The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today. It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times. I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know! This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!
So! I was curious about the term 'swashbuckler' which is usually applied to pirates and swordsmen, and as an adjective or sub-genre to books and films. It's an interesting term on it's own, one that has been used since 1560. The origin of the word is conjectured to be a combination of the sound of a side sword brandished and struck against a buckler, which is a type of small hand shield. The term was originally applied to the people who would use those weapons in a fight, but with a slightly negative connotation according to the OED - "A swaggering bravo or ruffian."
As a genre, swashbucklers usually have chivalric intentions at it's heart and it's beginnings include King Arthur's tales, as well as Robin Hood. Later, classic interpretations would continue to build on the idealistic and daring theme with Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers and (a personal favorite) The Scarlet Pimpernel. There's a sense of heightened drama and excitement that comes with the term now, as well as a strong sense of justice and honor, and it's definitely an appealing sub-genre for me because of it's historical settings and Romantic intentions.
Do you have a favorite swashbuckling tale?
Oxford English Dictionary
(It seems the publisher of Traitor's Blade is involved in the whole Amazon dispute thing, so I'm definitely buying my copy from my local bookstore - please let them stock it! - Amazon is being so annoying...)