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Good Examples of Blacksmithing?
Posted: Saturday, June 25, 2011 9:25 PM
I'm working on something with a blacksmith in one of my prologues and I have no idea where to start, what to include, etc... Are there any good examples in fantasy writing of a blacksmith at work? I remember Eragon has something of a blacksmith scene, but it's a bit odd in its magic and involves the blacksmith channeling her thoughts through Eragon... Any other good examples that I could take a look at and get a feel of?

Danielle Bowers
Posted: Saturday, June 25, 2011 10:31 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 280

Young adult series called Circle of Magic has a character who is a blacksmith mage. It's written by Tamora Pierce and the two books that feature the character are called DAJA'S BOOK and COLD FIRE.

You could try your local phonebook for some research, local farriers have a portable forge they use. There may be a local smith who would be willing to let you watch and ask questions.

When I'm doing research I've found if you cold call some of these people and explain your project, they are usually very happy to let you pick their brains.
E D Johnson
Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2011 6:03 AM
Joined: 6/11/2011
Posts: 18

While perhaps not examples of writing about blacksmithing, I think there is something to be said for actually studying the art of blacksmithing at least to get a hang of the terminology and what not.

To that end, you can't really go wrong getting a quick education from Wikipedia. While it fails as an academic source according to most professors due to the way it comes about, you can get a basic understanding in no time. Often times, it has links to other sites for additional, more in-depth info, should you need it.

As far as black smithing goes, you really just need to know about the different manipulations of the metal. This is the wiki page for it, and if you peruse the text in the Process section, you will get a good idea of what it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blacksmith

From THERE, figuring out which pieces to include... well, let me give you a hint: I would personally not want to read 50 pages of the creation of a sword. I do not care how awesome the sword is. Given the detail Clancy puts into some of his books, he might try to work that in. I'd suggest some major condensing from an "attention span" point of view. How much you want to show here depends entirely on the pace you want to have for it.

This will sound odd, but let me use a video game for an example. I play a lot of RPGs, and in many, you will encounter a legendary smith that will take some items from you and forge a powerful blade or armor. During that time, most often one of two things will happen... In one game, you were disarmed for a period of time where you had to continue adventuring without the aid of your trusty sword. In another, the screen faded to black and when it faded back in, the sword was done. If it is your MC that is doing this, then you may wish to utilize what I call Fade to Black (most often used for scene transitions to avoid sex scenes in my experience, but still works here). If your MC is not the smith, then follow the MC doing other things while waiting.

Obviously, you may want to include some of the forging for stylistic purposes, but don't forget about the rest of the story. Just a friendly word of caution, and I hope the link helps familiarize you with the other art you are interested in showing.
Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 4:49 PM
Both responses are greatly appreciated. The scene is meant for the prologue... The story revolves around the swords being made, so it is necessary to include the scene... but I think, perhaps, more important to include the importance of the swords than their making. I just wanted to have bits and pieces of blacksmithing in the story so that it would sound as authentic as possible. I've done a lot of wikapedia-ing actually... was just looking for a book that employs some of the blacksmith trade so I could have an example. Thanks again!
Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 5:08 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

I was totally gonna suggest Circle of Magic. Two smiths, both using magic at times to make their work easier, but still making the one learn the basics.

The other I was going to suggest was David Eddings' Belgariad series. He has a character in those five (and in the sequel series, the Mallorean) who is a smith, but has no magic. Can't recall off the top of my head how detailed Eddings gets in the scenes with Durnik in his forge, but definitely a place to start.

I'd agree with wikipedia. I would often get distracted watching our farrier when he was out to shoe the horses and I was left in charge of holding the horses. So rhythmic it's entrancing.
Danielle Bowers
Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 5:24 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 280

I bet youtube would be a goldmine of video examples. One of my riding coaches used to shoe his own horses and let me try it a few times. The only thing I remember about hammering the iron was my hand and arm going numb after a while from the constant striking of metal on metal.
Robert C Roman
Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 12:12 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 383

On the entire 'don't get too detailed / boring' point that E.D. made, you can avoid some of that by really getting inside the blacksmiths' head. That might require actually hitting a ren faire and talking to a blacksmith, or maybe doing a youtube crawl for interviews.

The reason is that reading 'this happened, then that happened, then this happened', is 'textbook boring'. Reading about what a blacksmith thinks about, what they feel as the sword comes together, *that* can be engrossing.
Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 2:00 PM
Well, you continue to come to the forums and give the answer that I'm looking for. And usually in a much more efficient wording than what I would have used. Much appreciated... In fact, Mr Roman, I'd love if you could look at the new chapters I've put up and let me know if they're a bit more compelling.

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