A Swordmain (pl. Swordmainnir) is a Giant, or more commonly a Giantess, trained as a warrior. This includes sophisticated sword-fighting techniques requiring tens of years of basic training and proper armor, not a ragged fur loincloth and a tree bough with a couple of nails hammered through it for clumsily bashing anything that stirs before hitting oneself in the head.
Attire and Weapons
Granite serves as the major material for everything from swords to sarks to emergency hip flasks. Adding this to the general bulk of a Giant (starting from eight times the weight of a wee pathetic little human), it is not advisable at all to get trodden on trod or sat on by a fully-clad Swordmain, even if they might apologize profusely for it afterwards.
Occasional iron items pop up among the rocky paraphernalia, indicating either feats or rank, but such are rare since metal forging is not practised in Gianthome.
In the Second Chronicles
The First of the Search wears leggings and full upper body armor formed of stone mail. This deviates from the (later) high fantasy trope of chain mail bikinis, which proves that the author was a couple of decades ahead of his time with ideas. She wields an iron sword almost as tall as the leper messiah and further protects herself with grieves, an iron shield, and a proper helmet.
In the Third Chronicles
Whereas The First's armor was optimized for movement, the members of Rime Coldspray's hird ** clothe themselves with maximum protection in mind. This practicality proves itself a blessing later, when the Amazons must slay the Land's equivalent of fire-spitting dragons. Their hefty cataphracts (breastplate and a backplate locked together with bindings) are made of hardened scale mail, but have the significant the disadvantage of becoming an encumbrance to any exhausted warrior. You have to be tough to make it as a Swordmain.
** Linguist's Corner: Please note that a "hird" is a more than respectable word of Scandinavian origins that denotes a group of highly-trained warriors. On no account should it be considered that the mighty Swordmainnir are being referred to as a bunch of cows. Such an inappropriate insult would no doubt be met with customary Giantish laughter and good humour, but you might just note a glint of steel in Rime Coldspray's eyes as, in appreciation of your jest, she claps you across the shoulders heartily enough to leave your ears ringing.
The cataphracts serve other practical uses as well: a bed for Anele, heat radiators when Linden pumps them full of staff power and efficient buckets for carrying water for an entire camp of thirsty humans and Giantesses. In the last case, the author not-so-subtly points out that at least some of the huge women were graced with equally ample charms as if that had not become evident from his repetition of the phrase "shaped stone". Since it is known that at least some of the Haruchai could not resist the songs of the curvaceous Merewives, it is a wonder how they managed to drag these "basins" along with straight faces.
Akin to her distant cousin Karsa Orlong in another fantasy universe, Rime Coldspray carries a stone glaive (formed of hardened granite), while some others, like Frostheart Grueburn, seem to possess custom-forged steel longswords.
The military structure is commanded by an older, experienced Giant(ess) titled the Ironhand. Which is a somewhat of an odd expression regarding the Giants' adoration of stone, but perchance this foreign material has gained a significant symbolic meaning within their culture. Or they decided that such candidates as Granitehand/Dolomitehand/Ferro-anthophyllitehand sounded plain moronic.
The exact number of warriors within the organization remains vague, but it is unlikely that Coldspray would have summoned all her underlings to pursue a single madgiant to the very end of the Earth. What if a colossal, cosmic worm awaked to attack Gianthome in her absence, and...oh wait.
The Swordmainnir contest the privilege to lead a Search in trials that probably would correspond to a decade of uninterrupted Olympics.
Relation to the First Chronicles
No accounts of Giantish military organizations exist in the depictions about Coercri. Either the profession did not exist during that time period, or every warrior had found a more peaceful place in the halls of their ancestors. Perhaps the inhabitants would not have subjected themselves to genocide, if a burly older Giantess had slammed her ironfist down in the Giantclave and demanded everyone to steel their guts and cease mewling over petty matters. After all, a couple of millennia later, a measly group of just eight Swordmainnir strives to cancel the bloody end of the world...
Discipline and Fighting style
The training and warring of centuries has turned these mighty Giantesses into artists of combat, both verbal and physical, omitting individual cases like Cabledarm, who does not flaunt with the might of her wits. As demonstrated by Glowlimn’s exchange of arguments with Rire Grist, they learn to negotiate with enemies of various types ere swords are unsheathed. They must also adjust their minds to face bloodshed and arduous decisions with cold internal calm: the reader becomes educated on several occasions about the way Glowlimn speed-builds an impenetrable fortress around her emotions, masking her visage with grim determination even as she, at one point, commands Pitchwife to accompany Linden and Covenant into the heart of Foul’s demesne and leave her behind in a last, desperate stand against innumerable furious Cavewights. Equally the Ironhand herself shields her evident grief in a similar fashion as she demands Stoutgirth to abandon the body of a beloved sailor during the climax of The Last Dark. The devastated Giant proceeds to opine that Coldspray’s heart is formed of stone. Then again, if the Swordmainnir of Linden’s army had remained to shed tears over every fallen comrade on the spot, skurj and other unnamed, cyclopean blasphemies from the deep elder-reaches of the Land would have soon devoured them along with the fate of the Earth. Plus let's not forget that Linden does quite enough crying for everyone else anyway. Any more weeping and the Land itself would have risked becoming entirely submerged.
Eminence over other Giants
Overall, the reader is given the impression that Giantish society revels in equality: most if not all decisions require Giantclaves, men and women can pursue whatever profession they desire, et cetera. Giantish bluebloods and nobbylords, or tyrants lounging lazily upon thrones of skulls while voluptuous human slave girls clad in gauze dance and flutter around them, seem nonexistent. However, the Swordmainnir do recline on the top levels of the social pyramid if anything can be read into the excessive bowing and groveling of their non-belligerent peers: this may have something to do with the tremendous responsibilities associated with their craft, namely the safety of Gianthome (and the Earth entire, slightly megalomaniac as the Giants are by nature). One of Grimmand Honninscrave's first gestures after meeting Covenant and his ragtag troupe was to bend the knee before the First and declare "It is she whom I serve." I-am-sworn-to-you-in-love-and-fealty-Pitchwife's adoration of her borders on worship. Perhaps a shrine devoted to his beloved war goddess wife stands next to his pitch-pot. Then again, Glowlimn does make it clear that she is the Supreme Amazon Valkyrie of the Search, and one should tremble in awe afore the unadulterated might of her glaive...
Within the cadre, a different symphony is played. Or perchance one should not attach such lofty terminology to the inner dialogue of Coldspray's hird at all: high honorifics become trampled beneath a burlesque of grand scales. The Ironhand taunts her underlings and they equally mock her back, particularly Grueburn, who on several occasions states that her leader is an indecorous loudmouth with an atrocious sense of humor. When not ridiculing one another, they delight in risqué below-the-navel jests - and on one memorable occasion, one of these gets them literally rolling about on the ground, leaving the altogether too innocent Jeremiah vexated and confused.
Whatever the inner mechanisms of the military organization, the sheer fact that for the most part only women aspire to become warriors with leadership duties has given rise to theories about a matriarchal society.
- Gossamer Glowlimn
- Ironhand Rime Coldspray
- Frostheart Grueburn
- Onyx Stonemage
- Halewhole Bluntfist
- Stormpast Galesend
- Cirrus Kindwind
- Moire Squareset
- Scend Wavegift
- Lostson Longwrath