Writing a sword fight is very difficult, especially when you have no idea what you’re talking about.
I have two questions for you readers:
1) What other fantasy-appropriate weapons and warfare are there? I mean, ones that would be interesting to write about? And don’t say archery. As my friend Brittany pointed out at lunch yesterday, thanks to Hollywood, archery is so in this year.
(Excuse me while I sulk about how mainstream archery has become: “I took archery classes before it was cool.”)
2) What literary duels have you most enjoyed? Personally, I love Inigo and Wesley’s fight in The Princess Bride, but I think the duels in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian are my favorite.
Both swords were out in a moment and the three others jumped off the dais and stood watching. It was well worth it. It was not like the silly fighting you see with broad swords on the stage. It was not even like the rapier fighting which you sometimes see rather better done. This was real broad-sword fighting. The great thing is to slash at your enemy’s legs and feet because they are the part that have no armour. And when he slashes at yours you jump with both feet off the ground so that his blow goes under them. This gave the Dwarf an advantage because Edmund, being much taller, had to be always stooping. I don’t think Edmund would have had a chance if he had fought Trumpkin twenty-four hours earlier. But the air of Narnia had been working upon him ever since they arrived on the island, and all his old battles came back to him, and his arms and fingers remembered their old skill. He was King Edmund once more. Round and round the two combatants circled, stroke after stroke they gave, and Susan (who never could learn to like this sort of thing) shouted out, “Oh, do be careful.” And then, so quickly that no one (unless they knew, as Peter did) could quite see how it happened, Edmund flashed his sword round with a peculiar twist, the Dwarf’s sword flew out of his grip, and Trumpkin was wringing his empty hand as you do after a “sting” from a cricket-bat.
“Not hurt, I hope, my dear little friend?” said Edmund, panting a little and returning his own sword to its sheath.
“I see the point,” said Trumpkin drily. “You know a trick I never learned.”
-Chapter Eight, “How They Left The Island”
…for now Peter and Miraz were entering the lists from opposite ends, both on foot, both in chain shirts, with helmets and shields. They advanced till they were close together. Both bowed and seemed to speak, but it was impossible to hear what they said. Next moment, the two swords flashed in the sunlight. For a second the clash could be heard but it was immediately drowned because both armies began shouting like crowds at a football match.
“Well done, Peter, oh, well done!” shouted Edmund as he saw Miraz reel back a whole pace and a half. “Follow it up, quick!” And Peter did, and for a few seconds it looked as if the fight might be won. But then Miraz pulled himself together – began to make real use of his height and weight “Miraz! Miraz! The King! The King!” came the roar of the Telmarines. Caspian and Edmund grew white with sickening anxiety.
“Peter is taking some dreadful knocks,” said Edmund.
“Hullo!” said Caspian. “What’s happening now?”
“Both falling apart,” said Edmund. “A bit blown, expect. Watch. Ah, now they’re beginning again, more scientifically this time. Circling round and round, feeling each other’s defences.”
“I’m afraid this Miraz knows his work,” muttered the Doctor. But hardly had he said this when there was such a clapping and baying and throwing up of hoods among the Old Narnians that it was nearly deafening.
“What was it? What was it?” asked the Doctor. “My old eyes missed it.”
“The High King has pricked him in the arm-pit,” said Caspian, still clapping. “Just where the arm-hole of the hauberk let the point through. First blood.’
…Peter now seemed to be able to make some use of his shield, and he certainly made good use of his feet. He was almost playing Tig with Miraz now, keeping out of range, shifting his ground, making the enemy work.
“Coward!” booed the Telmarines. “Why don’t you stand up to him? Don’t you like it, eh? Thought you’d come to fight, not dance. Yah!”
“Oh, I do hope he won’t listen to them,” said Caspian.
“Not he,” said Edmund. “You don’t know him – Oh!” for Miraz had got in a blow at last, on Peter’s helmet. Peter staggered, slipped sideways, and fell on one knee. The roar of the Telmarines rose like the noise of the sea. “Now, Miraz,” they yelled. “Now. Quick! Quick! Kill him.” But indeed there was no need to egg the usurper on. He was on top of Peter already. Edmund bit his lips till the blood came, as the sword flashed down on Peter. It looked as if it would slash off his head. Thank heavens! It had glanced down his right shoulder. The Dwarf-wrought mail was sound and did not break.
“Great Scott!” cried Edmund. “He’s up again. Peter, go it, Peter.”
“I couldn’t see what happened,” said the Doctor. “How did he do it?”
“Grabbed Miraz’s arm as it came down,” said Trumpkin, dancing with delight. “There’s a man for you! Uses his enemy’s arm as a ladder. The High King! The High King! Up, Old Narnia!”
“Look,” said Trufflehunter. “Miraz is angry. It is good.” They were certainly at it hammer and tongs now: such a flurry of blows that it seemed impossible for either not to be killed. As the excitement grew, the shouting almost died away. The spectators were holding their breath. It was most horrible and most magnificent.
A great shout arose from the Old Narnians. Miraz was down – not struck by Peter, but face downwards, having tripped on a tussock. Peter stepped back, waiting for him to rise.
“Oh bother, bother, bother,” said Edmund to himself. “Need he be as gentlemanly as all that? I suppose he must. Comes of being a Knight and a High King. I suppose it is what Aslan would like. But that brute will be up again in a minute and then – ”
But “that brute” never rose…
– Chapter Fourteen, “How All Were Very Busy”
What do you all think? And is anyone else excited to see Brave this summer? And can someone explain to me why the bow is apparently an acceptable weapon for girls in literature/media but not the sword? (Unless you’re Éowyn.)