“While he was unbalanced, I stabbed Serpent-Breath forward and the blade pierced the mail above the hollow of his elbow and his ax arm dropped, all strength stolen from it. “
That was Uhtred of Bebbanburg describing how he defeated the fierce Dane Ubba Lothbrokson in hand-to-hand combat during the battle of Cynuit in 878. This fight scene was from the book, The Last Kingdom, the first in Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Tales series. Serpent-Breath is the name Uhtred gave his custom-made sword.
I do love Bernard Cornwell, the greatest writer of historical fiction ever. I am now on break before the fall semester begins at Towson University, so I can enjoy reading for pleasure. I am currently reading the second of The Saxon Tales, The Pale Horseman.
Cornwell’s research is meticulous. For example, he provides a vivid, accurate description of Serpent-Breath’s construction. If you wish to see what Serpent-Breath might have looked like, visit Museum Replicas Limited, go to swords, knives, and daggers, then one-handed swords, and take a look at the Damascus Viking Sword.
I’d like to go through hypnotic regression to see why I love European history so much. I love reading about the period from the year 800 up through the 1500s. Did I live then? Was one (or more) of my past lives set in that period? If it has swords, horses, and shields in it, I love reading about it. When I read excellent historical fiction like Cornwell’s, I surround myself with period maps and weapons catalogs. I really get into it.
While I love reading about it, it is hard to imagine living (for very long anyway) back then. About the closest I come to handling anything like Serpent-Breath is when I use my J. A. Henckels International 8″ Spanish steel kitchen knife to chop things for my world-class cook/wife, Marilyn. She does the thinking part of meal preparation, the part that requires skill, and I do the kitchen knavery.
I call my kitchen knife, “Onion-Slayer”. When Onion-Slayer sings her death song, I can dispatch all sorts of vegetables in short order — celery, tomato, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, and of course, onions. They are no match for my speed and agility with Onion-Slayer.
I must go. Time to take Onion-Slayer into battle with some Vidalias.