All Freudian references aside, I find that both writing and reading content that contains swords always preferable to the alternative. Why? The simple answer is that a story with swords is often more imaginative, certainly more epic, and probably more action packed than one without.
But there’s also the good vs evil argument. While there have been a few villains with swords, it is almost always the weapon of choice for the hero, or at least the ‘good guys’. It is presented as the honorable weapon, especially since it forces a match of skill as well as strength and cunning. As a gun toting ‘Merican, I am not a fan of the idea that firearms and other ranged weapons are less honorable. They are all tools that can either be used morally or immorally. Trebuchets don’t kill people, people kill people.
It is also true that in close quarters, edged weapons are not necessarily trumped by firearms. Proper training can make an individual deadly in a diverse range of scenarios.
The allure of the sword, I think, is that it has become to represent both characters of epic proportions, and stories of epic scale. The epic has always been a source of fascination for me, and for humans across time and cultures. The success of Star Wars, a futuristic epic, also shows the necessity for sword (light-saber) wielding protagonists even in the Sci-Fi genre.
If I am reading a story where firearms are present, I’m usually reminded of the modern world and current political situations. I am reminded of the ease of life in first world countries and the general lack of struggle. For me, such a setting makes for a much less epic and compelling environment, at least in comparison to medieval or ancient times.
Again, I should stress this opinion is for fiction. There are certainly compelling and enthralling non-fiction stories of struggle from all walks of life in the real world. I have no wish to diminish or belittle their narratives. But if you’re going to write fiction and have creative license, why not throw in a sword???
When stepping out of my proverbial door and into a fictional world, I want my imagination to be immersed in and enthralled by a new environment. If it is 95% similar to my own reality, why am I reading? I will probably get more out of walking around and talking to the people around me in the real world.
If you would rather be in courtyard of the citadel of Minas Tirith than downtown Boston, you know what I’m talking about. If not, and you’re not my Mom, I have no idea why your reading this- go watch football. May their pucks land swiftly in the baskets.