Different types of martial games exist. The joust is the most popular, at least in southern Westeros. However, in the North, where knighthood is rare, mêlées are much more common. Knights, squires, and martially-inclined others practice at these games, before entering competitions held at tourneys.
While these games are for fun and entertainment, these contests also train the martial skills of the participants, ideally improving their strength, speed, and accuracy, as well as their proficiency at riding horses. The end goal is to develop skills useful in battle, in peaceful circumstances; for example, the joust uses tourney lances made to break, but in battle, cavalry soldiers wield heavy war lances intended to kill their target.
Though these games are ideally amicable, bloodshed and accidents do happen. In a joust, a splinter from a broken lance could blind or even kill a participant, and concussions or other injuries from falling off horses happen frequently. Mêlées typically use blunted weapons, but serious injuries are not uncommon, and some melees can be so violent that they are barely distinguished from battles.
|The joust (or the lists)||Horse riding
|Knocking the opponent off his horse with a lance.|
|Quintain||Striking a stationary object with a lance.|
|Riding at rings||Passing a lance through a stationary ring while riding a horse.|
|Horse racing||Horse riding||Riding a horse the fastest way possible.|
|Mêlée||Weapons handling||Knocking opponents down.|
|Archery competition||Bow||Shooting arrows at archery butts.|
|Axe-throwing competition||Axe||Throwing an axe at a target.|
Princess Saera Targaryen, and her friends Perianne Moore and Alys Turnberry, cheered her male favorites—Jonah Mooton, Roy Connington, and Braxton Beesbury—when they rode at rings or crossed swords in the yards.
The tourney at Harrenhal of 281 AC was the greatest tourney of its time, with five days of jousting, a great seven-sided mêlée, archery and axe-throwing competitions, a horse race, and a tourney of singers.
A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
For the purpose of gaining the favor of the Meereenese people without re-opening the fighting pits, Ser Barristan proposes to Queen Daenerys Targaryen to hold a tourney, where his orphan squires could ride at rings and fight a mêlée with blunted weapons.
- The Hedge Knight.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The North.
- The Mystery Knight.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 2, Sansa I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Vale.
- Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne: Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Baelor I.
- The Sworn Sword.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 13, Arya II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 16, Bran II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 24, Cersei V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 11, Daenerys II.