2014 A to Z Challenge: K is for Knives

Day Eleven of the A to Z Challenge.

Primer: During April over 2,000 bloggers are posting daily on topics that correspond to each letter of the alphabet. My posts will revolve around the research elements that have informed my new historical fantasy, Famine.

K is for Knives. And guns and weapons. Oh my!


I hadn’t intended to give Bartholomew a gladius. The large and small boning knives, yes, but the Roman sword kinda snuck in there. A fantasy character carrying a sword has become a bit predictable, but sometimes characters want what they want. Technically he should have a spatha (slightly longer than the gladius that it slowly replaced as Rome’s preferred sword), but the gladius is iconic. So I fudged historical accuracy a bit.

The boning knives, on the other hand, well there’s just something raw about a character who uses those. They imply a dark purpose and a willingness to get up-close and personal. They mean business and belie Bartholomew’s gentlemanly appearance. Those I deliberately placed in his hands.

Then there’s the Balearic sling. That was a chance to give him an ancient (like Biblical-ancient) weapon that’s easily concealed but extremely deadly when wielded with accuracy. Consisting of a length of braided hemp, a Balearic sling has a loop at one end that fits over the slinger’s finger and a widened “pouch” in the middle for a stone. The opposite end is held until release. A small stone is loaded into the pouch, the slinger whirls the sling two or three times and then releases the pinched end. The snap you hear is the sound barrier being broken by the end of the sling. Yes, m’dears, David really could have slain Goliath with a stone.

Last comes the guns — a Colt revolver and, later, two Colt semi-automatics. I have to thank Ethereal Rose and her followers for all the excellent gun advice, as well as the lively discussion about gun selection. They were invaluable! I will be picking their collective brains a lot more in the future. 😀

A selection of weaponry:

Bartholomew pulled the sling from his pocket and loaded a stone as he trailed them. Koorva.

At mid-block Matilde ducked into a narrow alley. One cadaver followed her, but the other turned at the crack of Bartholomew’s sling. A stone shattered the front of the man’s skull, and he toppled like a tower.

Thanks for stopping by. Please take a few minutes to check out some of the other A to Z bloggers, leave comments, and see what other writers have posted for K.


  • Great post and excerpt!

  • So danged interesting, Monica! I didn’t know about the snap–breaking the sound barrier. And I also didn’t know about the Roman knives. There is certainly imagery at work there when you add the word “boning” to the word “knife”.

    And why didn’t I know that you were doing the A to Z? 🙂 I need to read every one of your posts, and absorb all of the research you’ve done for this book. 🙂

  • Great topic! I’ve got “weapons” scheduled for “W” in the challenge. Hope the A to Z Blog Challenge is going well.

    JC Gatlin, Mystery Author

  • I have many fine books on weapons. For the purpose of research, of course. Of course. One of my favorites is a book of blades and blade-ish weapons (do pikes count?) The book is unfortunately entirely in Japanese, but the names of the weapons are in English. It’s organized by region, time period, length and purpose, so it’s really quite informative.

  • Love it. The Chandler quote about whenever you don’t know what to do with a story, send in some guys with guns, has always struck me as solid advice.

    I know what you mean about the swords. I am a fan of the short, stabby ones like the Roman swords, so I think this is the right move. And they work well with handguns. I also like sabers. I wanting to have a character with a falcatta one of these days, because they look so cool. But they’re so difficult to describe, is the problem.