In the first post of this blog series, I wrote about one of my main issues with the use of swords. If this part I’m taking a look at the way armour is often described in fantasy novels and depicted in the movies.
Let’s get the obvious issue out of the way. Women’s armour. Now before someone gets in touch saying that women never fought in battle, wrong. There are quite a few historical examples of women dealing out death on the battlefield with the best (or worst) of the fellas. Don’t believe me? Check out this long list of female warriors. As a fan of Byzantine history, Sikelgaita the wife of the Norman Duke of Apulia is a particular favourite.
In fantasy, women warriors are often depicted as wearing, well not a lot. Half the time their armour is there to make them look sexy or stylish. It’s very rare that a movie or novel has them wearing effective protection. Check out this video for an example –
As I did in the first part of this blog series, let’s pit a female warrior dressed in typical Hollywood style armour against our nameless knight.
Fresh from his encounter with the now very dead warriors, our hero continues on his quest. The road leads him through a thick forest that he knows has a river running through it. The only way across is to cross the old stone bridge. A favourite spot for bandits. Sure enough, as he reaches the bridge, a lone figure stands in the road. To the knight’s surprise, the heavily armed bandit is a woman wielding a sword and buckler.
“Halt. To cross this bridge you must pay the toll,” the woman demands.
As before the knight chuckles to himself and shakes his head in amusement.
“What’s so funny?” the woman said, her tone full of confusion. The knight should be afraid.
The knight draws his sword and raises his shield.
“I bet I can beat you in two moves,” he declares.
The woman’s eyes widen in surprise at the arrogance on display.
The knight’s confidence is not misplaced for the woman is wearing what can only be described as the worst set of armour he has ever seen. More bikini, then a suit of protection. The woman is highly vulnerable.
The two fighters square up to one another. The woman swings her sword at the knight who is too slow to block the attack. The blade strikes his plate armour with a clang. Aside from a scratch to the plate, the man inside the armour is unharmed. The woman rains blows upon the knight. Most connect but thanks to the steel suit the sword cannot reach the meat inside. The woman begins to tire.
“A sword is not the best weapon to use against one as well protected as I” the Knight says with a laugh. The woman swings again, but this time the knight deflects the tired blow with his shield and thrusts his sword forward. Unlike the Knight, the woman in her bikini armour has little in the way of protection. The sword stabs deep into her exposed flank to slay her out right. She crumples to the ground dead.
“Your flanks, throat and groyne were totally exposed. You’re not wearing a helmet nor gauntlets. I could strike anywhere, and the result would be the same,” the knight critiques, a hint of sadness in his voice.
“Now this an example of a good set of armour” –
Now I’m no armour expert, but it is pretty obvious that quite a few armours I’ve either seen in the movies or in books just aren’t realistic or effective. It may be the fantasy genre, but some basis, in reality, needs to come through. (Unless of course, you use magic a lot. Magic can always provide a workaround to this sort of thing!)
In the next part of this series, I’ll be taking a look at creating magic systems.