Saex talk

We got a little rain today (and that’s a good thing), but it was just a little. When I got home, the evidence suggested that we’d gotten a little more right here. Even better. And the skies were full of dark clouds. I took my afternoon walk on the theory that my vulnerability would prove an irresistible temptation to the heavens, but it didn’t work (could it be that the universe isn’t specifically engineered to frustrate me? This could crush my entire paradigm!).

But when I sat down to start this post it was raining again. A tentative, Avoidant rain, unsure of its welcome. I didn’t have much hope of it, but lo, it continues, even unto this minute.

The weekend went OK. I didn’t have anyplace to go, so I washed and waxed Mrs. Hermanson and did some repair and staining on the latticework underneath my screen porch.

My treat was the arrival of this object:


This is a Viking saex, hand-made for me by author and knifemaker Michael Z. Williamson. If you’re wondering why a guy who’s been hinting at financial constraints throws away money on things like this, the answer is that I ordered and paid for it a couple years ago, when I was flush, and it’s been delayed for various reasons. So this was a long-awaited pleasure.

I posted about saexes (or seaxes, or saxes, or saekses, ad infinitum) a while back, when I made a sheath for the back-up saex I’d bought for live steel. This knife is not for live steel. This one is fully sharp. Even Crocodile Dundee, I believe, would concede that this is a knife. It’s 16 ½” long.

If you look closely you can see Viking runes inlaid in the side of the blade. These spell out (in Old Norse) a line from the poem, Bjarkamál: “Breast to breast the eagles shall claw each other.” The Bjarkamál was a very popular war poem in the Viking Age. One of King (St.) Olaf’s poets sang it before the Battle of Stiklestad, and this particular line was nearly the last words of Erling Skjalgsson, hero of The Year of the Warrior.

The saex was one of the most common, and prized, weapons in the Dark Ages, and continued to be so long after the Viking Age had passed. It has been suggested that possession of this weapon was restricted to free men, and was a mark of freedom—the Saxons took their name from the weapon. Most men couldn’t afford to invest valuable steel in swords which had no practical use outside of warfare. But every free man had one of these, useable as a machete, a butcher knife and an offensive weapon.

It’s still raining, very lightly. This would be perfect if it just lingered and lingered. I don’t think that’s in the forecast, though. But we’ll take what we can get.

4 thoughts on “Saex talk”

  1. That is an awesome saex! I’m trying not to commit the sin of envy…. 😉

    But this reminds me, are you planning on writing anything else set in the Viking period? (Pretty, pretty please?) I loved the Father Aillil story, with its lovely historical detail and grittiness. None of this “La-la-la, we’re happy happy Christians with no problems or temptations” pablum. I find Aillil more believable than most CBA fiction heroes. Plus the setting makes me want to walk around reciting “Caedmon’s Hymn,” which gets me lots of strange looks, but like I care. 😀

    Any other books lined up, at Baen or elsewhere?

  2. Ah, you ask the sad question, Evie.

    I am presently without either publisher or agent. I’ve got some worms in the water, fishing for agents, but the appearance of any more of my books (there are 4 written, including 2 more Erling books) is not a thing to be counted on, alas.

  3. There are two UNPUBLISHED Erling books sitting on your desk or hard drive, while drivel is being published daily?

    Where are sackcloth and ashes when I need them?


  4. Very “seaxy”! (Sorry! I couldn’t help myself!) The knife looks like a “user” as well as a “looker”, too!

    I have always been fascinated by the seax, especially when so many of them seem to have been sharpened on the “straight” side of the blade rather than the “belly” side. This practice turns the blade into what could be considered almost an oversized “sheepsfoot”, which would be great for “straight cuts” on rope, for example, but it would most likely not be very good for slicing and for butchering and skinning animals. It would be very nearly useless as a thrusting weapon.

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