The Serpent, Spear, and Wheel of Time
A Compendium of Weaponry and Military Costuming
of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time
Rand al'Thor
Tam's heron-mark sword
Laman's sword
the Dragon Banner
the Dragon Scepter
the Crown of Swords
Legion of the Dragon
Perrin's axe
Perrin's hammer
Two Rivers bow
Mat Cauthon
Mat Cauthon
the Shadar Logoth dagger
the Horn of Valere
the Band of the Red Hand
The Two Rivers
Two Rivers bow
Queen's guards of Andor
Elayne's Bodyguard

The Aiel
al'Lan Mandragoran
Shienaran lances
Saldaean light cavalry
the Arafellin
the Crown of Swords
The White Tower
al'Lan Mandragoran
Armsmen of Tar Valon
The Black Tower
The Seanchan
Deathwatch Guards
sul'dam and damane

The Other Nations
Defenders of the Stone
Mayener Winged Guards
Arad Doman
Amadician pikes
Far Madding Guards
Other Weapons
Loial's axe
Birgitte and her bow
Aram's sword
Sword of Kirukan
throwing daggers
the Ebou Dari marriage knife
Aludra's Dragons, &tc.
measurements in the WoT
link to us

** Throwing daggers **

Throwing daggers, secreted up sleeves, in boot tops, under coat, etc., enjoy great popularity in the WOT. Thom, Mat, Min, Faile and Dena all use these weapons, often to great advantage. While their individual preferences undoubtedly varied, a number of traits are likely shared.

Of "good steel" <TEotW: 20, 304, Dust on the Wind> and undoubtedly of quality make, given a great reliance on their accuracy, and consistently good results in Thom's and Mat's hands. Balanced for throwing: thrown rapidly with a "whip-like motion" to quickly dispatch Trollocs, Maidens, and mighty morphin' playing cards <TEotW: 20, 304, Dust on the Wind; TSR: 2, 71, Whirlpools in the Pattern; TFoH: 51, 871, News Comes to Cairhien>

Dena insists her daggers "... better have the balance right ..." <TGH: 26, 383, Discord>; with Faile's, "... the balance was just right ..." <TSR: 14, 245, Customs of Mayene>. Dena, a performer, would likely be expected to throw hers; Faile's are also balanced for throwing <TSR: 30, 389, Beyond the Oak>, though she uses them hand-held in the battle for the Stone, to good effect <TSR: 10, 194, The Stone Stands>

The daggers would have fixed blades, a small or non-existent guard, and very likely resembled a modern boot knife; the only reasonable historical example I've found is that of the Japanesebo-shuriken bo-shuriken, more a throwing spike than a knife, as used in ninjutsu. A fairly thin, light hilt seems probable: more than one might be carried inside a sleeve <TFoH: 3, 102, Pale Shadows>, yet strong and intended also for gripping, during hand-held combat. Blade and hilt would be balanced at the very center of the dagger, for steady rotation when thrown.

A likely length is about 10 to 12", or little more, for a weight of some 10 oz. or more: heavy enough to fell Trollocs, yet small enough to be hidden within a forearm sleeve or boot-top; these daggers would certainly not cross the elbow joint and interfere with joint function. For hand-held use, a 4" hilt seems a bare minimum, and 5" not inappropriate; given that these daggers are enough to give Trollocs pause, a blade length of 6 to 8" also is likely. It seems likely that, unlike some throwing knives, these would be edged rather than merely pointed; Faile, at least, uses them, hand-held, in close combat <TSR: 10, 194, The Stone Stands>

throwing knivesGiven such parameters, a wide variety of designs are likely, from the bo-shuriken to many of the alternative forms popular with modern knife-throwing aficionados.

Jordan overlooks the great skill required to work throwing daggers, and the impracticality of them. If held at the blade tip, the dagger starts with the hilt foremost, rotates 180 degrees until the tip points forward, and continues to rotate until it strikes its target, or lands. Only for a very small part of its 360 degree rotation is the tip pointing forward. Similarly, if thrown from the hilt, it must complete a 360 rotation before the tip points forward again. The dagger moves tip-first only for about 1/20th part of its overall flight!

Distances at which any given blade completes a half turn, a full turn, a turn-and-a-half, etc., are relatively fixed, though can be influenced by grip, stance, and whether it is thrown from blade tip or hilt. Thus, a throwing dagger is only effective at fixed distances; it usually travels some seven to twelve feet before the dagger first points forward. The thrower must accurately estimate this distance within inches! and within the split-seconds available during the melee of an encounter, or forfeit the opportunity. With moving targets, or throwing off a horse, it is impossible to accurately make the throw.

These limitations are not absolute: knives can be thrown as bo-shuriken, such that the knife actually flies straight. This requires that a spin be imparted to rotate the knife around its long axis, like a bullet, as it is thrown: a skill that can be learned with months of practice. It is telling that virtually no modern knife-throwers espouse this technique.

For a further perspective on the subject, I quote Tom Sotis, president of the International Blade Fighters Guild, holder of a number of martial arts titles, and special advisor to and trainer of world-wide military and law enforcement organizations:

... hitting a moving target is different. Try [hitting a target carried by someone charging at you]. Even if you are a good thrower - if you are not used to it - it will be a humbling experience. Add danger, fear, fumbling fingers, uneven terrain, poor lighting, light in your eyes, slippery ground, multiple opponents, armed adversary, or any of the other 500 variables of combat.

... facing a single enemy, I personally would not throw my weapon. A knife is a close range tool ... even seasoned martial artists are often surprised and unsettled by what a trained knifefighter can do in just a second or two ... who would throw away the BEST tool to have in close range?

Jordan shows no awareness of these problems, and probably assumes a simple, horizontal flight trajectory for these weapons, or assumes that the thrower can accurately vary the rotation of the blade, and place the blade tip into the target regardless of the distance. Both require prolonged, intense practice and such great skill that these feats are virtually impossible. Why bother? A knife in the hand is worth far more.

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