To say I’m an experienced swordsman would be half true. I’ve learnt to fight with an ax in the viking style, ripping shields out of men’s hands for others to exploit the gap. When you’re sparring you’re looking for a gap in the other man’s defenses, a lowered shield or where he holds his weapon.

For example I was sparring with a guy who I’ll refer to as N. N fights with two swords making him fucking hard to deal with, he’s quick and small meaning you have to be constantly on the move. Never standing still or he’ll get around your shield.

Sword

I’ve experienced first hand how a real sword-fight plays out. They’re short, brutal and never particularly flashy. Sure they’re always the posturing before a fight. N for example spins his swords around him to put you off getting close, his weakness is that if you get within striking distance of him there’s little he can do to put you off. My weakness with the ax and shield is that I can be easily disarmed, the ax shaft allowing for someone to grab hold off it.

The thing that I refer to as the Jedi Effect is that in the Star Wars prequels the Jedi spin around with their saber’s above their heads. Or that they feel the need to pose between bouts with their weapons above their heads.

Grievous

The problem that the Jedi Effect in modern fantasy is that very little sword fighting is accurately displayed now. For example in the The Riyria Revelations Hadrian fights in this way. His skills are can’t be matched by the legions of conventional swordsman. Whilst I love these series of books I find it infuriating that the greatest swordsman in these novels is pretty much a Jedi. That instead of exploiting a gap in an opponents defenses he just makes some flashy movements and slaughters his opponents. Along with Hadrian we see this in the Faithful and the Fallen where the Jehar, master swordsman who dedicate their lives to the Bright Star. Spending years learning to fight with their curved swords, see the need to spin during their fights. Whilst dramatic and entertaining it upsets me on a spiritual level, like someone putting sugar in my tea…

I don’t want to piss on anyone’s parade who does this style of combat in their work but I would love to see an accurate representation of sword fighting in mainstream fantasy. Books like Game of Thrones and King of Thorns where it’s all short and snappy. My inner swordsman gets seriously happy when the fights are realistic.

Sam

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