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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Refined Reader (17) Swashbuckler

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

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!

Source
This week, I'm sort of featuring one book that I've read recently - Traitor's Blade - which comes out tomorrow in the U.S.  My review will be posted tomorrow and an interview with the author, Sebastien de Castell, will go up Wednesday to make this an informal swashbuckler/adventure week on my blog.  This book enthralled me from the first chapter, so I hope to encourage other readers to check it out!

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?

Sources:
Wikipedia
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...)

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18 comments:

  1. I first came across "swashies" in an online game, Everquest 2. They were considered agile fighters that use speed and dexterity to beat their opponents. They oftentimes use daggers and rapiers and stuff like that, and they're actually one of my favorite classes because of how fun they are. As for swashbuckling tales, it will have to be THE TRAITOR'S BLADE, which I just finished a few days ago and will be reviewing soon as well. I totally loved this book despite the rather one-dimensional antagonists and the numerous deus ex machina, which were quite easy to overlook haha.

    Faye at The Social Potato

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  2. Would Captain Jack Sparrow count? haha Wikipedia says he does. :P Or maybe Will Turner? this is such an interesting post! I had heard of the term but had never realized its historical background up until now. Lovely post!

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  3. I always love your research :) I never stopped to think what a swashbuckler actually was, just assumed it was an adventurous pirate!
    Love your informal theme ;)

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  4. Swashies! That's a cute way to put it, I'm definitely referring to my fave swashbuckler tales as swashies now. :D I'm so glad to know that you loved Traitor's Blade too! I look forward to reading your review! I didn't have too much of a problem with the villains thankfully, but I do see what you mean about the deus ex machina. It's fantastic that everything else about the book is amazing though! :)

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  5. Definitely he counts! He's kind of what I see when I read the word swashbuckler anyways. Will Turner too, but I'll always love Capt Jack a little bit more :D I had no idea swashbuckler was such an old term actually - I thought it was something made up around the time films were created!

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  6. Thank you! I usually think of a pirate or swordsman as a swashbuckler - I never really thought of what it means to call a genre that. So I am glad to learn along with every one else in these posts! :)

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  7. I don't believe I read any stories with swashbucklers other than Peter Pan, but I enjoy watching Hook on Once Upon a time quite a lot. Also, is there anyone who doesn't love Pirates of the Carribean? Those two would have to be my fav's. Love the post! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.

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  8. Have you been watching BBC Musketeers show? It is sooooo good. I am actually about to watch the new episode now. I love the whole idea of pirates ... they just excite me.

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  9. My favorites were The Three Musketeers in fact which Traitor's Blade greatly reminded me of. I am so excited to see your review and interview! I loved this book and my interview with him just went live!

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  10. Ha! I'm intrigued by the origin of the word to be a combination of sound and something else. Fun! :D Or I think it justifies my inability to use proper words to describe things and replace them with sounds instead.. uh. XD

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  11. Hook is way too much awesome! Definitely made me a bigger fan of Once Upon a Time! ;) And PotC is another perfect pick!

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  12. I haven't seen it actually! I think I vaguely heard of it when it first came out, but I never had the chance to watch - I'll seek it out (I hope it's on Netflix or something - I don't get cable!)

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  13. The Three Musketeers is very vague for me - I think I need to reread it! And like I mentioned in my comment to your interview post, I'm glad Sebastien has some book recommendations as there's sure to be some awesome swashbuckling in them! :)

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  14. It is an interesting way to create a word! I wonder who first thought of it - I wasn't able to find the first time the word was used. I'm glad you also use such inventive methods to use words - you can also do that with your writing to create new vocab! :D And then I'll know exactly who first created that word!

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  15. I always thought a "swashbuckler" was a pirate. I didn't know it was also applied to swordsmen, even non-seafaring ones. My favourite swashbucklers will probably be the ones from Discworld. Captain Carrot, with his sword that doesn't look very impressive/shiny, but is very very sharp. Because it's more practical for a swashbuckler to have a sharp sword than a shiny one. :P

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  16. Oh oops, I thought it was in it's second season or something! Ok, I'll wait then! :)

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  17. Oh Discworld! I haven't read all the books so I don't think I've met Capt Carrot yet but I will be picking up more books in the future, so I look forward to knowing more about him. That series is so fun!

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  18. Oh.. well it is currently airing right now so it won't be on Netflix yet. Though it could be on BBC America's website to watch?

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