You may be surprised to hear this, but there’s a lot of young adult fiction – and I mean really good books for teens, where there’s a log of sword fighting.

Not convinced? Take a look at the classics and several tales of swordsmanship and derring do will stand out, not perhaps the best ya books of today, but most certainly the best great books for teens of the past.

Don’t believe me? Take ‘The Three Musketeers,’ for example.

Young adult fiction is not a modern invention. The tale of the three musketeers – famous in TV series and movies as well as in book form, tells of a young brash know-it-all from the country (D’Artagnan’) who comes to Paris to make his fortune and falls in with a certain crowd (three musketeers) D’Artagnan is so confident he challenges all three of the musketeers to a dual on the same afternoon  – if that’s not teenage confidence (and lack of common sense) I don’t know what is!

To be honest, there’s not much sword fighting in Black Blade though there is quite a lot of a sword flailing. Why? Well just having a sword doesn’t mean you know what to do with it, and since Lance is still in High School, he hasn’t quite got there.But still, I was asked to write about The Art of Sword Fighting for Black Blades lacuna and so I did in a guest post at A New Look On Books so here’s the original, you can just keep on reading.

The Art of Sword Fighting

The topic of this post is supposed to be “the art of sword fighting”, but there’s no actual sword fighting in Black Blade. Sorry.

What’s sort of funny is that really, the whole book is about this sword (Excalibur, maybe you’ve heard of it?) but more in a symbolic sense, so while I can’t really talk about sword fighting beyond the role it plays in a single scene, I hope I can lay out how the idea of a sword as a symbol sort of inspired the whole story.

The core of my inspiration was the idea that a sword as a symbol covers a whole spectrum of different concepts, and after spending a while conflating and condensing them I realized that not only were they powerful, fundamental symbols, most were contradictory.

First and most obvious is power, the very simple advantage you gain from having a weapon, and this shift between armed and unarmed sort of felt to me like the prologue of a classic myth, before the hero inherits their power, and since the power of a sword is almost always male (let’s not get into why, but you know) I immediately started to think of classic fantasy (mostly Conan). However, since I’m obsessed about young adult fiction to the point of being almost insane, I began to think about how that sort of hero would make sense in a modern world which neatly leads us into the next two ideas, which we can’t really separate, since these are the contradictory ones I mentioned earlier.

Nobility, or obligation, if you like, since they seem to have a subconscious connection. I knew the hero of this story would have to be charged with a duty, probably a quest (how else do you get a magic sword?) but this would contrast with the other, more realistic meaning of a sword: violence.

The element of violence is what tied the whole thing together for me, and once I realized that, the story had almost written itself: take the very teen feeling of powerlessness, combine it with an apparent obligation and the (again very teen) sense of moral superiority that comes from it, and then add in the logical conclusion. What happens to this person when confronted with reality and who would be so cruel as to deceive them in the first place?

You have to read the book to find out.

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