Jan 26

On Fantasy/Historic Archery: Guest Post by David Watson

Posted: under Background, Life beyond writing.
Tags: , , ,  January 26th, 2015

David Watson, known in the SCA as Master Iolo, is a crossbow maker and experienced archer who has studied archery in warfare a long time, including visits to museums in the US and Europe.   Here’s his take on the recently very popular YouTube videos of superfast shooting, including by people who insist that they’ve discovered historical truths unknown to mere sport shooters.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec 01

Archery Details

Posted: under Background, Contents.
Tags: , , ,  December 1st, 2009

I’m basing a lot of my longbow archery on information derived from the Mary Rose bows, as reported in (among other places) Strickland & Hardy’s The Great Warbow, which includes a history of the longbow in use from the Battle of Hastings up to the Tudor period.   (It’s also a great temptation to spend way too much time on details that aren’t plotworthy…how to conserve and then revive bows that have been buried in silt and salt water for centuries, for instance, something no one is trying to do in this book.  On the other hand, the horrible but effective treatment one noble received for an arrow wound in the face may show up sometime.  Not right now, though.)  Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov 27

Feasts and Swordfights

Posted: under Contents, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  November 27th, 2009

Even though we didn’t actually end up fencing yesterday–taking a guest from far away around the land took up the time that might’ve been spent with swords–the swords were around and unsheathed from time to time for purposes other than putting bruises on one another.  There was an award to hand out, and the very special sword to show to the guest from afar, and another to demonstrate on a pell to someone who hadn’t seen that one yet.   As for the feast–this being Thanksgiving in the US–we ate like a mercenary company in Aarenis, finally in a good Valdaire inn.  Platters and serving dishes emptied with amazing speed.   Although I’m normally a casual cook and diner, I love setting out a beautiful table a few times a year, using “the good stuff”  to its fullest extent and piling on the food of all kinds.

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Aug 21

The Little Crossbow

Posted: under Life beyond writing.
Tags:  August 21st, 2009


Here it’s spanned, loaded with a little wad of aluminum foil (no goldfish crackers at fencing class last night) and ready to shoot.

Available from New World Arbalest –email them if you want one.  It’s not up on the online catalog yet.   Mine is 13.5 inches long; the prod when the bow’s not spanned is 8 inches.

Ammunition–try things.  I’ve used the goldfish crackers, the corner off a saltine cracker, M&Ms, carrot and celery sticks (inch to inch and a half long work better than longer ones, and trimmed fairly narrow but still stiff), wadded up paper and aluminum foil.   Oh, and the foam ammunition for a toy gun.   I expect it would also work with dry peas and beans (haven’t tried yet)

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Aug 16

Reading at ArmadilloCon

Posted: under artwork, Marketing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  August 16th, 2009

Today I read a bit of the new book to an unselected audience for the first time: a scene with as much interest and as few spoilers as I could find.  This was at ArmadilloCon.

The audience liked it, but you have to understand it was Sunday at a science fiction convention and everyone was looking a bit (some more than a bit) glazed.  All except one soul who apparently thought this was a critique group and not the reading of something finished, and explained what she thought needed to be changed.  (Hint: don’t do this.  It’s like the old joke about trying to teach a pig to sing–you can’t, and it only annoys the pig.  The book’s in production, as I told her with as much gentleness as I could muster.  No changes at this point.  But, ahem.)

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Jun 17

The Book of Swords, Preview

Posted: under Life beyond writing.
Tags: ,  June 17th, 2009

I think I mentioned, some time back, the video Reclaiming the Blade, about the history of the western sword, and how it was used.

Hank Reinhardt, co-founder of Museum Replicas, was on that video, and though he died in late 2007, the book he was working on is now coming out from Baen Books, titled The Book of Swords.  Toni Weisskopf, his widow, took his various drafts and brought them together.

I was sent an ARC of this book, and have been looking it over for a couple of days…and I have to say, I’m impressed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec 16

Weaponry 1a: swords

Posted: under Contents.
Tags:  December 16th, 2008

Weaponry in Paksenarrion’s world has clear connections to late medieval/early Renaissance weaponry in our world’s history except for one obvious lack: there is no gunpowder. Hence no petards, no bombs, no cannon.

There are, however, blades of many styles, in abundance. Where did these come from, and what does it take to maintain them? (Some of you, in various re-creation societies, are now licking your chops…back off, this is not going to be a definitive treatise–and yes, I’ve read definitive treatises.)

We’re well into the age of steel here, so blades mean metal blades–and metal blades mean that somewhere there’s metal ore and someone with the knowledge and skill to convert ores into steel–steel that will take a point or an edge (or both, but not necessarily) and not fall to pieces the moment it’s hit by another sword.

Along with the iron ores, the swordmaker needs the ability to make a really hot fire, and then control it: this means a fuel source, and a forge in which to control the temperature. That forge needs to be made of something that won’t burn up at those temperatures, that will contain the fire and yet let the swordsmith move the metal around, pull it in and out. And the swordsmith needs an anvil and the tools with which to beat the fire-softened metal into shape, and a container of the right liquid in which to quench it. And a lot of skill.

So there’s a lot of work behind every sword, whether it’s the short stout gladius type used by the soldiers of the Duke’s Company, Halveric Company, and some others–or the longer slimmer rapier used by freelancers in the south, or the hand-and-a-half longsword used by nobles and captains in the north.

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