In one of his interpretations of the Wheel of Time's Trollocs, artist Wayne Barlowe drew the monster holding a blade that looks like a giant sickle, with the concave edge being the sharpened one- is that anything like how Robert Jordan envisioned the sword looking like?

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    I cannot see, broadly speaking, any other specifically meaningful interpretation of "scythe-sword." It's not like a scythe without a curved blade, and if the convex side of the curved blade is the striking side, it's a scimitar or cutlass.
    – Buzz
    Sep 20, 2023 at 3:55

3 Answers 3


I think the closest we can get is the official cover art. The Fires of Heaven back cover shows a handful of Trollocs stalking our Heroes:

Back cover of The Fires of Heaven

and they are shown with something like a scimitar, a curved blade but with the convex edge being sharpened.

This cover art is one of the covers reproduced in the companion book, The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, so clearly it had some level of blessing by RJ.

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    Speculation: RJ might have based it on real-world scythe weapons, that I gather were common at one time. A peasant heading to war would re-position the blade on his scythe so instead of sitting at 90° for mowing, it was at 180° like the thing held by the guy in the green coat in the picture. Fitting it on a shorter handle would give him something like the Trollocs are holding - but in each case only the concave edge would be sharpened. Sep 20, 2023 at 7:54
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    @PastychomperthanksMonica just for completeness, the thing held by the guy in the green coat is supposed to be even more alien - it was given to him by another species, only properly identified by a person who could remember centuries' worth of lifetimes, and (I think) was unique in the entire series.
    – muru
    Sep 20, 2023 at 11:05
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    I will say, based on my experience with pocket knives, that a concave blade is the last thing you want to take into battle. When you pull it to get it out of whoever you sunk it into, then it will dig itself deeper rather than come loose - as Neal Stephenson pointed out, leaving you with your blade all hung up while its victim's best buddy comes running up to you for revenge.
    – gowenfawr
    Sep 22, 2023 at 16:04

There are forward-curved blades which have been called scythe-swords. He could have taken inspiration from an ancient dacian falx or modified medieval falchion (specifically an Elmslie type 2a). Never mind non-european cultures, like the Nepali Kukuri or Egyptian khopesh, which could have been an inspiration. (It could have been as simple as: "Dude, imagine a long kukuri but the edge is on the other side! That's going in!")

As an important note, european weapons suffer from evolving and varying names in both their native tongues as well as through time. This makes it really hard to pin down what someone is thinking of through the medium of writing. This may be a contributing factor for the descriptions of weapons in literature. Additionally, so many names for swords are just "sword" or "knife" in that language, like spatha, spadone, Messer, etc. so using a descriptive but informal name may be just as effective.

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    OP isn't asking what they might look like. They're after a description from the books (or supplementary materials)
    – Valorum
    Sep 20, 2023 at 23:23

Based on the descriptions in the books the closest real world weapon would be giant sword sized karambit knife. They're described as scythe like and curved. Scimitars and kopesh curve backwards. These are specifically compared scythes sickles which curve forward, possibly reflecting a claw. I've also noticed that they're frequently used to try to decapitate people, something a scythe or sickle like design would be exceptionally good at.

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    What descriptions in the books? All I could find was that the swords were huge, large, curved and scythe-like
    – Valorum
    Sep 21, 2023 at 1:00

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