Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ten Awesome Swords From Fiction

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

Why are swords so cool? What is it about them? Why do so many fictional swords have replicas you can buy and hang on your wall? Why do characters never (or rarely) name their guns or staffs or clubs or bows? Yet most swords get names---cool names too. Here are my ten favorite swords from literature.


10. Zorro's rapier
Zorro was created by author Johnston McCulley. But even if you’ve never read one of McCulley’s books, you can probably picture Zorro in your mind. He’s the masked desperado, dressed all in black, who defends the people from bad guys. He wields a (nameless) rapier—and no one is faster with it. And he's also handy with a whip. He especially enjoys humiliating his foes.


Why it’s cool: Because Zorro uses his rapier to leave his mark: Z.


9. Heron Mark Sword
A heron mark swords is a rare type of sword from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. These swords were considered unbreakable and wielded by blademasters. Rand al’Thor, the main character in book one The End of the World, was given one of these swords by his father before he set off on his quest. Little did he know how valuable and rare a sword it was.


Why it’s cool: Because as Rand traveled, the heron hilt continued to draw attention, yet he didn’t know why. This was a fun way to plant seeds for a history his father never told him about (where and how daddy got the sword), and it also, eventually, opened up a conversation for Rand to learn about such blades. Good use of a prop in storytelling.


8. Dyrnwyn
In Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three, when Taran and Princess Eilonwy escape the Spiral Castle, they pass through the burial chamber of High King Rhitta. By the time they get out, the castle has collapsed and Eilonwy is carrying a black sword, which she took from the dead king. She refused to let Taran draw the blade as the sword is dangerous to those it deems unworthy of its power or who are not yet ready for it. It is not only an enchanted sword, but the most powerful weapon in Prydain.



Why it’s cool: Because it scalds those who are unworthy and because it can kill cauldron born.


7. Sting
Bilbo Baggins found this blade in a troll hoard along with many other elf-made weapons. This was actually a man’s dagger, but it was just the right size for a hobbit sword. It has the magically ability to detect the nearness of orcs or goblins, glowing blue when they were nearby. Bilbo used it well and named it Sting after the giant spiders of Mirkwood called it such. Bilbo eventually gave Sting to Frodo, who eventually gave it to Sam.


Why it’s cool: 1. Because it glows blue when orcs or goblins are nearby. 2. Because it’s really a dagger but Bilbo is small, so it’s a sword for him, which is good continued characterization. 3. Because Gollum was afraid of it.


6. Ôwr- 
Since this is my top ten, I’m including a sword from my Blood of Kings trilogy. Ôwr, also known as the Kingsword, was a gift to King Willham from Câan, the son-god warrior, after his rebirth. It was forged from white steel, which does not exist in Er’Rets. Ôwr is the only weapon made from the metal. It cannot be broken. Esek owned Ôwr for a time, using it to cut the slashes on Achan’s cheeks, yet Achan took it back after he cut of Esek’s arm in a duel.


Why it’s cool: Because it’s made from the metal of another world and gleams like a star. And because of what it represents: he who wields it is—or will be—king.


5. Sword of Gryffindor
The Sword of Godric Gryffindor, who was one of the founders of Hogwarts, can only be wielded by a true Gryffindor. Fawkes brings it to Harry in the sorting hat in Harry Potter in Chamber of Secrets, and Harry pulls it out, kills the basilisk, and destroys the journal. The sword was made by goblins, who take it back from Harry later on in the series.


Why it’s cool: Because J.K. Rowling is a master plotter. She plants the sword early on, and uses it, not only when Harry kills the basilisk and destroys the journal, but to prove to Harry that he belongs in Gryffindor House. And she continues to use the weapon in clever ways through the rest of the series, including the existence of a replica sword.


4. Anaklusmos a.k.a. Riptide
Anaklusmos has a long and tragic history, having been used by many Greek gods and demigods. It is made of celestial bronze, which is only effective on mythological beings, and does not harm mortals. It can take the shape of useless objects like Zoë’s hair clip and Percy’s inkpen. In English, Anaklusmos means Riptide. The sword draws its power from the ocean.



Why it’s cool: Because it’s a shapeshifting sword, that’s why! And the limitation of not being able to harm humans is an interesting twist.


3. Narsil/Anduril
King Elendil used Narsil in the battle against Sauron. The king was killed, however, and Narsil shattered. His son Isildur picked up the hilt and used what was left of the weapon to cut the One Ring from Sauron’s finger, defeating him. The shards of Narsil became an heirloom until the sword was reforged for Aragorn, recognizing him as Isildur’s heir and the rightful king of Gondor. Aragorn renamed the sword Anduril, which means “The Flame of the West.” It’s also called “The sword that was broken.”



Why it’s cool: Because even broken, it defeated Sauron. And because it was reforged and given to Aragorn to use to return as King of Gondor. So cool.



2. Inigo Montoya’s Rapier
In The Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya’s father Domingo was a great sword maker. Nobleman Count Rugen, a man with six fingers on his right hand, asked Domingo to forge a sword just for him. When the sword was completed, Count Rugen refused to pay, so Domingo refused to sell him the sword. Count Rugen killed Domingo, and when Domingo’s eleven-year-old son challenged Rugen to a duel, Rugen defeated the boy and scarred his face. Devastated, Inigo made it his life goal to avenge his father.



Why it’s cool: Because of the backstory. Everything Inigo is and strives for comes from this sword and its history.



1. Excalibur
When Arthur said, “I have no sword,” Merlin led him to a lake. An arm rose out of the water, holding a sword. And then the Lady of the Lake appeared, standing on the water. Arthur asked her for the sword, and she gave it to him on the condition that he would owe her a gift that she would claim later. Merlin told him that the scabbard was worth ten of the sword, and as long as it was buckled around his waist, he would lose no blood, no matter how grievously he was wounded.


Why it’s cool: Because it’s legendary, first of all. But also because of its auto-healing scabbard. Plus, it came from that creepy lake, so that’s cool too.


Which sword did I miss that's one of your favorites from fiction? What’s cool about it that adds to the story it’s from?

68 comments:

  1. Man, its hard to tell which is my favorite sword. There's Sting (Can't wait for the third Hobbit movie!), There's Owr, There's Inigo Montoya's Rapier (the Princess Bride is an awesome movie), and then there's Excalibur.

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  2. I love Fury from The Door Within trilogy (because it's an impressive sword and because it kind of represents a legacy being passed down from one character to another). I also love Excalibur in all its incarnations (for various reasons). And I agree, Anduril and Sting are awesome.

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  3. I think the swords in the Vampiraes series have some pretty good backstories as well, but I don't think any of them could make the top ten list. XD

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  4. What? No mention of Lightsabers?

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    1. I thought about it, but lightsabers are from a movie, and I was going with books.

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  5. Ahhhhh Riptide! :) My little sister actually has a mechanical pencil that says "Riptide" on it. Best. Thing. Ever.

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    1. From Amo Libros:
      That. Is. AWESOME!!!

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  6. Have you read Dragons in Our Midst by Bryan Davis? Much of the series is based off the stories about King Arthur, and the characters end up finding Excalibur. :)

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    1. That series is awesome. :) I just finished the first and second books for the second time.

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    2. I read the first one years ago, like the year it came out, I think.

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    3. Brooke, I know! I started reading them a little over a year ago. Have you read the two other series that come after them? If not, the series' names are Oracles of Fire and Children of the Bard. I just got the third book in the Children of the Bard series today. :)

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    4. From Amo Libros:
      Clearly, I need to check these books out!

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    5. You definitely should!! I've read all his books! Also, if you purchase them from his site (daviscrossing.com) you can purchase them very cheaply and he even signs them for free!!

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  7. HALISA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Halisa, translated as Fireword, forged in the sun, Lume, himself!!! This is the ONLY sword that can kill dragons. This sword is in The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. And it is amazing! It is introduced in the first book, but it appears often, sometimes wielded by most unlikely characters. And it does follow a familiar theme of being stuck in a stone at one point as can be seen in Dragonwitch...

    Also, Bloodbiter's Wrath, also from Goldstone Wood, is pretty cool, because you don't even know it's a sword for a book and a half. It disguises itself in the mortal world as a...well, can't tell you that! :)

    Narsil is awesome, as is Sting.

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    1. Anne Elisabeth Stengl's books are still on my To Read list...

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    2. Well, you might have a new sword to add to your list after reading them. :)

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  8. Zar'roc from Eragon was always one of my favorites. Glamdring is another one that comes to mind, maybe I only like it because it was Gandalf's sword, but it's still awesome.

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    1. I almost put Glamdring on there, but I already had two LOTR swords. LOL

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  9. Oh, I love Sting in the Hobbit movies. Though, I haven't read much of the Hobbit book. :)

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    1. You really should read the book it is great! So is the Lord of the Ring.

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    2. I TOTALLY agree! I will be posting a list of what makes a person an ultimate LOTR/Hobbit fan on my blog, Reflections of the Heart. :)

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    3. I'll SO have to go look at that. :-D

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    4. Samuel! It's not even a very long book. Read. It! ;-)

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  10. You hit pretty much all of my favorites, save for Brisngr in the Eragon series...it's one of my favorites because it can light on fire, it's impervious to enchantments, and Paolini spends almost an entire chapter describing Eragon as he makes it. Very nice list, though!

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    1. I almost put Brisngr on there, but it's been so long since I read the books, I couldn't remember the details enough to write a summary. Going to have to read them again, methinks...

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  11. I always thought Aragorn's sword Andruil was cool! But Sting is really cool too. I LOVE the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit! :-)

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    1. It's an amazing sword with a great backstory and all. LOTR is an amazing series of movies. I've only read the first book, though.

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    2. From Amo Libros:
      I love Sting! And the thought of Narsil/Anduril still gives me shivers! (In a good way.) You need to read them, Sofia! At the very LEAST you HAVE to read Return of the King, because they took all the best parts out of the movie!

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    3. Yes! You really need to read them.

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  12. Ooo, hard to choose which one is my favorite! My husband owns Sting and Narsil :)

    A sword from my own series is Veritas (it is first seen at the end of Son of Truth). When Caleb chose to become a Guardian, he was given this sword by the Word. What makes it different is that he can pull it from the mark on his hand (it is an extension of who he is). It is also a spectral sword, not made of metal. It can only be used against spectral beings and can also tear the veil between the seen and unseen world, something that will happen in my next book.

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    1. Yes! That's a cool sword, Morgan. When does your next one come out?

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    2. Just finishing the rough draft. Not sure on a release date with all the changes at Marcher Lord Press.

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  13. Peter Pevensie's sword, Rhindon, from the Chronicles of Narnia. That sword is awesome! I have a replica of the movie prop. It's amazing. :D
    Also, Glamdring, Gandalf's sword, and Orcrist, Thorin's sword from The Hobbit. Eowyn's sword (which doesn't have a name) from The Lord of the Rings is cool because she uses it to kill the Witch King of Angmar whom no mortal man can destroy. Also, Merry, Pippin and Sam get their swords from the barrow of the barrow-wight (in the book!). The swords were forged by the men of Westernesses.

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    1. Tolkien made cool swords, didn't he? And Peter's sword was pretty cool too

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    2. I used to have Rhindon, but then the neighbor's mower man stole it from my yard. Never saw it again, or the mower.

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    3. From Amo Libros:
      Ahh, Rhindon!!! I couldn't for the life of me remember it's name - but I do remember the Peter's voice as he lifts it up in Prince Caspian, saying , "This is my sword, Rhindon. With it I killed the Wolf." And the others know from his voice that he is High King Peter again. *sigh* I love Narnia.

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  14. Now I feel like naming that one important sword in my current WIP...

    Eitehr way cool post, though admittingly I don't know most of them. But Excalibur, in whatever form it has been presented in books and movies, must be my favourite!

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  15. I was hoping you'd put Owr on this list. ;) It's...the only one I've heard of on here, sadly.

    (What? I don't read many fantasy books. xD)

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  16. My favorite is Inigo's father's sword. It's so cool. =)

    TW Wright
    ravensandwriting.blogspot.com

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  17. Brisingr from, well, Brisingr, by Christopher Paolini. It's awesome because Eragon makes it himself (with directions), and it tells you how he made it. And it's made from a meteor. And it lights on fire whenever he says "brisingr" even if he's not trying to do magic. And he found it's true name like that. And it's the same color as Saphira. It's just plain awesome!

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    1. Exactly! One of the best fictional swords ever. Also there's Angela's sword Tinkledeath. It's glass clear and makes a 'ding' when you tap it's blade. Zar'roc and Vrangr are also pretty cool.

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    2. Yeah, as I mentioned above, I was going to put Brisngr on my list, but it's been ages since I read the book and couldn't remember the details. But it's a cool one for sure!

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  18. There was a cool sword in Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire. The more normal swords in that book are cool, they just look like hilts when they aren't being used, and then the blade appears when fighting. I think they glow. Also, the swords can heal if the blade is held to an injury. Also, I think maybe a sword can only be used by it's owner but I might not be remembering that right.
    So, they're cool, but there was one that was even more significant. The sword that belonged to Hunter's father was taken by Xual. Xual had it reforged or something into a more evil twisted version that he could use. (Yeah I'm pretty sure swords can only be used by the owners so that had to be corrupted or something.)
    That sword was an interesting part of the book.

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    1. Yes! I love this idea. They're like lightsabers but not. And the weilder's faith brings forth the blade. Very cool. I didn't know that about Hunter's father. I only read the first two books, I think...

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  19. In a book or not, lightsabers are awesome!!!

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    1. They are VERY awesome, though they do kindly cauterize wounds they create, which makes them a bit less lethal than a real sword. But the coolness factor trumps such practicalities. :-)

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  20. As a die hard (and mildly obsessive) Redwall fan I can't believe no one has mentioned the sword of Martin the Warrior! An absolute legend it is wielded only by a chosen (and sometimes unexpected) warrior in times of great need and plays a huge role throughout the entire series. It manages to represent goodness in a fight against evil and also at the same time to reinforce the theme that it's not the blade but the person who wields it that makes the difference.
    All that and the fact that it was one of the first 'legendary swords' I ever read about when I was younger make it one of my favourites.

    God bless,
    Kezle

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    1. *sigh* I have STILL not read those books. I own the first two, but haven't managed to get them to the top of my To Read pile. Someday. Soon, I hope. :-)

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    2. AUGH! Yes, the sword of Martin the Warrior! I can't believe I forgot about that! Talk about a legendary sword!

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    3. *GASP* Haven't read Redwall?!... XD Actually they were on my To Read pile forever too but one day I finally got around to them and fell in love so I heartily recommend them should you ever find the time.
      Admittedly I did read them out of order (which you can do with no major problems thankfully) and probably because of that I still don't like the first few (Redwall/Mattimeo) quite as much as some of the others (Mossflower and Pearls of Lutra for the win! XD) though they are all enjoyable reads in my humble opinion.

      God bless,
      Kezle

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    4. From Amo Libros:
      GAHH!!! I can't BELIEVE I forgot about The Sword of Martin the Warrior!!! It's so...awesome!
      For those who don't know, the sword originally belonged to Martin's father, but was snapped by the evil Tsarmina when Martin was captured by Lord Greeneyes' men (yeah, I know, you'll have to read Mossflower. It's awesome). The blade was remade by the great badger lord Boar the Fighter in the fire of Salamandastron from the metal of a fallen star*. And the sword has managed to make its way into the hands of every Redwall warrior who needed it, one way or another. It becomes a sort of connecting symbol between the books, and reinforces the them of defending a peaceful happy place against the evil which would destroy it - a theme I believe is from the influence the Battle of Britain had on Brian Jacques when he was growing up.
      *Some meteors actually do drop REALLY pure iron - some archaeologists/scientists believe this is how some ancient cultures got their hands on iron pure enough to make really good weapons out of (if I'm remembering chemistry class correctly).

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    5. I haven't read those in years! One of my favorite series :) I need to introduce Redwall to my son...

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    6. If you haven't read Redwall yet (or if you have), definitely check out the audiobook versions! They are read by a full cast and narrated by the author. They are some of the best audiobook versions of books that I've listened to.

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  21. You have a great sword list, Jill! I'm thinking of turning this into my Christmas wish list. ;) Do you think that will fly? It'd be so hard to pick just one favorite sword. I have so many! I could probably arm an entire army just with my favorite swords ... that is supposing I stumbled across a pirate's treasure and could purchase said swords ... and if I had an entire army that needed outfitting ...

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    1. I told my husband I wanted a sword, and he bought me a replica, which is cool, but I want a REAL sword! I don't think he understood that part. LOL

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  22. Hi Jill Williamson...
    What kind of replica do you have...?
    I think you are also a swords lovers as mine...LOL
    But i have many swords like buster, sowrds of omense, i always read new story that all about swords...
    I am collecting the swords since 2 years and still i have 3 swords recently i have bought boromir swords you just have to check this home decorated swords......

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  23. Lord of the Rings' swords are amazing. Especially the sword that was broken.

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  24. From Amo Libros:
    I love that list! Speaking of swords, if any of you are interested in real life "super swords", you need to check out PBS' NOVA episode on the "Viking Super Sword". It is really, really cool and informative.
    While we're on the topic of sharp, metal weapons, can I just say I LOVE the knives in John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series? They're great because: A) they reinforce the idea that the Rangers don't have to be flashy or carry around awesome-looking swords to be cool or effective; B) both the throwing knife and the saxe knife are made out of a steel so pure and strong they can block even the best swords and leave nicks in an opponent's blade without any damage being done to the Ranger knife C) both are balanced for throwing and D) they're such quiet, unassuming little weapons, one would never suspect they're some of the most lethal weapons in the kingdom, especially when wielded by a Ranger.

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    1. Yes! The rangers had some pretty neat weapons. :-) I love John Flanagan's books.

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  25. Cool swords list! I can't help mentioning lightsabers, though! I'm a huge Star Wars fan!
    1, 2, and 4 are probably my favorites from this list!

    Alexa Skrywer
    alexaskrywer.blogspot.com

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  26. I love all those swords especially Sting and Anduril. One cool sword that I know of from an anime called Guilty Crown is this one that's drawn from this girl Inori's heart (essence). In the anime, there is a boy with an ability to extract voids or essences of young people and the voids manifest as weapons. Though most are more benign Inori's is this massive blade that can cut through metal and stone. It's so cool. It reflects on her fierce inner self despite her innocent appearance. This is a link to a picture of it. :) http://th04.deviantart.net/fs71/PRE/f/2012/323/0/8/guilty_crown___shu_and_inori_wallpaper_by_eazyhd-d5lh8bg.jpg



    Stori Tori's Blog

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  27. What an interesting post! I loved it. What really completes the list in my opinion is the presence of Sting and Andúril! :)

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  28. Nooo! You didn't include Brisinger, which is obiously the best out of all of those (although Anduril comes pretty close)!
    (sorry I'm an Eragon fan)
    ~Mila

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