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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GUESTPOST: Martial Arts and Fantasy Warriors by Miles Cameron


My writing is often inspired by my practice of various disciplines and martial arts. I am very modestly competent in some, and very deeply practiced in others.  As a writer, I’m interested in martial arts as part of experience—so that I don’t, for example, have to be a master swordsman to write about fighting with a sword. 

Some martial arts I do only for exercise, or ‘fun.’  I love fighting sword and buckler, especially in the Bolognese style, and I don’t write about it—I just do it whenever equipment and opponents are available.  Some martial arts I do because they are so deeply immersive in the culture of the period and place; Iado, the Japanese art of using the sword in a  set of pre-determined movements, and Armizare, the art of Italian (or German, but I prefer Italian) fighting in armour from the fourteenth century.

Aikido, small sword, Olympic fencing, Italian long sword, pole axe, spear fighting, saber on horseback, archery with various very different bows, flintlock pistol and rifle, wrestling, boxing—I do all of these, or I’ve at least tried them.  As I write this piece I have blood under both my thumbnails and a sprained left index finger and a very sore right rotator cup and that’s all the routine cost of pretending to fight. 

I like to think I’m a very safe, controlled student of the sword and various other weapons, but injury is the cost of training, and that alone is a priceless reality for a writer to know about a fantasy environment. 

In the world of Red Knight and Fell Sword, the warriors—be they Alban or Abenkai or Sossag or Galles or Etruscans or Occitans or what have you—they train.  And they hurt.  I try to bring that experience to the reader—and to write fight scenes that convey character and motivation.  War and violence is merely a human behavior, like sex and conversation.  It’s worth a little practice to try and get it right.

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I want to thank Miles Cameron for this entertaining post and I would like to remind everyone that The Fell Sword - the 2nd installment of the Traitor Son series that has started last year with The Red Knight - is now out in the US too and while I thought it was way too long for its content and more of a "mark the time" book to raise the novel count of the series than anything else, you the readers are the one to ultimately decide if the novel works for you or not.

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