"Then or now."
— Ser Arthur Dayne & Ser Gerold Hightower, A Game of Thrones
The Winds of Winter
- Stannis deducing that Arnolf Karstark is The Mole, getting him and his son arrested and bullying the Karhold men into fighting for him instead of House Bolton.
- Stannis' speech after being warned of the danger of Ramsay Bolton.Stannis: I defeated your uncle Victarion and his Iron Fleet off Fair Isle, the first time your father crowned himself. I held Storm's End against the power of the Reach for a year, and took Dragonstone from the Targaryens. I smashed Mance Rayder at the Wall, though he had twenty times my numbers. Tell me, turncloak, what battles has the Bastard of Bolton ever won that I should fear him?
- Arya finally killing Raff the Sweetling so very long after having added him to her list, and just to make it sweeter she does so the same way Raff murdered Lommy in A Clash of Kings and even makes him unknowingly echo Lommy's last plea for help. A far more subtle one in the same chapter is that it reveals at the end that Bran's greenseeing has progressed to the point where he can now see Arya all the way from Westeros.
- The increasingly lopsided debacle that is the Battle of Meereen in the Barristan Selmy and Tyrion chapters. Ser Barristan and the Unsullied charging through the front gates, Ironborn laying waste to the slaver fleet, and the Windblown and Second Sons turning their cloaks amidst all of it. While the final result is unknown, and knowing this series a Diabolus ex Machina could strike at any moment, watching the arrogant Yunkish army get taken apart right when they think their victory is certain is quite satisfying.
- Sansa's Guile Hero and Fille Fatale skills have definitely blossomed during her Alayne Stone charade. Harry the Heir rudely calls her a bastard, meaning that he's not thrilled about their match. But Sansa's having none of it. Five minutes of dance are enough to have this Jerk Jock completely seduced by said bastard's look and wits to the point that at the end of their dance he's asking her favour to wear at the tourney, which she refuses because knows that Playing Hard to Get is what would keep him interested.
- Jaime killing Aerys. At 17 doing the most unbelievable crime of all time. Killing a king, a king he was sworn to defend. And his reasons make him a total woobie (at least initially). King Aerys II was losing the battle against Robert's Rebellion, was very close to watching King's Landing get sacked and his throne taken from him, and was about to burn down King's Landing and everyone in it out of spite. Jaime prevented this from happening, killing Aerys before he could give the order. And he did this with a general idea of how people would see him for the rest of his life afterward, and not telling anybody the truth about what happened.
- One that happened offscreen - when he was a squire with Merrett Frey, Merrett used to bully the other squires. Then he tried to bully Jaime. Guess what happened next...
- In Jojen and Meera's story of the tourney at Harrenhal, Lyanna Stark came across a group of squires beating a young Howland Reed. She roared "That's my father's man you're kicking!" and proceeded to beat the crap out of all the bullies with a tourney sword, scattering them. Keep in mind she was only a teenage girl at the time. It's easy to see why Arya is often compared to her aunt. And that's only the start of Lyanna being awesome at the Harrenhal Tourney — at least if you subscribe to the popular theory that she was the Knight of the Laughing Tree.
- Stannis holding Storm's End for a year under siege, coming to within weeks of starving to death whilst the Tyrells and the Redwynes feasted and wafted their foods' scents over the walls. Stannis did this while he was about seventeen, impressing Ned so much that he believed Stannis to be fearless.
- Davos manages to smuggles supply to besieged party through Redwyne-Tyrell blockade. As reward, he gets promoted into knight and later nobleman by Stannis. The first sentence is CMOA, the second is this and CMOH.
- Jon Arryn, knowing that King Aerys has summoned Ned and Robert to come to court in order to have them both murdered as well, refuses to turn over his young wards and instead raises his banners in revolt. Everyone should remember that it wasn't Ned or Robert who instigated the rebellion, it was Jon Arryn who risked everything to protect the two young men he helped raise.
- Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar Targaryen meeting in single combat at the Trident. In an epic battle, Robert eventually managed to Drop the Hammer on Rhaegar and basically win the Rebellion right there.
- Ned Stark and his True Companions versus the last members of the Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy. Some of the quotes are listed above. Of note, the Kingsguard are outnumbered 2:1 and still inflict heavy casualties, and Ned Stark managing to kill Arthur Dayne the greatest knight of his time. The last one applies to Howland Reed as well, since he saved Ned's life in the fight. Of course it ends in tragedy, but it was awesome.
- Rhoynar, and later Dornish, had awesome stories from past.
- Their last great ruler manages to stop the Valyrian aggression for few years. Valyrians wins because they Zerg Rush with Dragons against Rhoynars.
- Whole tales of Nymeria and her fleet. Filled mostly with women, children, elderly and sick, they sailed long, perilous way from home to find new home. When they reached Dorne, then local petty lord Mors Martell recognized their strength and seek unity with them. Later the Nymeros- Martell unified Dorne and Rhoynish gets their happy ending.
"The Princess and the Queen" short story
- Nettle's Establishing Character Moment. She tames a feral, adult dragon. Everyone else who tried that did it by marching into the dragon's lair and trying to force it to obey them. (Spoiler alert: they either died horribly or got "lucky" and lived with tremendous scars.) But Nettle's too smart for that. So she gets a butchered sheep and takes it to the dragon, every day, until it recognizes her and trusts her. That's it. Simple logic elevates this bastard peasant girl to a Dragon Rider and major player in the war.
- Faced with the Queen's order condemning Nettles to death, the Lord of Maidenpool balks at violating Sacred Hospitality. His loyal maester solves the problem by tipping off Prince Daemon, then telling his lord to arrest him for treason. Instead of handing him over for execution, the lord declares they're both traitors and changes sides.
- When King's Landing falls to the Blacks despite being attack from both sides by Goldcloaks and the Blacks army 13 Hightower knights and 100 men-at-arms manage to hold the river gate for 8 hours
- The Caltrops killing the Two Betrayers - with Bold Jon Roxton walking alone up to Hugh Hammer and all his guards delivering a badass Pre-Mortem One-Liner before cutting him damn near in half (even managing to kill three of Hugh's guards as well before he was overwhelmed by the rest. Ulf is killed by a Taking You with Me from Hobart Hightower involving poisoned wine."History has little good to say about Ser Hobert Hightower, but no man can question the manner of his death. Rather than betray his fellow Caltrops, he let the squire fill his cup, drank deep, and asked for more."
- The dragon battles are insanely intense. Special mentions go to Princess Rhaenys and Meleys the Red Queen for taking on the entire royal army and two enemy dragon riders; Addam Valeryon for fighting two riderless dragons to protect his men during the Second Battle of Tumbleton; and Princess Baela and her barely grown dragon for facing down Aegon II during the Fall of Dragonstone. To specify:
- Rhaenys and her dragon are ambushed by Aegon II on Sunfyre and Aemond Targaryen on Vhagar during the Battle of Rook's Rest. Outnumbered and facing the oldest, largest dragon currently living on Westeros in Vhagar she turns to face them fearlessly. Rhaenys and Meleys both die in the battle that follows, but Sunfyre has a wing half-torn off that leaves him unable to fly for half a year and Aegon suffers burns that cover half his body so bad he spends the rest of the year in bed, in horrific pain.
- After the betrayals of Ulf the White and Hugh Hammer during the First Battle of Tumbleton, Rhaenyra becomes suspicious of Addam Velaryon due to his base birth, declares him a traitor and he is forced to flee King's Landing. Desperate to prove his loyalty, he assembles an army and attacks the green camp at Tumbleton. Despite being outnumbered and having one dragon to the greens' three, the blacks win the battle and force the greens to retreat, saving King's Landing, but at the cost of Addam's life. He dies trying to protect his men from the riderless, rampaging Vermithor, despite knowing that his own dragon was no match for the older, larger dragon. Both dragons die in the battle that ensues, along with another dragon, Tessarion. When his bones are returned to House Velaryon, his brother Alyn puts one word on his grave marker: LOYAL.
- When Dragonstone is betrayed and taken by Aegon II, Baela escapes through the window and heads towards the stables to get her dragon, Moondancer. Rather than fleeing, she attacks the invading Aegon II. Moondancer was barely old enough to ride, and only the size of a warhorse (Sunfyre was older and larger, but had been injured at the Battle of Rook's Rest and could barely fly). When the two dragons become entangled and start to fall, Baela stays with her dragon all the way down (Aegon jumps off, shattering both legs in the process). Burned and battered, she still finds the strength to try to crawl away. When one of Aegon's men moves to kill her, he's stopped by his own companion. Moondancer dies during the battle, but the injuries she inflicts on Sunfyre end up killing him as well.
- The Northerners kicked copious amounts of ass in every single battle they were in, often facing armies several times their size. Rodrik Dustin, leader of the Winter Wolves, got one of his arms hacked off during the Battle of Tumbleton but still managed to kill two more Hightower men before dying.
- And how could we ever forget the Rogue Prince, Daemon Targaryen? Say what you will about the man: that he was tempestuous, selfish, reckless, a murderer ... but no one before or since has gone out like more of a Boss.
- Daenerys Frakkin' Targaryen. Dany is like a Crowning Person of Awesome all on her own after about the midpoint of A Game of Thrones, but here are a few highlights:
- First, when she kills Mirri Maz Duur and hatches her dragon eggs, and WALKS INTO THE FIRE TO PULL THEM OUT and comes out unscathed (except for her hair) at the end of A Game of Thrones.
- Then, when she burns down the House of the Undying AND outwits the Qaartheen to escape after leading her people through a desert death march mostly intact during A Clash Of Kings.
- Finally, she turns her small group of Dothraki into a large group of warriors by freeing the Unsullied she just bought by ordering them to kill the men who owned them five minutes ago, then leading them on a rampage through the East, freeing slaves and leaving burning ruins of what had once been decadent, immoral, evil cities in her wake during A Storm of Swords. Put simply, she is the most badass fourteen-year-old in, well, EVER.
- The event that kicks all this off — Dany ordering her dragons to roast the repellant slave trader who's been calling her "whore" and "slut" every chance he gets. So satisfying.
- And this is after she shredded half his face off with the whip he just gave her.
- Of course, this being a World Half Empty, after Daenerys accomplishes the events described above, it falls apart. But instead of pulling a Karma Houdinior letting the author throw one on her behalfshe decides to stay and learn from her mistakes. For a girl of sixteen, that's another Moment of Awesome right there.
- Drogon in A Dance with Dragons. If you've gotten to the scene, no further explanation will be necessary.
- In book one after realising what Joffrey really is, Sansa almost pulls a Taking You with Me and is only stopped by the Hound. Book two she saves Ser Dontos life which allows for her eventual escape from Kings Landing. And in book four she's showing real signs of Magnificent Bastard potential. Her defiant refusal to kneel at her forced wedding to Tyrion was a brave bit of resistance in a scenario where she had virtually no capacity to refuse her captors anything.
- The backstory featured a confrontation between Aegon the Conqueror's sister-wife Rhaenys and the Ruling Princess of Dorne, Meria "The Yellow Toad" Martell. The Dornish had used guerilla tactics to destroy the invading Targaryen armies little piece by little piece, at the same time denying them a target for their dragons. When Rhaenys got fed up and flew straight to the Dornish capital the following exchange took place:Meria: I will not fight you. Nor will I kneel to you. Dorne has no king. Tell your brother that.
Rhaenys: I shall. But we will come again, Princess, and next time we shall come with Fire and Blood!
Meria: Your words. Ours are Unbowed, Unbend, Unbroken. You may burn us, my lady, but you will not bend us, break us or make us bow. This is Dorne, you are not wanted here. Return at your peril!
- Made even more awesome by the fact that Mariya was an 80 year old woman, nearly blind, and she still dared to spurn a freaking dragon rider who had burned an army to cinders a few days back. The Dornish (even women) must have balls of Valyrian steel!
- From the released excerpts of The World of Ice & Fire, it seems that the Dornish people of that time were insanely badass and utterly merciless foes. Entire Targaryen hosts were wiped out without a trace, captured knights were tortured as a pastime, Orys Baratheon (founder of House Baratheon and most trusted general of Aegon the Dragon) was captured and held as hostage with all his men for years and finally released with every man missing a hand (the event even prompted Orys Baratheon to go into retirement, as he didn't want to be known under the humiliating nickname "Stump of the King"), Dornish forces burned and rampaged all throughout the Stormlands and the Reach, and last but not the least, Meraxes and her rider were both killed.
- King Baelor I rescuing Aemon the Dragonknight from a pit of vipers. That's some serious Heroic Willpower right there.