I sat down this weekend to write a blog post listing my favorite weapons from fiction (mostly fantasy). And while that list will happen at some point, I ran into a bit of a snag. I was trying to pick entries from different weapon types, but there are too many swords to just pick one. So swords are getting their own list.
To make things slightly easier, I’m only picking . . . let’s call them swords with effects. For the most part, that means some sort of magical enhancements or abilities. Any sword that goes above and beyond “sharp metal bar” has it’s metaphorical hat in the ring. But I am trying to limit it to one sword per source/franchise. Also, while I’m listing them, the order in which I’m listing them does not indicate my ranking of them. I had a hard enough time narrowing this list down to five – I didn’t even attempt to figure out which was my absolute favorite.
So let’s get into it!
Straight from Arthurian legend is the sword of the Once and Future King. There’s actually a little bit of debate about Excalibur’s origins: some tales of King Arthur call the sword pulled from the stone Excalibur, others do not. Most sources agree that the enchanted sword (and scabbard) given to him by the Lady of the Lake was Excalibur. Regardless, it’s become a well-known symbol of King Arthur, and is one of the original magical swords. Power-wise, it’s not the fanciest or most creatively spelled sword, but it’s a staple of mythology, so I’ve got a soft spot for it. Plus, the version of it from BBC’s Merlin was enchanted by a dragon breathing fire on it. Pretty cool in my book.
There are a lot of really amazing blades in Lord of the Rings and all of Tolkien’s works. And I can hear some of you out there, outraged that I would pick anything other than Anduril, flame of the west and forged from the shards of Narsil. BUT! Anduril is a little too similar to Excalibur for this list. Both the swords of kings, proof of their claim to the throne, and with a little (and not well-explained) magical power.
Sting, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily more powerful, but it certainly has an interesting enchantment. The elven-forged shortsword (like many elven blades) glows blue in the presence of orcs. Granted, there are more enemies in Middle Earth than just orcs, but a weapon with an early warning system, no matter how specific, can only be useful.
Gonturan is the titular weapon of Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword. I’ll be honest, this is more a nostalgic pick for me than anything. The sword, like Excalibur, is described in vague terms as being magical, but those powers are never really explained. And Harry, the girl who wields Gonturan, has kelar, the equivalent of magical power in the book, so it’s never really clear (at least to me) what power comes from Harry and what power comes from the sword. But I’ve loved this book ever since I discovered it in middle school, so it holds a special place in my heart. And on this list.
Named Anaklusmos in Greek, this Celestial Bronze sword from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is a demigod’s best friend! (Why do I feel like a game show host all of a sudden?) (Also, when I typed anaklusmos into Google translate, it said it meant backwash. I don’t know if that’s accurate, but I found it funny.) While this sword is a monster-killing machine (Celestial Bronze affects monster, but not mortals), it’s the other features it has that make it impressive in my eyes.
Need to keep your sword with you, but you live in the modern world and don’t want to get in trouble for carting around a medieval weapon? Not a problem! Riptide quickly and conveniently transforms into a ballpoint pen. Tired of having to track down your sword every time you drop it or get disarmed? Worry no longer! Riptide, in pen form, will return to your pocket. And hey! It’s not just a disguise: you can write with the pen. Sign me up!
I’ll be honest, while I’m a fan of Star Wars, I don’t know the specifics of who has what color lightsaber, what that means, or any of the other differences between them, so I’m lumping them all into one entry. But they’re laser swords, and they make a whoosh-ing noise. Maybe it’s childish of me to pick them solely based on that, but I’m fine with it, and this is my list.
I know I said I narrowed this down to five swords, and I did (sort of)! But I also wanted to include a few honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut, for one reason or another.
I’ve been rereading some books from Brian Jacques’ Redwall series lately (another nod to nostalgia), and those books feature the sword of Martin the Warrior, champion and defender of Redwall Abbey. It was forged from the metal of a fallen star and is just really cool. That being said, while characters often experience visions from Martin’s spirit, the sword itself isn’t magical.
The sword of Godric Gryffindor from Harry Potter! I just didn’t have space on the list for this one. It can appear in times of need (though only to Gryffindors, I think?) and absorbs poisons. Pretty cool!
I intentionally didn’t consider cursed items for this list as, while they have power, they are inherently working against the person who wields them in some way. But I asked people on Instagram what their favorite fictional weapons were, and two people (Courtney and Bex!) said Craven Edge, so I had to at least give it an honorable mention. Craven Edge is a two-handed greatsword from Critical Role (a live D&D stream) and The Legend of Vox Machina (the animated series adapting Critical Role‘s first campaign). The blade is sentient, cursed, and absorbs power from it’s foes. It has an insatiable thirst for blood, urging it’s wielder to violence at every turn. Dangerous? Undoubtedly. But still so cool.
What’s your favorite fictional sword?
3 thoughts on “5 Favorite Fictional Swords”
I was very much peeved when I saw Sting instead of Anduril, but…yeah, I guess if you have to go with Excalibur…. 🙂
My personal favorite lightsaber is that of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Its design is wieldable, but beautiful, much different from the practicality of the Skywalkers or the intricacy of other members of the Jedi Order.
Haha, I knew it would be a controversial choice 😉