Ser Balon Swann is a knight of some renown.
|Season Three appearances|
|Valar Dohaeris||Dark Wings, Dark Words||Walk of Punishment||And Now His Watch is Ended||Kissed by Fire|
|The Climb||The Bear and the Maiden Fair||Second Sons||The Rains of Castamere||Mhysa|
|Season Five appearances|
|The Wars to Come||The House of Black and White||High Sparrow||Sons of the Harpy||Kill the Boy|
|Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken||The Gift||Hardhome||The Dance of Dragons||Mother’s Mercy|
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Ser Balon is a highly regarded knight. He is the second son of Lord Gulian Swann, the head of House Swann. He is good with a lance, better with a morningstar and exceptional with a bow. He replaces Ser Preston Greenfield in the Kingsguard following his death in the Riot of King's Landing.
In the TV series, Ser Preston is mentioned as still being alive at the time of Joffrey's wedding in Season 4. Nevertheless, a new member of the Kingsguard is present in Season 3's "The Bear and the Maiden Fair". In the books, after Sandor Clegane deserted his post during the Battle of the Blackwater his place on the Kingsguard was filled by Ser Osmund Kettleblack, but because neither Ser Osmund nor his subplot have been introduced in the TV series, it is possible that it was Balon who replaced Sandor in the TV continuity.
Ser Balon also previously competed against Ser Jaime Lannister in the books. Jaime discusses Balon's renown as a tourney knight and melee fighter upon meeting him in the White Tower as a fellow Kingsguard, and the two share a common respect for each other, where Balon is eventually assigned by Jaime as the primary Kingsguard for the King.
Ser Balon is the first to testify in the trial of Tyrion Lannister. Unlike the rest of the witnesses, his testimony is wholly true, objective and in favor of Tyrion: he praises Tyrion for his bravery in the Battle of the Blackwater; he claims that he thinks Tyrion is innocent; when describing how Tyrion beat Joffrey following the Riot of King's Landing, he claims that it was only a fit of wroth. Tyrion wonders why offer a witness that believes him innocent, until Ser Meryn Trant comes to testify. Tyrion realizes then that Cersei deliberately began with a man known to be honest, and milked him for all he would give, and every witness to follow will tell a worse tale.
Ser Balon is the only of the current Kingsguard that Jaime, as the Lord Commander, has nothing negative to comment about, and does not need to put him in his place.
In the fourth novel, Cersei also sends a Kingsguard to take her daughter Myrcella back from Dorne to King's Landing, but it is Balon Swann, not Jaime Lannister, who in turn is sent away to pacify the Riverlands. Contrary to Jaime's furtive mission in the TV series, Ser Balon goes to Dorne in an official capacity. He has two more tasks to carry out: to deliver Gregor Clegane's skull to the Martells, and to play his part in a secret plan, whose details are revealed in the following novel - Cersei's scheme to assassinate Trystane Martell. Unknown to Cersei, the Martells have friends at the court who inform Doran about her vile plan.
Ser Balon's retinue consists of three knights, eight squires, twenty men-at-arms, sundry grooms and servants. Bronn is not among them. They arrive at Dorne without any hostile encounters.
While Ser Balon is on his way to Sunspear, Doran's daughter Arianne attempts to execute Tyene's plan to crown Myrcella, in order to provoke the Lannisters and Tyrells to attack Dorne. On the way to Hellholt, Arianne and her companions are intercepted by Areo Hotah. During the confusion moments, one of Arianne's companions - Ser Gerold "Darkstar" Dayne - slashes at Myrcella and escapes. She survives but is disfigured permanently.
Doran fears that once Ser Balon looks at Myrcella and reports the Lannisters, they will blame the Martells and declare a war against them, while Dorne is no ready yet for an open confrontation. To buy time, the Martells' bannermen delay Ser Balon for weeks by holding feasts, jousts and hunting trips for him.
When Ser Balon finally arrives at Sunspear, he is welcomed amicably by Doran: a feast is held for him, and is given a place of high honor next to Arianne. Arianne flirts with Ser Balon, while Doran converses with him without showing any sign that he is aware of the plot to murder his son. Some of the attending people, most notably the Sand Snakes and Daemon Sand, show signs of disapproval (perhaps thinking that the Lannisters' envoy should have been given a completely different sort of "welcome"). Areo Hotah keeps an eye on them, ready to react if they stir up troubles.
Areo Hotah watches Ser Balon intently during the feast. He estimates that Ser Balon is more capable warrior than Arys Oakheart, and less likely to be seduced by Arianne. Hotah also notices that Ser Balon is strangely nervous: he barely eats anything, sweats profusely despite the coolness in the hall, and is unnerved by Doran's suggestion that he and Trystane will travel to King's Landing by ship. The reason for his restlessness is soon revealed.
Doran invites Ser Balon to the Water Gardens, where Myrcella is. Then he excuses himself and leaves to his solar, where he holds a secret meeting with Hotah, his daughter and nieces. He reveals Cersei's plot to them. The Sand Snakes are shocked not only by the plot itself, but also by the fact that a Kingsguard knight is assigned to participate it. Obara, hot-tempered and aggressive as ever, suggests to pay Cersei back with the same coin: she sent them a skull, and they will send her back the skulls of Ser Balon and his escorts. Doran forbids Obara to harm Ser Balon due to the guest right.
Eventually the Martells come up with a plan: the next day, they will travel to the Water Gardens, where Myrcella, instructed by Arianne, will tell Ser Balon that Darkstar injured her, lie about Ser Arys's part, and ask him to hunt down the man who hurt her. Ser Balon will probably do as Myrcella asks. Obara will lead him to High Hermitage to beard Darkstar in his den.
The plan works perfectly: Ser Balon believes Myrcella's partly-false story. He sends the Lannisters a report that totally clears the Martells, then he and Obara go to High Hermitage. Currently they are still hunting for Darkstar.