Relatively quiet week, trying to make sure I do some writing each day. My apologies if anyone has been looking for this blog on Goodreads. Something has happened to the RSS synch and it’s not coming through there, even though it does to the Amazon author page. I’m hoping this is easily fixed – that is, something I did wrong – but we’ll see what support has to say.
Took time to read “The Expert Sword-Man’s Companion” by Donald McBane, issued as a new edition by Jared Kirby a couple of years ago. McBane was a soldier in Marlborough’s armies at the end of the seventeenth century and beginning of the eighteenth. He was a master of the sword as well as other hand weapons in use at that time. The book is part manual on sword-fighting and part autobiography. McBane’s story is fascinating and astonishing. Based on the preface to this edition, some of the events that he relates can be corroborated by other, contemporaneous, sources so it is reasonable to accept his story as true. It is an amazing story. McBane recounts numerous sieges and battles that he was involved in and even more fights over the brothels and gaming he ran while he was in the army. This all resulted in numerous wounds by ball, bayonet, sword, having his grenade blow up and being beaten and left for dead (more than once). He also left a long string of wounded or dead men who made the mistake of challenging him. After all the campaigning, he returned to London and fought in thirty-seven “prize-fights” (sword-fights) until, at age 63, he resolved “never to Fight any more, but to Repent for my former Wickedness.” It is worth reading, both for the story itself and for anyone interesting in writing stories set in a similar era. A couple of words of warning: 1) The first part of the book may be difficult for someone without any background in fencing or seventeenth century weaponry; 2) McBane wrote in the early eighteenth century and was a soldier and fighter, not a scholar nor very learned. This shows in the syntax, grammar and spelling. There are, as well, what appear to be typos in various places but I cannot tell whether these have been faithfully reproduced from the original or were introduced when this edition was produced. With those caveats, this book is well worth the investment of time to read it.