"Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands."—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Village Smithy
Someone who shapes things out of iron and steel, so called because iron is a "black" metal. This craft has been around since humans first learned to shape iron and iron alloys. Metalworkers specializing in bronze or copper are sometimes referred to as "redsmiths", and those that work with tin or pewter are known as "whitesmiths."
The blacksmith was an invaluable member of the community until the advent of mass production techniques in the Twentieth Century, and is still a substantial figure in less industrialized areas. The smith is often used symbolically to represent mankind's creative abilities and the advances of technology. His tools, the forge, hammer and tongs, and the anvil are rich with metaphorical meaning. Furthermore, swordsmiths in Japan were held in an extremely high regard, culminating in the story of legendary swordsmith Masamune, whose finest sword could cut everything sinful while not cutting that which was innocent. All of this are reasons the name "Smith" is so common not only in Anglophone countries but also, for example, in Slavic countries, where variations of the word "Kovač" are also one of the most common surnames, and also in Romance language with names such as Ferrari, Lefèvre, Herrera, Ferreira and Fieraru.
Due to the body strength needed for pumping the bellows, hammering metal and dealing with the temperature of the forge, most blacksmiths will be depicted as burly fellows; variations of this usually include Stout Strength, female blacksmiths with a Wrench Wench vibe, and smaller smiths with wiry muscle giving them surprising strength. If forced into combat, most fictional blacksmiths can use their hammers to devastating effect, but weaponsmiths will often use the weapons they specialize in making instead. The blacksmith may possibly be related to robot tropes as well in a sort of Technology, Strength and Intelligence sort of way.
While blacksmiths made many different useful items, in fiction you will generally see them specializing in weapons (especially swords), armor, fetters and chains (usually these smiths are depicted less favorably than other metalworkers) and horseshoes (a specialist in the last is often called a "farrier.") Swordsmithing is actually a very specialized field, but in much fantasy, an "ordinary" blacksmith may be able to produce weapons of quality well above what he would realistically be capable of.
Taken to its fullest extent, the blacksmith becomes the Ultimate Blacksmith: the person responsible for weapon class MacGuffins, he is the person who makes the demon slaying sword or fixes it, or purifies it so it will not consume the user's soul. Makes a weapon that the hero treats as his keepsake or turn the seemingly useless ore to something useful. He prides himself in his work and treats them like children and the wielder as a father.
He will generally be the star of a Forging Scene.
- Ashul Edwaru is the master blacksmith from Tower of God. Not only did he create the Thirteen Months, he was also the first to realize that the weapons that came from outside the tower would eventually become utterly useless in the higher levels (especially swords and axes). He promptly redesigned them and became a legend.
- The old man, Godo, who makes Guts' BFS and other gear in Berserk. He likes the sparks that fly upwards.
- Rickert is becoming one as well, of the smaller variety.
- Vinland Saga: After giving up his Blood Knight lifestyle, Thors becomes a laughably bad blacksmith working in an Icelandic village.
- In The Sacred Blacksmith, Luke (who isn't the main character) can magically forge katanas. These break after a few uses though.
- In Inuyasha, Totosai is the old Youkai swordsmith who forged both the Tessaiga and Tensaiga.
- Presea from Magic Knight Rayearth is a special case. Each weapon she crafts is intended for a specific wielder, and while it's possible to borrow some of them in a pinch, the swords she makes for the heroines can only be handled by them alone. In addition, she forges the weapons through dance and her own will rather than with a hammer and anvil—in the middle of a forest known for canceling out all forms of magic, no less.
- Aries Mu from Saint Seiya, the only person able to fix heavily damaged Saint Clothes... at very high prices. Not because he's evil (he is not), but because the main requirement is to give out lots of your own blood. Shiryu does it once and almost dies.
- After the concluding of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, Arakawa made a side-story chapter where this trope applies. After Al receives his old suit of armor in a package, he decides to turn the material of the armor into automail. In response, Winry takes him and Edward to the blacksmith, where Winry is acquainted with the men there. Who knew that the producing of automail steel actually had a back story? Huh.
- Queen's Blade has two of them: Ymir the dwarf (who isn't the same as the other dwarves), and Cattleya the supremely-endowed human. They had a duel to decide who is the Ultimate Blacksmith, and Cattleya came as the better one. This defeat seems to be one of the reason Ymir had a Face Heel Turn in Rebellion.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Tony Stark learned traditional blacksmithing techniques on a trip to Arthurian times, and has used them every so often since.
- The 1940s Batman Newspaper Comics had a storyline in which Bats' secret identity was put into a Bruce Wayne Held Hostage situation by being handcuffed to a kidnapping victim. Fortunately they were able to find a friendly female blacksmith who was quick on the uptake when gangsters followed the couple.
- Fulliautomatix in the Asterix comics.
- John Henry Irons, a.k.a. Steel from the DC Universe often invokes blacksmithing in addition to his folkloric image (see his first and middle names). He is notable for hand-forging the plating of most of his Powered Armor.
- Blacksmith Felix Quintero becomes the outlaw Moonstalker in Topps Comics Zorro series. (He was intended to eventually become an ally of Zorro's but the series ended before that could happen.)
- Iron Mask, a western villain from Marvel Comics, was a blacksmith who built himself a suit of bulletproof armour. Originally appearing in Kid Colt, he would eventually end up fighting The Avengers.
- Io from Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman run is the Amazonian blacksmith. She forges weapons for Wonder Woman out of not only metal, but also the essence of truth.
- Blacksmith "Boom Boom" Brown was the partner of Marvel Comics Western character the Two-Gun Kid.
- An older British comic entitled The Hammer Man featured a spectacularly strong medieval blacksmith called Chel Puddock who, over the course of the series, defeated knights, was himself knighted, led rebellions against corrupt barons and eventually rose to be a lord.
Fairy Tales and Folklore[edit | hide]
- In The Daughter of the King of the Vilas, the smith advises the hero—and gives him three iron shoes that he wears out on his quest.
- In The Three Brothers, the middle one becomes a very silled blacksmith.
- In Black Bull of Norroway, the heroine works for a smith for seven years, and he makes her iron shoes to get over a glassy hill.
- Xander, and eventually Cordelia in I Am What I Am, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fic by M. McGregor. In the future timeline, Super!Willow (re)discovers how magic weapons are created -- by smiths who have little to no magic of their own to interfere with the imbuement of magic into the weapons they create. Xander has no magic at all -- lower than anyone else, ever -- and is able to forge the most powerful of magical weapons.
- Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean was a (surprisingly stringy) swordsmith, though he dumped the profession once an opportunity arose.
- Balian (like Will, played by Orlando Bloom) was a blacksmith in Kingdom of Heaven. He dumped the profession after murdering his brother.
- Kate, the farrier from A Knight's Tale, is the Wrench Wench version.
- Dr. Brown in Back to The Future 3: "I'm a scient... I mean, a blacksmith"
- Hattori Hanzo in Kill Bill was the greatest swordsmith in the world until he promised God he'd stop; his breaking of that vow resulted in the finest weapon he ever crafted.
- Domingo Montoya, the swordmaker from The Princess Bride, whose murder by Count Rugen would send his son Inigo on a quest for revenge.
- John Rambo seems to have picked up some metal working skill during his 20 years of residence in Thailand, as he is shown making the blade for a boat rotor and later on smashing a leaf spring into a large knife in the latest movie.
- A deleted scene for Rambo III demonstrated this as well, and it is obvious why it was cut. The knife Rambo forges here (using soft, delicate lovetaps with a mallet) is practically a sword and features craftsmanship more suitable for someone who's dedicated their life to the trade, rather than a Vietnam vet living in a monastery. In a way, the two scenes contrast the differences between the commercial, glossy, and pompous Rambo III and the grittier, darker and simpler Rambo.
- As in the comic book, Tony Stark forges himself a high-tech suit of armor IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS! While it includes high-tech weaponry and an impossibly powerful arc generator, he spends a good bit of time pounding out the metal armor.
- Hephaestus, blacksmith to the Greek gods.
- Most fantasy dwarves have this in their makeup somewhere, though they also often work in much more exotic materials. This goes right back to Norse Mythology, the dwarves Brokk and Eiti who forged treasures for the Aseir, including Thor's hammer.
- Wayland the Smith (also known as Volundr) from Norse, Germanic and Old English legends was the creator of magic rings and the swords of heroes.
- Seppä Ilmarinen from The Kalevala. Seppä translates to Smith.
- In Persian mythology, Kaveh the blacksmith led an uprising that overthrew the evil demon king, Zahhak. The Derafsh-e Kaviani, used as a battle standard and as a symbol of Iran, is said to be based on the design of Kaveh's apron. Ferdowsi retells the story in The Shahnameh.
- In the book Liberty and Freedom about mythological motifs of various American factions and subcultures, David Hackett Fischer tells of how slave huts would often keep an iron statue made by a local slave-smith and thinks it a symbol of hoped-for liberty.
Literature[edit | hide]
- On the Discworld, there's Jason Ogg, son of Nanny Ogg, who's so good at his craft that he's the only one Death trusts to shoe his horse. The downside is, well, he has to shoe Death's horse.
- He also shoes a unicorn. He has to use silver shoes and nails, and remarks that they won't last very long.
- On the other hand, the reward for being the best blacksmith in the world is being the best blacksmith in the world.
- Also, being the best obligates you to always be the best. If someone brings him something and asks for it to be shoed, Jason must shoe it. He's even put shoes on an ant that some friends brought to him as a joke.
- Esk's father was a blacksmith
- Possibly Galder Weatherwax.
- In Unseen Academicals, one of Nutt's many talents. He needs to the Horseman's Word to keep from frightening off the horses, but he's very good.
- Theros Ironfeld in the Dragonlance novels. Blacksmith of the town of Solace, gets his smithing arm cut off by a sadistic hobgoblin. When next he shows up, Theros has a magic arm made of silver to replace it, and forges dragonlances for a living. Cool, huh?
- Blacksmiths are specifically mentioned in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland as a good source of allies - their daughters tend to be beautiful and any orphans they raise automatically become heroes with mysterious lost pasts.
- Gendry from A Song of Ice and Fire is a perfect example of the secret legacy variant mentioned above. Donal Noye is a retired smith with one arm ...who killed the King of the Giants.
- Durnik was a smith who married Polgara in The Belgariad. He gave her delicate roses... of steel. Especially impressive when you consider he only used magic to give them color, smell, and perhaps rust-proof them and The ended up with a whole garden full.
- Perrin from The Wheel of Time. A recurring theme in the series is Perrin hesitating between the life of a blacksmith and a warrior. Robert Jordan actually researched blacksmithing, and depictions of Perrin working are meticulously accurate (except for a minor error or two that were corrected in later editions.)
- Charity Carpenter in The Dresden Files.
- Also a former Wrench Wench, since her skill is justified by her having worked on custom motorcycles before she got married. An unusual example, because in addition to steel she works with titanium, Kevlar, and ceramic strike plates.
- Daja from Circle of Magic is a blacksmith, and her magic is tied into her smithing.
- This is specifically cited as Fetish Fuel by Rizu, who says that part of the reason she's attracted to Daja is that she's so strong and makes beautiful things.
- Daja's teacher Frostpine is also a metalsmith, and one of the Great Mages in their world.
- In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander, Dak'ir does blacksmithing to purge his soul after troubling events.
- One of these shows up in the Warhammer 40,000 novel Hammer of Daemons and is commanded to provide Alaric with equipment. Given that he has the Black Carapace and is dark-skinned, it's implied but not outright said that he was ex-Salamander.
- In The Silmarillion, pretty much any given Elf will have forged some weapon at some point or another in their career. Most notable is Fëanor, who created the Silmarils, forged the first weapons in Valinor, and was even trained by the God of Smithcraft Aulë. Of the Elves, the Noldor in particular are noted for their ability at smithing. The Dwarven race also fits this trope, almost even moreso than the Elves.
- Sauron, being a Maia, was also trained by Aulë and had his fair share of metalworking.
- The go-to guy for really good blades seems to have been Telchar the Dwarf: he forged both Narsil and Angrist, the knife which cut the Silmaril from Morgoth's crown.
- In the Alfred series by Bernard Cornwell, the protagonist/narrator Uhtred wields a pair of loving crafted swords, made for him by his Northumbrian castle's blacksmith, Eadwulf.
- In Lloyd Alexander's Taran Wanderer, (fourth in the Chronicles of Prydain) Taran briefly stays with a blacksmith who fits this trope description to a T. He teaches Taran how to forge his own sword, and, like the weaver and potter that Taran also stayed with, offers Taran his own philosophy of life.
- Rhunön from Inheritance Cycle.
- Smithmaster Agella from the Shadowleague books.
- Hammersmith in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
- The blacksmith in JRR Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham is a morose man who always predicts everything will fail and is only happy when his doomsayings come true. He is thus happy to point out that he is just a village toolmaker, not an armourer, and cannot make real armour or a shield for the Anti-Hero Giles. He cobbles together some sort of rings attached to a leather coat, however. (Giles doesn't need a weapon - it's that damned magic sword he found that forces him to become a dragonslayer).
- In Tiger Eye, heroine Dela is a rare and peculiar modern smith. She sculpts in metal as well as making commission weapons, and the plot kicks off when one of her weapons is discovered to have been used in a murder.
- Cavallo takes this role in the Conn Iggulden's Emperor books; the Romans do have blacksmiths, but Cavallo is the one who shows them how to make steel.
- The fourth entry in the fanfic series "Gadget Getaways" The Purple Penance reveals the origin of Gadget Hackwrench's last name.
- Two major characters, and several minor ones, in L.E. Modessit's Saga of Recluce practice blacksmithing as their profession. Not just weapons, but tools and various other odds and ends. One of the most realistic depictions of the craft in fiction.
- The Dwarves by Marcus Heistz features a blacksmith as the protagonist.
- In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, the father of the kidnapped boy.
- Belisarius in Belisarius Series wishes he was a blacksmith. Instead he is forced by his position to take up another profession that uses iron a lot.
- Karis in the Elemental Logic series is an accomplished blacksmith. She's also an earth witch, and she's aware of what happens to every tool she makes(which is why she makes weapons only for her True Companions).
- Marunde in Someone Elses War fits this trope in role and attitude, but instead of swords he's making grenade launchers.
- Elof, main character of Michael Scott Rohan's The Winter of the World trilogy. The best smiths in his world are also mages, and the first book's epilogue says Elof eventually became known as "mightiest of all magesmiths amid the dark days of the ancient Winter of the World."
- Longfellow's Village Blacksmith is an American ideal who is humble in the best sense of the word, but noble and hard working and strong enough to provide for himself and his family while magnanimously indulging the children around. He is a perfect citizen in the best sense of the word for he can be regal while needing no subjects to bow before him and no pomp to flatter him.
- Burt Reynolds played blacksmith Quint Asper for three years on Gunsmoke.
- In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Princess Atalanta is a blacksmith instead of a huntress for some reason.
- Probably because she's played by former Ms. Olympia Corey Everson.
- Gwen's father on Merlin. There's also an official royal swordsmith mentioned.
- Vulkan, the primarch of the Salamanders in Warhammer 40,000 was raised as a blacksmith on his home planet, and his chapter has kept this tradition alive in the millennia since. In addition to forging and maintaining their own gear, The Salamanders also tend to favor flamethrowers, meltaguns, and energized hammers in combat.
- This has practical applications to their role as defenders of humanity as well; they are the only chapter able (and willing) to help rebuild essential infrastructure when the fighting is over.
- Anyone with high Craft (Fire) in Exalted would qualify. This subset of the Craft skill is used for everything from horseshoes to daiklaves. The setting also contains other, weirder smiths, such as the notoriously unreliable and sex-crazed demon-dwarves known as heranhal, or Alveula, Keeper of the Forge of Night, a powerful demon who smelts humans into equipment and carries a hammer about the same size as herself.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- There are at least a couple of blacksmiths in the Final Fantasy series, starting with the dwarf who forges Excalibur in the first game.
- Zappa from Chrono Cross (his wife has a similar build).
- Watts from Secret of Mana.
- Recruiting at least one blacksmith happens in every Suikoden game, and is vital to getting your weapons to their highest potential.
- Patapon has a former Dekapon (The Mighty Glacier class) who would help the player turn ore to alloys (useful) or mythical ores to powerful weapons and armour. In the sequel he demands some kaching to forge nicer items.
- Dojima the blacksmith from Way of the Samurai 1 and 2. He also fights with his hammer and tongs, which you can take from him, if you kill him.
- The Summon Night: Swordcraft Story trilogy. Smithing is Serious Business.
- Also the dwarf from Record of Lodoss War. I forgot what his default name is however.
- Sophitia's off-screen husband Rothion, in Soul Calibur. Sophie's god and mentor Hephestus explicitly asked him to forge sacred weapons for his warrior girlfriend/later wife, which he promptly did. Twice.
- Griswold in the first Diablo game.
- Suceeded in the second game by: Charsi (Rogue Encampment), Fara (Lut Gholein), Hratli (Kurast), Halbu (Pandemonium Fortress) and Lazurk (Harrogath). The first two are females of the Wrench Wench variety.
- Thief's Hammerite faction are very enamored of The Blacksmith. The guards may not smith on a daily basis but several religious texts found in-game make it clear that someone cannot progress from being a novice of the order without proving their skill in blacksmithing and stonemasonry.
- Every Harvest Moon game is guaranteed to have an old guy (cool or crusty) who will upgrade your farming tools for the right price. In Rune Factory, you can become one yourself after you purchase an extension for your house.
- Ragnarok Online has its own variety of the Blacksmith as a class, both capable of forging weapons, refining metals, and just plain causing mayhem. It also has a few Ultimate Blacksmiths making appearances in quests, especially the famed God Items quests.
- Every fort in Dwarf Fortress values its skilled smiths. There are Blacksmiths, who make large objects and furniture from metal, Metalcrafters, who make smaller trade goods, and most importantly, Weaponsmiths and Armorsmiths. Players tend to cultivate these, letting no other dwarves do any smithing work and producing obscene amounts of weapons from crappy metals in order to train a smith up to Legendary skill, at which point the smith cranks out high-quality items (which do more damage or provide more protection) at an impressive rate. Because it takes so long to train a smith to Legendary, these dwarves are highly valued and protected. Of course, once they're legendary and have made masterwork equipment for all your troops, there's not much more for them to do but make replacement equipment for when your dwarves inevitably dodge an attack and fall off of a bridge into the fortress's lava moat.
- Also, the "strange moods" of DF cause a dwarf to produce a legendary artifact in some craft that they have skill in, even dabbling skill, and become legendary in that skill. A lot of players exploit this and assign all peasants to make a few weapons or armor so that they'll have dabbling armor- or weaponsmith skill. Then they go back to farming or hauling crap around, skills which do not tap into strange moods, and if they get a mood they'll be guaranteed to make an artifact weapon or armor and become legendary.
- World of Warcraft features Blacksmithing as a learnable profession for Player Characters, as well as a wealth of Blacksmith NPCs in every major city, many towns, and even randomly in the wilderness, some of whom will offer to teach Blacksmith PCs exclusive recipes as quest rewards. Characters who learn Blacksmithing produce metal weapons and armor, various metal items used by other professions, and various weapon and armor enhancing items. At higher levels, Blacksmiths have the option to undergo quest chains to specialize in weapon or armor smithing.
- As of the Burning Crusade expansion, the Weaponsmith and Armorsmith specializations can only be used to create specialty weapons and armor for yourself. The specialty items a weaponsmith or armorsmith makes cannot be given to any other character. Ironic, considering that the dwarf in Ironforge who offers the Weaponsmith quest tells you about how lucrative it is to sell your weaponsmithing products.
- Quest for Glory II has Isun, Quest for Glory V had Pholus.
- Archer from Fate/stay night is described as a "blacksmith hero" at one point. His Noble Phantasm, a Reality Marble called Unlimited Blade Works, is essentially a gigantic workshop that eternally cranks out weapons of war he can then manifest in the real world. Archer cannot create any weapon he hasn't already seen and cannot make weapons on his own "from scratch", however—all his creations are duplicates of other weapons.
- Mabinogi and its prequel Vindictus both feature blacksmith Fergus. In the latter, he's the only blacksmith available to craft weapons and armour. In the former, he's one of several; and is the worst, clumsiest, least-reliable of the lot.
- In both games, the character has the opportunity to learn blacksmithing skills. In Vindictus, the character has to specialize in a particular type of blacksmithing—weapons or armour, not both. In Mabinogi, the character not only learns to craft both weapons and armour, but also everyday tools (including the hammer required to practice the skill).
- The Sims Medieval: One of the ten available Hero Sims is The Blackmsith, whose duties are to craft weapons, armor, magic staves, and help the kingdom fend off occasional dance-crazed Golems.
- The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess: Mostly offscreen, but Link's mentor, Rusl, is a blacksmith. He forged the Ordon Sword as an offering for the Hyrulean Royal Family.
- Every Rune Factory game has a blacksmith, all but one of which is talked about as though they're a master craftsman. The one who isn't praised is more into building golems, and does smith work on the side. Only one of the smiths who is praised can actually make decent weapons. He's also the only dwarf smith. It's his only dwarven trait.
- The Black Hammer of Darksiders is an immortal who forges weaponry for anyone if he feels up to it. Usually the forces of Heaven or the Horsemen.
Web Comics[edit | hide]
- Pella from Looking for Group left blacksmithing behind when she came through time to join the heroes. When she later decided that she had no choice but to assault a heavily fortified prison she chose to go with a set of custom made weapons from a smith of ancient times, namely herself. Working at the forge also made time for some Backstory.
- Wayward Sons: Phastus has taken this role since developing the ability to manipulate metal.
- In Next Town Over, the town of Sun Prairie has one. Vane Black takes the smithy from him after shooting off his fingers.
- Homestar Runner has a blacksmith character—the Poopsmith originated as a joke where they met him right after the blacksmith. The blacksmith has shown up once or twice since then.
- A Simpsons episode with Bart and a girl as fugitives from prison, features a blacksmith that frees them from their cuffs. (By forging a fitting key!) And it's a very stereotypical blacksmith, his character design would probably fit for any of the guys in this article's folklore section: Muscular, with thick grey beard, and even rousing music accompanying his scene!
- Masamune Goro, the Japanese blacksmith who was famed for the "spiritual quality" of his work. He supposedly spent 100 days meditating under a waterfall to purify his spirit before forging a katana.
- Muramasa is said to have infused every sword he made with his violent rage. Although Muramasa is often portrayed as Goro's pupil, the two lived about two centuries apart.
- The Javanese keris usually have it in their myths about how their blacksmith must perform a spiritual act (usually involve fasting and meditating in remote places) before they can begin forging. It only strengthen folk beliefs about how the keris are magic blades (of the "possessed by a powerful entity" variety).
- Many modern artisans from all over the world make armors and weapons for ornamental purposes.
- Andrew Ferrara may have been a sword-maker in Scotland in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Whether he actually existed is debatable, but it is known that extremely well-made Scottish broadswords have his name inscribed on their blades.