Grimdark Author Interview: Jordan Loyal Short | 2019 | The Skald’s Black Verse

In the first week of January 2019 I had the pleasure of asking one of grimdark’s rising new authors a series of questions. This interview was designed to allow us, the audience, to learn more about Jordan’s inspirations and, for people who are new to the genre, more about grimdark as well. I hope you enjoy! Also, Jordan has a website where you can learn even more: https://jordanloyalshort.com/

the best sword fight in a movie

Why Can’t Movies Show “Medieval” Sword Fights Accurately? (cringy rant)

There’s a good reason why pedantic historians and enthusiastic students never cease to ask the question “why is the swordplay in “medieval” Hollywood movies still based off of 19th-century sports fencing and to-the-minute choreography when we have HEMA (historical European martial arts) and HAMA (historical African martial arts) practitioners and theorists promulgating translated combat treatises from the Middle Ages across the internet for the world to see?”

My brain quakes trying to understand why to this day we still don’t have a Hollywood movie that shows medieval sword fighting accurately. Now without mocking any movie that’s already been produced, let’s discuss what movies in the future will look like…

galley warfare in fantasy books

Venice at Sea: How Medieval Venetian Seapower Grew to Shape Early Modern Warfare in the Mediterranean

To examine how Venetian seapower grew to become an effective force in the Mediterranean, an examination of how Venice herself came to exist must be conducted. After understanding how and why the Venetian Arsenal was the leading European shipbuilding center in the Mediterranean by the sixteenth century, as well as how and why Venetian shipwrights and artillerists by the fifteenth century were world leaders in artillery- and naval-innovation, conceptualizing the outcomes of the conflicts that Venice played a role in such as the battle of Lepanto will be possible. By covering key medieval Venetian terms of vocabulary, a better picture of Venetian seapower can be envisaged. A picture of medieval Venetian seapower must be clear in order to determine how it has influenced the Mediterranean in the early modern period. To conclude, a theory attempting to scry what the Mediterranean may have looked like by the twentieth century if the Venetian Arsenal never existed will be presented.

Florence from 1340 to 1360: Plague, Revolt and Financial Crisis

Florence throughout the Middle Ages kept the reputation for being a wealthy city-state. But things would change in the 1340s as a combination of debt and war caused the Florentine people to have no other option than to revolt against their leaders. Florence from the 1340s to 60s would show a darker side of its personality that would create heavy consequences financially and politically. This is a story of action and reaction, and of consequence and outcome, which started in war and ended with what any sane historian would agree to call surprising results.

Did People Eat “Breakfast” in Medieval Times?

Today the word “breakfast” gets shuttlecocked across American streets like coffee. Ah, there’s nothing like a mug of coffee at 4 A.M. with some jazz music. Coffee’s good with breakfast, too. Hey, wait. Is that why breakfast wasn’t relatively prevalent in the Middle Ages?–because they didn’t have coffee? That’s a deep, sociological question. Today, I just want to answer the question “did people eat breakfast in the Middle Ages?”

Best Lindybeige Memes

Lindybeige is my hero, and to celebrate my love for this great genius I have adventured on a quest across the internet with my ten fingers in search of the best Lindybeige memes–the holy dank of the dank! During my derring-do I have come across many afoul memes, but none of them were as dank as these.

Please know I didn’t create these memes myself. I got them from the Facebook group Lindybeige Shirtposting and have compiled them so more gallant people can enjoy them, people whom may never see them otherwise.

Venetian galley warfare

13 Terms used in Mediterranean Galley Warfare

While studying for a research paper about galley warfare I’ve come across a medley of interesting historical naval terms, all of which an author of realistic fantasy might find useful. The source for these terms is Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century by John Francis Guilmartin Jr, 1974, Great Britain, Cambridge University Press. Note: I have left out a host of terms for different cannons and seagoing vessels for these will be listed in upcoming posts. Here I define the meaning of: arraez, buenas boyas, presidio, azab, ciurmi, guerre de course, forzati, gente de cualidad, ghazi, scapoli, maryol, sipahi & timar.

Is Medieval Studies Relevant?

Your identity and the outer world are in tandem, tugging on each other to shape the perception you hold of yourself. This means that your identity shifts as you steer your focus and concentration on different aspects of the outer world. Compare an American who collects guns and trucks and plays in the NFL to an American who collects books and swords and plays in Swordfish longsword tournaments; now quickly forgetting titular identities, do you think this difference of interest plays a role in their national and cultural identities? Without knowledge of medieval history, you might wonder how France became France and how Spain became Spain. If you know you’re Italian, you might read the works of the stilnovisti and fetch a sense of campanilismo.

medieval ghosts

Did They Believe in Ghosts in Medieval Times? (Learning from Purgatory)

Today, ghost stories are shared around campfires and bedsteads as sources of entertainment and have little to do with religion. In medieval times, however, these tales of ghosts haunting the living, though they may have been entertaining for some, revolved heavily around religious belief. Purgatory, a waiting terminal between Heaven and Hell, was where these ghosts were thought to reside. Therefore, to reveal how purgatory and other religious beliefs played an important role in forming the attitudes of medieval people, we may want to explore and analyze the common elements in these ghost stories further.

Should Medieval Fantasy Be Historically Accurate?

Whether it’s fantasy book covers, tabletop gaming or cinematography, to ask artists to be realistic let alone historically accurate would take away the very reason why many of these artists enter such beloved trades in the first place–creativity. Now with that out of the way, I still want to argue that there should be more realistic and historically accurate medieval-esque forms of entertainment in popular media for those of us who do appreciate it. Currently there’s very little of this. Non-medievalists mayn’t be able to spot all the inaccuracies but pedantic ones who do might be more entertained by TV shows that get things right.

Used Books Victoria BC | Collecting Old, Vintage Books

Welcome to my post about used books Victoria BC. Sometimes we can have a strong habit all our lives and not know it’s there until–BAM!–you look at the big stack of stuff you’ve been collecting all these years and realize … hmmm? … “I have a problem!”

Heraldry Terms Still Useful in Creative Writing Today

From “deshaché” and “esteté” to “decressant” and “bretesse,” I imagine these heraldic terms from medieval coats of arms would be especially useful to the literary grimdark or litHEMA fantasy writer. Though these heraldic words were originally used by French-speaking nobility across Europe to describe the layout of coats of arms or the garnishes of achievements, it’s easy to recycle them to artistically augment today’s literary fiction. I’ve proven this by adding a fictional example to each definition, and while many of these words were originally used as adverbs, it’s easy to restylize them into adjectives, or, when full liberty’s permitted, even nouns. I believe these words would be especially useful in the grimdark or litHEMA genres, as they have the potential to add realism to medieval fantasy. They’d also be extremely useful in historical fiction, as they’d surely add a literary touch if used carefully in the right places (unlike I’ve done with my humorous examples LOL). Each word’s been patiently gleaned from A New Dictionary of Heraldry (1739).

A List of Medieval Textiles, Furs & Leather Fabrics

Here’s yet another thing that proves medieval people were much more sophisticated than we give them credit for–a long list of materials used in clothing, bedding, napery and drapery (with pictures).

realistic fantasy books

LitRPG, Grimdark & LitHEMA (a meditative ramble)

Everything has a polar opposite–everything!–and so if such things as LitRPG, where common sense and practicality are completely ignored, can reach the market of fantasy books then so will such things as LitHEMA, where common sense and practicality are praised. This is inevitable! In other words if I don’t work towards the fruition of LitHEMA then someone else will, and this new fantasy subgenre will win its place in the market by merit whether the vast majority likes it or not.

LitHEMA takes “realism” and “grittiness” one step beyond Grimdark. Like LitHEMA, much Grimdark may also be called low fantasy, dark fantasy or historical fantasy. There is something special about it that keeps certain readers with certain tastes coming back and back again. But what separates LitHEMA from all these similar genres?

Why Fantasy Swords belong in Fantasy (not elsewhere)

Mega swords, super swords and all other kinds of made-up dragon-slaying swords belong where they rightly exist–in fantasy! But why do they belong there, and not in real life? In Earth’s historical reality, the European one-handed arming sword has become a well-known and predictable symbol. But in popular medieval fantasy, whether it be in video games, books, movies or comics, the European sword has become a target for unpredictable creative reinvention!

Why Fantasy Armor is Unrealistic | Leather & Spikes Galore!

Before you hit me with “realism in fantasy only means consistency”, consider that ancient and medieval people knew what they were doing and their armor looks the way it does for very important reasons. Here I will be taking a brief look at a few popular fantasy tropes and compare them to historical reality to show you why much fantasy armor is impractical in real life.

Dinosaurs had FEATHERS & Castles were Plastered & PAINTED! (Myths in Hollywood Movies Rant)

My argument is that realism and research-put-into-action makes movies more educational and more entertaining as well!–A WHOLE LOT MORE ENTERTAINING (and bearable). A favorite example of this is HEMA versus Hollywood swordplay choreography.

Realism in “Chansons de Geste” – Magic & Myth in the Legends of “Charlemagne” & “Roland the Valiant”

In my quest to paint a perfect image of medieval times for myself, I, with wide eyes, enter such chansons de geste, or “poems of courage,” as that of The Song of Roland and can’t help myself from identifying a few misconceptions about life in the Middle Ages.

Though they may be filled with fantastical magic and myths, these chansons de geste, taking place in the 9th century, portray a much more realistic picture of medieval times compared to the majority of today’s medieval fantasy fiction. In the epic poems of Charlemagne, you’ll find small groups of courageous knights valiantly defending breaches in their towers with their shields against hordes of javelin-throwing Saracens. Sieges last for months, and knights are careful to arm themselves rightly in real, historical armor. But despite all this awesome realism, authors love to boon their storytelling with another sort of awesomeness–the fantasy trope. Aye, the trope, a cliché or misconception added for entertainment’s sake, is even highly abundant in the French medieval epic poems of Charlemagne!

Who Decides What Becomes Literature? Understanding Literary Fantasy (from an outright amateur’s perspective)

If a masterpiece of artful and amazing prose on the human experience never reaches the public eye, is never praised by academics, never sells a single copy, is it still literature?

Who decides what is literature and what isn’t? Elitist assholes or literary experts? If you wish to skim through this blog post, I’ve bolded the juicy bits for your convenience. If you wish to read normally, please keep in mind that by “literature” I don’t simply mean “literate material,” but Merriam-Webster’s 3rd definition: “writings in prose or verse; especially : writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest.”

What we need to do to understand literary fantasy is make a line between realistic literary fantasy for adults, like A Game of Thrones, and unrealistic literary fantasy for children and young adults, like The Hobbit or Cinderella, because by doing this we’ll notice there’s a middle ground between these two extremes, and, for a reason I’ll explain, this middle ground isn’t considered literature. Bear with me if you can. This is just theory for the mind, so bring a bucket of salt and we’ll have some fun.

A List of Historical Military Terms (60+ Rare Words)

Welcome! Military words like danegeld and scutage have been reserved for an upcoming list about medieval laws and crimes. Similarly words like centenar, turcopole and mameluke, aside from a few favorite titles, have been saved for an upcoming list about medieval titles and peerages. Likewise for your patience words like portcullis, trebuchet, loophole and other obvious terms have been excluded. Also, terms like cri de coeur and coup de grâce which are brilliant for military applications have been reserved for a separate list about English terms that are clearly not English. I should also mention that words like caliver and baselard, not to mention many pieces of armor, have of course been reserved for future lists about ancient, medieval and renaissance arms and armor. Again, seafaring terms, castle terms and HEMA terms have all been for the most part excluded for the aforementioned reason.

The “real” Second Renaissance: Revival, Progress and Cooperative Nationalism

Millennials are no longer making the same unethical and environmentally-damaging mistakes made by our predecessors in the Industrial Revolution. Thinkers, noticing this change, like to call our current conditioning “post-modern.” They are right to do so because history is never static. She is contently and constantly on the move. We cannot be modern forever. The word, for me at least, conjures images of World War I and II. But on the other hand, “The Second Renaissance,” when uttered, augurs images of green energy and nations working together.

Medieval Mythbusters: 9 YouTube Channels To Make You Never Look At Medieval Fantasy The Same Way Again

There are hundreds of wonderful channels on YouTube devoted to history and medieval studies. You’ll see the channels here have earned their followers rightly for your academic pleasure. Even though these channels and many others have been branded together as “The Community of the Sword,” each one is very unique. Some channels provide a more in-depth look at traditional fantasy compared to historical reality by commentating on popular movies. Others ignore modern popular culture and teach HEMA and medieval armor at highly professional levels. For your convenience and mine I’ve simply taken the liberty of giving each one an award.

Fantasy’s Everlasting Quality: A Service You Can’t Get Anywhere Else

Like any artform fantasy is susceptible to change. Think of 60s rock-and-roll and compare it to modern rock, 90s cartoons compared to cartoons today. Just like how music is changing due to technology, fantasy is changing due to a flux of information on the internet. The re-discovery of medieval combat treatises is putting a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of everyone who works with medieval themes, especially writers. But as things change the more they stay the same.

Magical Realism plus Medieval Fantasy equals What? Historical Fiction with Magic or Something Totally New?

It’s common for people to confuse magical realism with fantasy, but what, I ask, after understanding their differences, would they look like combined? Combined, would it simply be medieval historical fiction with some magic thrown in or would we be dealing with a whole new genre? You may find my conclusion very interesting.

First let me briefly describe what I find to be the extreme difference between the two genres.

Magical realism uses magic to bring the reader closer to reality, while fantasy uses the same to help the reader escape from it. Magical realism, in other words, brings us closer to truth. Fantasy, by its design, takes us away from truth. This is exactly why much magical realism is considered literature and why much fantasy is not. Literature, for reasons of academic growth, urges us to think in order to understand the meanings behind things in our own real world. Fantasy, though it may provoke thoughts now and then, wants us to escape from reality for reasons of pleasure.

Crusading to bring “Truth” to Medieval Fantasy Movies, Books & Games

I chose the title for this paper very carefully. A few months ago I might have said “time to begin the Great Crusade against Misconceptions in the Medieval Fantasy Genre,” but I’ve learned that in order to win this holy war we must not fight against what we hate–lies and misconceptions–but rather save what we love–truth!

What is Medieval Fantasy for Adults? (not for kids)

When we were children it was easy for us to become enchanted by stories and films that were riddled with unrealistic scenarios and outcomes because stories designed for children and the wider audience are for the most part unrealistic on purpose. After all, fairy tales intentionally contain absolutes and one-dimensional characters because they’re important for the growth of our children’s moralities and identities. And many traditional fantasy novels, inspired by medieval fairy tales, continue this pattern of writing for children and the wider audience. If you’ve chosen the path of a medievalist or simply are passionate about medieval living you probably already know how easy it is to be dissatisfied with most medieval fantasy. There are of course gems like The Traitor Son Cycle and A Song of Ice and Fire which are intentionally inspired by actual history rather than fairy tales and these tend to grab a different audience.

Brigandine vs. Brigantine vs. Barkentine vs. Barquentine vs. Barque (Brain Bubblegum)

Inspired by the 11th century coat of plates, a brigandine is a 12th to 16th century vest or jacket of armor. It consists of many metal plates held together by a sturdy textile. Many times in history the plates were small, overlapping and hidden under fabric. In movies and videogames today, however, the most popular version of a brigandine is a long coat of canvas covered with visible rectangular plates (somewhat similar to the Japanese kikko in appearance).

The Best Way to Increase Your Vocabulary

I could just say ‘keep a dictionary by the toilet’ and end this article there but I actually found a very efficient way for everyone to grow their vocabularies at alarming rates. Get ready to impress your friends! Most people unintentionally grow their vocabulary over many years, kind of like how laborers and lumberjacks unintentionally grow muscle mass. So to intentionally grow your vocabulary is very similar to purposely growing a six pack or losing 300 pounds; it takes hard work and dedication. But with the tips and advice you’ll find below, the journey to tripling or doubling your vocabulary in the next year will not only be easier but more fun as well.

LitHEMA Short Story: “The Siege Within”

FLAP, FLAP WENT the webbed feet of a mother duck up a muddy, arrow-riddled bogside. The planets and stars of the midnight sky rendered the mud a dark, dark blue, but the bog itself was a pit of silky blackness sucking the starlight away.

Quacking desperately, the mother duck pronked back down the slope in fright as a score of screaming horsemen completed a circuit around the bog. Lost in the black water, a train of yellow ducklings answered her with frantic chirps, kicking through the thickness toward her voice. Looming high above them all was a crooked siege tower filled with anguished men. Like a shipwreck on Hell’s shore, the tower was groaning and creaking, taking volley after volley of arrows and bolts from distant castle walls.

The Perfect Day for a Medieval Fantasy HEMA Nerd

I didn’t know or care what a perfect day was until I unintentionally experienced one. It was a day off. I was 24 years old, and my idea of a perfect day has since changed dramatically, but this is my story nonetheless. Like most days away from my fake job, I rose from bed to do my real job. I made coffee and picked up a book.

I read some of Bernard Cornwell’s Harlequin, specifically the last battle at Crécy. I love how Bernard somehow teaches history through light reading. During lunch, I watched my favorite YouTuber’s daily video. It was coincidentally a historical evaluation of the Battle of Crécy. How strange?

Fauld vs. Tonlet | Medieval Armor for the Waist and Hips

Worn over a skirt of maille, a fauld is a piece of armor that sits under a breastplate, corresponding to a ‘culet’ which sits under the backplate on the other side (although in early medieval times, culets were rarely worn as maille over the arse was deemed ‘good enough’). A fauld consists of steel lames connected by strips of leather, albeit other less popular methods were sometimes used to connect them. The leather strips allow expansion and contraction, which is absolutely necessary because the fauld needs to contract when the wearer mounts a horse. Oftimes, additional ‘tassets’ were hinged to the bottom of faulds to hang over the ‘cuisses’ and provide additional protection for thighs.

What Do I Accomplish by Writing Realistic Medieval Fantasy Books?

A friend of mine is often volunteering their time in social programs that aid the poor, so it was daunting when they asked what do I accomplish by writing books. This friend has already made the world a much better place. For example, they’ve built homes in third world countries, donated tons of money to the homeless, helped numerous fundraisers do the same, etc. I may have made that list small but that’s all stuff I’ve never done before. I believe it’s important to leave the world better than how you found it, but this question struck me hard at first because I wondered, “Am I just writing books for myself, or am I making the world a better place, too?”

historical full plate armor in the middle ages

My Ideal Fantasy Sub-Genre: Hemapunk

My ideal genre would be a sub-genre of historical fiction called hemapunk. Hema as in H.E.M.A or historical European martial arts, and the punk is just because … authors get goofy and I was inspired by the word “steampunk”. Hemapunk would be medieval fiction focused more on historical accuracy, not so much focused on actual events of the past but more so on proper descriptions and realistic war tactics.

The Bird of Wellimgale: A Small Funny Story of Daring Adventure

A wench was wandering down a wynd when a pauper begging for pence stopped her to broach of the Bird of Wellimgale. The wench surmised it a tact to finagle her, but when the pauper told how the Bird would grant her any wish if she kissed it, she allowed herself to be waylaid by his words. He explained how the Bird lived on a precipice that jutted from an enormous bluff. Then he confided in whispers about a secret crystal-laden tunnel that wormed through the ground to meet it.

Family Day Speech

If you’ll allow me to be metaphorical, I’d like to send out my Family Day wishes. Here in Canada, it’s … More

Is Sustainable Development Paradoxical?

People claim that sustainable development is possible and thriving; however, this paper argues that the physical practice of sustainable development barely exists in today’s reality and is actually a paradox. In order to argue this standpoint, the difference between development and sustainable development must be clear. Development is all the processes involved in progressing complex societies (economy, infrastructure, food supply etc.) Sustainable development is similar to development except it promises to sustain resources and maintain a similar quality of life for future generations. Notions of sustainable development also promise to combat poverty.