Tuesday Top Five


Welcome back to another Tuesday Top Five, in which I force my opinion of things upon you and you hopefully nod in agreement. Today’s installment is of the Top Five Magical(ish) Swords in Fantasy novels and series. I did not do ‘All Fantasy Weapons,’ because I am probably going to do non-swords at another time (there are some cool bows and axes out there), and there are plenty of swords to choose from here. So here we go.

#5 – CallandorThe Wheel of Time Series, by Robert Jordan

Callandor, The Sword That Is Not A Sword, The Crystal Sword, is a powerful sa’angrael in Jordan’s world. It is meant as a tool for the Dragon Reborn to use to channel far more of the One Power than he normally would be able to, and is rarely (if ever) used as an actual sword.

The sword itself is very long, and made of what looks to be glass or crystal, and was protected for thousands of years until Rand was able to ‘pull it from the Stone’ of Tear. Afterward, he did not use the blade much, and eventually even put it back into the Stone, only to have it retrieved recently in preparation for the Last Battle.

The power of this sa’angrael is immense. Moraine once mentioned that Rand could level a city with the sword, and that is likely to be extremely understated, since it appears now that the Sword is possibly the main tool to be used in the Last Battle.

#4 – The Sword of LeahShannara Series, by Terry Brooks

This sword was not originally magical, and was just the family sword of the Leah lineage. It was carried for generations until Rone Leah had it enchanted by dipping it in the waters of the Hadeshorn.

The blade is black and has the power of ‘life and death,’ and can cut through magic, but also creates a bond with the wielder, causing them to be more and more dependent on the sword.

The sword is shattered and reforged at least once, and was used to help defeat the Shadowen in an important battle.

#3 – Stormbringer – Various novels by Michael Moorcock

This vampiric and highly powerful sword is actually a demon who has taken the form of a weapon. Elric of Melniboné uses through many of his stories.

The sword is a huge, black blade, covered in runes and glyphs. It can cut through just about anything known to man, and it drinks the souls of its victims, entombing them within its body. Being a demon, it is conscious and is a force for Chaos.

The blade is used by Elric throughout the Wars of Law and Chaos, and eventually turns on its wielder, killing Elric just as it seems all will be made right, and looking to corrupt others.

#2 – The Sword of the Rivan KingThe Belgariad and Mallorean, by David Eddings

This sword from David Eddings’ series, used as both a symbol and powerful weapon, is first introduced in the main story during the fourth book.

It is made from star metal, and is very long and gray, and without the Orb of Aldur, cannot be lifted. Once Belgarion places the Orb of Aldur on the pommel, he (and only he) can lift and wield the sword, thus proclaiming him as the Rivan King, as well as preparing him for his final battle with the god Torak.

The sword was part of one of the Prophecies attempts to help prepare the Child of Light for the final confrontation between the two Necessities. Belgarion uses the sword to defeat Torak in a climactic duel.

#1 – Blackwand, the Vlad Taltos series, by Steven Brust

Blackwand is Morrolan’s ‘Great Weapon,’ and is used whenever Morrolan must enter battle. Its official Serioli name, translated, means Magical wand for creating death in the form of a black sword, but Morrolan kindly shortened the name for conversations’ sake.

Physically, the longsword is of black and unreflective metal, with a plain crosspiece and a smooth black hilt. Like all Morganti weapons, the sword has the power to utterly destroy the soul of those it slays (keeping them from being resurrected), but since it has a soul and will of its own, it can choose not to destroy the soul, and can even protect the wielders soul. It can also blast a powerful and lethal black beam of energy from its tip.

Morrolan received the sword when he was searching for a place of power, a sacred artifact, and a soulmate – he argues that the sword is all three. The sword apparently has a bit of a female demeanor, according to Vlad, and is ‘aggressive and temperamental.’ The sword is very loyal to Morrolan, going so far as to kill another wielder when that wielder used Blackwand to strike down Morrolan.

******

Honorable Mention – Excalibur – Every story EVAR about King Arthur, by various authors

It is very hard to list any of these weapons without mentioning the Sword of the British King. Most magical weapons in fantasy stories have roots, histories, and creation myths that in some way or another, come from what we know and remember of Excalibur.

Though other rightful British Rulers have been rumored to have carried the sword, it is most-remembered as the sword of King Arthur. It has the power to blind its enemies, and even the scabbard protected the wielder from dying from loss of blood.

******

There you have it. What have I forgotten? Let me know, or recommend me something to read with some new kick-ass swords in it.

E.S.

Advertisements

Welcome back to Tuesday Top Five, in which I procrastinate on the larger projects I’m currently working on, while pretending to put up meaningful content! Hey-o!

This week, I’m looking at the Top Five Mystical(ish) Locales in Fantasy novels in which I would like to hang out. A note before I start – my ranking system is very subjective, and quite possibly includes extremely arbitrary criteria (which I will hopefully be able to expand upon and share with you), so I admit that my Top Five may not be the same as your Top Five. In which case, I ask you to please inform me what your Top Five would be. Come on, it’ll be fun!

#5 – Room of Requirement – Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling

The Room of Requirement is every taunted/victimized/bullied person’s dream. It is a room that literally only appears when a person is in desperate need of the room, and when the needing person enters the room, one finds it filled with any and all of the necessary items one may be in immediate need of.

The Room was first seen when Harry was needing a secret location from which to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts to students who were wanting to learn true defensive measures. Harry later used it to hide a very special potions-making book, and also to later find a very important hidden item that Voldemort needs to have protected.

#4 – The Vale of Aldur – The Belgariad and The Mallorean, by David Eddings

The Vale of Aldur is a valley, surrounded by mountains, that is the holiest spot of (and home to) the god Aldur in David Edding’s Belgariad and Mallorean series. Within its bounds are the towers of many Aldur’s disciples (including Belgarath), and ‘the Tree,’ a massive tree that is at least 7000 years old.

Sitting under the tree causes a feeling of contentment, wisdom, and truth, much like sitting under the Assattha (or Bodhi-tree) caused Buddha to gain much the same. The Vale itself goes through regular seasonal changes, but seems impervious to bad weather and effects, and overall just seems like a pretty kick-ass place to chill. And you can dine with a god every now and then.

#3 – The Great Forest of Naclos – The Saga of Recluce, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Also known as The Accursed Forest, by that name, it doesn’t seem like a place to visit. However, the Druids of Modesitt’s world live there, and protect everything within, and what they don’t protect, the Balance itself protects. Also, you can apparently learn how to balance Order and Chaos magic there, which gives you Ultimate Power.

Most of the inhabitants are Druids, or those the Druids are friends with, and according to the few stories which have large portions taking place in the Forest, everyone does a job which lets them fit with the Balance, and lives a relatively relaxing, and carefree life.

#2 – Jao e-Tinukai’i – Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, by Tad Williams

Another forest, but city is like no other. Made only of colored silk and cloth, and the home to the immortal Sithi, Jao e-Tinukai’i (jow-eh-ti-noo-keye-ee) is the city of spring. The city is forever wrapped in spring, with fruits growing, flowers blooming, butterflies flying (and creating tents!), and everyone there pretty much just leaves you alone. You can spend days or weeks just listening to the birds sing to you, or to the babbling of a brook.

Of course, the downside is, mortals are not allowed in (and cannot even find it) without the consent and aid of the Sithi, and once they’re in, they are not allowed to leave, so you kind of have to spend the rest of your life there. But, I could think of far worse places to spend my life.

#1 – Valinor – The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Undying Lands and the realms of the Valar, the final resting place for elves and other goodly beings in The Lord of the Rings. Valinor is an island far to the west, accessible only by way of ‘the Straight Road,’ a magical path off of the earth’s curvature that the elves use, and is protected from all harm and evil.

Those who enter the Lands will be undying, and will live in peace and happiness for the rest of their lives. Sounds a bit like heaven (both real and metaphorical), and I can’t really imagine a better way to take the final voyage.

******

So where would you go? What have I missed, and what more should I know?

E.S.

A new little thingy I’m going to do here, to hopefully have a bit more content on this blog, is do a “Top Five” of some sort every Tuesday. I probably won’t do something quite so cliché as “Top Five Fantasy Series EVAR!~!!1!,” but I will probably get pretty close to that stereotype – after all, if I was really creative, I would be a published author, not a blogger who talks about authors. 🙂

This week, we’re going to look at the Top Five Fantasy Book Covers. It should be obvious that this is simply an opinion (though certainly, a correct opinion), and I will be going only on books that I have actually seen in person and read (I’m not going to go scouring the intrawebz for all the fantasy art ever, that’s ridiculous. I’m just going to look at my bookshelf). I’m basing these rankings on an arbitrary standard of artistic quality, the degree in which the artist captures the characters/scenes from the books, and what kinds of emotions the art evokes in me. That should probably be good enough for now. Here we go.

#5 – Fitzpatrick’s War

Cover Art to "Fitzpatrick's War"

Okay, so this first one doesn’t technically constitute as fantasy, but it’s close enough in my opinion. I went into a local used books store about two years ago, and while just browsing around the fantasy section, came across this book. I had no idea what it was about, and did not even bother reading the description. I just loved the cover so much that I stuck it in my basket, and thirty minutes later, it was with me on my way home. Though the book actually takes place on earth in the future, the cover makes me think of a nation going to war in a time when magic was the only energy available to power up airships. Tom Kidd, the artist (also sometimes known as gnemo, apparently), seems to really love drawing zeppelins and airships. Click below for a larger, ‘unbranded’ image of the art.

Cover Art for Fitzpatrick's War

#4 – The Thousand Orcs

Cover Art for The Thousand Orcs

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s one of those books with that guy in it. But seriously, that cover is pretty stout, and Todd Lockwood (the artist) is undeniably one of the finest fantasy artists in the world. He has painted, drawn, or whatever so many famous fantasy scenes, that whether you know it or not, you have seen his work. He is also one of the best at action scenes, and dark art – not dark in terms of color, but dark in terms of emotion. I really feel like Drizzt, in this picture, may be out of his league. But then again, that is because I have seen the entire picture, and not just the clipped up are you have viewed up above. Observe:

Cover for The Thousand Orcs

Just tell me it doesn’t look like our drow hero is about to have a very bad day.

#3 – A Game of Thrones

Cover Art of 'A Game of Thrones'

So yeah, my eyes honestly kind of glaze over when I think of GRRM’s infamous series. I know, I know, it’s teh awesomez, but I cannot help but feel that Martin is something like the ‘Stephen King of Fantasy,’ as in, he just throws in gratuitous sex and violence just for the shock value, and not because either actually add to the story in any way. However, that doesn’t mean that when this series first started, the cover art didn’t draw me in. For whatever reason, I am always really drawn to scenes of winter. I saw this book in a Waldenbooks at the mall where I used to work, and had to get it. Steve Youll, the artist, does a good job I feel of capturing the decades-long winterscape. Plus, there’s a bigass dire wolf in the full version.

Cover Art for 'A Game of Thrones'

#2 – Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

Cover Art for 'Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn'

So yeah, there was absolutely no way I could choose just one of these covers – each of these Michael Whelan covers are so beautiful, I have to put them up as a series. The Dragonbone Chair captures Simon, Miriamele, Binabik, and Qantaaa so perfectly, I have no doubt that Michael Whelan actually read the books. The cover for The Stone of Farewell so beautifully captures the Yasira, the butterfly pavillion in Jao e-Tinukai’i, as well as Simon’s growth, his torment, and his most important possessions, that I felt like I was standing right next to the boy. And the final cover, of Jiriki, Aditu, Simon, and Miriamele on top of Green Angel Tower is breathtaking – so much so, that I’m just going to post the full, unbranded cover art from Michael Whelan’s site for you to enjoy.

Cover Art for Unbranded Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

#1 – The Way of Kings

Cover Art for 'The Way of Kings'

Speaking of Michael Whelan… the dude just gets it right. I think Sanderson has done a great job starting his epic story, and I think Whelan has contributed significantly to the novel. The art shows a strange world, with strange weather, with a heroic warrior preparing battle. On Tor.com, Whelan breaks down his process for crafting this masterpiece, and I feel confident in saying that the man loves what he does. I won’t talk any more about it, once more, a link to the full picture in all its glory.

Cover art for unbranded 'The Way of Kings'

Looking over these, it seems to me to be pretty obvious that I like evocative pictures which seem very fantastical – I admit to not have a problem with Darrel Sweet’s Wheel of Time art, for instance, but at the same time, the art really does nothing for me. So tell me, what have I missed?

E.S.