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Literature / Sword with No Name

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Sword with No Name (Меч без имени, Mech bez imeni) is a trilogy of Russian fantasy novels, written by Andrei Belyanin. Typical of Belyanin's works, it features a modern-day man finding himself in a Medieval European Fantasy. The novels are written in First-Person Perspective.

The protagonist is a modern (well, in The '90s) Russian man named Andrei, who goes with his wife and friends to a festival with a Medieval theme. While there, he decides to play around, grabs a plastic sword and starts a mock fight with an executioner. Before he knows it, he's attacked by guards using honest-to-God Medieval weapons. Suddenly, a magnificent sword literally falls into his hand and appears to have a mind of its own. He ends up fleeing from the guards into a building and comes out in, what he eventually discovers, is a magical realm, ruled by the tyrannical Evil Sorcerer Riesenkampff, who killed the king of Lokheim, the Fading City, and forcibly married the king's daughter, now Queen Tanitrielle, in order to legitimize his rule. According The Prophecy, only the Chosen One, bearing the fabled Sword with No Name and the title of Landgrave, can slay Riesenkampff and end his evil reign. Unfortunately, there have already been twelve Landgraves, and all of them were killed. Andrei becomes the Thirteenth Landgrave, whether he wants it or not, and immediately finds himself a target.


Andrei manages to flee the floating city and quickly finds himself traveling companions: Lia, a Runaway Bride, who serves as the Landgrave's page and dresses as a boy; Sir Jean-Baptiste-Claude-Chardin le Boule de Zir (whom Andrei nicknames "Bulldozer"), a Lovable Coward, who begs Andrei to take him on as his squire rather than return home in disgrace, after being soundly beaten by Andrei; and Veronica, a 15-year-old witch, whom Andrei saves from being burned by townsfolk. Lia accidentally dubs him Lord Skiminok, after mishearing a word he utters in reference to the symbol on the cloak given to him by Queen Tanitrielle, and he decides he likes it. Throughout his journeys, he meets both friends and enemies, as the world has split itself between those, who seek to help the Thirteenth Landgrave overthrow the Evil Sorcerer, and those, who either like the status quo, fear Riesenkampff's reprisal, or expect a handsome reward for capturing or killing the Landgrave.


The original novel was later followed by The Furious Landgrave and The Age of Saint Skiminok.

The trilogy contains examples of:

  • Appropriated Appellation: When approaching the city of Ristale, Andrei comes upon a mounted knight. He and Andrei come to verbal blows, before the knight decides to teach Andrei a lesson. He charges at him with his lance, but Andrei sidesteps and knocks the lance straight at the ground with his sword, causing the knight to dismount and perform an impressive Olympic pole-vault, straight at the city wall. He decides to bring the unconscious knight with him, calling him a bulldozer because of his impressive bulk and the tendency to rush straight at things without thinking. When the knight awakens, he reveals that his name is Jean-Baptiste-Claude-Chardin le Boule de Zir, causing Lia to give Andrei an impressed look, as if he'd somehow guessed the knight's name. The nickname sticks (especially since Andrei is the only one who knows what it means).
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: When Andrei goes to Hell to rescue Lia, he encounters a garrison of imps, who are sleeping. He throws a piece of wood to wake them up, then barks at the one in charge, who identifies himself as Lieutenant Brumel, and pretends to be their colonel. Remembering his days in the Russian border guard, he uses a Drill Sergeant Nasty voice to browbeat the half-asleep imps into submission. Then he makes himself scarce before they wake up enough to realize they've been duped. When exiting Hell, they encounter Brumel and about a dozen other imps, who wish to join the Landgrave. Considering their already Ragtag Bunch of Misfits status, Andrei accepts them into his group.
  • Burn the Witch!: Andrei arrives into a town and discovers that the locals are about to burn a 15-year-old girl named Veronica on the charges of witchcraft. While Lia and Bulldozer desperately try to prevent him from doing anything stupid, he uses a disguise and rushes in on a horse to rescue the girl. She later admits that she is, indeed, a witch, although she hasn't really done anything to deserve being burned alive.
  • The Cavalry: As the Corrupt Church officials are preparing to hang Andrei on trumped-up charges, the execution is delayed by the sudden arrival of Prince Raumsdal, who has found about about it and wishes to kill the Landgrave himself. This keeps Andrei alive long enough for Princess Liona to arrive, who desires to marry Andrei (even though he told her he's already married). Finally, a genuine cavalry arrives, headed by Sir Charles Lee (AKA "The Cook"), whose respect Andrei has earned in the tournament.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: This is how afterlife works in this realm. When Andrei goes to Hell to visit Death regarding her taking Lia, Death explains that she gets her names form a white stone, where someone from either Heaven or Hell writes a name of the person she's supposed to take. She read Lia's name and took her. Then she discovered that neither place actually wants her at this time. When Andrei asks if that means he can take Lia back, she sadly shakes her skull and says that the red tape to process her release could take over a month.
  • Chosen One: Andrei quickly finds out that the Sword with No Name has chosen him to be the Thirteenth Landgrave, prophesied to kill the evil Riesenkampff. Unfortunately, since every other Landgrave has been killed, Andrei gets really tired of hearing how he only has a few days (a week tops) to live from well-meaning people.
  • Cool Sword: The titular sword is a magnificent work of art, despite utterly lacking in any carvings or jewels. It's clearly magical, heating up whenever the current Landgrave is angry. It also appears to have a mind of its own, able to fight off several enemies at once, even though the wielder may not have any fencing skills. It can appear in the Landgrave's hand on command. Whenever a Landgrave is slain, the sword starts looking for a new master.
  • Corrupt Church: Most of the clergymen Andrei encounters in this world are corrupt and deep in Riesenkampff's pocket. Others are simply pursuing their own power games, like Cardinal Kull.
  • Could Say It, But...: This is how Death tells Andrei where to find Lia and how to get out of Hell with her. She then pretends to be passed out drunk, although she does mumble something along the lines of Your Other Left, when he turns the wrong way.
  • Cute Witch: Veronica, she even gets a broom later.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: When Death comes for Lia, Andrei invites her for a drink. As it turns out, The Grim Reaper has a weakness for alcoholic beverages.
  • Energy Weapon: Riesenkampff's guards are armed with laser pistols, presumably obtained on a futuristic parallel world. Fortunately for Andrei, they have clearly attended the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. The city itself has a number of laser cannons to both protect it and attack ground-based targets.
  • Floating Continent: Lokheim, the Fading City, floats in the sky. Before Riesenkampff, it used to be a symbol of hope, but now it's one of terror.
  • The Grim Reaper: Death herself shows up to take Lia away, claiming that she's on her list. Andrei offers her a drink, and they end up getting drunk together, although Death refuses to release Lia. Shortly after, Andrei goes to Hell and pays a visit to Death. She admits that there was a mistake, and Lia wasn't supposed to be taken. At the end of the first novel, Death shows up to take Riesenkampff, with whom she has a score to settle. This proves fortunate, as the Sword with No Name refuses to strike down someone in cold blood.
  • Hypocrite: Andrei first encounters Lia, when he saves her from a group of highwaymen. So what does she do whenever Andrei sees someone else in distress? Tell him he can't waste his time on every person in need.
  • Jousting Lance: Twice someone tries to charge at Andrei with a lance, and twice he uses the same trick to unhorse them. First time, it's Bulldozer (the reason he gets his nickname, the fact that his family name is "le Boule de Zir" is just a happy coincidence). The second time, it's a random knight at a tournament. Basically, Andrei waits until the last moment, then jumps aside and then uses the sword to knock the lance tip into the ground, resulting in an impressive example of Olympic pole vaulting.
  • Kangaroo Court: When Andrei returns to Voshnahaus, he's arrested on multiple charges (some genuine, and some trumped-up). Ignoring his companions, he willingly hands himself over to the monks, expecting to be able to defend himself, forgetting that he's in The Dung Ages. Before he knows it, the monks have him in a vise and are threatening to torture him if he resists. He ends up admitting to many ludicrous crimes, fearful for his limbs, and is sentenced to be hanged.
  • Lovable Coward: Bulldozer may look huge and imposing, but he's a coward at heart. The only way he can get into a fight is if Andrei orders him to do it. He begs Andrei to take him on as a squire, as he fears his father's heart will give out, if he returns home in disgrace.
  • Narnia Time: At the end of the first novel, Andrei returns to his own world to find that no time at all has passed there.
  • Only One Name: Partly subverted. The protagonist's first name and patronymic (Andrei Olegovich) are given, but no last name, since everyone just calls him Lord Skiminok in the books.
  • The Prophecy: There's a prophecy that a Landgrave of the Sword with No Name will end Riesenkampff's reign and slay the sorcerer. Naturally, Riesenkampff does everything in his power to discover and kill any new Landgrave in short order.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: At the end of the trilogy, Andrei decides to stay in this world with his son and his new Love Interest, justifying that his marriage has been gradually going downhill. He seemingly forgets that his son has a mother back in our world, who will be freaking out when her child suddenly disappears one day, never to return.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: King Plymouthrock I, when he's not enabling his Royal Brat daughter. Marquis de Braz, the ruler of the city of Voshnahaus. The Marquis even tries to intervene, when the Corrupt Church officials are trying to hang Andrei on trumped-up charges. When he requests evidence, the monks knock him out and then ask if anyone else wants to see the evidence.
  • Royal Brat:
    • Prince Raumsdal, Riesenkampff's son. He treats everyone, including his stepmother Queen Tanitrielle, with disdain, and constantly uses his father's name to threaten others. He's also a Dirty Coward, running away from fights.
    • Princess Liona, the daughter of King Plymouthrock I, the ruler of the United (or Middle) Kingdom and the surrounding principalities. While he's a good man, the King never says "no" to his daughter, even if she's asking for the impossible.
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: After Andrei encounters the Russian Prince Zlobynya Nikitich in Hell, the latter explains that his brother Dmitriy the Mighty was the Twelfth Landgrave, who gathered a mighty force of Russian warriors and led them against Riesenkampff. The Evil Sorcerer slaughtered most of his men and Dmitriy himself, while Zlobynya and his troop were dumped in Hell. While there, they have managed to severely reduce the number of imps, who act as Hell's soldiers, but their own ranks have also suffered.
  • Schizo Tech: The Fading City of Lokheim has doors that lead to other dimensions, including our world and at least one futuristic one. This explains why some of the city's guards use standard Medieval weapons, while others carry laser pistols.
  • Sequel Hook: After ending Riesenkampff's reign, Andrei returns to his own world and goes home with his wife. Then he gets a phone call from the other world that something terrible has happened, since, thanks to Narnia Time, a lot longer has passed over there.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: While fleeing Lokheim, Andrei receives a cloak from Queen Tanitrielle with something resembling either an octopus or an upside-down tree on the metal clasp. When Lia asks him if that is his symbol, he refers to it as an osminog (Russian for "octopus"). Since she's never heard of such a thing, she mishears it as "skiminok" and assumes it's his name. So she starts introducing him to everyone as Lord Skiminok. Andrei decides he likes it and goes with it.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: When Andrei first encounters Lia, he assumes she's a boy, especially since the "boy" is dressed in male clothing and introduces "himself" as Liy. Not much later, though, he sends "Liy" to take a bath. When the "boy" takes too long, he sends Bulldozer after "him". Bulldozer, having figured out that the "boy" is a girl, is reluctant but is too cowardly to refuse his lord. Naturally, his entrance is followed my much screaming. Andrei runs in and is startled to see a young woman there. Lia continues to wear male clothing, while serving as Lord Skiminok's page, although it doesn't fool everyone.

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