is.

I suspected someone might quote like this and that is why I noted the specific members of the kingsguard (forgot Darry, Whent, Martell). These arguably were the best fighters in the realm during their peaks, or at least were close to making the list.

 

The Kingsguard under Robert are the first instance we hear of poor fighters on the Kingsguard. Clearly there for reasons unrelated to actual fighting ability...

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19 minutes ago, nyser1 said:

I suspected someone might quote like this and that is why I noted the specific members of the kingsguard (forgot Darry, Whent, Martell). These arguably were the best fighters in the realm during their peaks, or at least were close to making the list.

One can note Valarr Targaryen, son of Baelor Breakspear, as someone else who surely had the best tutelage possible on hand, but who was at best mediocre. Even the best trainers in the world aren't going to make a skilled warrior out of someone who lacks aptitude. 

19 minutes ago, nyser1 said:

 

The Kingsguard under Robert are the first instance we hear of poor fighters on the Kingsguard. Clearly there for reasons unrelated to actual fighting ability...

There were other Kingsguard knights of uncertain or dubious skill (the Dance of the Dragons and Aegon's regency saw some, for example), and Robert's Kingsguard did have the greatest swordsman in generations (Jaime) and Westeros's best swordsman ~40 years prior (Barristan), so I'm not sure this is an excuse. Joffrey's skills we have no real idea on, but if they were poor, it was not for lack of good tutors.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Ran said:

One can note Valarr Targaryen, son of Baelor Breakspear, as someone else who surely had the best tutelage possible on hand, but who was at best mediocre. Even the best trainers in the world aren't going to make a skilled warrior out of someone who lacks aptitude. 

There were other Kingsguard knights of uncertain or dubious skill (the Dance of the Dragons and Aegon's regency saw some, for example), and Robert's Kingsguard did have the greatest swordsman in generations (Jaime) and Westeros's best swordsman ~40 years prior (Barristan), so I'm not sure this is an excuse. Joffrey's skills we have no real idea on, but if they were poor, it was not for lack of good tutors.

It is entirely possible.

 

However, whether speaking of Rhaegar's history in tournaments or speaking of his duel with Robert (another top fighter of his era), the text points to Rhaegar being at the very least an above average fighter. I actually DISLIKE Rhaegar but there's a lot of grasping at straws going on here.

Edited by nyser1
edit

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4 minutes ago, nyser1 said:

However, whether speaking of Rhaegar's history in tournaments or speaking of his duel with Robert (another top fighter of his era), the text points to Rhaegar being at the very least an above average fighter. I actually DISLIKE Rhaegar but there's a lot of grasping at straws going on here.

I absolutely agree on that score. 

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Posted (edited)

If Rhaegar wasn’t a damn good warrior Robert would have pulped him in minutes, guy killed or beat everyone he fought and he hated Rhaegar

 

Besides his reputation as a warrior seems to exist purely in the head of Viserys, Rheagar has a reputation as a musician, jouster, good man and potentially great King and also a rapist, we’ll find out the truth of some matters but whether all this is justified or not we’ll likely never know, cos he’s dead

Edited by FitzChivalry Fartseer

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We have absolutely no reason to believe rhaegar was not an excellent warrior. The firsthand accounts we have of him are measured in their praise, which supports them being accurate.

we also know that he is generally regarded by the realm as an excellent fighter. So let’s look at how accurate general perception is for fighting ability in asoiaf. 

Do we ever see someone like Joff, sweetrobin, Sam Tarly etc, get a reputation as a great warrior? No we don’t. While the realm may call joff a great warrior to his face, he is recognized by Tyrion as no warrior when shown widows bane. In a world where men practice fight in the yard day after day, it’s super easy to assess someone’s fighting abilities.

rhaegar was a good man and good fighter

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On 6/29/2019 at 3:49 PM, Lord Varys said:

Ned didn't actually know Arthur Dayne all that well, did he? And we don't know whether his words refer to Dayne's qualities as a fighter or more to him embodying the virtues of chivalry. I don't doubt that Dayne was a great duelist and a very well-trained fighter - he obviously was. But he never fought in any war.

When Ned praises Arthur Dayne, it is specifically in the context of Dayne nearly killing him, outside the context of a duel (Jaime got to witness Arthur's chivalrous duel with the Smiling Knight, Ned didn't).

Quote

And all praise for Ser Arthur as a great fighter is weird in that sense. Because the man never fought in a war nor was he ever known as a great general or leader of men.

Dayne replaced his injured Lord Commander as leader in the campaign against the Kingswood Brotherhood. And his success was attributed not simply to being a great duelist, but to undermining the support the Brotherhood were getting from locals.

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5 hours ago, FictionIsntReal said:

When Ned praises Arthur Dayne, it is specifically in the context of Dayne nearly killing him, outside the context of a duel (Jaime got to witness Arthur's chivalrous duel with the Smiling Knight, Ned didn't).

Sure, Ned fought Dayne firsthand, but that's just single incident. Ned could perhaps say that Dayne fought like a god when he was killed, but I think we would all agree that this wouldn't make him the finest knight Ned ever saw - at least not if it was the only thing Ned was basing his judgment on. Dayne could have just had a particular good day.

And I honestly doubt that Ned's rather positive assessment of Dayne is based on Dayne butchering his friends. I think there has to be more to his judgment than that. Ned actually seems to be sad that Dayne is dead ... which really doesn't make any sense.

5 hours ago, FictionIsntReal said:

Dayne replaced his injured Lord Commander as leader in the campaign against the Kingswood Brotherhood. And his success was attributed not simply to being a great duelist, but to undermining the support the Brotherhood were getting from locals.

Yes, he showed some qualities during the Kingwood campaign, but this campaign itself wasn't proper warfare. It was hunting down outlaws and bandits in a forest. That is not the same as proper warfare, it is basically police work. 

I mean, you get what I mean: Citing Dayne as a great knight and general really sounds hollow and meaningless if the men never fought in any proper campaign. Especially in a world where being a bloodied veteran/general who won (a) battle(s) actually means something as the example of Stannis indicates.

I mean, as a general there is literally no difference between Mace Tyrell and Arthur Dayne, no? Neither ever fought in a proper war or pitched battle (as far as we know).

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Posted (edited)
On 7/6/2019 at 6:42 PM, Lord Varys said:

And I honestly doubt that Ned's rather positive assessment of Dayne is based on Dayne butchering his friends. I think there has to be more to his judgment than that. Ned actually seems to be sad that Dayne is dead ... which really doesn't make any sense.

The victors of the rebellion don't hate most of their opponents. Robert himself was famously forgiving, and assigned his own maester to treat the wounded Barristan, whom everyone regards as one of the greatest knights.

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I mean, as a general there is literally no difference between Mace Tyrell and Arthur Dayne, no? Neither ever fought in a proper war or pitched battle (as far as we know).

Mace Tyrell besieged Storm's End during the rebellion, which was a proper war. And while Randyll Tarly is credited by knowledgeable characters with handing Robert his only defeat, Mace Tyrell was the general who commanded him.

Edited by FictionIsntReal

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1 minute ago, FictionIsntReal said:

The victors of the rebellion don't hate most of their opponents. Robert himself was famously forgiving, and assigned his own maester to treat the wounded Barristan, whom everyone regards as one of the greatest knights.

Robert was forgiving to the point of lunacy and self-destruction (think of him actually pardoning Balon Greyjoy!). But Ned wasn't that kind of guy - he never forgave Jaime for Aerys or Tywin for Elia and the children or even Robert for tolerating both.

Ned only saw Dayne in action when he and Whent and Hightower butchered five of his closest friends and companions ... and for some reason he thinks Dayne was the greatest knight he ever saw. While it is possible that his judgment there is based on the way Dayne dispatched whatever Northmen he dispatched at the tower - or how he nearly killed Ned himself - I don't think that's very likely. I think there is something more to Ned's assessment than mere strength of arms or blind obedience to Rhaegar and/or Aerys. But that's just me.

Selmy is a completely different matter. The man was a proven and skilled warrior. He fought on the Stepstones, he personally slew Maelys the Monstrous, one of the greatest warriors of his generation, he got his king out of Duskendale in a mission that is essentially a miracle in audacity and execution, and he later fought in the Rebellion, too. Dayne did nothing of that sort as far as we know.

1 minute ago, FictionIsntReal said:

Mace Tyrell besieged Storm's End during the rebellion, which was a proper war.

Well, Tyrell sat on his ass during the war while the actual battles were fought somewhere else - just as Dayne did, actually. A siege is not a battle - and the fact that he didn't actually fight in a proper battle is the reason why Mace is dismissed as a general - but apparently a similar inaction did nothing to ruin the reputation of Ser Arthur Dayne.

Which is my point - that those expert assessments of fighting/leadership capabilities of certain crucial characters (not all of them, some) are kind of arbitrary.

In Rhaegar's case we clearly have an unbloodied green boy fighting a battle-hardened warrior and general. Robert killed men at Gulltown, three times at Summerhall, at Ashford (presumably), at Stoney Sept, and the Trident. Basically, Rhaegar is Aegon the Uncrowned and Robert is Maegor the Cruel (minus the dragons). It is no surprise that Robert won and Rhaegar lost.

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