This book, written by Haas Visser, is the most widely-read history of the Pattern blades. Its author was unique in having unfettered access to the blades themselves and their wielders. Visser was a member of Prince Benedict’s war-band, and his association with Amber’s eldest son is presumably what made the other three princes amenable to his approaches.
Visser draws somewhat clumsy correlations between the four blades and the four patterns, something no other author tried to do. The fact that there are four blades and four Patterns seems to be the only solid reason for this — the rest of Visser’s rather lyrical explanations on the subject are, to put it kindly, far-fetched.
Once one discounts that portion of the book however, the research and detail on the four swords is remarkably thorough. Visser covers the creation of the swords with only infrequent lapses into the mythology other authors have relied on, and his descriptions of the swords themselves are so heavily detailed one would scarcely need to hold them to understand their heft, composition, and appearance. He also neatly covers the magical aspects of the blades in language even a lay-person will understand.
The history of the swords’ former wielders (princes Osric and Finndo) is dealt with sensitively, and Visser cleverly uses these tumultuous events, and the years the blades spent in storage, to give each sword a character of its own. In tracing each blade from creation to ultimate wielder, Visser describes eloquently the royal personalities that shaped each blade’s style and shape.
This book is highly recommended for any scholar of magical sword-making, and the lay reader will also find much to distract themselves.
On the creation of the blades
There are two versions of the creation myth of the Pattern Blades. The first is clearly mythology, while the second, although more believable, cannot be corroborated. Only Oberon himself, or his court wizard Dworkin Barimen, were there, and neither have spoken about the act.
The first story states that Oberon forged the blades in moonlight on the stairs of Tir-na Nóg’th. Because Tir’s stairs are only solid at the full moon, Oberon caused the moon to hold still in the sky for four months while he made the swords. The fire for the forge came from Mt Kolvir’s long-dead heart. The quenching water came from a spring whose waters had flowed over the newly-made Pattern. The steel for the blades came from lightning-struck trees petrified into metal. The gems in each hilt were plucked from the eye-sockets of a dying Rebman god, and the unicorn himself blessed each sword as it was finished.
The second story is rather more simple. Oberon was a conjurer of great subtlety, and he forged the swords with the most strongly magical materials he could find. He sought in shadow for the purest metal and the strongest gems, and used these to forge the Pattern Blades. Each sword was a simple jian with a single gem set in the pommel — a diamond, an emerald, a topaz, and a sapphire. Each blade contained a portion of the great Pattern of Amber, a feat of conjuration unmatched by any other.
Called the night blade, Greyswandir was the first of the Pattern swords, and Oberon forged it for himself. He later gave it to his son Corwin, when the boy turned 16. From its original jian style, Greyswandir has lengthened slightly and is now a more ubiquitous longsword. The sword’s design details are taken from Garnathi myth, showing Corwin’s strong links to his mother’s Karm bloodline. The gem in its pommel is a diamond.
Called the dusk blade, Anaghast was given to Benedict. Because young Prince Benedict fought primarily from horseback, the sword became a weapon better suited to cuts and slashes, and curved to accommodate its master’s style. Anaghast is now a liuyedao style sword, with a pure green emerald in its pommel. The simple ebony hilt and sheath is indicative of Venway design.
The day blade was originally given to Osric, and languished in storage after its master was executed. Oberon gave it to Bleys when the boy turned 16. To suit Bleys’ fighting style, Werewindle became thinner and lighter. It is now a rapier with an intricately sweeping hilt and a bright golden topaz set in its pommel.
The last of the Pattern blades, Havenskoye is also called the dawn blade. It was first given to Finndo, and went into storage when its master died in battle. Oberon gave it to Caine on his 16th birthday. Its current form is a falchion, set with a dark blue sapphire.