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Thread: Confession: I Like Fantasy Tropes-What are your favorites/least favorites?

  1. #101
    practical experience, FTW Simpson17866's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emily.Loyce View Post
    I'm been trying to write a series of short fantasies that follows a group cutthroats. The character leading the group is of the irredeemable sort and she is hell bent on grasping as much power as she can hold via deception and murder, by trying to take over a city. The perspective character that gets caught up with them I suppose would be classified as Chaotic good/chaotic nuetral. She's not opposed to breaking the law or killing people if it helps people, but she sort of gets roped in to this really bad group. the other character who is sort of the second to the evil leader is kind of the second in command and she's a bit of a brute but she's more of an anti hero.

    My problem is that it's really heavy and for a good chunk of it it's more like you're following the villains around witht he perspective character acting as the voice of reason that gets promptly ignored every time so I haven't decided if I can make it work yet, but I really want to.
    My WIP is about straight-up Villain Protagonists, do you think you might want to go that route too? Or are you sure you're committed to the Token Good Teammate?

    If so, I would recommend watching Season 1 of SyFy's Dark Matter for a good example of the good guys (One, Five, Six) and the bad guys (Two, Three, Four) working together when the bad guys are the ones running the show

  2. #102
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Emily.Loyce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simpson17866 View Post
    My WIP is about straight-up Villain Protagonists, do you think you might want to go that route too? Or are you sure you're committed to the Token Good Teammate?

    If so, I would recommend watching Season 1 of SyFy's Dark Matter for a good example of the good guys (One, Five, Six) and the bad guys (Two, Three, Four) working together when the bad guys are the ones running the show
    How do you manage to keep them relatable tot he audience? I feel that's been my main problem. Because my villains sort of rub off on the good character eventually and she starts to do not so great things as well and become more invested in their plans but I feel like theres a detachment in that they become less and less relatable.

  3. #103
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    realistic motivations and sympathetic goals, employed only with questionable methods.

    everyone has a line they draw at where they begin sacrificing morality to achieve something; "villains" are usually people who cross that line a little sooner or a little more readily than other people, or else are under extensive pressure for some reason to do so.
    "Though one evil spirit may drive a woman out of Eden, all the devils in hell cannot drive Heaven out of a woman."

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    I love a good training montage.
    I like behind the scenes looks at angels, demons, grim reapers, etc. (not the deal mortals part, the when they report to their superiors type stuff. The Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony is a good example)

    I don't like the farmboy.
    I hate when the mighty hero whines and complains that they don't like being a badass.
    While I'm fine with (and even like) female warriors, I don't like where all physical differences are ignored and they are completely interchangeable with male warriors.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emily.Loyce View Post
    How do you manage to keep them relatable tot he audience?
    The big thing I'm emphasizing is how much they care about each other (despite not anybody else)

    But ultimately, "interesting" trumps "relateable" – especially when it comes to villain protagonists like Light Yagami, Dexter Morgan, Walter White, Vito Corleone and sons, or MacBeth – and my characters face interesting (I hope) situations by making interesting (I hope) decisions.

    I feel that's been my main problem. Because my villains sort of rub off on the good character eventually and she starts to do not so great things as well and become more invested in their plans but I feel like theres a detachment in that they become less and less relatable.
    Walter White becomes less and less relatable as the series goes on (I'm about halfway into the last season), but the story about the bumbling suburbanite dad becoming a sociopathic drug kingpin keeps becoming more and more interesting

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    Hmmm.
    I don't like Elves that much either. Prophesies are lame, but chosen one's I just despise.

  7. #107
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    Tropes I love:

    "Campfire" scenes. Before the big fight, characters get together one last time. Then all hell breaks loose. I like the feels.

    The wise mentor. Mostly because I see myself as this character if I was in the fantasy, but nothing beats that wise mentor. Extra points if the writer manages not to kill them off as a way to create fake emotion, or fix plotholes.

    Father/son dynamics. Good ole heartstrings.

    Tropes I hate:

    My biggest, BIGGEST trope I hate are abilities that aren't grounded, and are under developed. I'm looking mostly at wizards and simple elemental powers as a copout. I hate wizards. They have access to any spell they want when it calls for it--all they have to do is mix some ingredients and say some words? Why? Where does this power come from? Thin air? Or when the book claims to be about cool superpowers, but when you read it, all they can do is shoot fire from their fingers, and if we're lucky, manipulate some water. Is that really all there is? The exception is Avatar, the Last Airbender, because the four elements are not only central to the theme of the story, but you also understand how the power is created. I wish writers would look beyond the "world building," and build cool powers. However, I'm into magical realism, which isn't what dominates fantasy.

    Virtually any high fantasy trope. Elves, races, focus on unique language for the sake of padding.

    Characters that aren't flawed. I think fantasy writers are really prone to this. We spend so much time crafting this cool characters. The way they look, their history, the history of the people connect to them. Their powers (hopefully). What they love and hate. We fall in love with these character. And because of that, we become scared of throwing them down the stairs. Throw them down the stairs! Why was Katniss more compelling than Triss from Divergent? Because one had "real" flaws. One made pretty questionable bad decisions. (That said, there is an extreme, where the opposite effect happens. I'm looking at you, the ending of Mocking Jay.)

    And finally. Fluff... fluff, fluff, fluff! Another high fantasy trait, which many probably would enjoy. But dear god, does fantasy cover itself in fluff. We could learn a thing or two by reading high octane thrillers. I don't want to spend 4000 words in a flashback that really doesn't add anything to the story, and could had been incorporated in less than 500 words. I don't want to spend 3500 words walking through your magical town for the heck of it. I don't want 3000 words of what it was like flying for the first time on the back of your dragon. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with not wanting to throw your character down the stairs. "But Antipode, it's an important scene. It shows how happy the character is that they can finally fly. They worked so hard. Don't you want to experience that feeling with them?" No, I don't. I want them to get on that dragon, feel a sense of pride, and then be shot down by an army heading to his city. But because he decided to take the dragon out without asking, he's too far outside the city to warn them about the army. And his family is there. They're going to be slaughtered if the MC doesn't figure out something. Or maybe he reaps the consequence.

    I'm a huge anti-fluff fan. It's so bad, that it rubbed off on my roommate, who now notices and gets annoyed when she sees fluff in movies.

  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by TedTheewen View Post
    [SIZE=3][FONT=arial] Ever swung a sword? Those bastards are heavy and will tear up your wrists if you're not strong enough.
    Yes, and no, it didn't tear up my wrists (I'm not super strong either).

    Actually, one-handed arming swords (the knights' swords referred to as long swords in D and D) weighed around 2.5 pounds, as a rule. Many kinds of swords were even lighter. Two-handed swords are heavier, obviously, but even the sword that is displayed in a museum as William Wallace's claymore weighs about 6 pounds, and most were much smaller than that weapon. Some ceremonial swords were pretty heavy, but the weapons people actually fought with were much lighter. Most women (if they are strong enough to schlepp a baby around) are easily strong enough to learn to wield weapons of normal weights. I used to fence with an epee in college (not much lighter than an arming sword), and it never tore up my wrists.

    http://www.thearma.org/essays/weights.htm#.Wge5_HZryos

    There are many reasons why female warriors were underrepresented (but far from absent) in history, but the weight of the weapons is not one of them.

    Plate armor was lighter than most people suppose too. Overheating, restriction of breathing, and overall increase in energy demands (it doubled energy usage) because resistance to leg movement were more of an issue than carrying the weight. These are effects that would matter to both genders pretty equally.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/...nights-workout

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-14204717

    Armor design changed throughout the middle ages, however. Lower leg armor was the first to go after crossbows (and guns) became a thing.

    There are many myths about weapons and armor during the renaissance and middle ages.

    http://www.thearma.org/essays/TopMyths.htm#.Wge6I3Zryou

    https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aams/hd_aams.htm

    And this gets to one of my pet peeves as fantasy tropes go--the perpetuation of the RPG versions of various weapons and armor. Too many fantasy writers use that as a template and have a scene where some female character is barely even able to lift (let alone swing) a knight's sword. Skilled or not, a child could do so. And if a woman can carry a pregnancy to term (late pregnancy also doubles energy usage in many women), she can learn to move around in armor.
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 11-12-2017 at 07:58 AM.
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  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    Yes, and no, it didn't tear up my wrists (I'm not super strong either).

    Actually, one-handed arming swords (the knights' swords referred to as long swords in D and D) weighed around 2.5 pounds, as a rule. Many kinds of swords were even lighter. Two-handed swords are heavier, obviously, but even the sword that is displayed in a museum as William Wallace's claymore weighs about 6 pounds, and most were much smaller than that weapon. Some ceremonial swords were pretty heavy, but the weapons people actually fought with were much lighter. Most women (if they are strong enough to schlepp a baby around) are strong enough to learn to wield weapons of these weights. I used to fence with an epee in college (not much lighter than an arming sword), and it never tore up my wrists.

    http://www.thearma.org/essays/weights.htm#.Wge5_HZryos

    There are many reasons why female warriors were underrepresented (but far from absent) in history, but the weight of the weapons is not one of them.

    Plate armor was lighter than most people suppose too. Overheating, restriction of breathing, and overall increase in energy demands (it doubled energy usage) because resistance to leg movement were more of an issue than carrying the weight. These are effects that would matter to both genders pretty equally.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/...nights-workout

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-14204717

    Armor design changed throughout the middle ages, however. Lower leg armor was the first to go after crossbows (and guns) became a thing.

    There are many myths about weapons and armor during the renaissance and middle ages.

    http://www.thearma.org/essays/TopMyths.htm#.Wge6I3Zryou

    https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aams/hd_aams.htm

    And this gets to one of my pet peeves as fantasy tropes go--the perpetuation of the RPG versions of various weapons and armor. Too many fantasy writers use that as a template and have a scene where some female character is barely even able to lift (let alone swing) a knight's sword. Skilled or not, a child could do so. And if a woman can carry a pregnancy to term (late pregnancy also doubles energy usage in many women), she can learn to move around in armor.
    On behalf of my UrFan protagonist, who is a military history nerd and whose favorite magics are going to be super-toughness and telekinetic control over metal, thank you for the resources that I will have to look into

  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    Yes, and no, it didn't tear up my wrists (I'm not super strong either).

    Actually, one-handed arming swords (the knights' swords referred to as long swords in D and D) weighed around 2.5 pounds, as a rule. Many kinds of swords were even lighter. Two-handed swords are heavier, obviously, but even the sword that is displayed in a museum as William Wallace's claymore weighs about 6 pounds, and most were much smaller than that weapon. Some ceremonial swords were pretty heavy, but the weapons people actually fought with were much lighter. Most women (if they are strong enough to schlepp a baby around) are easily strong enough to learn to wield weapons of normal weights. I used to fence with an epee in college (not much lighter than an arming sword), and it never tore up my wrists.

    http://www.thearma.org/essays/weights.htm#.Wge5_HZryos

    There are many reasons why female warriors were underrepresented (but far from absent) in history, but the weight of the weapons is not one of them.

    Plate armor was lighter than most people suppose too. Overheating, restriction of breathing, and overall increase in energy demands (it doubled energy usage) because resistance to leg movement were more of an issue than carrying the weight. These are effects that would matter to both genders pretty equally.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/...nights-workout

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-14204717

    Armor design changed throughout the middle ages, however. Lower leg armor was the first to go after crossbows (and guns) became a thing.

    There are many myths about weapons and armor during the renaissance and middle ages.

    http://www.thearma.org/essays/TopMyths.htm#.Wge6I3Zryou

    https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aams/hd_aams.htm

    And this gets to one of my pet peeves as fantasy tropes go--the perpetuation of the RPG versions of various weapons and armor. Too many fantasy writers use that as a template and have a scene where some female character is barely even able to lift (let alone swing) a knight's sword. Skilled or not, a child could do so. And if a woman can carry a pregnancy to term (late pregnancy also doubles energy usage in many women), she can learn to move around in armor.
    As a history buff, I'd like to agree and confirm everything in this post is true to the best of my knowledge.

    Just to add a couple of things, while it seems counter intuitive, actually two handed swords are a better choice for most fantasy female warriors. Even though they are a bit heavier than one handed swords, with two hands it's easier to wield, particularly than if you have a shield with your sword.

    The one weapon where strength is actually a huge factor, is the one weapon that fantasy loves to give stick thin female warriors, the warbow. It takes massive strength in odd muscles to pull a bow of the draw weights required for battle, even many in shape men can't do it.

  11. #111
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AwP_writer View Post
    The one weapon where strength is actually a huge factor, is the one weapon that fantasy loves to give stick thin female warriors, the warbow. It takes massive strength in odd muscles to pull a bow of the draw weights required for battle, even many in shape men can't do it.
    You're right that greatbows have a really hefty "pull" on them that takes a lot of conditioning for someone of any gender to use. They're also not light and something to be used on the run or while perching in trees. There are women who can use them, but they're strong women who have trained it (not something a person can pick up and learn in a few days or weeks). But the fantasy bows I'm most familiar seeing in movies and books are much more petite--the kind that can be easily carried and used quickly or used from horseback.

    Of course crossbows, which became more important in warfare eventually, can be used by almost anyone with less training, as can firearms (which first appeared in the middle ages, in spite of the odd and persistent absence of gunpowder in many fantasy worlds that seem to be considerably more advanced in terms of social organization and knowledge in other ways).

    I suspect traditionalist fantasy writers love giving female characters bows because archery was a relatively genteel sport often taught in girls' schools back in the day, and also (for writers who are a bit squeamish about showing the gritty realities of hand to hand for either gender), it allowed the female character to be "out of" the blood and muck and safe from the fate worse than death that would surely be hers if an enemy recognized her as a woman on the battlefield (when, say, her helm came off and her long, golden locks flowed free and he was overcome with instant lust).
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  12. #112
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Also, I can't help but wonder where the overestimation of weapon and armor weights, perpetuated in D and D and many computerized fantasy rpgs that give weights for various pieces of equipment (and have "one-handed longswords" weighing thirty pounds and armor weighing 100), came from. Did Gygax and other early RPG pioneers go to museums and see ceremonial swords and armor and think they were the real deal, or did they simply overestimate (by a factor or ten or more) how much the functional swords they saw actually weighed?
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  13. #113
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    No. It was mostly based on (AFAIK) the character generation itself. How much you can carry is a balancing mechanism and items are given a weight accordingly. The idea being that a character of X strength can more easily weild a heavier weapon than a character of Y strength (so representative rather than realistic).
    "Though one evil spirit may drive a woman out of Eden, all the devils in hell cannot drive Heaven out of a woman."

    -- George MacDonald

  14. #114
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    Any trope can be written very well, on average or horribly. It really depends on the author and what they do with the trope(s) in their story. That being said, here is a list of some tropes I like or dislike:


    Enjoy
    1: Evil Villain/Lord/Empire - I like the concept of a villain who is, at the very least, perceived as evil beyond measures. And an evil villain without an evil empire is a crappy villain… or has bad management skills. Villains are interesting because they don’t struggle with the socially acceptable morals of the rest of society. That being said, I don’t like evil villains who are evil for the sake of being evil. Villains should still have some shred of humanity (or the stories equivalent). Props if the villain accepts his role but believes his or her actions are for the better of the world.
    2: Monarchs or Nobility - I’ve read tons of fantasy and sub-fantasy genres. They don’t have to have kings, queens, lords and ladies to be interesting but I’ll look closer at a book if it does. I specifically enjoy if the monarch is tainted or has to make decisions that make it look cruel to the general population under its rule. Its reasonable and reliable. It creates more opportunities as a reader and writer.
    3: Band of misfits - This can either go horribly wrong or incredibly right. It really depends on how developed the misfits are and how they interact with each other. I’ve enjoyed most misfits I’ve read about. Bonus points if the main character isn’t the default choice to save the world or conclude the arc. Even more points if the main character isn’t the leader and grows from side-kick to hero.
    4: Animal Companions or Wise Whoevers - I really enjoy a good animal companion, that is linked to the MC. While a panther or leopard would be cooler, they can’t really blend into communities as a ‘pet’, which is why dogs and wolves work so well, despite the cliche. I approve of wise men/women who can help teach or guide the MC. We all learn from people older than us so why can’t our characters? Bonus points if the wise person is also eccentric.
    5: Underdog MC Related to… - I like a good underdog MC who’s had a difficult past. They can be orphans, abused, runaways, poor or whatever. If they can somehow overcome their past and become better people in the future, it gives a sense of hope to other people in similar circumstances. Being related to some great force of good or evil just makes things more interesting.


    Meh
    Prophecies and Chosen Ones - This can go either bad or good. I like reading about misleading prophecies or Chosen Ones who aren’t really Chosen at all. I don’t want predictability and I really want that moment where you stare at the pages wondering how you missed that key element. But, I’d rather see stories that follow a general prophecy/chosen one concept without the actual prophecy. Everyone has the potential to be someone. Its their actions that determine who.


    Dislikes
    1. Tolkien Knock-Offs - A group of happy little people meet a wizard who tell them to protect a magical item and travel across the country to fight forces of evil… Elves, dwarves, warriors, orcs and dragons get in the way. Tolkien did it best and everything else looks like fan-fiction. I’d rather see a specific element mashed with other tropes.
    2. Beautiful Heroes/Ugly Villains - Who says beauty isn’t evil, or vice versa? And why does every single character have to think they are ugly, while every supporting character thinks they are a rare gem of beauty? Some of the best criminals look like average Joe’s. And some of the most inspirational people look sleep-deprived and have frizzy hair.
    3: Dragons - This is a personal thing but I just don’t like them as much as I do other animals. Give me a flying unicorn over a dragon any day.
    4: Success with Love Interest - If the hero falls in love at first sight, I don’t want the love to survive. Very few first loves do. The hero should grow and that growth should impact the love life. If the hero can’t have a lover for whatever reason, he shouldn’t get the lover at the end. Being a hero doesn’t give them the right over things normal people can’t have.
    5: Black and White Good and Evil - This sort of follows through with my evil villains. I don’t want the world to be covered in pure goodness and foul evil. I don’t want a hero who is utterly good and does everything for the greater good. I don’t want a villain who is evil for the sake of being evil. Everybody has a choice and I want my characters to make good ones and bad ones. Regardless of the character.
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  15. #115
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    I wrote a listicle (not published yet) about fantasy tropes I think are overused:

    5. Inns and taverns
    4. Characters of uncertain/dubious/absent ancestry are actually royalty
    3. Characters wearing swords on their backs
    2. Characters passing out
    1. Misguided feminism

  16. #116
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    Characters passing out? that's a new one (to me). Like at plot crucial moments etc?
    "Though one evil spirit may drive a woman out of Eden, all the devils in hell cannot drive Heaven out of a woman."

    -- George MacDonald

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    Characters passing out? that's a new one (to me). Like at plot crucial moments etc?
    I haven't seen it often, but Bilbo Baggins at the Battle of the Five Armies, he missed the whole thing.

  18. #118
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    hrm, yeah, that was pretty disappointing, actually.
    "Though one evil spirit may drive a woman out of Eden, all the devils in hell cannot drive Heaven out of a woman."

    -- George MacDonald

  19. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    Characters passing out? that's a new one (to me). Like at plot crucial moments etc?
    You ever watch one of the really old Frankenstein movies?

    Monster chasing... woman in white negligee (of course... what else would one wear when being chased by a monster?)... she runs - stops, lifts the back of her hand to her mouth, screams and faints. Monster then comes along, picks her up and walks away.
    Happens all the time in real life...

  20. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    Characters passing out? that's a new one (to me). Like at plot crucial moments etc?
    Yes. Picture enormous armies coming together in a screaming frenzy. MC is in the front rank, spear and shield in hand. Just as the two sides begin to tear each other apart, MC gets knocked out only to wake up again after the battle is finished.

    No! No! No! (I feel quite strongly about this).

    In reality, without medical intervention you're not likely to wake up if you don't wake up soon after being knocked unconscious.

    Conveniently being knocked out for the duration of a battle, though? I see this trope played out again and again, and I think it's because some authors won't (or more likely can't) write battle scenes. Deal breaker for those of us who crave explicit violence: your book will meet my wall. Metaphorically because I read e-books exclusively, lol

    I vividly recall that Rothfuss pulled this one in The Name of the Wind and it immediately put me off. He also had too much inn and tavern stuff in there and some horribly misguided feminism (an entire clan where all the women outclass all the men? Er, how did that happen, exactly? Yeah, no).
    Last edited by van Adel; 11-15-2017 at 11:23 AM.

  21. #121
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    Haha, yes! But apparently the tavern is a subversion of tropes in his book because it is quiet instead of noisy (so sayeth some bigwig agent in a blog... Sounds utterly daft to me).

    I'm going to add a new complaint because I've seen it a lot in MS lately... the Upset Stomach Opener.

    ie starting a novel with someone's stomach clenching, or churning, or twisting, or some other massive overreaction suggestive of a weak-minded character. Usually followed by something mundane happening like a door opening or whatever.
    Last edited by Harlequin; 11-16-2017 at 02:56 AM.
    "Though one evil spirit may drive a woman out of Eden, all the devils in hell cannot drive Heaven out of a woman."

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  22. #122
    practical experience, FTW Twick's Avatar
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    In the interest of science, I (middle-aged non-athletic female) asked to try the sword carried by one of a group of Viking enactors at the ROM Viking exhibit. It wasn't particularly hard to wield. It would probably have tired me out after a few minutes, and I probably wouldn't have been able to cut off someone's arm with a blow, but it was pretty easy to handle, and a younger woman with better muscle tone would scarcely have been stymied by it.

    Oddly, his battle-axe was lighter than the sword.

    No priceless exhibits were harmed in the making of this experiment.

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