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The fantasy genre as a whole has captured the imagination of millions of people worldwide, and it’s understandable why. The escape into a fantastical world, with magic and wondrous species and so many possibilities is tempting to use all. But if you’re anything like we are, you have a special love for fantasy swords. So, whether you’re a true fan looking for a replica to display, or you’re after the perfect sword for cosplay, well done. You’re on the right track.
What Makes a Sword Iconic?Quick, think of an iconic sword from either history or fantasy. Now, what comes to your mind? The first thing is probably the name of the sword. The next would be the story behind the sword, and finally, we consider the design of the sword. These elements are found in every significant sword found in both history and fantasy. But why are they so important to creating when it comes to having an iconic sword?
Fantasy Sword NamesSo, why are the names of swords so important? Well, every iconic sword should have an iconic name. This is true both in fantasy, and throughout history as swords have acted both as weapons and symbols of royalty. One famous example of a historical named sword is the Curtana, otherwise known as the Sword of Mercy. This sword was part of the English Regalia, and its removed tip represented the mercy of kings. Likewise, many fantasy swords have names which make them memorable and tie into their own stories. For example, the Oathkeeper sword from Game of Thrones has a fitting name, being given to the honourable Brienne of Tarth with the purpose of fulfilling a vow. However, some swords manage to be iconic without having a set name. Geralt of Rivia in the Witcher franchises is associated with two unnamed swords, one steel and one silver. However, their unique design and story do make them memorable.
The Story Behind a SwordWhether named to deliberately invoke a certain story or not, every sword plays an important role in their world. Some fantasy swords have a long and storied history that’s even more expansive than that of their wielder. For example, most of the swords of the Lord of the Rings are thousands of years old, far older than the characters using them. These swords serve to expand the world and provide a sense of history, even going so far as to make the story seem like a small part of the world at large. Other swords, such as those from the Witcher, are tightly intertwined with the setting and story of the world itself. The need for their existence and how they are used in the plot are what makes them so important. The silver swords are designed such because of the need for a weapon that can defeat the dangerous monsters of the world.
The Fantasy of DesignThere seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to the design of fantasy swords, with the focus either being on what looks the most outlandish and ‘fantasy-esqe’, or what would be most practical and grounded in history. Many of the best designs sit in a comfortable middle ground between these two extremes, creating swords that are both elegant and iconic, recognisable at a glance and with a definite idea of a more magical world than ours. If nothing else, the sheer existence of magic mean that some swords can be larger than they would ordinarily be if crafted with ordinary steel or have their own magical properties. The Elven swords in Lord of the Rings famously glow in the presence of orcs, allowing for an extra element in their design to make them that bit more special.
Making Fantasy SwordsIt’s no secret that many of the best designed fantasy swords draw from history. But what are the biggest differences between the fantastic and the historic? First of all, while it can be beneficial to base a fantasy design in some level of practicality, fantasy does allow for some wriggle room which allows for more interesting stories. Magical methods and materials create magical weapons, which could never exist in our world. However, it’s often best to provide at least a token explanation for this. After all, while we know that fantasy worlds have different rules to reality, it is possible to be pulled out of a story or world if something seems illogical. Let’s look at some of our fantasy swords in more detail and compare how they were made to historic methods.
AndurilAndúril was owned by Aragorn, but what is interesting is how it was made. Rather than being forged like a traditional sword, Andúril was reforged from the broken pieces of another sword. This is something that regularly happens in fantasy. In reality, even today, a smith was unlikely to reforge a sword when they could just make another one. Certainly not a king’s blade, because the resultant sword would be inferior and would likely break again in battle. However, because of the magical craftsmanship of the elves, and the inherent magic in the original sword, reforging the broken blade is not only viable, but the resultant weapon is more powerful than most others.
Silver SwordsThis is something also seen in the Witcher’s silver sword. While this is alluded to in the games and other Witcher media by the presence of an ordinary steel sword, it can’t be overstated how awful silver is as a material for a sword. Even a silver coating on a steel blade would be far too malleable to be half as effective as a much cheaper and more durable steel sword. However, in the world of the Witcher, this is a worthwhile investment. Magical creatures and monsters prove resistant to the steel of an ordinary blade, and so, silver plated swords that can hold an edge exist.
Valyrian SteelWhile Game of Thrones seems to be much more rooted in history than the other franchises, being loosely based on the War of the Roses, there is still evidence of fantasy swords. The world of Game of Thrones features a metal known as ‘Valyrian Steel’, which was rumoured to be imbued with magic and forged using dragon fire, the original method for making this metal lost to time. The lost art of Valyrian steel seems to bear some familiarity to that of Damascus steel, as both are long-lost methods of creating metal with a rippled design and unusual quality. However, as far as I know, Damascus steel isn’t capable of killing white walkers, nor can it hold its edge without ever being honed. Valyrian steel, like Andúril’s base sword, can also be reforged into different swords, albeit with some difficulty. These reforged swords apparently have the same properties of the original sword.
Fantasy Swords for SaleMany of our fantasy swords for sale are considered iconic, in part because of the epic stories and characters they’re associated with, but also their own unique design.
Lord of the RingsThe Lord of the Rings, authored by J.R.R Tolkien, has been long considered one of the forefathers of modern fantasy. Lord of the Rings is set in a far more expansive world than just the stories suggest, with the world being essentially the life’s work of Tolkien. Recently, fantasy has been moving away from the inspiration of Middle Earth, but the marks are still plain, and many works still pay homage. Some of the most recognisable and beloved swords have come from this franchise.
- Andúril. This is a fantastic example of a great fantasy sword. Andúril was originally a sword named Narsil, which was shattered in battle with Sauron. Aragorn famously owned it, when he returned to Gondor to rule as king.
- Sting. The sword, not the musician. Sting, like so many of the iconic fantasy swords of Lord of the Rings, was of Elvish design. During the time of the Hobbit, it was owned by Bilbo Baggins and later, passed on Frodo.
- Glamdring. Another Elvish sword, during the time of the books and films, Gandalf had possession of Glamdring.
Game of ThronesThe Game of Thrones franchise, or a Song of Ice and Fire, has taken the world by storm in recent years. While the books have been around since the mid 1990’s, the television series that began in 2011 is what sent this series and world into incredible popularity. What has set Game of Thrones apart so much seems to be the characters as much as the world. There are no true heroes or chosen ones, no plot armour, no blind optimism. Rather, the people and the world are dark and fallible. However, there is still magic in this world, and with magic, comes some fantastic swords.
- Ice. This is one of the fabled Valyrian steel swords, forged with magic centuries before the story takes place. Ice was a great sword, owned by Ned Stark before his untimely death and eventually reforged into two longswords.
- Longclaw. This is another Valyrian sword, held by House Mormont. Eventually, it found its way into the hands of Jon Snow, who replaced the bear pommel with his signature direwolf.
- Needle. Unlike the other two swords listed here, needle was ‘castle-forged’, without the magical properties of Valyrian steel. However, it’s no less iconic to the series. Needle was especially made for Arya Stark and becomes her preferred weapon as it perfectly fits her small build.
The WitcherUnlike the other two franchises, the Witcher is most famously known as a video game series. However, the Witcher saga was originally a set of novels. This saga follows Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher who usually carries two swords, one of steel and one of silver. While the saga has many named swords, the most famous swords are those wielded by Geralt himself.
- Geralt of Rivia’s Steel Sword. This is the sword that Geralt uses to deal with the more mundane threats that he encounters. Geralt’s steel sword is a serviceable longsword with a classic design.
- Geralt of Rivia’s Silver Sword. This is the sword that truly sets the Witcher apart from other classic fantasy worlds. His silver sword is more delicate than the ordinary steel sword, which fits with the inherent value of such an item. The silver is laid over a steel core and is only useful for slaying monsters, the pastime of your typical Witcher.