Swords in Korovia

A character riding a giant raven
while carrying an arming sword
By Charles Moffat

Historical realism.

I am one of those people who gets upset when a movie or a book portrays a historical weapon in a false manner.

And while I don't start foaming at the mouth and shouting obscenities when it happens, it still bothers me and I know other authors / readers who feel the same way.

Thus when I am writing a book or a short story my preference is to portray weapons accurately to their historical counterparts... And keep in mind I am an archery instructor, and we are known to be perfectionists.

Thus I spend a good amount of time writing historically accurate combat scenes for archery, but also for swords, axes, and other weapons.

Today I want to talk about the type of swords which appear in my Korovia books. Namely:

  • Short Sword
  • Sabre
  • Arming Sword
  • Bastard Sword
  • Longsword
  • The Grosseklinge (Greatsword)

The Short Sword

Sometimes spelled shortsword, this is a sword with a double-edged blade measuring typically 14 to 24 inches long. The handle is meant to be used by one hand only. Some shortswords are so small they could possibly be considered to be daggers.

The Sabre

A sword with a curved blade, with the single edged blade length being roughly 32 to 35 inches long. The handle is meant to be used by one hand only, and sometimes has a basket hilt or a handguard to protect the user's hands.

Note - There are also similar weapons like the cutlass, the scimitar, and the falchion. The falchion for example was roughly 38 inches long, and could be considered to be something similar to the bastard sword further below.

The Arming Sword

A standard sized sword (mistakenly called a "Longsword" in Dungeons & Dragons) with a straight double-edged blade about 28 to 38 inches long that tapers towards the end. Obviously there is a lot of variability in blade length with the arming sword, with the length of blade varying by as much as ten inches. It was possible to wield an arming sword with two hands (by gripping the pommel), but doing so meant the swordsman didn't really have proper leverage when swinging it.

Note - Historically there was no strict length of specific swords, so a lot of swords of varying lengths are classified as being arming swords. Most swords that appear in my Korovia stories, unless otherwise stated, are arming swords. So for example the elf Gyburn from "The Demon's Sacrifice" wields an arming sword called "Bonecleaver".

The Bastard Sword

A longer sword with a straight double-edged blade (sometimes called a 'hand-and-a-half sword') with a blade 40 to 48 inches long, but with a larger handle that typically measures 10 to 15 inches. The extra large handle means there is space for a second hand on the handle, and enough space that swinging the sword allowed to put extra force into the swing using leverage.

Note - So what happens if you find a sword that has a blade 39 inches long? Well, is it an arming sword or a bastard sword? Honestly, it depends on the handle. Does it have an arming sword handle, or a bastard sword handle? Not everything is perfectly cut and dried when it comes to swords, their lengths and their classifications.

The Longsword

This is the classic two-handed sword, similar to a claymore, with a straight double-edged blade about 49 to 65 inches long. The handle was meant for two-handed use, typically being 15 to 20 inches long, with the longer handle allowing the swordsman to put a lot more leverage into their swings.

Note - Like the arming sword there is a lot of variability in how long the blade can be and still count as a longsword. In Dungeons & Dragons this type of sword is often mistakenly called a "Greatsword", but this is inaccurate. The proper term is Longsword, and as you can see further below they should not be confused.

The Grosseklinge / Greatsword

This is the biggest of all swords (ignoring those wielded by ogres or giants, etc) available in Korovia, and historically. With an average blade length of 6 feet (72 inches), these swords had blades anywhere from 66 inches long to possibly 7 feet (84 inches). They were also so big that normal men couldn't wield them properly, requiring the swordsman to usually be at least six feet tall just to wield the smallest of Greatswords. Anyone too short would be prone to scraping or bumping the sword against the ground, damaging it.

Note - The hero Wrathgar (from my novel series The Adventures of Wrathgar) wields a traditional Grosseklinge sword from his tribe, the Baarstammderstark. He wields the sword in addition to a bearded axe and a longbow in the following books:

You can learn more about my books by visiting amazon.com/author/moffat or by visiting fiction.charlesmoffat.com.

You can learn more about historical swords by watching the video below.

Why I Dislike Using Orcs In My Fantasy Worlds

By Charles Moffat

I have orcs in some of my fantasy worlds, but not all of them. Furthermore, I don't like using orcs except in very specific circumstances where I portray them in a certain way (similar to how orcs are portrayed in Skyrim is my preference, spliced with Tolkien-esque orcs).

Writers and artists in the 21st century, in my opinion, have a responsibility to avoid using racist stereotypes - especially when portraying fantasy races like orcs. Or if they do use a stereotype, they also have an obligation to subvert it so that the meaning is changed.

J. R. R. Tolkien popularized orcs in fantasy fiction, but he was using them as a metaphor to represent the Nazis and to be representational of the horrors of war.

Since then however many critics of Tolkien's work have pushed the idea that his orcs represent people of colour or so-called "primitive cultures". This portrayal of orcs as something loaded with racism and cultural superiority is something I actively want to avoid, and thus even in my settings where orcs do exist (eg. Korovia) they primarily live in Loqland, in the city of Molloch (which is itself a reference to the film "Metropolis").

Thus my orcs are essentially a mixture of the workers of Metropolis who serve their evil overlords, the warfare themed orcs of Tolkien, and also like the orcs of Skyrim, where they are more technologically advanced and intelligent. So smart orcs, still brimming with the thirst for war, but serving their evil overlords in the factory city of Molloch... But not necessarily evil themselves and some of them do break away or flee from Molloch. (But that is another story...)

So yes, they exist, but I am deliberately avoiding using them except in the right circumstances. Eg. There are some time traveling orcs that appear in one short story: "A Hound Named Hunter", which I admit doesn't sound like a time travel story, but you have to read it to understand.

The other problem with orcs is that they are so tied to Tolkien's work that if you use them too much then it draws comparisons to his books.

But if I use a different kind of humanoid race, like minotaurs, then I don't really have that same problem. This is why when I create Korovia in 1999 I made minotaurs to be one of major races of the region. (That and I really like minotaurs, having previously used minotaurs in 3 novels I wrote during the 1990s.)

And again, my minotaurs are an intelligent and technologically advanced race... Plus in Korovia they're usually vegans, pacifists, spiritual and practice martial arts. Eg. Check out the four minotaurs that appear in my novel "The Coven's Wolves".

Are all minotaurs in Korovia pacifists and vegans? Nope. There are those who 'break from tradition', so to speak, like one such minotaur in my upcoming book "The Exorcist's Dagger" who forsakes his vows as an Ironskin and becomes a prizefighter.

How we portray races in our books is important. Even the races we normally wouldn't think about as being potentially racist.

Eg. Elves and halflings.

In my book "The Demon's Sacrifice" the elf Gyburn and the halfling Kaeto don't get along, with both characters being racist against the other. What happens to the two characters during the novel is meaningful in my opinion. No spoilers here. You will have to buy the book to see what happens.

Civilization versus 'perceived barbarism' is an ongoing theme within the Adventures of Wrathgar, wherein the main character is a so-called barbarian from the Snowfell Mountains and he is traveling through the civilized regions of Korovia looking for his missing father. People often see him as a dumb barbarian and treat him as such, despite his intelligence and skills. Wrathgar, to his credit, doesn't lose his temper when dealing with such people. Despite his name, he rarely ever loses his temper. (But when he does it is spectacular...)

As a writer I feel my work has meaning, and while I use fantasy as the method to convey that meaning, I could just as easily be writing science fiction or westerns to convey the same meaning. The setting doesn't matter so much as the message I am trying to get across to the reader.


Writers and artists in the 21st century, in my opinion, have a responsibility to avoid using racist stereotypes - especially when portraying fantasy races like orcs.


If you want to learn more about my books I recommend visiting the following sites:


You can also follow me via:


Publishing a fantasy book? Make sure you get a professional fantasy book editor.

Study Archery in Toronto

So you want to study archery, but you are having difficulty finding an archery instructor who is local. However there is a solution. If you are willing to travel you can take a crash course in archery in Toronto, Canada. 10 lessons over a two week period will take you from archery novice to an experienced and capable archer.

Popular Posts