Kult of Athena


Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Reason

Last night, I had some friends over for a last hoorah in my place before I move to a new one. It was amazing. There was good food, good drink, and games galor. One of the highlights of my evening, though, and I wish I had taken a movie of it, is when a friend of mine grabbed the LOTR Boromir sword from UC, featured at Kult of Athena, and rode a baby carriage into an old Christmas wreath, thoroughly impaling it to the laughter of all. While handling weapons in a manner such as this is irresponsible, and I do not espouse to anything but the highest respect for sharp steel, the enjoyment and the love of swords and their uses was present.

That is what I believe is one of the best things about owning and handling swords is. It is the enjoyment, the awe, the intrigue of holding something so beautiful, so hard, so functional, and this works with men and women, in your hand and appreciating and loving it wholly. People should be so lucky with each other.

Signing off until my next steel inspired rant.

Oh, before I forget! Fable Blades has put out some gorgeous new items for you to see based on the Lord of the Rings weapons. There are some,Felarof Swordthat have never been seen before, replica or other wise! Take a look!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Broad Swords

Let's face it. Women with swords are hot. It's a simple fact of life for any man watching, reading, or otherwise indulging in the edged arts. And so, in honor of these examples of edged estrogenical eradicators, and the warm reception of this blog from my female family members, friends, friend's girlfriends, and just for the sheer viewing pleasure of it all, I give to you, THE TOP TEN HOTTEST WOMEN OF THE SWORD!!!

1)   XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS: Tell me I am wrong. Nowhere in TV or film will you find a woman who epitomizes the sword more, and has such a rabid fan following waiting for that tell tale "shhwwing" of her sword than Xena. Tall, dark hair, deadly dangerous, icy blue eyes, leather battle gear, a deadly Frisbee, endless enthusiasm for killing all peoples and things not Greek are just some of the many reasons why Xena, played by Lucy Lawless (who hasn't done or needed to do a thing since Xena) is unequivocally number one of the list of top 10. She's got the ability to make Hercules look like a mama's boy, and the willingness to hop into a hot bath with her trusty side kick (Episode:"A Day in the Life", instantly made me all man forever)

after a long day of yelling and running around the Peloponnesus. Number 1 hands down. Ladies, if you feel like dressing up for the enjoyment of all, you can pick up her gear here.

2) BEATRIX KIDDO, UMA THURMAN FROM KILL BILL: Tarentino changed the game with this character. Classically trained in deadly martial arts from a wise and hilariously over the top 1970's Kung Fu Master, beautiful, smart, speaks fluent Japanese, dressed in Bruce Lee's outfit from Game of Death,

and wielding the finest sword ever made by a man, that man being the Hatori Hanzo, descendant of the real samurai "Devil Hanzo", I'd say Uma Thurman takes 2nd place pretty easy. She's got style when she takes out the Deadly Vipers and her bloody rampage is just old fashioned fun to watch. Everyone loves a hero. But, secretly, every loves an anti-hero even more. She got killed trying to run from a past of murder that caught up with her and now she's going to grab her fine steel and take some revenge. Oh, and then she watches cartoons with her 5 year old daughter. To find the fabulous works of art made by master Japanese sword smiths, check out the various reviews by my boys at the Sword Buyers Guide, to get some idea of the best ones. There are so many makers and schools of Japanese sword making that choosing the right one is almost as difficult as picking up Go Go Yubari.

3) MICHELLE YEOH: This silver fox of the Chinese silver screen gets a special place on my list because she is deadly, beautiful, and has one of the best sword fighting scenes I have ever had the privilege of witnessing. The first time, and I think you will agree, when Zhang Zi Yi swept her hand out across the temple floor to the weapons rack behind Yeoh and said "pick one, I'll wait" and she came back with that two handed beauty, I was hooked. This 47-year old cougar has some claws, kids, and if she is making more sword flicks anytime soon, you know I am right there at the edge of my seat waiting for more magical moments in metallic mayhem. To find some excellent WuShu Swords and other fine Chinese weaponry used in many of the films that come from the East, I would check out Swords of the Eastfor some of the best blades anywhere.

4) KRISTANNA LOKEN: You may remember her from Maxim and the Terminator (dont we all), but I remember her best for the role she played in the modern adaptation of the Germanic saga "The Nibelungenlied" in a film in SyFy called The Dragon King. Now, while this film was low budget, the adapted story was solid and the forging process of Nothung, Siegfried's sword, was incredible. Loken made her start in the Terminator film and then came swinging away with two axes in awesome fight scenes and right onto this list. Whether some remember her for her role in Terminator 3, or others for Bloodrayne, or even simply for this photo

she'll always be Brunhild to me.

5) KATE BECKINSALE, SELENE, UNDERWORLD: Now, just so we are all clear, she is a vampire. I will give you that. Some might think it's cliche for me to place one of the children of the night on the top ten list, and you would be right. With the rash of "Twilight-esque" lame ass love stories, I feel Selene makes it because not only was her movie (first one only and the second one to a smaller extent) pretty far from anything done with vampires before; pitting them against their werewolf body guards, but they still made it kind of sexy without all the "oh lets cry about immortality and being skinny" vampire nonsense. There was a rugged sword fight in the sewer wherein a vampire lord got his head sliced in half after breaking a werewolf's neck with one hand, and still had the wherewithal to draw out concealed daggers from his sleeves to keep going (before his head slides apart).

I just feel that any lady who can make all that look as good as she does throughout the whole film deserves to be on the list. Viktor's sword from Underworld is available, though not functional, HERE


What more can be said? She's deadly, she's little, and she's Miho. Well, I guess if you havent seen Sin City (why you havent, I have no clue cause it's amazing) I guess I can fill you in. See, Iron Jack Rafferty, a cop (Benicio Del Torro), and his meat head crew were in the wrong part of Old Town messing with the wrong girls. They werent pleased that a lady of the night told them to get lost. They grabbed her, of course and that's when DEADLY LITTLE MIHO got to live up to her name. I wont give any more of the scene away, sufficed to say that this little lady got down with two samurai swords, a flying leap, and a throwing star that resembled some kind of Tibetan good luck charm. Top 10 easy.

7) OREN ISHII, LUCY LIU, KILL BILL: Yakuza Boss. Samurai. Assassin. 5 foot 3. All this and not even Japanese. This half American (USA!!) half Chinese warrior dispatches her enemies at dinner parties with her fabulous Hanzo sword and doesnt bat an eyelash. She's deadly. She's brutal. And, apparently, it snows just for her out in her Zen garden. She likes drinking, friends (all 88 of them), and the way of the Samurai. She's got a sidekick named Johhny Mo. What is not to like about this woman? The murder and crime? Yeah ok, but in the tea house, I bet she's a hoot. Dynamite and easily in the top 10.

I must admit, I got a little selfish with this one. Besides my wonderful, gorgeous, stunning, smart, funny, talented (forgiving), girlfriend, Monica Bellucci is IT. Her use of the blade as a Papal Assassin in Brotherhood of the Wolf, an amazing French film made by Canal +, is limited. However, for all the limited screen time they get her weapons are deadly and satisfying. Whether its performing the coupe de grace on the villian with a dagger, or finely severing the windpipe of a very annoying and very deserving evil gypsy woman,(who gets the most amazing character in the whole movie murdered, UGH! women!) her acting and fighting skills are undeniable. She has also been in many other movies such the Matrix , Shoot Em Up, , and Bram Stoker's Dracula

She's a badass and my favorite. And when she says "Encoree" in Italian in the film, try to tell me she wouldnt be on any guy's top ten anything.

9) JOANNE WHALLEY, SORSHA, WILLOW: Kid's movie. Kid's crush. Got to give it up to the old school crush and remember the roots. She is a huge reason why I have always loved swords and that movie wouldnt have been half as entertaining nor Val Kilmer half as righteous had he not got the girl. To this day, that is one of the most passionate kisses I have seen in a film. Also, she's a firey headed rebel with a wicked serrated sword. I was talking to a friend the other day (ALL THANKS CHRIS-O!) and he mentioned how much scarier serrated edges would be on a blade. Have to agree and her sword is one of the only ones I have ever seen in a movie with a spiked and serrated blade.
Plus, that movie gave jobs to almost every midget in Hollywood. Give respect where respect is due.

10) BRIDGETTE NIELSON, RED SONJA: If you are a fan of swords then you know the Conan films. We, as sword collectors, spend a good deal of time searching for Marto and Albion Conan Replicas because they go for almost $3000.00 a piece. Now, if you know so much about these things, you are also going to know about Red Sonja.
It was a film from back in the day that was cheesy and terrible, yet unbridaled sword swinging throughout and it was excellent! Governator Schwarzenegger is in it and he doesnt take any prisoners in this thing at all. It was the height of Nielson's short movie career and she swung that steel around like the best of them! MMMM MMM. I suggest for any fan of the sword, you see this movie at least once if for nothing else then her running her hands over 20 swords in the opening of the film and picking one of the most kick ass pieces I think I have ever seen.

Before I'm out I would like to leave some honorable mentions for ladies of the sword who didnt quite make it:
  • Eowyn, Lord of the Rings
  • Sandahl Bergman, Valeria, Conan the Barbarian
  • GoGo Yubari, Kill Bill
  • Justice, The Statue
  • Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and War
  • Daryl Hannah, Elle Driver
  • Zhang Ziyi, House of Flying Daggers
  • Rhona Mitra, Rise of the Lycans
  • Rosamund Pike, Die Another Day

Friday, January 8, 2010

One Post to Rule Them All

Like any fan of the blade, I am quite partial to the works of master author and philologist J.R.R Tolkien. Tolkien, for anyone reading this who has not heard his name mentioned by Western martial arts experts, forge masters who have used his creations as their paramount inspiration, or Hollywood Actors who have made careers, Viggo Mortensen, or Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,

is the master behind the writings involved with The Lord of The Rings.

Now, this post is not pertaining to these works, as I could go on for pages about the philosophies, wisdom, and entertainment found therein, no. This post is to illustrate the power and inspiration this author and his works have had on the world and works of the sword.

The recreations of the works from the pages of Tolkien range from the extremely shoddy $40.00 swords found on Ebay and other sights looking to make a buck, to hand crafted, hand forged and detailed replicas costing as much as the dreaded engagement ring purchase.

The former are the ones to steer clear of. These bastard children of the rat tail tang mentality have, in my opinion, a very small part to play in the world of the sword. They serve as an uneducated beginning. They serve as a prototype for the genuine desire to possess a truly strong and balanced weapon and they are to be looked at as a bauble and then eventually discarded or given to someone who is just starting their journey in pursuit of the Savage Steel.

While a sword like this looks similar to the real movie prop made by the fine crafts people at the WETA Workshop , the armorers for movies such as The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, The Last Samurai, Guillermo del Toro's Hell Boy, and others, they do not possess 1/10 of the craftsmanship or the soul that WETA can produce.

Often times, they all possess the same characteristics:

  • Rat Tail Tang Construction: Where the blade is spot welded to the a thin cylindrical tang and then threaded into the cheap wooden handle.

  • Quasi-detailing that resembles the actual weapon but anyone looking at pictures side by side will know which is the superior with no prior knowledge

  • And finally, 440 Stainless Steel. Unlike high carbon steel or Damascus Steel, which has better flexibility, hardened edges, better resistance to rust and weathering, 440 Stainless is garden variety steel and should not be considered an excellent metal by any means.

These characteristics can be a terrible combination for any sword collector and can even lead to grave injury when your precious 440 decides to do this.

What you should be looking at, first of all, is what you want to get for your hard earned cash. When working with such a money maker like the Lord of the Rings, sword makers have the whole candy shop for you to choose from. They offer everything from the "Halfling Froto Sword" garbage from above, to magnificent pieces from United Cutlery

Now Extinct Museum Glamdring

to unbelievably strong pieces from Generation 2 (The Ranger and The Elven King Sword), Dark Sword Armory (The Ranger *DISCONTINUED*, Faramir Sword, Boromir Sword *DISCONTINUED* and an incredibly strong Samwise and Anduril!)

The latter are the pieces that I would recommend very highly. You all know that Darksword Armory is my favorite and in my humble opinion the by far the most superior forge. Alot of people would agree. The prices are great, the quality couldn't be better, and there is free shipping and even a 10% discount on almost of all of them from the Sword Buyers Manufacturer Store for members.

Now, for the customer who deals in the incredibly rare piece or replica from the Lord of the Rings literature, there are pieces out there that can accommodate. These pieces are from forgers at the top of their profession who not looking to sell wall hangers. They know their stuff is so good and so worth the money (albeit overpriced) that they dont even bother to show the pricing half of the time. Ladies and gentlemen, after much searching, both online and through my own sword collecting soul, I give to you the holy grails of the Lord of the Rings replicas. Enjoy!

If you can afford those boys then drop the name of my blog when you make a purchase and give this servant of the steel a little extra holiday cheer to bring in the new year.

All in all, people know that we are out there. We, the quasi-nerds of the sword world, are anxiously awaiting the return of Kult of Athena and the newest, best, and brightest the sword world has to offer us for new takes on the chosen weapons of some of our favorite heroes from literature and film.

I will leave you now with a sense, again, of authenticity. Just so you know, if somehow you do not already, that I share your fierce love of LOTR swords and have dropped serious coin in the past when they were at the height of their popularity with a personal photo of my collection taken only days ago.

'We will make them fear the Chamber of Marzarbul!' he said grimly, feeling the edge of his sword Anduril.(Lord of the Rings, Fellowship, page 324)