Favorite weapons in SFF

Here’s an interesting “Mind Meld” post at SF Signal: What are your favorite weapons in fantasy and science fiction?

Various writers and readers respond to that question, including Helen Lowe, ML Brennen, Courtney Schafer, Aliette De Bodard, Martha Wells, and a bunch of others.

Let me see, let me see . . . all right, I agree with Summer Brooks about the spetsdöd, from Steve Perry’s Matadors trilogy. Those are cool little dart-shooters that are mounted on the back of your hand. I liked them a lot in that series. Also, the word “spetsdöd” is cool.

Helen Lowe likes unconventional weapons, it seems. She doesn’t recall any magic swords, but does mention Morgan’s harp in the Riddlemaster trilogy. You remember sounding the low string would shatter weapons, right? Yeah, that’s pretty cool. She also mentions “…the gauntlet that the smith, Elof, creates in Michael Scott Rohan’s The Anvil of Ice, although in this case it was intended as a weapon from the outset. Crafted from steel and magic, the gauntlet can grasp any force sent against its wearer, gather it – and send it back.” That caught my eye because I have that book in my sample folder.

Loren Rhoads mentions the Presgar gun in Anne Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy. That’s a great choice! I am figuratively jumping up and down exclaiming “Me, too!”

For me, hmm. Other than the above . . .

I never really cared for most of Jack Vance’s books, but I liked the Lyonesse trilogy — and the magic sword. What was it called? Dassenach or something like that, I think.

And from Cherryh, Morgaine’s sword Changeling. That is one scary sword.

I have just been re-reading bits of MWT’s Attolia books, so I will add: Gen’s hook. For him, that is a pretty potent weapon.

How about you all? Got a particular favorite weapon in mind?

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14 thoughts on “Favorite weapons in SFF”

  1. I was actually surprised to not see any mentions of Mat Cauthon’s main weapon from Jordan’s Wheel of Time series–the ashandarei! A staff + short sword blade at the end of it. Fun pictures of it online. The story of how he gets in (in book 4, I think) was crazy, and he uses it to great effect in the rest of the series.

    I also quite like in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, the sword Fragarach, which can cut through anything, but also allows the wielder to force the target to answer questions truthfully.

  2. David, that sounds kind of like a naginata. Oh, yes, looking at pictures of both, it does look like a similar weapon. That would be an interesting choice of weapon to hand your hero. I bet it’s the kind of thing where aaaalll your readers point out any mistakes you make about how such weapons are best used. I wonder if Jordan got a lot of comments about that kind of thing?

  3. My mind leapt to Zangetsu from the manga and anime Bleach. made of the bearer’s soul in a way the Teen is better at explaining than I, it is the soul reaper’s blade and has two personalities which talk. When the bearer – Ichigo is his name – is depressed one personality complains about the rain in his inner world. The other personality is known for liking trees and standing on top of flagpoles.

    Elof from Anvil of the Ice has made lots of nifty things he can turn into weapons whether or not they are designed as such. The gauntlet Helen Lowe mentioned was designed to counter a weapon of his own making. But he’s also got a rather nifty sword, (that he needs that gauntlet to mend) and his hammer is rather odd, too, but to say more… Well, let’s just say there’s reason behind the 3rd book’s title Hammer of the Sun . (No, he doesn’t actually go out in space and hammer on the sun.) There’s also the weather vane….

    Definitely Morgan’s Changeling goes on. Also from CJC, Tristan’s unnamed sword which is truth and illusion and the edge between them, and can damage things/entities that should not be able to be able to be damaged by weapons.

    From Wrede, Mendenbar’s sword and the Frying Pan of Doom which turns people hit by it into poached eggs.

    That’ll do for starters.
    From history, Joan of Arc’s sword which she knew where to find when she’d never been there. Sent for it from some church or other where they apparently hadn’t known they’d had it either. I’ve always wondered about that thing.

  4. I was thinking of Keladry’s glaive (naginata) from Protector of the Small, and then I saw the comments. Ha. Definitely captures the imagination.

    Also from Pierce, the idea of making bundles of seeds and using magic to explode them in a kind of living plant grenade (Circle of Magic, Briar & Rosethorn), or utilizing your enemy’s clothing to cocoon him (Sandry). Ok, not precisely weapons.

    Elaine, agreed on Zangetsu. But then, all the zanpakutō (basically spirit weapons) in Bleach are pretty impressive, unique as they are to their wielder, and with 3 evolutions of power.

    And if we’re talking about manga/anime, there’re Zoro’s swords, at least one of which is possessed, and Nami’s weather making staff thing which delivers lightning and mirages on demand (One Piece). The character Ruby from RWBY has this folding scythe that can also shoot bullets. Hak from Akatsuki no Yona also has a naginata. I really like naginatas.

    Can I just mention Sailor Moon’s tiara? Which basically turns into a glowing frisbee and evaporates her enemies. Funny, and yet… maybe it’s childhood nostalgia.

    Trying to think if there’re any cool bow&arrow combos… There’s one on the tip of my tongue but I can’t place it.

    A lot of sweet ideas out there. Weapons with character. Gonturan, the Blue Sword. Alanna’s Lightning.

  5. Allan Shampine

    Changeling was awesome. In that vein, we have to give a shout out to Stormbringer. It’s become a cliche, but that’s because it was so influential.

    I also want to give props to Kevin Hearne and his Iron Druid series for just pulling a lot of weapons straight out of celtic and norse mythology: Fragarach, Moralltach, Gungnir, etcetera.

    Hmm. What else? The Subtle Knife from Phillip Pullman was pretty cool. Proper name was Æsahættr, which I’m still not sure how to pronounce. :-)

  6. Another thing your comments brought to mind: in RA MacAvoy’s Lens of the World trilogy, I believe the main character eventually creates a sword and shield — The sword represents religion, if I remember correctly; and the shield science. I need to look that up and see if I have it right — but of course that would mean re-reading the trilogy from the top, not that that’s a bad idea either.

    Allan, even I, as happy as I am with peculiar names, find Æsahættr a bit intimidating.

    Somehow I have forgotten the Frying Pan of Doom. Which technically ought to change people into fried eggs, not poached, I think.

  7. Mona, you need to recommend some anime for me to watch, as i’ve only just discovered it for myself. Are the shows you refer to worth watching (for other than their cool weapons?)

    I’ll mention Ruroni Kenshin’s reverse blade sword, not because it’s particularly sci-fi or magical, but because it allows him to be a completely badass fighter without killing anyone.

    Frying Pan of Doom = poached eggs. Lol!

  8. Ah, the reverse blade. Classic.

    Kim, I will post some suggestions in a comment on your blog :) I’m also always looking for suggestions.

  9. Mona, the Teen has been discussing the anime Slayers and mentioned the five weapons, one of which is a bow. Would that fit?

    And, it has the Sword of Light which lets the user remove the metal blade (with an allen wrench) yell ‘light come forth’ and he’s got a blade of light that cuts through monsters, and can throw novas and stuff. and hums like a light saber.

    Myrrh in A Net of Dawn and Bones creates a sword of sunlight when the vampires start attacking. (and gets put on youtube with it. I liked that touch.)

  10. Elaine, I hadn’t heard of Slayers before, so I don’t know about the bow— but the series sounds comedic. I’ll check it out! Thanks :)

  11. I think it’s totally delightful that you have to remove the metal blade with an actual wrench before you can make your weapon into a light saber.

    And Myrrh is a wonderful name.

  12. I do too – it’s so practical. The series is comedy, for sure. My recommendation (and The Teen’s) of Slayers is qualified, though. There’s some really stupid stuff and an extremely irritating character who appears halfway through the first season. Even the Teen doesn’t rewatch that much. 2nd & 3rd seasons are much better. The Sword doesn’t appear as lightsaber until episode 8.

    Myrrh is the titular character, a hell raider, a Syriac saint & heretic, someone who for approximately 1800 years has been saving souls by going to hell to drag out some taken by demons/vampires/whatevers. She goes when she’s killed and gets out when her skull sees the dawn and her body is remade in that light.

    Just because Amazon’s notice just downloaded: Did you know there’s a new McKillip collection out today?

  13. That does sound really good. Minus the annoying character, of course.

    And: no — I knew a collection was due out this year, but didn’t realize it had hit the shelves today. Oh, I see that’s the ebook; the physical book isn’t out for about a month. Well, I normally prefer McKillip in paper . . . and the price difference isn’t much . . . so I guess I’ll wait.

  14. I wrote confusingly. Slayers was the first paragraph, and that main character is Lina Inverse (previously unnamed by me in this thread). She likes to blow things up and is a mid-teen genius sorceress in the beginning. Reluctantly responsible and prefers to get paid for what she does.

    Myrrh belongs to A Net of Dawn & Bones which is a fun read by a writer who got really tired of vampire romance. I think it could have been improved, but still enjoyed what I got. The whole family enjoyed it, which is rare. extract from the vampire confrontation: With a street gang, it would have been a calculated risk. With vampires, demons bearing all the pride and envy of Hell, who established their rule over one another with fang, claw, and plots, who considered humans their natural prey-
    Fangs gleamed. But Myrrh was already there, a living barrier between mortal flesh and immortal hunger.
    Claws caught in her sleeve. In less than the flicker of an eye, they’d be gouging through flesh and bones.
    Let there be light!
    Claws disintegrated.
    Light stabbed into the vampire from the brush of her skin, racing through dried flesh like lava through ice. Bones and skin cracked and convulsed, trapped in a sliver of the dawn that had given her breath and life….
    Blazing incarnadine, the vampire crumbled to ashes.
    Silence. For a heartbeat – an eternity, for vampire reflexes – the coven hesitated.
    Myrrh held a ready stance, unmoving. I said I would not start a fight.
    But she knew what the detective did not; she didn’t have to. […]
    Screaming, they swarmed her.
    Adino the Eznite killed eight hundred men with his sword-
    Sunlight was a blade in her hands, and she moved in the heart of the whirlwind. Hell-raiders weren’t as strong as a vampire. They weren’t as enduring. But they were as fast.
    Two heartbeats, and the first crush died.”

    I discovered I read e-books faster than paper, so when I really like a writer, (or book) I buy both. So McKillip, Kay, Neumeier, Lowe…get twice the $$

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