Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

How to Buy a Sword
Or...The Dragon offers some pointy advice

Let's say your interest in sword-buying is literary in nature. Your WIP includes a character who needs to get a good, dependable weapon and there aren't any lakes nearby where watery tarts can spring up and fling one at him. (My deepest apologies to Arthurian fans who haven't seen The Quest for the Holy Grail.) Unless you understand exactly how a blacksmith forges steel into a blade, get thy character to a blacksmith to purchase his sword of choice. Or have some elves forge and deliver it in grand fashion before a significant battle.

But let's say your interest in swords is here in the real world. If you like the look of swords and enjoy intimidating your houseguests (especially those of the uninvited variety), you can pick one up in this day and age. How authentic you want to be dictates the amount of money you'll spend.

For the swords I give away at my book signings and other appearances, I don't go all out and pay for tempered swords that re-enactors would use in battle scenes, etc. I am on a budget here. If you want a real sword worthy of use in jousting and impressing the folks "in the know", you'll spend $200 or $300 at an artisan's shop. And it may or may not be sharp when you walk out with it. Oftentimes that's extra.

The best place to get such a sword, in my humble opinion, is the aforementioned artisan's shop. I find those at renaissance festivals. They're speckled all over the United States all over the calendar. A quick google search for Renaissance Faire and the name of your state will provide you with a list. Even the retirement village of Florida has a ton of them. Once you find a festival near you, look up the vendors attending. Check them out. A wholesaler of blades purchased out of various catalogs is not what you're after. You want someone who stands in his or her booth with fire and hammer pounding out a blade in front of you while he or she explains the craft. That, my friends, is the artisan you're looking for. He or she knows how to create a sword and will either have some on the wall for purchase and/or can craft one for you (for a price). I've even heard of vendors who work with you to let you pound on the steel to create your own blade, assisting you to make sure you do it right, of course. This will take up your day, but will provide a very real experience that will enhance your writing more than you know.

So if you're in the market for a sword, go ahead and peruse the catalogs and online shops, but beware of claims you read there. When you're sitting at the computer a couple hundred miles from the warehouse, you can't lean on the sword to feel the give of the blade (indicating whether or not it's been tempered). You can't look down the blade for imperfections and warping. My advice, as a chick who cares, is to research your purchase and go to an artisan at a festival. You'll get an authentic piece far more intimidating to those uninvited houseguests than the "Shards of Narsil" out of a glossy catalog.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."
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Blogger Laura M. Crawford said...

Thanks, Sandy!! That's wonderful information, and now, I know what I need to do.

And although I reside in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I doubt any "watery tarts" will be flinging swords my direction any time soon! LOL! (I couldn't resist.)

Laura :)

1:24 AM  

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