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This Is House Of The Dragon's Best Fighter

Contains spoilers for "House of the Dragon" Season 2 Episode 4 — "The Red Dragon and the Gold"

Throughout "Game of Thrones," audiences were introduced to a number of formidable warriors. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) might be a teenager when the show begins, but he becomes a formidable swordsman who takes down multiple undead members of the Night King's Army. Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is one of the most legendary warriors with a sword in all of the Seven Kingdoms ... at least, before he loses his sword hand. Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) sticks out like a sore thumb as a female soldier, but she can face off against basically anyone in the series, and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) becomes a faceless assassin who's lethal even with her small sword that she once dubbed "Needle." So how do the fighters on the hit show's first spin-off and prequel, "House of the Dragon," measure up?

There are quite a few contenders, to be honest, but we're just going to look at four of them: Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), the late Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), and Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell). They're all worthy of the title of the "best fighter on 'House of the Dragon,'" but only one can reign supreme ... so which one has the best advantage on the battlefield? Based on some descriptions from the source material — "Fire & Blood" by "A Song of Ice and Fire" author George R.R. Martin — we think we've got an answer.

Daemon Targaryen is skilled with a sword and totally unhinged

The younger brother of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), Prince Daemon Targaryen is known as "The Rogue Prince," and he certainly earns that nickname (early in the first season of "House of the Dragon," he massacres people in King's Landing as the City Watch commander with impunity, infuriating Viserys). According to "Fire & Blood," Daemon has a tempestuous temper, but was a talented swordsman from the jump. "As charming as he was hot-tempered, Prince Daemon had earned his knight's spurs at six-and-ten, and had been given Dark Sister by the Old King himself in recognition of his prowess," the book reads. Not only that, but Daemon is, overall, stronger than Viserys ever was in life, according to the tome: "Viserys never claimed another dragon after [his mount Balerion's] death, nor did he have much taste for the joust, the hunt, or swordplay, whereas Prince Daemon excelled in these spheres, and seemed all that his brother was not: lean and hard, a renowned warrior, dashing, daring, more than a little dangerous."

Throughout "House of the Dragon," Daemon has certainly lived up to the reputation George R.R. Martin sets forward in the book. In Season 1, he destroys the Crabfeeder's (Daniel Scott-Smith) army on behalf of Viserys, and he's always eager to fly into battle atop his powerful dragon Caraxes. All in all, he's a worthy choice for the show's best fighter.

Ser Criston Cole knows how to fight and has earned his reputation as a warrior

Ser Criston Cole is the only option in this group who isn't highborn, but he's definitely in the running for Westeros' best fighter (in the "House of the Dragon" timeframe, at least; Brienne of Tarth would probably kick his ass). The son of a steward who's originally from Dorne, Ser Criston catches young Rhaenyra's (Milly Alcock) eye in both "Fire & Blood" and the show pretty early on thanks to a jousting tournament meant to honor King Viserys' firstborn son (the infant later dies shortly after his birth). Still, Ser Criston made a serious impact simply by beating some King's Landing heavyweights. "In the final moments of the fight, Ser Criston knocked Dark Sister from Prince Daemon's hand with his morningstar, to the delight of His Grace and the fury of the prince," George R.R. Martin tells us. "Afterward, he gave the seven-year-old Princess Rhaenyra the victor's laurel and begged for her favor to wear in the joust. In the lists, he defeated Prince Daemon once again, and unhorsed both of the celebrated Cargyll twins, Ser Arryk and Ser Erryk of the Kingsguard, before falling to Lord Lymond Mallister."

Onscreen, Ser Criston ends up elevated to the Commander of the Kingsguard under the truly awful King Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) and even ends up pulling double duty as Hand of the King, but aside from the joust and a short combat lesson in Season 1, we don't actually see him fighting a whole lot. Plus, audiences really hate him, whether or not he's actually a great fighter.

Ser Harwin Strong is a powerful fighter — but he doesn't die in battle

One of the contenders for the strongest fighter on "House of the Dragon" is, unfortunately, already dead by this point ... but it's worth looking back at his accomplishments anyway. Ser Harwin "Breakbones" Strong, played by Ryan Corr, certainly lives up to his name during his brief time on the show, teaching royal children how to wield swords — including the three eldest sons of an adult Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy), who happen to actually be his children. George R.R. Martin says, in "Fire & Blood," that Harwin is "said to be the strongest man in the Seven Kingdoms," but unfortunately, we don't get to see a whole lot of that on-screen.

In Season 1 Episode 6, "The Princess and the Queen" — which precedes the show's second major time jump — Ser Harwin viciously attacks Ser Criston when the latter jokes about the real father of Rhaenyra's sons, but it's all downhill for him from there. As an offering to Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), Ser Harwin's brother Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) sets fire to the family home of Harrenhal, killing both Ser Harwin and their father, so he does lose points in the whole "best fighter" competition on account of being dead (and the fact that he's killed by his weird brother with a foot fetish).

Prince Aemond Targaryen is cool, measured, and violent

Finally, we've got Prince Aemond Targaryen, younger brother to Aegon and the owner of one, solitary eye. After being cruelly bullied by Aegon and his nephews as a child, Aemond steals Vhagar, the realm's largest dragon — and loses an eye for it, thanks to a tussle between the children. Years later, Aemond and Vhagar kill his nephew Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault), Rhaenyra's second-eldest son, during a battle on dragonback ... and though he doesn't necessarily mean to murder his own kin, he kicks off the Dance of the Dragons in earnest and manages to build a reputation for himself in the process.

In "Fire & Blood," George R.R. Martin describes the character quite clearly: "Prince Aemond, despite the loss of his eye, had become a proficient and dangerous swordsman under the tutelage of Ser Criston Cole, but remained a wild and willful child, hot-tempered and unforgiving." This certainly matches up with the Aemond we see on the show, who clearly resents his brother and is constantly trying to get revenge on his enemies (which he more or less does in "The Red Dragon and the Gold," the most recent episode of "House of the Dragon"). At this point, Aemond's body count is rising, which certainly makes him a worthy choice for the show's best fighter, but only one can wear this particular crown.

Ultimately, Daemon is the most terrifying fighter in House of the Dragon ... and the best

When you stack Daemon Targaryen against Ser Harwin Strong, Ser Criston Cole, and Aemond Targaryen, Daemon ultimately earns the title of the best fighter on "House of the Dragon." Unlike both Ser Criston and Ser Harwin, Daemon has a dragon — Caraxes, sometimes called the "Blood Wyrm," is known to be a particularly adept dragon in times of battle — and unlike Ser Harwin, Daemon is still alive (for now, anyway). That leaves Aemond, who definitely puts up a good fight in this competition, but at the end of the day, Aemond is young and hasn't experienced any real combat yet; plus, Aemond's giant dragon gives him an advantage that doesn't necessarily mean he's the best fighter in hand-to-hand combat.

Daemon Targaryen is an experienced swordsman, a skilled dragonrider, and all-around brute ... and he's also a violent and impulsive guy who tends to swing his sword first and ask questions later. That makes him dangerous, and it makes him the best fighter on "House of the Dragon." Arguments can certainly be made, but nobody can deny that they wouldn't want to run afoul of Daemon and Caraxes in a proverbial dark alley ... and presumably, audiences will watch him continue to fight for Team Black as the second season of "House of the Dragon continues." The acclaimed HBO series airs new episodes on Sundays at 9 P.M. on HBO and Max.