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Old 11-19-2010, 04:39 PM   #1
Paradus
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Of the properties of weapons; magical over normal?

Greetings everyone.

I write here to ask a question that has laid rest in my mind for quite some time.

As it is known various weapons in arda (especially elven design) have somewhat supernatural properties when compared to an ordinary weapon of similar type.

I have always thought of these, specifically elven blades, as having a somewhat stronger edge in combat if you will, i.e can cut and pierce things that may be impossible for an ordinary weapon. This was thanks to the quote in the FOTR during the holding of the door where Boromirs sword clanged harmlessly off the enemies hide even with all his might where sting, who was wielded by someone of much lesser might and strength, managed to puncture the skin.

So this raises my curiosity of wether magical weapons have more penetrative power over normal weapons or not for I am not quite sure on the whole ideal.

cheers.
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Old 11-19-2010, 05:14 PM   #2
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Interesting thread!

I don't think that "penetrative" is the right word to use here. It is true that Elven swords are more powerful than others- another example of that is when Sting chops Shelob's web into pieces when Sam's sword can't. Also the swords made by Elves in the first age glow when enemies are near.
Another question you could ask is why Anduril doesn't glow like Sting and Glamdring, even though it was made by Telchar in the first age. This could perhaps be because Narsil was broken, and some of the qualities/abilities of the sword changed or diminished.
This brought to my mind two quotes from the Silmarillion. I don't have the book with me, so I can't give the exact words, but this is how I remember the quotes
"The Noldor live in their creations" or something similar, anyways. This shows that when Elves (especially Noldor) put so much thought into what they make, that their things reflect their character/power/whaetver else you might call it.
"Beware, because the dark spirit of the maker still lives in the sword" Thingol said something like this to Beleg when giving him Eol's sword. So swords can also have character. Moreover, this sword (later called Gurthang) spoke to Turin. Not only that, but it gave reasoning. Swords can think????????
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Old 11-19-2010, 06:34 PM   #3
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Good thread! and Good questions.
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Another question you could ask is why Anduril doesn't glow like Sting and Glamdring, even though it was made by Telchar in the first age...
I think, in case of Anduril, it's because Telchar was a Dwarf, not an Elf.
That doesn't mean the blade wouldn't be special (Telchar did, after all, make the knife Angrist that would cut metal like wood, and which Beren used to cut a Silmarill from Morgoth's crown), only that Dwarves didn't seem to make glowing weapons like the Elves.
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I don't think that "penetrative" is the right word to use here..."The Noldor live in their creations" or something similar, anyways. This shows that when Elves (especially Noldor) put so much thought into what they make, that their things reflect their character/power/whaetver else you might call it...
I think you've hit on a key motif (is that the right word?) which Tolkien incorporated throughout his subcreation - that rational creatures (esp Maia & Elves) are able to incorporate something of their own beings into their creations. That was most obvious in the Rings (esp the One Ring). It also appears in UT (in the essay on The Druedain) where one Druadan was able to let some of his life flow into his carved stone so that it animated and protected friends from Orcs - but at the cost of the creator suffereing along with it. It becomes part of the reason why, after Morgoth killed the Two Trees, Yavanna didn't just make two more.
The making of things was more than a simple physical exercise (like we might make a car), but an artistic expression (like Michelangelo painting the Cistine chapel ceiling, or daVinci painting the Mona Lisa) which expresses the artists life at that point and is not (generally) reproducible at a later time.
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Old 11-20-2010, 07:07 AM   #4
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Just to add to the evidence for 'magic' swords to be superior-

Bilbo thrust Sting deep into a wooden beam with little effort when he was handing it over to Frodo at Rivendell. This is not something that can really be done terribly easily (if at all) with a normal sword, especially by an eleventy-one year old plus!
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Old 11-20-2010, 10:57 AM   #5
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Also, Feanor refuses to break the Silmarils because a part of him is in them and he'd be "the first one to die" in Valinor.
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Old 11-20-2010, 12:13 PM   #6
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Also, Feanor refuses to break the Silmarils because a part of him is in them and he'd be "the first one to die" in Valinor.
"Not the first one", Mandos replies.

Wouldn't you be bummed off with Mandos eh, him knowing all these things and never speaking a word of it before it's too late, unless it's a dreadful Doom that is. You know, if he already knew Morgoth was going on his crazy rampage, why didn't he say something dammit, they could've caught him there and then!? Those two trees and the silmarils were very nice.

As for the magical weapons, it's just one of those Fairy things, isn't it?
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:04 AM   #7
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Well, this is just my opinion: I don't think they were 'magical' in any way; they were just very, very sharp and to Elves there was barely such a thing as 'magic' anyway. They were simply very skilled in the arts of craft and lore. Just imagine, if Fëanor could 'craft' the Silmarils without magic (jewels that perpetually have a star-like light in them? That's impossible for human hands) then elves could certainly 'craft' weapons that were more deadly than any other. Though I must admit, I don't exactly understand how they do it, but the fact is they do. After all, how do you make a blade glow when enemies are near? That's some serious craftsmanship; either that or magic. And Elves (dear Lord I am repeating myself) do NOT use magic.
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:07 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
"Beware, because the dark spirit of the maker still lives in the sword" Thingol said something like this to Beleg when giving him Eol's sword. So swords can also have character. Moreover, this sword (later called Gurthang) spoke to Turin. Not only that, but it gave reasoning. Swords can think????????
I thought that was more symbolic and metaphorical than anything else Because no other sword in ME actually TALKED (or thought, for that matter. Correct me if I'm wrong, please).
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Old 11-29-2010, 06:13 AM   #9
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Though I must admit, I don't exactly understand how they do it, but the fact is they do. After all, how do you make a blade glow when enemies are near? That's some serious craftsmanship; either that or magic. And Elves (dear Lord I am repeating myself) do NOT use magic.
This has been discussed elsewhere, most recently in this thread.

To repeat myself: magic vs craftmanship in Middle-earth is a complex knot, and perhaps one it's not really possible to unravel, as much of the time they seem to be the same thing. That is, sufficient knowledge and understanding will enable a person to perform what we (and the hobbits) would call magic, even though the Elves probably wouldn't– the distinction being, I think, that they are working with the laws of nature rather than against them. To repeat myself again, though, I would be careful about reframing the story as straight science fiction, or trying to explain everything in terms of real-world physics. You may end up having to do some serious mental gymnastics.
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