I’m a sucker for battle and swordplay in fantasy novels. It probably comes from my own martial arts background—I studied the Korean art of Tang Soo Do for five years and earned my first-degree black belt, then moved on to kung fu where after two years, I earned an intermediate rank in the White Lotus style. Shortly after that, I took up foil fencing at a studio in Southern California. While the studio is best known for stage fencing, I, having a bit of a masochistic personality, asked for the strictest teacher they had and ended up with a former Russian Olympic coach whose favorite word seemed to be “Again!” Between having gotten soundly beaten in my Chinese weapons training and being quickly humiliated by my fellow students in this western martial art, it became pretty clear to me that all the depictions in fantasy of farm boys who pick up a sword for the first time and show a preternatural ability with it are just… well, fantasy.
That’s why when I decided to use the weakling-to-warrior trope in my own novel, I wanted Conor’s progress to be based on something other than wishful thinking. Enter the training montage section of the book.
Sure, a lot more is going on in the time that Conor spends with the Fíréin brotherhood than just learning the sword (I’m really not giving anything away here… after all, the book is called Oath of the Brotherhood), but if I was going to have him fight some spectacular battles, I was going to make sure that he had legitimately earned the skills to do so. It’s one thing to be able to pick up a sword and defend yourself against the average landholder who doesn’t fight for a living; it’s another to hold your own against professional warriors. I gave him some natural talent with which to accomplish these feats, but mostly I gave him single-minded determination and a compelling reason to become one of Seare’s most skilled swordsmen.
While the making of a warrior might be a common theme in fantasy novels, the making of Conor into a warrior was based in sound, if somewhat brutal, reality.
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