A preamble. Back when I was in high school, I came across a very thorough and very witty book on medieval weapons, and how many of the choice hand weapons in the pre-gunpowder era started out as agricultural implements. I don’t remember too many specifics, but I remember laughing myself sick at some of the quips about halberds and flails, and I remember one comment about the conversion of the bill from a pruning implement to a very effective anti-horseman weapon. Specifically, the author stated that “someone noted that pruning bills were as good at lopping limbs off people as for limbs of trees…”, and that crack still comes to mind every time I pull out my handy bill from the shed.
In fact, it’s hard not to see how many weapons originally started out as garden implements. Battle axes. Mattocks. Flamethrowers. My own family descended from Norse raiders who looked around one spot of farmland right on the border of England and Scotland, realized that the weather was better and the girls cuter than back home, and decided to get into the farming trade. Apparently, they wanted a challenge that was tougher on body and soul than anything they’d faced hacking up Saxons or torching longboats, and the worst monsters on the edge of the world had nothing on a Riddell woman upset that her husband was home late. Compared to a day in the fields, jumping into the Crusades, the Battle of Brannockburn, or Verdun was a vacation.
A thousand years later, that still holds true. That’s why, when I’m hacking nutsedge out of the front yard or yanking clover out of the Sarracenia pots, I have an appropriate soundtrack.
Oh, it gets better. Because of the Czarina’s addiction to the British show Midsomer Murders, I started wondering what would happen to various fictional soldiers and detectives once they got the gardening bug, especially ones with a more fantastic bent. Oh, we already know that Brigadier General Alstair Lethbridge-Stewart became a gardening fiend, but what about all of those old soldiers and explorers of fantastic fiction? What was King Conan of Aquilonia’s equivalent of “You kids stay off my lawn?” Do we really want a book on poison gardens with contributions from Elric of Melnibone, Kane, and Morgaine? And what would Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser or the Falcon Prince deal with a recurring squirrel problem?
And that’s where things got odd. Last December, an odd package arrived at the mail drop. I knew I hadn’t ordered it, and the Czarina swore that it wasn’t an early Christmas present. The package didn’t come with any kind of note or notice as to the entity that sent it, and all we knew was that it had been ordered from Amazon. If it was a gift, then someone at Amazon left the invoice inside. Being at a loss as to whom to thank, we opened it up and found…some of the coolest implements of horticultural destruction this side of the Garden Weasel.
This leads us to the Battle Reviews. If it stands to reason that many horticultural tools found new use as devices of war, then that should still apply, right? Just ignore the cries from the tomato garden: the neighbors are used to seeing weeds flying in the air alongside screams of “Blood and souls for my lord Arioch!” at 8 on a Saturday morning.