Powerful weapons have been a staple in fantasies and myths since the dawn of language. In fact, they have become so prevalent that we expect to see them in any action movie or book that has even a hint of the preternatural. These armaments are often extremely powerful, being imbued with magical or cosmic forces, granting their wielders some pretty cool abilities. Ranging from swords and wands to hammers to rings, here are our top five fantasy weapons. (Disclaimer: We normally present a top ten, but since so much can be written on each of these weapons we have stopped at five for the sake of brevity.)
Excalibur- How else could this list start than with the fantasy sword that all others aspire to? Long ago it was plunged into stone so that only the most noble and worthy King of the Britons, King Arthur (duh), could withdraw it. On one side of the blade is engraved, “take me up” and on the other is “cast me away” referring to its tragic fate.
Etymologically, the word Excalibur can be traced back to the Latin chalbys, meaning steel, which can then be traced back to the Chalbyes, an early Italic steel-working tribe. In Malory’s famed Le Morte d’Arthur, it is said to mean “steel-cutter” leading to the legend that it can slice right through steel! Let’s not beat around the bush here, this sword has some astounding power. Other than its steel-cutting ability, its other attributes include: being as bright as 30 torches capable of blinding an entire battalion of men, its scabbard prevented death by blood loss (and in some legends wearing the scabbard prevented its wearer from bleeding at all!), and it seems to have made its wielder a much more adept swordsman. However, far from being just deadly, it’s beautiful! Tennyson describes it in his poem “The Passing of Arthur” thusly,
“There drew he forth the brand Excalibur,
And o’er him, drawing it, the winter moon,
Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth
And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt:
For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks,
Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work
Of subtlest jewelry.”
The One Ring- The famous poem written in Black Speech on this weapon’s sides is enough to give anyone chills:
“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”
The obvious choice for our second pick could be nothing else than the One Ring. The Ring has become an object of great fascination in our world as well as in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It seems that all those who look upon it, be they fictional or real, are transfixed and desire greedily to behold and touch it. I do not believe there are any nerds of LotR who have not at one time or another pretended that their rings are The Ring. Or maybe that was just me after becoming obsessed with the lore….Regardless, the one thing that is for sure is that The Ring is desirable because it is powerful. Insanely so. No one wants The Ring because of its aesthetics (ok maybe I do…) but because of the godlike power it could grant an individual if they discover the secret to using it. While it seems at first only to turn people invisible, that is far from its true power. Since Hobbits (and Men) are not who it was created for, their usage of the power is limited. But when wielded by the Dark Lord of the Second Age, it is a different story. At its full power, its attributes include: mastery over all other Rings of Power and dominion over the wills of their bearers, domination of the wills of individuals not wearing Rings of Power (basically your will is screwed), increases in the natural abilities of its bearer to superhuman(-elf, -dwarf, -halfling, -númenórean, -maia, etc) status, invisibility (forced invisibility if you do not have complete power over it), possible understanding of foreign and unknown languages, possible telepathy and telekinesis, projection of a false image to others of the bearer, etc. The Ring also seems to have at least partial sentience since it contains much of Sauron’s essence.
Narsil/Andúril- Staying with the LotR trilogy, we move on to what is essentially the Excalibur of Middle Earth. Given that Tolkien was a professor of English literature who was obsessed with the old world, particularly Medieval Europe, and the fact that he tried to make it as though our current myths are based on stories orally passed down from the Ages of Middle Earth, it is no great surprise that Excalibur would have made what is essentially a cameo appearance in his works. Andúril is the blade that was once named Narsil. As Narsil, it was wielded by King Elendil in the Second Age against the armies of darkness. Sauron, however, shattered the blade and killed Elendil. Isildur, Elendil’s son, raised the shard up valiantly and severed The One Ring from Sauron. The shards then passed from father to son until they ended up in The Last Homely House, aka Rivendell. There it would lie in pieces, unable to be wielded until the true King of the Britons….er I mean the true King of Gondor came to claim it (hmmm…similarities). Wielding this sword would show to all that its wielder was the true claimant to the Throne of Gondor, and would bring all of the West under his rule (oh look…more Arthurian similarities…ZealotScript just may write a post on this!). At last, Aragorn son of Arathorn, the rightful heir to the Gondorian Throne came and had it reforged, and gave it a new name: Andúril. The name Narsil means, “red and white flame” in Quenyan, representing the Sun and Moon. Andúril means, “flame of the West”. The sword’s attributes include: perpetual sharpness, royal symbolism capable of uniting a fractured people, and it seems to have increased the combat prowess of whoever wielded it.
Mjölnir- The mighty hammer of Thor, slayer of ice giants and creator of divine weapons, would have to be on this list. Its name means “to grind; to crush”, and that is exactly what it does. The hammer has taken many forms in popular media, but it seems to have taken the form of a common smithy’s hammer in the ancient days. Forged by two dwarves and given to Thor, this mighty hammer has many astounding properties. It can, for example, return to Thor’s hand no matter how far away it’s thrown, hit any target its thrown at without missing, smith divine weapons, kill enemies with one mighty blow, and create the “sparks” on Thor’s anvil which become lightning when entering our realm. The hammer is also indestructible.
Elder Wand- In the world of Harry Potter, wands can be used for many peaceful activities, such as doing the laundry or turning rats into goblets. But that’s boring! This list is about action and weaponry, and there is perhaps no weapon more powerful in the entire Potterverse than the Elder Wand. Given by Death himself to Antioch Peverell, one of the three brothers in “The Tale of the Three Brothers” (an actual story you can now read in The Tales of Beedle the Bard), this wand is immensely powerful. It was crafted from elder wood and a thestral’s tail-hair, making it completely unique. The wand is said to be the most powerful wand in all of existence, giving its user powers that even the most highly skilled of witches and wizards would believe impossible. Some of its notable features are: mending a broken wand, making its wielder unbeatable in battle, increased combat prowess for its user, and semi-sentience. Many people have been its master, from Dumbledore, to Harry Potter, and even Voldemort and Grindewald.
These are our top five fantasy weapons, what did you think? Do you agree or disagree with our list? Did we miss your favorite weapon? Would you like us to do another top five fantasy weapons list? Let us know in the comments!