Best weapons in fantasy

Today’s topic of discussion is rather simple. What is the coolest weapon you have ever seen grace the page of a fantasy story? I have a couple in mind I’d like to share:

The Speaking Gun: This weapon comes from Simon R. Green‘s Something from the Nightside. It was created at the dawn of time and is self-aware. It has the power to know the “true name” of all things, and if it “speaks” the name backward, that thing ceases to exist. There is nothing in the universe the Speaking Gun cannot kill. Not even angels or gods are safe from this weapon. The biggest drawback to using the Speaking Gun is that it will probably drive you mad when you pull the trigger.fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Glamdring: The sword carried by Gandalf in J.R.R. Tolkien‘s stories. Glamdring does not appear to contain any overt power other than glowing blue when Orcs are near, but you know it has to be the baddest blade in all of Middle Earth. I mean, it has survived a Balrog, dragons, wizard battles, and who knows what else? Would Gandalf carry it if it wasn’t the Middle Earth equivalent of a portable nuclear warhead?

Let us know your favorite weapon from fantasy literature. If we think yours is best, you get to choose a book from our stacks.


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JUSTIN BLAZIER (on FanLit's staff since September 2009) is a Cyber-Security Analyst/Network Engineer located in Northern Kentucky. Like many fantasy enthusiasts, Justin cut his teeth on authors like Tolkien, Anthony, and Lewis. Due to lack of space, his small public library would often give him their donated SFF books. When he is not reading books he is likely playing board games or Tabletop RPGs. Justin lives in a quiet neighborhood with his wife, their daughter, and Norman the dog.

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22 comments

  1. Holly Yates /

    In Elizabeth Hayden’s series, Symphony of Ages, one of the main characters, Achmed, carries a weapon called a Cwellan. Achmed created the Cwellan himself, and it is sorta like a heavy crossbow that shoots out paper-thin metal disks at an incredible speed. As Achmed had been an assassin of a renowned reputation, the beings he shoots at are unlikely to live. Later, to bring down an ancient vengeful dragon, he creates special ammunition for the Cwellan. This special ammunition is made out of a metal which expands upon contact with heat. Clearly a choice weapon against this particular dragon, who is full of hot hot fire!

    The Cwellan is the perfect weapon for its maker, and it is adaptable for extreme circumstances, such as a murderous beast of legend swooping in to kill the ones you love.

  2. Patricia Wrede’s Frying Pan of Doom. It appears in a Cimorene story in Book of Enchantments. There’s also a chocolate cake recipe included with the story!

  3. I would have to say the sword Fragarach from the Iron Druid chronicles because it’s got cool powers like being able to cut through any armor and making people tell the truth. Plus everyone loves swords, they’re the weapon of choice for most of the heroes in fantasy books.

  4. @Dave: I love those books!

  5. The coolest weapon in fantasy literature in my view is the Sword of Vengeance from Fred Saberhagen’s swords series. You spin the sword around, chant “for the one, the one that has wronged me,” say a name, and let it go. When you release it, it immediately appears impaling the person you named, who dies. This of course is a disastrous tactic because anyone nearby the dead person can then target you! There are moral lessons to be learned from that, as Saberhagen’s characters learn.

    You also have to like the Staff of Law from the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. It allows its wielder to channel Earthpower to perform any number of feats, which makes that person essentially a super-druid, if you will — but again, it has a moral purpose, holding The Land together, so that it can easily be misused (which is what happens).

  6. SandyG265 /

    I like The Sword of Martin the Warrior from the Redwall series because despite being broken and reforged, lost, stolen and returned the sword is always there when a hero needs it.

  7. Morlock Ambrose from the series of the same name by James Egne is a the greatest “maker” in his world. So he is always creating the coolest things, but he has a sword that makes the wielder unbeatable. There is a short in the anthology Swords and Dark Magic called The Singing Spear, where a pirate gets a hold of a spear, which Morlock had also made of the same stuff as his sword, and starts terrorizing the country side.. And when the pirates rampage causes the absence of Morlock’s bar-tender.. Morlock decides its time he took his sword and put an stop to things. Great story.

  8. Sir Read-a-Lot /

    Coolest weapon? I think I have to go with the Doom Whomper, from Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen series. It’s a gun. It started out life as an anti-aircraft gun, but Silva converts it into a massive musket for killing dinosaurs. And as far as a name for a gun goes, it’s hard to top the Doom Whomper.

    If you’re looking for a more traditional fantasy weapon, I’d go with Oathbringer, Dalinar’s Shardblade from Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. Shardblades can cut through any material like butter, but they don’t cut living flesh, they instead extinguish the soul. *SPOILERS* The thing that distinguishes Oathbringer from the other shardblades is that Dalinar gives up his blade in order to keep his oath to another main character.

  9. If you’re allowing guns, then I’d pick Abomination from Monster Hunter International. It’s a full auto, magazine fed 12 gauge shotgun with a bayonet and grenade launcher.. The guns in this series crack me up. My brothers would love to have some of the stuff Larry Correa comes up with.

    At the far other end of the spectrum, since someone has already picked the Frying Pan of Doom, I’ll go with the soapy lemon water that Cimorene uses to melt wizards in the Dealing With Dragon books.

  10. Sarah, I just read Larry Correia’s Hard Magic, which was really good. He’s a gun expert.

  11. Kat, yes he is an expert, but I have to tell you the guns he creates in his MHI series have my brothers drooling. His website/blog is a hoot. I like his sense of the ridiculous.

  12. What is this? Nobody mentions Stormbringer from the Elric books? Shame on you. It’s one of the grandfathers of really cool fantasy weapons. It gives it’s wielder loots of strength and power (which is very nice if you are a thin albino with poor muscular structure) and eats the souls of it’s victims. Plus it makes the wielder stronger the more he kills with it (including gods). Did I mention that the sword is evil and can take control over Elric? Oh and Stormbringers favorite taste is friends and loved ones. Bad combination to say the least. If there is someone in the books that Elric like you can bet Stormbringer kill them sooner or later.

    Brandon Sanderson did a pretty good variant on the evil sword in Warbreaker. The sword Nightblood talks and is not very bright but usually wants to be drawn and kill people. Vasher however just throws the sword AT people. If one of them is stupid enough to draw it he will kill his friends and then die himself, making Vashers job a lot easier.

  13. I was thinking about those two swords, too, DH. Both very creepy. I’m not sure that Nightblood “is not very bright”. I think he’s just evil.

  14. SandyG265 /

    Forgot to sign up for comments

  15. David’s sling, of course! The weapon wasn’t magical in itself, but because of David’s faith God turned that into a blessed shotgun!

  16. Kat:If I remember correctly Nightblood was created to kill evil. The problem was that the sword had a hard time figuring out who was evil and who wasn’t. Morality was to vague and complicated for it, so it just wants to kill everyone.

  17. The Sword of Shannara, of course! (“What do you mean I can’t be immortal?!” POOF!) LOL.

    If we’re talking about fantasy fiction, it should be a sword, and preferably a sword with style that isn’t omnipotent and doesn’t have more personality than its wielder, and while Anduril and lightsabers will always rock, here’s a dark horse: The Sword of Seven from Greg Van Eekhout’s Norse Code. It’s made from nothing (seven impossible things) and can slice open portals in space and time. Niiice.

  18. Melanie Goldmund /

    I think the UnGun from China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun is the best. Whatever it shoots gets exaggerated, and I loved seeing what happened after Deeba idly loaded some of the chambers with salt, paper, a bit of brick, or even a hair. The ending was good, where she fired “nothing” and the gun sucked up all of the Smog and locked it into its empty chambers. The part I loved best, though, was where Deeba fired the UnGun at the giant fruit monster, and a tidal wave of hungry ants appeared. Like Deeba, I’d been hoping for one giant ant, but working together, all the little ants chombed away at the monster and reduced it bit by bit until there was nothing left but pips, stones and stalks in the vague shape of a man. Excellent!

    The binjas were good, too. Just the name makes me laugh with sheer delight — rubbish bin meets ninja!

  19. Does Guenhwyvar from RA Salvatore’s books count? When I was a kid, I thought that was the coolest thing ever, a statue that would be your friend and companion and kick butt in a fight.

  20. Stormbringer is a legend and Guenhwyvar was my dream as a kid too, but I have to say, the UnGun just sounds like such a heart-stoppingly awesome idea. I have to read more of Mieville’s work…

    Melanie, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks. Please contact me (Tim) with your choice and a US address.

  21. Stormbringer–excellent weapon, awesome character!

  22. No one has mentioned Terminus Est from Gene Wolfe’s “Book of the New Sun?” Give me a break.

    “Here is the place of parting.”

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