Swords

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Regarding Narsil, since it’s been decided that it will be introduced during Season 4, are we fine with how it’s depicted in the Peter Jackson films, or should there be some substantial change?
Well, the end of S4 seems to me to be a little early to have a longsword like this. The textual support for it is that Aragorn is never depicted using a shield, and uses his sword as a primary weapon in battle. The real problem is that the blade seems to be optimized for half-swording and defeating plate armor. The good news, though, is that the weapon is reforged by the time it enters Aragorn's hands. So, firstly, no open pommel. It would make maneuvering the sword in some circumstances more unwieldly. Secondly, I would simplify the cross- section to something more lenticular or hexagonal. and make the profile a bit more gradual.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
A reminder that in most cases, we are starting from scratch, rather than attempting to 'import' ideas from Peter Jackson's films. I recognize that everyone posting here is familiar with the films, and certainly Alan Lee and John Howe (not to mention WETA) did a lot of work to realize the props, sets, locations, character designs, etc....so it makes sense to use examples as a point of comparison.

But in most cases, we will prefer an original design that matches the concepts we've discussed rather than just a case of 'use theirs'.

Especially when it comes to sword design - we've talked a lot about historical context and arms race, and I'd like to integrate those ideas, even if we are pushing to get to the longer swords faster for 'pretty' reasons. In general, filmmakers favor the visual impression over reality, but in a fantasy series, you have to work very hard to ground the world in reality so that all the fantastical elements are believable. Real progression of weapons development based on an arms race (albeit a somewhat accelerated one) is likely to serve us well. Also, it's no secret that the Tolkien Estate (read: Christopher Tolkien) was very upset that Peter Jackson chose to give the elves curved blades in the Last Alliance. Some of their choices should probably not be copied.

Fingolfin is going to use Ringil in his duel with Morgoth, and he's going to use a shield in that duel. So...we don't have to worry too much about his sword looking too small/out of place. Narsil is forged after Ringil is reforged....but only about 60 years after, so we probably shouldn't push Narsil to be too different. Although again, Ringil is Noldor-made and Narsil is dwarf-made. So some differences are allowed.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
A reminder that in most cases, we are starting from scratch, rather than attempting to 'import' ideas from Peter Jackson's films. I recognize that everyone posting here is familiar with the films, and certainly Alan Lee and John Howe (not to mention WETA) did a lot of work to realize the props, sets, locations, character designs, etc....so it makes sense to use examples as a point of comparison.

But in most cases, we will prefer an original design that matches the concepts we've discussed rather than just a case of 'use theirs'.

Especially when it comes to sword design - we've talked a lot about historical context and arms race, and I'd like to integrate those ideas, even if we are pushing to get to the longer swords faster for 'pretty' reasons. In general, filmmakers favor the visual impression over reality, but in a fantasy series, you have to work very hard to ground the world in reality so that all the fantastical elements are believable. Real progression of weapons development based on an arms race (albeit a somewhat accelerated one) is likely to serve us well. Also, it's no secret that the Tolkien Estate (read: Christopher Tolkien) was very upset that Peter Jackson chose to give the elves curved blades in the Last Alliance. Some of their choices should probably not be copied.

Fingolfin is going to use Ringil in his duel with Morgoth, and he's going to use a shield in that duel. So...we don't have to worry too much about his sword looking too small/out of place. Narsil is forged after Ringil is reforged....but only about 60 years after, so we probably shouldn't push Narsil to be too different. Although again, Ringil is Noldor-made and Narsil is dwarf-made. So some differences are allowed.
I don't think it is really possible to get away from the idea that Anduril is a longsword and be true to both the books and to any sense of historical realism. What I am suggesting really only keeps that aspect of Film!Anduril intact, but is more in keeping with more ancient sword forms.

If I wanted to justify making a longsword so early, I would suggest two things which can be simultaneously or independently true.

1) Telchar is extremely foresighted. She essentially gets to warbows much sooner than would otherwise be possible.

2) The invention of warbows also reminds us of her willingness to experiment with the abilities of elves which dwarves do not have, in that case, longer arms. The same could be said here. The elves have longer reach and stand taller, thus can more effectively wield a longer blade, and without requiring a shield to keep taller opponents off them.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
View attachment 2448

I think something like this could work better, this is a hebrew leafblade, and the design really scream "Ancient". I think it would fit to showcase that the sword really is ancient, a marvel to lool at without being european in style.
I don't dislike the idea, but I do have some concerns. The maker of that particular blade, Jake Pownings, puts the blade length at 25 inches. It also doesn't have much of a cross guard to speak of.

Neither of these are problems for an early sword, but over time, the weapon would have to be "upgraded" to remain competitive. The blade would have to be lengthened (We could just scale it up to start with to avoid this). More worryingly, however, a new hilt with a cross guard would have to be fitted, making the sword difficult to recognize as the same. In real life, this happened to the "Wallace Sword" leading scholars to first deduce that it could not have been made earlier than the 15th century (the replacement of the hilt and crossguard took place in 1505). In addition, the blade appears to be hammer-welded (as it was already a museum piece in the renaissance, I assume no one expected to ever have to use it) of three separate pieces, leading some scholars to theorize that some or all of Wallace' original sword may in fact be in there somewhere.

You make a good point about classical designs, though, which I brought up in S02 when we were discussing the very first swords of the Noldor. I had suggested that the very first sword they made be along the lines of the khopesh of Egypt. To differentiate the Feanoreans, and to give their heavy infantry a hoplite sort of aesthetic, I suggested the xiphos (Lengthened somewhat. "Long sword of the Noldor" and all that).

In our adaptation, Fingolfin breaks his sword (the first Elvish blade manufactured), and later reforges it to a straight blade, Ringil.

The problem with classical swords isn't one of aesthetics. They look great. It's one of technology. Some of these swords (Narsil, Glamdring, Orcrist for example) are going to be in use right through the Third and Fourth ages. Either they have to be usable in their original form, or we have to be ok modifying them over time, risking confusion for the audience.

EDIT: I don't know why I thought this was on the Narsil thread.
 
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Halstein

Active Member
The problem with classical swords isn't one of aesthetics. They look great. It's one of technology. Some of these swords (Narsil, Glamdring, Orcrist for example) are going to be in use right through the Third and Fourth ages. Either they have to be usable in their original form, or we have to be ok modifying them over time, risking confusion for the audience.

EDIT: I don't know why I thought this was on the Narsil thread.
If we want to alter the hilt to be altered over time, we could show the sword actually getting re-hilted. However fighting-style is important. One-handed swords used with shield don't need the cross-guard as much as a long-sword, and other two-handers.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
If we want to alter the hilt to be altered over time, we could show the sword actually getting re-hilted. However fighting-style is important. One-handed swords used with shield don't need the cross-guard as much as a long-sword, and other two-handers.
That's true. Keep in mind, though, that a sword is a sidearm. People will have one on them even when not geared up for battle. The addition of the crossguard to European swords came while the shield was still in heavy use, likely so that the sword could be used on its own.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
There is something about a sword. Went plumbing and found the documentary "Reclaiming the Blade", which discusses the cultural significance of the sword.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
A long xiphos for the noldor is fine in my eyes...
important is that it has Crossguards.The orcs wear mail and scale, so a cut&thrust sword does make sense...
 
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