This is one of those questions that does what it says on the tin - who are the greatest warriors in SFF fiction and, perhaps more importantly, why?
What is it that the author has done to show you that their character exemplifies the most perfect of warriors? Is it their adherence to a warrior code such as European chivalry or Japanese bushido? Is it because of a great sacrifice they have made or for devotion to the martial arts?
I'm going to start with a deliberately arguable case to open out just what could be meant by 'warrior' and go for two a-typical warriors from the pen of the same author: 'V' from 'V for Vendetta' by Alan Moore and David Lloyd on the one hand, and on the other 'Rorschach' from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's 'Watchmen' (these are both graphic novels rather than literary fiction, but hey ...). The qualities that I think both have that make them warriors is not just their skill in combat, though that's clearly important, but the relentless and unswerving dedication to a goal. I don't think it is by coincidence that both these characters risk (and in fact sacrifice) all in the pursuit of a single ideal. The morality of each of their aims might be questionable, but their dedication to the cause is undoubted.
Ooo, I would have to say John Carter from the books of Barsoom. He never quits, his motto is "I still live." As long as he is alive he continues to fight against any peril that comes his way.
John Carter's a captain in the Union Army as well, is that right? (Or he was at least). I know that's a favourite serious of yours, but I haven't got round to reading it myself yet.
"favourite series" (not "serious")
Naming a 'warrior' might be quite easy (Pvt William Mandella; Conan the Cimmerian; Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr; Ensign Dominic Flandry; et al...), but what motivates them and confers greatness is much harder to quantify. For some it's duty and honour, others pursue fame and glory, still more just like "to hear the cannon balls a'roaring"... To say one of these motivations is any more valid than the rest is difficult - in a civilised society we might argue that war for its own sake is wrong, but many stories present civilisations that take a very different stance - for example, is Johnnie Rico wrong in fighting for a militant society? Within the context of Starship Troopers combat is seen as a societal norm, whereas in The Forever War, mankind eventually turns against its own 'warriors', they no longer have a place amongst their own people. Perhaps their 'greatness' is really in how the resonate with the individual reader.
@Ironspider: Yes it's true that their greatness will depend to quite a degree on the story they appear in. But still it's interesting to see that certain qualities are shared.
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