You know the old saying that “the car makes the man” don’t you? Well, in medieval fantasy, I like to think that “the weapon makes the man” or woman in some cases. There have been many legendary weapons that have made their way through the fantasy genre. You know their names: Stormbringer, Mourneblade, Sting, Mjölner, Frostmourne, and of course, Excalibur. These weapons are as well know as the warriors that wield them.
I too have dabbled in creating mythical weapons. In the Forever Avalon series, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, wields the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon, Twilight and Dusk, forged from the shattered remains of Excalibur. There’s also Steinknuse, the hammer/axe of Dwarf Master Dinius of the Gilded Halls. In the upcoming third book of the series, The Outlander War, I will introduce the Edenstar, sword of the first high king of the Elves.
However, today I want to touch on a few particular weapons. These are not as well-known as some of the previously mentioned blades, but they are unique in the realm of fantasy. So, let’s call these my Top 5 Obscure Medieval Fantasy Weapons from movies/television. These are weapons created solely for the cinema and/or TV.
#5—The Elven Mindsword from Hawk the Slayer (1980)—When it comes to obscure weapons, you don’t have far to look than this British 1980 sword and sorcery romp starring Jack Palance and John Terry as two brothers fighting for the throne after Voltan (Palance) kills their father, With his dying breath, the King gives Hawk (Terry) the last Elven Mindstone and imbued the power in a sword, giving Hawk the power to control the weapon telepathically. That’s about the crux of it. The only saving grace of this movie, besides Palance’s over the top performance, is Patricia Quinn of Rocky Horror fame as the sorceress. It’s not a lot for #5 but it’s the best I can do.
#4—Caber from Beastmaster (1982)—This is one of those great “guilty pleasure” movies because it has everything in it: A brooding warrior, a damsel in distress, an evil sorcerer and an army of raiders. Marc Singer is Dar, a prince who was taken at birth and branded by a witch, giving him the ability to communicate with animals. When his adopted family is killed, he goes off seeking revenge. He takes with him his father’s sword and caber, a hinged throwing blade. While Dar doesn’t use this a lot in this movie, when he does it’s a pretty cool weapon, similar to the glaive Blade uses (not to be confused with the other glaive coming up shortly).
#3—Tri-Blade Sword from The Sword and the Sorcerer (1980)—This has to be one of the bulkiest, most unwieldy weapon of my list, but it’s also one of the coolest. What knight wouldn’t want a broadsword with three blades where two of the blades shoot out. That’s what attracted me to this movie, that sword. It is totally impractical, but yet so desirable a weapon. The movie follows the standard plot of most 80’s “sword and sorcery” films of that era where a boy seeks revenge against the evil tyrant who killed his family and stole the throne. The boy named Talon (Lee Horsley) becomes a mercenary and helps a princess stop the same tyrant (played by veteran “evil doer” character actor Richard Lynch). Again, not a great movie except for a memorable weapon that every D&D player tried to create.
#2—Glaive from Krull (1983)—Again, a classic 80’s sword and sorcery movie, but this one is mixed with a little science fiction as a star-hopping megalomaniac called the Beast brings his army of Slayers to the planet Krull to destroy and dominate the planet. After and alliance and a wedding between Colwyn (Ken Marshall) and Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) ends with her being captured by the Beast, Colwyn searches for allies and a mythical weapon called the Glaive. The Glaive is a starfish with retractable blades that flies through the air, controlled by Colwyn. Unfortunately, you don’t see it used until the end of the movie, and then it’s only used briefly to rescue the girl and kill the beast, only to be lodged in his chest and hurled into space with him, which to me was the producer’s way of trying to get a sequel. One of the great things about this movie was the early, on-screen performances by a very young Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane.
Before I get to my #1, just a few honorable mentions, including the spear from Dragonslayer, the Klingon Bat’leth from Star Trek, and the Atlantean Sword from Conan the Barbarian.
#1—Chakram from Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)—She got her start in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys but Xena, the Warrior Princess (played by the incredible Lucy Lawless) held her own for six seasons of great television. And by her side, besides Gabrielle (Renee O’Conner) was her trusty chakram. This circular metal blade was deadlier than Tron’s Identity Disc. Xena could incapacitate dozens of enemies at once and the chakram would return to her hand, just like Mjölner. I would never want to challenge her to a pool game because she knows how to redirect her chakram as good as Captain America throwing his shield. It seemed like such a simple weapon yet it really identified Xena’s character. In fantasy, she became as legendary as the weapon associated with her.
I know some of you may have some disagreements with my list or some additions, I’d love for you to comment below. I’d like to keep the discussion going on these amazing weapons forged in fires of fantasy.