From The Grey Tower Library
Here you may find descriptions of the various weapons people use at the Grey Tower.
If your weapon of choice is not listed here, email the Master of Training and I'll see what I can do. To enlarge the pictures, click on them.
Maces and morning stars are similar to flails, but without the flexibility. The simplest maces are little more than clubs, but when metal spikes and flanges are added they become excellent armor-defeating weapons.
Swords are one of the few weapons which are designed solely to kill men. Spears and bows are originally hunting weapons, but a sword is for murder and murder alone. However, swords are best used against lightly armored or unarmored opponents. Full plate will turn a sword's slash, though anything less will be damaged to some degree.
There are three types of swords: one-handed, two-handed, and hand-and-a-half.
One-handed swords include shortswords, broadswords, scimitars and falchions.
Broadswords are one-handed swords, equally good at cutting and thrusting. These double-bladed swords are typically used in combination with a shield by infantrymen or cavalrymen. Although single-handed swords are typically ineffective against armor, they are still extremely valuable against unarmored targets, on and off of the battlefield. Sword-and-shieldmen are often used to break pike blocks, or they can be dispersed inside a pike block to prevent the enemy from defeating them. They are also good in a civilian context with a buckler.
Falchions are powerful shortswords. Typically heavier than broadswords, these weapons tend to be cheaper and thus used more often by commoners. Falchions are used almost exclusively for cutting, as there is very little point to thrust with. Unlike broadswords, falchions have only one edge. Due to their short length, falchions are only useful on foot.
Longsword/Bastard sword/Hand-and-a-half sword
Hand-and-a-half, longswords, or so-called "bastard" swords are shorter and lighter than two-handed swords but longer than one-handed swords, these weapons were balanced to be used equally well with one hand or two. These weapons are primarily used by cavalry for their versatility. With a weapon like this, one can wield it one-handed while mounted. This allows the left arm to have a shield or simply control the reins. At the same time, if the horseman is dismounted, he can take it up in two hands and use it to great effect on foot. Because they can be used in one hand, one can also use a longsword with a buckler or dagger for a different fighting style. Similarly, many longsword styles include one-handed techniques, something which is not possible with larger swords. Although ineffective against plate armor, one can grab the blade of a longsword in their left hand to increase thrusting power and accuracy. This allows the warrior to target gaps in the plate. These are the same type of sword the Shienarians use from horseback, completely forsaking shields at all. Many Shienarians wear these swords in a scabbard on their back; however, it is unknown how they draw weapons longer than their arm in this fashion.
Two handed sword
Two-handed swords or greatswords are very large infantry swords, about five feet long but weighing no more than six or seven pounds. The one pictured features a ricasso, a blunted region of the blade behind the lugs. This was so the wielder could hold that portion of the blade for half-swording. This grants greater agility and thrusting power at the expense of length. Two handed swords are often used in attempts to defeat pike blocks by chopping off the heads of the pikes. Only a weapon as long as a two-handed sword can generate the force needed to do this, but it is still a very dangerous job. Two-handed swords are large enough that their swings can strike several people at once, making them excellent weapons for use against multiple opponents. This, and their intimidating size, makes them ideal for use by bodyguards and the guards of an army's standards. Two-handed swords are too large to be worn in a scabbard, they are typically carried against the shoulder.
Katana are also used primarily two-handed, although these bear little similarity to European-style longswords. These swords, like falchions, are primarily cutting swords. The long hilts give the katana quite a bit of leverage, allowing them to cut quite quickly, although their shape precludes the chopping cut that can be used with falchions or broadswords. Instead, the primary cut with a katana is a slash, which rely on sliding the blade along the enemy and as opposed to chopping at them. Katana are ineffective against the surface of armor, but its accurate slice can be used to great effect on gaps in armor when the gaps are not covered by maille. This type of sword is reasonably close to the swords of Rand al'Thor and Lan Mandragoran.
The jian is a long, straight, one-handed sword. Like a rapier, the main use of this style of sword is for thrusting, but it is also capable of tremendous shearing cuts. It's a very lightweight weapon, which makes it usable for people who have trouble with the heavier chopping swords. It also makes it an excellent choice for a civilian situation. The style of swordsmanship associated with this design is very light and mobile, and uses a lot of circular movements (for both the blade and the footwork).
Derived from the threshing implement of the same name, flails have gained some popularity due to their effectiveness at smashing armor. Plate armor is almost impossible to cut through with a sword, but blunt weapons like flails are heavy, building lots of force in the swing to smash plate armor. The flexible head of a flail allows it to generate more force than a mace, but this causes the head to behave somewhat erratically. It is for this reason that the chains of flails are kept extremely short; long chains are more difficult to control, and could result in self-mutilation. There are both one-handed and two-handed versions of the flail. One-handed flails such as this one are most often used by cavalrymen to attack armored foes on foot or on horse. The two-handed infantry flail is a polearm. One-handed flails are typically customized by the original owner, and no two are identical.
Two-handed axes are less common in the present day. Although they used to be used quite frequently by commoners, in the modern day they have been mostly supplanted by polearms. Slower than a sword due to the increased mass, a two-handed axe still has difficulty penetrating plate, but it's weight allows it to dent plate severely, impairing mobility. Two-handed axes are obviously derived from woodsman's axes, however, combat axes are lighter and require completely different technique. While shorter than polearms, two-handed axes often had hafts about four feet long. The haft of a two-handed axe is too short to provide good defense, demanding an aggressive fighting style.
Single-handed axes like this are mostly used by cavalry to deliver armor-piercing attacks from above, although they are also valuable on foot in combination with a shield. When used on foot, such axes are valuable for use by commoners because of their low cost. Like Perrin's axe, this axe has a spike opposite the blade. This serves both to balance the axe blade as well as serving as a powerful armor-piercing device.
Maces and Morning Stars
Like flails and axes, maces are slower than swords and somewhat heavy. These single-handed weapons are also used primarily by cavalry for smashing armored infantry from above, or once dismounted. Infantry rarely use maces due to their short reach, being shorter than most broadswords. The thick parts on the head of the mace are flanges, which are used to focus the force of the blow on multiple small areas. Many of the Borderland expedition in Path of Daggers and Winter's Heart are seen wearing a mace like this one.
A morning star such as this one is little more than a mace with spikes instead of flanges. Due to their spikes, they have better thrusting abilities and marginally better performance against soft targets. Like other maces, morning stars are primarily used by cavalry.
The warhammer is similar to axes and maces in their purpose and application. They are generally shorter than swords, with much of their weight out in the head (giving them a heavier "feel"). They were designed for use against armor, with the hammer used to deliver stunning and crushing blows and the spike used to pierce the armor's weak points.
Single-handed warhammers were mostly used from horseback, allowing for powerful downward strikes. They were intended for use by heavily armored cavalrymen against other heavily armored soldiers, either other cavalrymen or footmen. The heavy armor of the cavalrymen compensates for the lack of defensive options inherent in the one-handed warhammer. Because they were meant to be used against armor, the back-spike is nearly universal.
This is an extremely uncommon design, as most warhammers come in either one-handed varieties, or are long enough to be classified as polearms (such as the bec de corbin or Lucrene hammer). Two-handed warhammers are little more than larger versions of their one-handed counterparts. With their increased length and weight, a two-handed hammer is even more capable of piercing armor than the single-handed version. As it requires two hands to be wielded effectively, it is used exclusively by foot soldiers. It offers very little defensive capability, and thus these larger warhammers are only used with heavy armor. However, most warriors tend to prefer polearm-sized warhammers for even greater armor-penetrating abilities and the ability to effectively defend with the haft, similar to a quarterstaff.
Polearms are one of infantry's best defenses against cavalry. These long hafted weapons come in incredible variety, but most often bore a large butt-spike or metal butt cap so both ends could be used in combat. Many polearms have metal strips called lagnets on the sides of the pole and lugs at the end of the strips. This is to protect the haft against blades, lengthening the useful life of the haft. Because of the variety of polearms, these categories are very loosely assigned. Some will not fit any category clearly.
Poleaxes are a fairly standard polearm. These weapons are used most often by heavily armored infantrymen to smash through the armor of cavalry or other infantrymen. While a bit slower than a quarterstaff, pollaxes are surprisingly light and fast, weighing as little as six pounds total. The head of a poleaxe most often contains three weapons. One of these was usually an armor-piercing spike or two, (the one pictured has one on top), a hammerhead, (this one has one on the left), a hooked beak for dismounting cavalry and/or a smallaxeblade (this one has one on the right). If a poleaxe contains a spike and a hammerhead but no axe, they are sometimes called a "Bec-de-Corbin". Because of their light weight and short length (about six feet), they are most often used by armored infantry and feature prominently in judicial duels.
Bills are polearms intended to be used in formation to defend against cavalry, similar to pikes. The heads of bills are unique, but usually containing both thrusting, chopping and hooking surfaces. These hooks are used to dismount cavalry. Bills are about six or seven feet long. The bulky heads make bills considerably slower than pollaxes or halberds, partially counteracted by the reduced length. While not a problem in formation, skill is required to prevent the user from exposing himself. Bills are used by the Fal Dara guards in The Great Hunt.
Although they resemble axes on long poles, halberds can be used for either cutting or thrusting. Halberds are slightly longer than pollaxes, most often seven feet long (including the head). Although similar to poleaxes, halberds are different in that their heads are formed from one solid piece of metal, not assembled out of multiple parts like poleaxes. Halberds always contain axe blades, which are larger than poleaxe blades and are either angled (like shown), or concave. These weapons are deceptively light and fast, weighing about 5 pounds total. Originally developed for use inside a pike formation to reduce its vulnerability to infantry, halberds are gaining popularity with guards due to their impressive appearance as well as their deceptive speed and ability against multiple opponents.
Also called a Kwan Dao. A type of polearm which consists of a curved single-edged blade mounted on a pole or staff. The length of the pole gives the weapon great leverage, and allows the use of quarterstaff-type techniques in addition to the chopping and slicing capabilities of the blade. Depending on the specific design, a bladed staff can be a surprisingly subtle weapon. They also provide a certain amount of reach for those occasions when you don't want to close with an opponent. However, due to only one cutting surface and no thrusting point, they are somewhat less versatile than halberds or poleaxes. Naginata also tend to be shorter than other polearms, thus allowing them to be used in large rooms.
This weapon is called an ashandarei in the Wheel of Time, and should be described as such when role playing.
A full-sized sword blade whose handle is of roughly the same length as the blade; technically a polearm rather than a type of sword. The concept is very similar to that of the bladed staff; the main difference is in length (the handle on a this sort of weapon tends to be much shorter than the pole on a bladed staff). Generally, the blades here are longer than those on a naginata or glaive, but that is not always true. Likewise, the handle of a pudao is often wrapped like the hilt of a sword, rather than left bare like a bladed staff - but again, this is not always true. As with most polearms, there aren't any truly definitive terminologies. The Chinese used this sort of weapon both for and against cavalry, while the Japanese used them in the front lines to break enemy formations. Depending on the precise design, techniques for these weapons may include vertical chopping attacks, wide sweeping blows, and tighter spiralling-in attacks. Pudao are the shortest of the polearms, bridging the gap between large sword and polearm.
Spears have the great advantage of reach over most weapons. Because they are primarily thrusting weapons, spears can be used with very little lateral space needed, making them very good for use in formation. Spears can be used in two hands with quarterstaff techniques, single-handed in conjunction with a shield, or as an initial throwing weapon (sometimes called a javelin). Although they are primarily thrusting, many war spears have broad sides capable of slashing. Some spear heads have lugs extending perpendicular from the haft. These serve to prevent the head from penetrating too deeply to retrieve. In the heat of battle these lugs can get caught on enemy weapons, which is why they are found primarily on hunting spears. In addition, armies often field units wielding pikes, which are spears over 15 feet long to defend against a cavalry charge. Pikes must be used with both hands and the butts are usually driven into the ground to absorb shock. Due to their long length, pikes are unwieldy and useful only in formation. Spears are referred to as lances when used from horseback and as javelins when thrown.
Quarterstaves are the classic peasant weapon. They are cheap, easy to produce, versatile, great defensively and against multiple opponents. Traditionally made from oak or hickory wood, these weapons also double as walking staves. Due to being made from such hard wood, they hold up surprisingly well. If blocks are made at angles, a sword will skid off harmlessly. While unable to penetrate plate armor, it can severely dent it, causing the person inside to suffer severe bruising or a concussion. Before obtaining his ashandari, Mat used a quarterstaff to great effect.
Almost any dagger or knife can be thrown, but ones that are used primarily for throwing typically have small or absent quillions (the horizontal bars to protect your hand). This is because they increase the weight of the weapon and the more the hilt weighs, the more stress is put on it upon impact. The real trick about throwing a dagger or knife is controlling the number of rotations it goes through before hitting the target. Throwing a dagger will have no effect if it lands hilt-first. Likewise, they typically don't penetrate very deeply. They are effective at disabling opponents, but force the thrower to hit one of certain keypoints on the body to in order to be fatal. (i.e., base of the neck, just below the breastbone, etc.) Thom, Min and Faile use throwing daggers frequently.
In addition to throwing, daggers and knives can also be used in hand. Due to their light weight, daggers are very quick, making them formidable weapons in the hands of a skilled user. This speed can more than make up for their short length. Because their blades are short, however, only stabbing can be instantly fatal. Dagger cuts can be very debilitating, but they don't penetrate deeply enough to kill except by blood loss. When fighting against armored opponents, their small size is a great advantage, allowing them to target small openings in an opponent's armor.
The stiletto is a knife with a very thin blade, making them easily concealed. Stilletos usually have a triangular cross-section, and have no edges, meaning they are only useful for thrusting. They are assassin's weapons, designed to be thin enough to slip between the ribs. However, due to their small size and lack of versatility, stilettos must be used with surprise. If the first thrust fails, there usually will not be a second. Thus, they are not useful as a combat weapon.
Yew longbows such as this one are the standard infantry bow. These bows have great power and range, although due to their size they cannot be used from horseback. Longbows such as these can accurately fire about 12-15 arrows per minute at short distances and about 7 arrows per minute up to about 650 feet away. Heavy chain mail can be penetrated at 330 feet. However, in battle longbows are never used for direct fire. Rather, they are used in mass to lob arrows up into the air, falling upon the enemy formation. Note that the arms of the bow don't "recurve", that is, bend the opposite direction. These are the same type as the Two Rivers longbows.
Short, or Recurve, Bow
Shorter bows like these are primarily used from horseback or by individuals that may not otherwise be able to use a longbow. Unlike the longbow, these shortbows "recurve" - that is, at the end of the bow, the arms bend outward when not strung. These shortbows have a higher rate of fire than longbows, although with shorter range and lower penetrating power. Mounted archers are devastating against infantry, although very weak against cavalry. Shorter bows like these are used by the Aiel, although they don't use them from horseback.
Although the recurve bow can and frequently is used from horseback, it is not what is called a horse bow. The horse bow is asymmetrical: longer on the top than on the bottom on either side of the grip. This is to allow for a mounted archer to fire behind him without hitting the horse's rump with the bow. The same shot can still be accomplished by a recurve bow, but requires extra effort to avoid hitting the horse.
To be a skilled bowman, you need intense training over many years. A crossbow takes far less training to become effective due to the mechanisms of the bow holding the string and bolt steady, as opposed to human hands. Although crossbows are more expensive and slower than normal bows, their superior range, accuracy, and ease of operation make them highly desired on the battlefield. Light and medium crossbows such as this one have higher rates of fire because they can be re-cocked by hand, sometimes requiring the aid of the foot-loop on the front. Heavy crossbows are usually used in battlements where their low rate of fire is not as serious of a handicap. Some medium and heavy crossbows require a hook-like device such as a "goat's foot" to cock the crossbow, where a siege crossbows require a crank system called a windlass. The ornate crossbow the peddlers have in Shadow Rising appears to be a siege crossbow, as Mat thinks about needing to "crank it back".
Light crossbows can reach up to 15 bolts per minute. Medium crossbows can only reach 12 bolts per minute, and heavy crossbows can fire a maximum of 7.5 bolts per minute. Note that these are the highest maximum speeds, and can't be sustained for long periods of time. Light crossbows are effective up to about 820 feet, and heavy crossbows are effective up to just under 1000 feet. Keep in mind that all these ranges are NOT typical, rather, they are the extreme range. Also, they could only penetrate heavy mail at about 500 feet, more in the case of heavy crossbows. Plate could only be penetrated at about 170-230 feet. Much like longbows, crossbows were usually used for indirect fire in battle, although they also used direct fire for siege operations.
Slings are ranged weapons designed to throw small objects over distance with high accuracy. Accuracy is increased if the slinger is throwing uniform clay or lead bullets instead of random stones. Whereas arrows penetrate with cutting force, sling stones hit with blunt force. As such, they may damage opponents with their concussive effects even if they cannot penetrate armor.
Sling staves are slings on the end of a long stick, allowing larger objects to be thrown, including firepots. Sling staves are only useful for military uses, usually siege operations.