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The top 15 fantastic fictional swords

Ancient myth and modern stories are rife with enchanted swords that make even the most unlikely protagonist infinitely more awesome. We rank the 15 finest fighting blades in the annals of genre fiction.
15. The Ebony Blade

Wielded by the Marvel superhero Black Knight, this sword was forged from a meteorite, enchanted by Merlin, cursed by centuries of bloodshed, and can make the wielder invulnerable to anything except status as a fourth-tier Avenger.

14. Sun Sword

A blatant lightsaber rip-off redeemed only because it was the signature weapon of Thundarr the Barbarian. It can cut through anything, including metal, energy, magic, and copyright infringement.

13. Sword of Omens

Sigil weapon of the Thundercats, even though it looks like the love child of Excalibur and the Eye of Sauron. It can cut anything, deflect anything, shoot energy, and toss off the totally-not-a-Batman-riff Cat Signal to indicate the third-act battle of the current episode is ready to start.

12. Sword of Grayskull

Also known as the Sword of Power, it's the strangely trophy-handled blade that transforms Prince Adam of Eternia into He-Man, and (more importantly) the cowardly green tiger Cringer into the Frank Frazetta-esque Battlecat. Also, it's indestructible and grants its wielder access to the power and secrets of Castle Grayskull, which is nice.

11. Sword of Gryffindor

A goblin-forged magic blade wielded by whomever the Sorting Hat feels like giving it to in the Harry Potter series. It has the same powers as the third-rate Incredible Hulk villain The Absorbing Man, but can also destroy horcruxes and make Neville Longbottom seem cool. So, yeah, it's omnipotent.

10. Sword of Shannara The longsword equivalent of Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth, the Sword of Shannara forces anyone who touches it to confront the existential truth about themselves, so it's literally and figuratively a touchy-feely blade. It's also very picky about who gets to wield it and for what cause — very much like a high-maintenance girlfriend — therefore making it one of the most dangerous weapons ever forged. 9. Sword of Truth

A holier-than-thou blade that confers its wielder with all the skills of its previous owners, but will only let you kill people who deserve to die and, if you disobey, will morph you into a troll. So it's basically Excalibur with the mystical equivalent of YouTube comments attached. In other words, terrifying beyond comprehension.

8. Callandor

A crystal sword that can defeat any enemy except the need to endlessly overextend a book franchise, it's the ultimate weapon of the Wheel of Time series — bizarre anti-male-chauvinism complexities included.

7. Stormbringer

A demon in sword form that corrupts its wielder, drinks the souls of its victims, and can cut through anything — it's the perfect weapon for Michael Moorcock's proto-emo fantasy antihero Elric of Melnibone. Stormbringer is vulnerable only to uncreative RPG dungeonmasters who throw it into every lame, derivative tabletop campaign ever to disgrace a hex map.

6. Master Sword

Also known as the Sword of Evil's Bane and the Sword of Time, it's the go-to battle blade for Link from the Legend of Zelda series. It can destroy magical barriers, lift curses, cure werewolfism (seriously), fire energy blasts, solve gaping plot holes, and leap franchises to create nerd-tastic sight gags in other video games.

5. Glamdring

There is a seemingly endless array of awesome swords in the Lord of the Rings series. This is the one used by Gandalf. It has no obvious magical abilities beyond glowing blue in the presence of orcs, which is irrelevant, because it's used by frakking Gandalf!

4. The Giant's Sword Beowulf's most famous sword is Hrunting, which is said to be infallible until it comes up empty against Grendel's Mother. Beowulf tracks down the Giant's Sword for the rematch and offs the old bitty lickety-split. Succeeding where infallibility fails is a pretty compelling argument for badassery. 3. The Vorpal Sword

Technically, the vorpal sword is a meaningless weapon from the Lewis Carroll poem "Jabberwocky" — but Carroll is also the guy who invented the term snark, so nerds have inexorably concluded a vorpal sword is simply the most cutting blade possible. From Dungeons & Dragons to Bill Willingham's Fables series to Charles Stross's Glasshouse, a vorpal sword is impossibly sharp and ultimately awesome. Snicker-snack that.

2. Kusanagi The Japanese equivalent of Excalibur, with the added bonus that the Kusanagi might actually exist. Known alternately as the Grasscutting Blade and The Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven, the Kusanagi was ostensibly forged in the belly of a giant eight-headed serpent and confers its wielder with the ability to control the wind and cut even the most sturdy (monster hide) or supple (burning grass) materials. Pretty much every awesome fictional oriental blade was inspired by Kusanagi, including the Green Destiny, Usagi Yojimbo's Grasscutter, and at least half the magic swords in the Final Fantasy game franchise. No matter what sword you have, this sword is cooler, if not outright better. Suck on that, Hattori Hanzo. 1. Excalibur

The sword against which all other mystical blades are measured. While it's unclear whether it came embedded in stone or emerged from a lake, what's certain is that Excalibur makes its wielder invincible, blinds one's enemies, heals mortal wounds, confers dominion over all of Britain, and ensures its owner is portrayed by the coolest available leading man who can do a passable English accent. It's one weakness? Anarcho-syndicalist communes, which may still be a mark in its favor.

Think we missed a sword, or simply feel your favorite warblade was mis-ranked in our rundown? Cut the chase in our comments section.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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