Wednesday’s Word: Glaive
Unless you read historical fiction or fantasy or have an interest in ancient weapons, you might not be familiar with this word. It refers to a long bladed spear or lance which might look something like this:
The word comes from the French, however it was probably taken from the Latin word gladius which means simply, “sword”. Interestingly enough, in modern times the ancient meaning has come back into play so that in French today the word actually refers to a roman short sword.
In English, thanks to contemporary movies and video games the word has also come back into usage, however with a different meaning. In these mediums it has come to mean a bladed disc that can be thrown and which will return to the thrower. In fact, one of the most spectacular glaives of this sort which I can think of was featured in the bizarre sci-fi/fantasy mashup from the 80’s, Krull.
Though the movie itself was rather forgettable, the glaive wielded by the hero of the story probably should have gotten a mention in the credits. Not only did it have five deadly blades which sprang from its spokes, but it gave off a glow when thrown and had some sort of link with its thrower so that it would attempt to return to his hand even if lodged or stuck into its target. In my mind it ranks right up there with Excalibur, Sting, lightsabers and all of the other great weapons of science fiction and fantasy tales.
In the tradition of Krull, I recently decided to try my hand at repurposing this word for my latest novella, The Jammer and the Blade. One of the main characters of the story works as a hired Blade, essentially a mercenary who uses her skill with the blade to earn a living. The weapons they use are referred to as “glaives” in the story, though they are actually energy weapons akin to something more like lightsabers. They don’t originate from a mechanical cylinder, however, but vambraces (another wonderful archaic word which refers to an armor brace worn on the forearm- I love mixing in old words with futuristic settings) so that Blades always have their weapons at the ready.
I plan to talk more about the concept of Blades and some of where I got the inspiration for Sun li, (the Blade in the story) in an upcoming post. If you haven’t, be sure to check out The Jammer and the Blade. You can even read an excerpt from the story if you’d like to find out more about it.