Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sharp, pointy things

High Elven King sword

I have a fascination, nay, love of sharp, pointy things, which is a good thing if you’re writing heroic/epic fantasy. Swords, knives, axes and other weapons of singular destruction---that is, singular as opposed to mass destruction. One on one, face to face combat. You know, the manful, manly and messy way to kill, maim & mutilate your opponent.
    I came to this love when I was but a child and discovered those knights in shining armor in books and movies: Robin Hood, both in books and the movie with Errol Flynn; When Knighthood Was in Flower (the 1956 TV showing of Disney’s The Sword and the Rose) with Richard Todd and Glynis Johns and many other books/movies. I shared this love of sharp, pointy things with many of my friends and cohorts, and it seems to be common to most boys of a certain age, or at least it was.
    All those knights and sword-wielding fellows instilled in me a desire to own my own sword, so of course, I made one out of two pieces of wood, one longer than the other with the short piece nailed to the long one for a guard. A bit of carving on the point of my “sword” and I was ready to go. My mother, while indulgent of my childhood fantasies, was not so enamored of my use of her kitchen knives to do a little wood carving. But what else was I to do? I had no knife of my own. Yet. That came later.
    So, with wooden sword in hand, I joined my fellow Merry Men or knights as the game of the day dictated, sallied forth and had great fun in the depths of Sherwood Forest or on the tournament field, and I was satisfied.
    As I grew older, however, wooden swords began to loose their appeal and I increasingly lusted after a real one, not a toy, whether of plastic or cheap metal. No, I wanted a REAL sword, but where on earth was I to get one? In the days before the Internet, finding sources for odd things was not easy, especially when you lived in the hinterlands as did I. Eastern Nebraska and, later, eastern Wyoming were not replete with stores selling arms & armor. Thus, I lived the 1950's, the ‘60s, 70's and on without a real sword. Nor a fake one, for that matter. But the desire to possess one lived on.
    It was not until the late 2000's, around 2008 or so, that my need to own a REAL SWORD came once again to the fore. Now, however, I had the power of the Internet at my beck and call! And so it came to pass that I found a website that was guaranteed to feed the need: Sword Buyer’s Guide and the related forum. This place was my Nirvana for I had found a place that dealt with REAL SWORDS and specialized in those for $300 or less! Oh, wonder of wonders! However, I soon found myself wallowing in a sea of decisions, for the fulsome number of swords available quickly overwhelmed my fevered brain.
    A few months lurking on the SBG Forum helped immensely in sorting things out, as one of the more valuable features of said forum was its sword reviews. I finally settled upon my first purchase: the High Elven King longsword, which is, unfortunately, no longer available. It is a fantasy blade, and not an historical one, but that matters not. Its fantasy element is quite restrained and it is a thing of beauty. A two-handed sword it is, but can be used one-handed if you have the strength for it, and it cuts like a dream. See photo above.
    What do I cut with it, you ask? Well, one gallon plastic milk jugs filled with water, for one. There are other acceptable targets used, but I stick with the jugs.
    My sword collection is small, but I have enough to make me happy. Jan is also enamored of sharp, pointy things and has claimed the huge German two-hander for her own. It’s OK. She can have it. Never argue with a chick with a sword, especially a two-hander! I have only two others. One, an arming sword, was made by Angus Trim and is a very nice work. Sharp, point and handles easily. The other is a custom Chinese jian (straight sword). It was made to fit me and is an awesome weapon. I thoroughly enjoy using it on those terrible milk jugs. Just writing about it makes me want to run outside and hack a few into little pickle chips.
Dragon jian - Chinese straight sword

    All this sword-lust translates into our books. Having used swords of different lengths & weights, we have developed some feel for how the weapons handle and we know that having mass which translates into momentum, suddenly stopping or reversing a swinging sword is not going to be easily done. We have also delved into sword-lore and fighting techniques the better to understand how these things were actually used. While no experts by a long shot, we do better appreciate what these weapons can do and how to use them. 
     We have weapons galore, and I confess that we show a preference for swords, although some of the characters wield axes, hammers and other lethal weapons to great effect. The swords, however, take front stage, beginning with the sword of Menannon’s father. Gorlanndon, being a Giant of 15 feet in height, wields a mighty two-handed sword. Yeah, I know. Giants use clubs, right? Not THESE Giants!!! Sorry. No muscle-bound dumb-dumbs here. Gorlanndon’s sword is made of a steel alloy unique to Linden, Tanguranya steel, a very interesting metal indeed. The result is a sword like no other. In addition to being bloody huge, it takes a keen edge and keeps it almost forever. Gorlanndon’s sword is longer than his son is tall. One can imagine the amount of damage such a weapon can cause when wielded by a 15 foot Giant! Rather scary, that.
    Menannon’s own sword (he gets it later in life) is 8.5' long, just a bit shorter than its owner, and it is a one-hander. Then there are the malinirs, the long knives of the Teluri. There are swords with interesting properties—I hesitate to say magic swords. Some are unique, such as the Sword of the Orb, about which you will learn much later into the Lindensaga™, and there are at least two pairs of these “special” swords, the most important of which are Daylight and Darkness. The other pair, Kalina & Kalana, are equally interesting, but play a very small part in the saga.
    I think that is enough about sharp, pointy things for now. Read the books and you will learn much more!

Remember:  Part 1 of the first volume in the Lindensaga™, The Last Giant: Transgression, is due 10 Dec, will be available from Amazon and will be followed by Part 2 in January 2015. The second volume, The Last Giant: Retribution, will be published sometime in mid- to late 2015.