The Organised Author

Researching weapons : Romans vs Samurais

Part of a writer’s job is researching facts and figures on a specific subject. Writers of historical fiction are notoriously those who spend a lot of time researching, but I think that fantasy writers should do the same. When creating a world from nothing, doing some  detective work is always a good source of inspiration and will make the world building more believable.
I personally love researching weapons. The way a weapon is shaped and built tells a lot about the people who created it and is useful when I write a fighting scene to visualise how the fight should happen. Even if it’s a fantasy scene, I believe that making it ‘real’ add a new layer to the writing.
Ancient Romans were the only people who had an industrial production of steel. Steel was difficult to produce and even more difficult to purify. Romans perfected the art of purifying steel to forge swords using sand as an abrasive substance to clean the metal from impurities, and they kept their secret well guarded. (Impurities are what make steel weak.) 
Japanese swords (katanas) weren’t as strong and resistant as the Roman gladius (the typical, short Roman sword). Japanese smiths, despite being extremely skilled, didn’t use the same techniques Romans did to forge swords. They purified steel mostly by folding it, and after folding the steel eleven times, there was no improvement in its purity. While a gladius was virtually indestructible, a katana was more flexible but could often break.
And what does the shape of a sword tell us?
Romans preferred their swords short. Samurais had long katanas sometimes longer than the Barbarians’ longswords. The longer the sword, the bigger the distance with the enemy, so why did the Romans want the enemy close?
Romans fought in closed ranks. They fought together as a unit where every man protected another soldier’s back, so they wanted the enemy close to butcher him with dozens of gladius at once. Samurais were lone fighters (mostly), they needed space and freedom to move as they pleased. 
(Side note: Romans called Barbarians all the tribes from north Europe because they couldn't speak Latin. Barbarian means stutterer) 
Barbarians didn’t have the same military discipline of Romans. Their military strategy lacked organisation which is one of the reasons Romans managed to conquer Europe pretty quickly.
A gladius and a longsword have two sharp sides like a dagger. A katana has only one sharp side like a knife. What does it mean in term of fighting? A samurai had to twirl his wrist often to point the katana’s sharp side towards the opponent, doing wide circular moves. Romans could grab a gladius and move it right and left without worry about turning the blade. 

They maybe lacked the elegance and precision a samurai needed to fight, but they were extremely effective.       ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

๐Ÿ’“**Coming soon**๐Ÿ’“
The Fire of the White Blade Knight - The White Order Book 2