Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Name that Sword!

I've got a long short story (or a short novella) appearing soon in an anthololgy called Blood and Devotion from Fantasist Enterprises. Outside of my Dragon Age books, it's my only short story about a dragon. In this case, the dragon is called Greatshadow; he's the exact literary opposite of my Dragon Age dragons. These, I built to obey the laws of physics and biology. Greatshadow, I designed to obey the laws of myth. He's a big, honking, six-limbed, fire-breathing beast with a wing-span a half mile across and a propensity for piling up large heaps of gold, silver, and jewels to nap on.

I'm currently writing a fantasy novel that expands on the short story, unfolding in this alternate reality where dragons breathe fire and wizards perform magic by telling lies to the universe and making the universe believe them. The big picture of the story is that the adventurers are on a quest to kill Greatshadow, the primal dragon of fire, a three-thousand year old beast that is more of an elemental force than a flesh and blood creature. The thing that makes killing the dragon possible is a magic sword. In the short story I'm basing the novel on, the sword is called "Frostbite." It's a blade of enchanted ice that's sort of kryptonite to a dragon of fire. My problem is, for the book, the name "Frostbite" seems overused. While I can't think of a specific instance, I'm pretty certain that in the 10,000 fantasy novels on the shelf already, someone has already used the name Frostbite for a magic sword.

I thought of calling it the "Winter Fang." But, I googled that, and sure enough, that's also already been used. In the book, the legend behind the sword is that it's been carved from the tooth of Hush, the dragon of ice, the opposite force to the dragon of fire. The sword is formed of a substance known as "false matter*," and is, essentially, a sword shaped vacuum of absolute zero that disintegrates any "true matter" it touches. I thought of calling it the Nulfang, but I don't like the look or sound of the word. And, other ideas I come up with all die beneath the crushing force of Google: I think I have something, but when I google it I find that some game or book already is using the name for a sword.

So, I though I'd throw it out to you guys. What would be a good name for a really, really cold magic weapon? It doesn't have to be a sword: I suppose the plot works just as well if it's a spear or an axe, but I'd like to keep it a hand-held weapon: the climax needs to have the hero within arms reach of the dragon, so, no holy handgrenades. Any ideas?

I don't want to turn this into a formal contest, but if you suggest a name and I use it in the book, you will, of course, wind up in the acknowledgements to the book, and get a free copy. However, since the book isn't written, and has no publisher lined up, it might be a while before that reward materializes; the non-existence of an prize is why I'm not making this an official contest. Just post your suggestions in the comments section. Feel free to make more than one suggestion.

*In this world, there are four essential forces that blend together to form reality: Matter, Spirit, Truth, and Lies. Most of the physical world - chairs, mountains, hammers, rain, and lollypops- are made of true matter. Dragons, according the the church, are made of false spirit matter. Most things are combinations of two of the forces; humans are the only things known to be made from all four forces, which either makes them the most balanced thing under the sun, or the most unstable.


Unknown said...


Darkond said...

Sunoamsasu (Stab in the Sky, 空を刺す)
Kosho (Bite, 咬傷)

James Maxey said...

Hmm. Neither are quite there. Skybiter is a pretty good name for a bow, I think. Actually, if I'd thought of it back when I was writing Dragonforge, it would have been a great name for the sky-wall bows. I think emptiness suggests a possible direction of thought, but would be confusing (if poetic), as I have the knight reach for his sword, and his fingers close around emptiness. It sounds like he's lost his sword instead of grasping it. Still, I've been playing around with ideas like "the empty mouth" or "the empty heart," though, so far, nothing yet grabs me.

Keep the ideas coming!

Cindy said...

My fiance came up with a few:


I'll keep thinking on this

Cindy said...

I also had a whole post not sure why it didn't show up when I commented before.

I thought of BitterFang but that sounded to much like Bitterwood.

then I thought of KalFang a small tribute to Kalvin with the absolute zero thing.


I'll keep thinking

James Maxey said...

Thanks, Cindy. IcingDeath sounds like a dessert (a la Death by Chocolate). I got excited by IceBiter, because it seemed to suggest an elegant solution to my short story name choice of Frostbite: Just change the name to Frostbiter. Alas, a quick google on "frostbiter sword" turns up thousands of hits.

Since a knight is going to be fighting the dragon with the weapon, this morning I thought maybe the weapon could be a lance. Alas, Frostlance turns up 9,000 hits.

I can't figure out if writing fantasy was harder or easier before google....

Cindy said...

IcingDeath does sound like some sort of chocolate overloaded dessert!

Google might put a damper on some writing but on another hand it forces writers to think out of the box a little.

if the lance freezes the fire it could be Crystal Lance or Crystalance.

It'll give me something to think of this weekend.

Scott Muir said...

How about "The Splinter" ?
Dual meaning:
1. A tiny shard such as a shard of ice

2. It kind of denotes something small and insignificant, but can be quite painful if stuck in the right spot. An ice sword would be very tiny and insignificant looking compared to that dragon with the mile wide wings, yet it can hurt the thing !

Eric James Stone said...

Night Ice

James Maxey said...

Cindy, Crystal Lance sounds to me like an excellent name for a protagonist in an urban fantasy series. Really, I can see the series right now: The Knights Templar are still around, a secret underground society battling the hidden demons and dragons dwelling among us, but their numbers are dwindling and they've finally yeilded to modernity and annoited Crystal as their first ever female knight. Man, that could work!

Scott, I like your idea, and have been playing around with it. I immediately thought of the Winter Splinter, but I'm probably not brave enough to go there in the end. However, splinter sounds like splitter, and that lead me to Ice Splitter, which then led me to Icebreaker, which then led me to google "Icebreaker sword," which turned up 800,000 hits. Sigh.

Eric, your ideas got me thinking about frost on the ground in the early morning, which led me to Frostmorn or Frostmourne. So, I googled that, and 999,000 hits!!!!

But: Yesterday I thougt about calling the sword "steelness," a pun on "stillness." Your night suggestions lead me to think about "The Steel of the Knight."

OK, I'm a little embarrassed I just went there. But, I did think about the Steel of Winter, then, somewhat obviously, "WinterSteel." And, when I google "Wintersteel sword"... nothing! There's apparently a character named Wintersteel in World of Warcraft, but I can't find where anyone has named a sword this.

So, right now, Wintersteel is my #1 contender, unless something better pops up. I'll acknowledge everyone who made suggestions if this book gets published. You've all helped me keep this in the front of my mind for a few days now. Thanks! And, if anyone thinks they have something better than Wintersteel, nothing in a book is ever final until it's in print. Bring it.

Unknown said...

I would stumble over the concept that the ice dragon's tooth was made of steel.

May I recommend "Winter's Edge"?

James Maxey said...

Alas, if you google "Winter's Edge" the very first hit is that it's a magical sword in World of Warcraft. I can only assume that the WOW team must hire a guy who's only job is to sit around all day and think of names for magic swords.

Your objection to the item being carved from a tooth yet being made of steel is a good one, but I'll figure something out. Now that I have a name, it's easy to work backwards and adjust the origin of the sword.

jeff_hotchkiss said...


Brian said...

Hi James - I always find something fun when I visit your blog. I like the ring of Glacial Steel (although, granted it sounds like what the blade is made of instead of a name - however, maybe that will free up your name choices). Good luck!

James Maxey said...

Jeff, I had missed all the polar words. I'm kind of liking the possibilities of the word "pole." I know that the people who made the weapons are whalers, so perhaps the weapon could be a harpoon, and the weapon could be called something like the "pole spike." And, Brian, I concur that Glacial Steel has a good ring to it. If I go with the harpoon idea, maybe I'll call it, the "Glacial Spike."

TheCraftySmith said...

Hi, I have come up with a name for a sword that you could use.


This sword is a dragon sword that can be handled by anyone. It has a special orb on the handle of the sword that changes to the type of dragon is being faught at the time. Like for example if the dragon is Ice (like the one in your story.) the orb on the hilt of the sword will change and you can use powers associated with Ice to defeat Fire dragons. And the same goes with other elemental dragons.

James Maxey said...

Thanks, Starlight Lady. Can you tell me a little more about what the word Chandrahas means? I googled it and see it's apparently a common name in India, but didn't quickly find a definition.

Unknown said...

"The Sword of Stillness"
also known as IsenStal (Ice Steel in Swedish)

James Maxey said...

Thanks, Denglund.

Now that I'm 15 or so chapters into the book, I've taken to thinking of the weapon as a harpoon and right now am calling it the Glacial Spike, though this isn't final. The North Spike also is a contender. I'm going to be changing a ton of names in the next draft. This is pretty standard for me; I can write about characters, objects, and places with filler names until the final inspiration strikes.

DareDevilT8579 said...

Lunar Blade of Frozen Night

a Silver Blade that glows like moonlight with unsurpassable freezing capabilities. Its powers are so strong that a single swing of the sword freezes the air around it.