Who is the best swordsman in fiction?

TWEWYFan

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Just a question I like to wonder about sometimes and one I thought I'd inflict on the good people of the Escapist. Sword-play is one of the most iconic fighting styles in all fiction, even making it's way into genres that wouldn't normally accommodate it. So my question is out of all the varied swordsmen and women found in movies, books, games, etc. which among them would you say is the best?

Two rules to keep in mind:
1. Swords only. Any other devices or gear commonly associated with the character will not come into play. For example Link of Legend of Zelda fame could compete but he could not use any of his items.
2. No enhanced abilities for the combatant or the weapon. For example Luke Skywalker of Star Wars could compete but he would not have access to the Force, nor would his lightsaber be able to cut through his opponent's weapon.
3. Nonhumans can compete but like the above rule their abilities/traits will brought down to a "normal" human level. So Pit from Kid Icarus could compete, but he would not be able to use his wings. Or his bow for that matter.

To start things out I'm going to nominate Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin

Points in his favor:
1. He's a former assassin so he knows how to take opponents down very quickly.
2. He's fast and has very good reflexes.
3. Has experience against a wide variety of opponents.
4. Katanas are just better. [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KatanasAreJustBetter]
 

Nouw

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Well I don't know if she's the best swordsman but I'd say she's up there. Known as Sabre, I present King Arthur of Nausverse fame.


I suppose taking away all her magical abilities, Excalibur is a magical weapon initself I believe, doesn't do her any favours but that doesn't take away her ability with a sword.
 

Tanis

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Guts from Berserk.

He's pretty much got the whole 'super human without any magical BS' thing down.
-Unless you count the Cursed Armor, but even without that he's taken down GODS.
 

Elfgore

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I'll nominate Drizzt Do'Urden, the Drow Ranger from the Forgotten Realms. (guy on the right)


He is a total OP badass. I think only one enemy in all of the novels can actually hold his own against him in a actual sword fight. Some assassin who's name I forget (the guy on the left). He duel wields scimitars, which I'm guessing (I know nothing about swords and swordfighting) is more difficult. He also has a panther as a partner. If I remember he doesn't even use magic, even though his race is quite famous for it.
 

WoW Killer

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Elfgore said:
Some assassin who's name I forget (the guy on the left).
Artemis Entreri. And yes, Drizzt is pretty much the ultimate swordsman. Entreri comes close a few times in the early days, but in the later novels he's totally outclassed. Drizzt is so OP it's untrue.
 

Jodah

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WoW Killer said:
Elfgore said:
Some assassin who's name I forget (the guy on the left).
Artemis Entreri. And yes, Drizzt is pretty much the ultimate swordsman. Entreri comes close a few times in the early days, but in the later novels he's totally outclassed. Drizzt is so OP it's untrue.
Plus, the only time Entreri actually "beat" Drizzt was because of intervention from Jarlaxle and Kimmuriel. Dahlia beat him after she turned into a bitchslutwhore, though.
 

Summerstorm

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Hm, no superpowers and extra-equipment. Tough one.

I might give it to Methos of the Highlander-TV series. That guy has 6000 years slaughtering and dueling experience and absorbed a lot of the minds of a horde of trained immortals. Well, that experience is based on magic powers though... and might not count.

Then there is the "Man in Black" aka The dread Pirate Roberts (He was better than Montoya, or wasn't he?)

Or maybe in the "realistic"-category: Sanjuro?

Well let's just say: There are a lot of dudes and dames called the greatest swordman/woman in their own respective narrative worlds. We can just make a huge list with hundreds of characters...
 

StormShaun

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Elfgore said:
I'll nominate Drizzt Do'Urden, the Drow Ranger from the Forgotten Realms. (guy on the right)



He is a total OP badass. I think only one enemy in all of the novels can actually hold his own against him in a actual sword fight. Some assassin who's name I forget (the guy on the left). He duel wields scimitars, which I'm guessing (I know nothing about swords and swordfighting) is more difficult. He also has a panther as a partner. If I remember he doesn't even use magic, even though his race is quite famous for it.
My nomination here too!
Sure I may only be onto the fifth book out of the 24 ... but I can immediately agree that he is the best swordsman, not just only in the Forgotten Realms/D&D universe, but I just think about he can be the best swordsman in fiction.

I mean really ... he has 24 books, I doubt any other hero has that many, and it is based in the world of D&D where death can claim any hero at any point.

Although I would use these images for him.


I'll put down my points.
- Uses scimitars, probably the best blade out there ... and he has two enchanted scimitars, two makes it more the better.
- Has fought a damn lot. (Seeing how he is the main characters of 24 books)
- Stops not just assassins, but he has fought and beaten Dragons and high ranking demons.
- His race is condemned in the regular world but overcomes his mental and emotional problems.
 

WouldYouKindly

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Nouw said:
Well I don't know if she's the best swordsman but I'd say she's up there. Known as Sabre, I present King Arthur of Nausverse fame.

I suppose taking away all her magical abilities, Excalibur is a magical weapon initself I believe, doesn't do her any favours but that doesn't take away her ability with a sword.
In the same vein, Assassin. He uses skill rather than magical abilities even as a servant. Nothing was even special about his sword, he was just that good.
 

schrodinger

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The best swordsman is my favorite samurai:

Samurai Jack

He trained with many cultures when he was boy, gaining my types of fighting styles, and nearly defeated the ultimate evil until Aku pulled a hax

Since being thrown into the future he has:
fought in space/underwater/inside a dragon
helped countless people, human or not
Is selfless when needed to be
Rarely gives up
Has the best of best friends, the scotsman!
AND! he gets a kickass beard when he's older

 

Little Woodsman

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Gotta throw in two old-school anime nominees.

Goemon, from Lupin the third,who on a regular basis deflects bullets with his sword and, (iirc) once cut down a building from from the inside, without appearing to move. Yeah.

And,
Tatewaki Kuno from Ranma 1/2. Normally uses a bokken, so he does not depend on having a fantastic sword to back up his abilities. Very early in the manga he shatters a concrete statue from several yards away with the air pressure of his strikes. He gets to be much, much better by the end of the series. Of course he remains a moron....
 

FPLOON

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Mugen or Jin from Samurai Champloo... One fights to his own instinct and improve while the other fights with technique and skill... Despite being polar opposites, they are too equal to beat each other in combat...

(Everyone else said the ones I had in mind before and afterhand...)
 

Dirty Hipsters

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FPLOON said:
Mugen or Jin from Samurai Champloo... One fights to his own instinct and improve while the other fights with technique and skill... Despite being polar opposites, they are too equal to beat each other in combat...

(Everyone else said the ones I had in mind before and afterhand...)
It's been a while (by which I mean like a good 5 or 6 years) since I watched the anime, but didn't it take both of them to beat the samurai who smelled like sunflowers? And also, didn't Jin get his ass kicked pretty hard by a blind woman? Yeah, not exactly what I would consider the strongest.
 

Gennadios

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This was 25 years back and I read it in a russian language version of a Grimm fairy tale compilation, but one of the stories had a swordsman so badass that his epic quest was to stand in the rain for a full night and he had to parry every single raindrop, if even a single drop of rain landed on him he would fail.

I'm still trying to find the story, apparently it's not one of the more popular ones for the Yanks, I'll edit if I ever find the name or the story.
 

FPLOON

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Dirty Hipsters said:
FPLOON said:
Mugen or Jin from Samurai Champloo... One fights to his own instinct and improve while the other fights with technique and skill... Despite being polar opposites, they are too equal to beat each other in combat...

(Everyone else said the ones I had in mind before and afterhand...)
It's been a while (by which I mean like a good 5 or 6 years) since I watched the anime, but didn't it take both of them to beat the samurai who smelled like sunflowers? And also, didn't Jin get his ass kicked pretty hard by a blind woman? Yeah, not exactly what I would consider the strongest.
Well, if I remember correctly (while I look at the complete DVD box set),
both of them wanted to take on the samurai who smelled of sunflowers in the first place... The samurai told both of them to come at him simultaneously, and Mugen and Jin were never keen to working together, per se, besides the "one takes X side while the other takes Y side"...
Also, I believe Jin kinda underestimated her, if I'm remembering this character correctly... since he only knew the blind aspect and few other stuff about her beforehand...

Other than that, most of my previous comment was mostly due to "favoritism"... (and just naming someone who hasn't been mentioned already...)
 

Thaluikhain

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Lelith Hesperax? Though, she might not count due to not being a man.

I think there might be some debate over why she is so good, but it boiled down to her being very determined and practiced or something.

OTOH, this is only until someone says "Nah, this swordsman is better" in some other story, which is why I'm wary of this sort of thing. IMHO, better to ask who is coolest, even if it's subjective.
 

Yuuki

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I am more impressed by swordsmen who live in more "realistic" universes and at least try to follow the laws of physics, like not being afraid to show the truly gruesome results of having a sword cut through you.
If I have to start naming any swordsmen from goddamn Bleach or One Piece (who can cut the world in half) then doing this would seem pointless.

1) Afro Motherfucking Samurai


Silent, badass, hell-bent on only revenge. Is fast enough to cut bullets in half and dices though his fellow man like they're made out of butter, sending heads and limbs flying at whim.

2) Guts - Berserk


Insanely strong and waves that car-sized sword around like it was a feather. But not in the Final Fantasy sense, when you watch Guts fight you genuinely FEEL the weight and momentum he builds when he swings/slices with that thing (literally cutting through medieval armor, etc).

3) King Bradley - Fullmetal Alchemist


Nobody in the FMA universe stands a chance against Bradley in a 1-on-1 fight, funnily enough he doesn't get much screen-time - but when he does, shit is guaranteed to serious. It took the combined effort of like 5 people (all main characters) to slowly wound him and eventually kill him.
 

kurokotetsu

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Impossible to say is my call. THe laws of different fictional universes are so diverse that it is impossible to compare accuretely. Here are some names, each great in theri Universe but in completely different leagues form each other. Spoilers form the works mentioned.

Dracule Mihawk from One Piece.
The guy cuts through a frozen tidal wave, just as the result of a strike. He completeley distroys a galleon without any sign of having done anything extraordinary. Travels an incredibly dangerous see in a small bare. Fends off a very good swordsman (Zoro) with a small knife. Faught one of the strongest men in the world on equal grounds (and declares him boring after his opponent lost his arm). No otherwordly abilities shown (for the Universe).

Miyamoto Musashi from Vagabond
Never gives up. Killed an entire school by himself. Won ofer seeral of teh best swrodsmen of his age. Invented a fencing school of his own.

Seijuro Hiko from Rurounin Kenshin
Master of Kenshin. Won every single bout with the protagonist with ease. While constrained and not using full strength Kenshin only grazed him. Considers Makoto Shishio, another very skilled swordsman, a relatively easy enemy to beat.

Arn Magnusson from The Crusades Trilogy
Never lost a duel. Won over a traditionaly strong knight like Ivanhoe. Years of practive during war. Ambidextrous.

Don Jaime Astarloa form The Fencing Master
Is a master fencer. He lives of his ability. His thrust is said to be incredibly good, killing several other experienced fencers. DIscovers an even better move by the end of the work.

Derfel Cadarn from The Warlord Trilogy
Champion of the realm. GOod enough to never lose a duel before a battle. Bested an unseen style with relative ease. Has braved almost all the places that all his peers feared to enter. Close firend of Arthur. Still an extremely good swordsman afetr losign and arm.

Almsot all these men could be sondiered the best or amongst the best in the respective worlds. But pitied against each otehr the constrians of teh original world means that some get the short end.

And yes, I like a lot swords and swordsmanship. I had more examples but those are enough. There are also tough comparisons in the same work which make things hard to deciede. Like Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Jaime Lannister, Syrio Forel, Ser Aemon Targaryen all are considered great and there is little to no room to be able to compare.