Mar 01, 23 10:15 PM
The Warmonger Sword by Darksword Armory is a design clearly inspired by, but not a direct copy of, the Conan Atlantean sword - and in photographs the bronze cast fittings, functional blade and animal pelt scabbard all look very suitably barbaric.
However, what is it like up close? What should you expect from Darksword Armory and what is their customer service like? Is it really worth the almost Albion level asking price?
All these questions and more are answered, so let's take a closer look..
Review by SBG member Kazadruin
Back in early 2022, I went poking around Darksword Armory’s website. My hobby is storytelling, and I started looking through Darksword Armory’s fantasy swords for inspiration. I came across this sword, looked at it for a bit, then moved on. I honestly didn’t think much of this particular design, and personally don’t find it appealing. However, I did make a mental note of it as a design to show my sister. Call it sibling intuition, but I thought she might find it an interesting inspiration for her drawing hobby.
I purchased two swords from Darksword shortly after: Vindaaris and Aurabaris (Mother of Dragons). As it turned out, the detail work on the hilt of Aurabaris caught my sister’s eye, and I started to worry I’d lose the sword to her. I then had to show her the pictures of the Warmonger sword, the Wolfsbane, and the Eindride swords in an attempt to divert her interest. She took to the Warmonger design right away. A few months later, she told me that she wanted the Warmonger sword for Christmas. So here we are!
Note: The original Warmonger I received shipped to me October 17th, and arrived about a week later. I sent that sword back to Darksword for a defective peen (see image below), and they shipped a brand new replacement December 7th. I received the replacement on December 12th. This review is of the replacement sword (as in, the sword that actually sat under the Christmas tree as a gift).
The story goes that the inspiration for the sword’s design came from a door knocker Darksword’s owner, Eyal Azerad, discovered while traveling in England. From there, the Warmonger’s design draws from the design and shape of viking swords, but is intended for a fantasy barbarian. It is also said to draw on the Nordic legends. I’m no expert in viking swords, so I can’t comment on the similarities between this sword and the viking blades, but it’s a cool source of inspiration for fantasy sword. This makes it a good sword thematically for my sister, who is the Norse mythology enthusiast in the family.
The Warmonger sword is offered as a limited edition run of 1,500 pieces worldwide. As of February 2nd, 2023, Darksword still has these swords in stock.
Below are several biases that may or may not affect my review and opinions about this sword.
1. I am a woman who stands at 5’ 5”. To some people this is not a big deal, but this means I don’t have the same amount of strength or the same height as some sword enthusiasts. This will affect how I perceive the handling and abilities of this sword.
2. I train with swords:
- I train and compete in sport fencing, so I spend most of my time with fencing blades, particularly epees. These swords are very, very light compared to a longsword.
- I also train in the forms of the Fiore Italian longsword style, and my weapon of choice is a Windlass Battlecry Agincourt sword. This is a sword that feels like it was made for me, and handles like it is an extension of my body. It is of an ideal length and weight for me to wield, so bear that in mind when I discuss the handling characteristics of the Warmonger. When I describe weight or handling, the Agincourt is my baseline standard. I have also taken to training with my Vindaaris sword as well.
3. I do not require aesthetic perfection out of my swords. I do look for cosmetic issues, but I tend to see the minor ones as unique features of my blades that set them apart from identical swords. That being said, I will do my best to describe what other people might consider “turn-offs.”
4. I don’t like to destroy my swords (and I lack the strength to do any serious damage to them) so as a rule I don’t do destructive tests (i.e. hitting solid wood or metal) or try to push my blades to the limit, and I physically cannot stand the sight of a flex test.
5. I used a discount coupon from Darksword Armory to buy this sword, so rather than $910.00, it only cost me $810.00 in U.S. currency, plus shipping and tax. I also received a chef’s knife as an apology gift for the trouble I’ve had with the flaws in my purchases from Darksword. Stuff like this doesn’t tend to influence me in terms of critiquing the actual sword itself, but it is a potential source of bias.
6. This is not my sword. I purchased it as a Christmas gift for my little sister, who loves fantasy as much as I do. I tend to be very harsh when evaluating Christmas gifts of this caliber and significance, especially when said gift is a work of functional art and the recipient loves to draw and paint. That being said, I will do my best to remain neutral in my analysis.
7. My review remains completely voluntary, arising from my desire to contribute to contribute to the sword community by supplying information about my experience with this sword, and has not been solicited by any entity.
The sword arrived in the standard Darksword Armory
box, and I didn’t feel any rattles or shifting weight when I picked it
up and carried it inside. When I opened it up, I found the Warmonger
secure between pieces of brown packing paper, and cocooned in plastic
Once again, it would appear that Shelob beat me to the sword and tied it up in a nefarious web. As I did with my other Darksword Armory swords, I timed myself unravelling the plastic wrap from the sword, and this time it took me 1 minute and 6 seconds. Notably, though it took a little longer because I paid extra attention to care; this is not my sword, and I didn’t want to damage it before Christmas. The plastic, spread out, amounted to about 155 in. in length.
As with my other Darkswords, the Warmonger arrived in its scabbard. It didn’t have much by way of grease on it though, especially compared to the Vindaaris and Mother of Dragons’ swords.
I made a point to check the peen before examining the rest of the sword. After having defective peens on my Mother of Dragons sword and the first Warmonger sword, I was very cautious about this feature. Fortunately, the peen construction on this second Warmonger is solid.
The most unexpected and noticeable aspect of the Warmonger is how tiny the guard appears in proportion to the rest of the sword. The photos on the website don’t do its size justice. The snakes on the pommel do look proportional to the size of the sword, however, and the designs themselves have a nice amount of detail. The antiqued appearance of the bronze snakes looks very nice.
The fang design on the ricasso of the blade is a rather intriguing. The bronze frame the flat of the sword before flaring into the curved fangs. I tried gripping the ricasso with my left hand, and the point control is quite impressive. I will discuss this further in the components portion of the review below.
The finish on the blade is mirror bright. The runes are also mirror-like in their finish, except for several dark spots on the metal where it appears the runes were ground in a little deep, and some grind marks remain. That being said, the runes look stunning when they catch the light, like living fire burns within. Additionally, the lines of each rune are crisp and clearly defined.
Point of Balance
Center of Percussion
3 lbs. 8 oz.
4" from guard
22" from guard
3 lbs. 9.05 oz.
The breakdown of the individual components is below, so I won’t go into much detail about them here. Overall, the sword looks well proportioned.
The wide fuller running the length of the blade is very crisp and straight. The runes carved into it are large and well-defined, and translate into the words “Let my sword be your last warning.”
I did order Warmonger sharpened, and the blade came paper-cutting sharp. The bevel left over from the sharpening is barely visible on the edge of the sword. See more on the Warmonger’s sharpness in the Test Cutting section below.
The ricasso of the Warmonger looks unconventional, and deserves its own special section. Rather than being the usual unsharpened part of the blade near the guard, this sword’s ricasso is framed in antiqued bronze from the guard to the edges of the “fangs” that appear on the blade. The bronze feels comfortable when I overgrip the sword as I would while half-swording. Additionally, when gripped with my left hand on the ricasso and my right hand on the handle, the ricasso allows for excellent point control. I can move the point of the sword quickly and precisely in this type of grip.
The slight swell of the blade near the “fangs” at the end of the ricasso also creates a natural barrier between my hand and the sharpened portion of the blade. This allows me to utilize the enhanced point control the ricasso provides without fear of accidentally cutting myself.
My one criticism of the ricasso are the fangs and their close proximity to the sword. While it looks nice aesthetically, the fangs are so close to the blade that they bite into the scabbard when the sword is sheathed, scuffing the leather wrap.
This occurs on both sides of the scabbard.
The Warmonger’s crossguard is straight, but very small in proportion to the rest of the sword. I was initially surprised by its actual size when I unpackaged it. The detail, however, is no less impressive.
Two hissing snake heads form the quillions of the guard. The bronze details are very neat and well-formed, from the sharp fangs to their eyes and the scales on their throats. The middle of the guard and the small fleur-de-lis design that extends over the ricasso resemble the flicking tongue of a snake. As a work of art, it is masterfully executed, even if as a crossguard it offers little functionally.
I have two criticisms of the guard, one being functional, and the other practical. The functional criticism is the small size of the guard width-wise. The ricasso at its widest is almost equal to the snake heads, and I’m not confident in my ability to use the guard in a murder stroke because of this. It also looks too small to be realistically used properly in sparring or combat to counter attacks from an opponent.
The practical criticism is the three-pronged “tongue” that is loosely shaped like a fleur-di-lis. This piece of bronze extends over the actual blade of the sword. This makes it quite difficult to properly oil the ricasso area of the blade. Fitting a microfiber rag under the gap between the bronze tongue and the blade is difficult, not just because of the small gap but because the sharp ends of the tongue catch readily on the rags. I can manage it myself, since I enjoy cleaning my collection of swords and do routine maintenance on my fencing club’s blades in my capacity as their armorer, but my sister does not have the same experience, and this little quirk of the Warmonger is likely to cause her difficulties when she needs to clean and oil the blade herself.
The Warmonger’s leather-wrapped handle looks a little out of place when considering the sword in its entirety, but what this handle lacks in aesthetics it more than makes up for in the functional department. The leather itself feels soft and comfortable to grip.
The cross section is shaped like a rhombus, and the sharp creases that result are aligned with the edges of the blade. This lends itself particularly well to cutting targets, since the handle’s design encourages a good edge alignment.
The pairs of risers spaced at intervals along the handle also add to increased control with the sword. I can rest a finger comfortably between each pair, which allows me to maintain both a comfortable and a secure grip on the sword at all times.
My only criticism for the handle design is the fit with the guard. The rhombus shape is just a hair longer in diameter than the thickness of the guard, so up close it looks like Darksword just put together hilt components without bothering to create smooth transitions between them. I’m reasonably certain that this caused the seam of the leather wrap by the guard to work loose. It wasn’t there when I first received the sword, and only occurred after my sister and I did some test cutting. A little bit of glue was sufficient to rectify the problem, however, so it is a relatively minor issue overall.
The Warmonger pommel is a historical scent stopper pommel. Like the guard, it is bronze. The twin bronze snakes coil about the pommel at the junction where the handle meets the pommel with their heads set on either side of the peen as they hiss at each other. They area also scaled along their bodies, and the scales are prominent both to the eye and the touch. The refinement of the bronze pommel snakes is far less refined than that of the snakes on the guard, but they still look nice when taken together with the bronze work on the guard.
The pommel looks nice, but its decorative snakes impair its functional abilities. While it counterbalances the sword properly, the pronounced scales on the snakes grate against the hand and create hot spots. Since these scales are right at the junction where the pommel and handle meet, this means I have to place my off hand slightly higher on the handle than normal. If I’m wearing leather riding gloves, I don’t have to worry about hot spots, but it is a nuisance since the scales still catch on my gloves. It’s a shame really, because the entwined snakes actually create a very secure grip on the pommel. Their prominent scales just get in the way.
The Warmonger comes with its own unique scabbard. It appears to be wood core, like Darksword Armory’s other scabbards, but it is covered with fur rather than leather. Leather straps crisscross the scabbard from the chape to the throat over the fur.
The chape is made of bronze. It has some nice, intricate detail on it to match the snake motifs on the Warmonger’s guard.
The wooden riser on the scabbard seems intended to allow one to wear the sword on a belt in a vertical carry. However, the scabbard stops below the fangs of the ricasso to accommodate the shape of the sword, so wearing it is largely impractical. If I try to wear it as is, I end up with the pommel of the sword in my face, and it’s impossible to draw. The same would likely apply if I tried to use a sword frog to carry the sword, since the throat of the scabbard is located so far down the blade. This is my primary criticism of the scabbard, because Darksword widened the scabbard for the Vindaaris sword specifically to accommodate the flare at the ricasso. I feel like they could have done the same for this sword, and then the scabbard could be worn like all their other swords.
Fortunately, my sister has no plans to wear her sword, merely display it, so this won’t pose a problem for her. But if the Warmonger were my sword, I would take issue with the scabbard design since I like to wear my blades.
Although on a scale it weighs about a pound heavier than my Windlass Agincourt, in the hand the Warmonger feels like it weighs the same as my smaller Agincourt. It also feels like it has the same proportional balance point as my Agincourt, so they feel very similar all the way around.
The Warmonger is very responsive in my hands, allowing me to transition between techniques with little trouble when wielding it in both hands. I have very good control over how much speed it picks up on a cut or thrust, which is particularly useful when trying to practice half-blows for certain parries. I am also pleased to find the Warmonger can stop almost on a dime mid-swing. This last part is especially important for my sister when she decides she wants to swing it around, considering she doesn’t know how to wield a sword and only knows a few basic cuts and thrusts. If I can stop it almost on a dime, then I know she will be able to stop it mid-swing (even if it’s not as quick a stop in her hands). That’s good from a safety standpoint, so she doesn’t accidentally cut herself.
I struggle more with controlling the blade when wielding it in one hand, but that is largely due to the fact I feel its extra weight more with only one hand. I’m not used to wielding 3 lbs. of steel in one hand, and that throws off some of my technique. However, with the balance on the Warmonger, I am confident that if I had the time to train, I could easily learn to control it one-handed. My sister could too if she ever turns her mind to training with it, despite being only a beginner.
These aspects of the Warmonger lend it well to a beginner’s sword. When my sister took it out to play with it, she even commented that it felt good in the hand. She liked how the length of the handle provided enough leverage for her to have control over the sword, and how it wasn’t too heavy for her to wield. Her cuts and thrusts with the sword looked pretty good for a beginner, even though she had some trouble with controlling momentum and weight due to lack of conditioning. She’ll get there with some more practice.
The first test I performed on the Warmonger’s edge was
the paper-slice. The blade cut cleanly through the paper with no
discernable resistance. This is a contrast to my personal Darksword
blades, Vindaaris and Aurabaris (who’s edges only sheared the paper),
and I am pleased to see this sword scored higher on this test than they
did (it is a Christmas present, after all).
Instead of using melons as the next cutting medium, I
pulled out two pumpkins which I’d saved from Halloween. I figured the
pumpkins would make a good introduction to cutting for my sister after
Christmas. I tested Warmonger’s edge on the first pumpkin, and the sword
passed effortlessly through the cut. The handle provides good lever
action for a powerful cut, and the weight makes it easy to maintain
control upon contact with a target. The diamond/rhombus shape of the
handle also guides the edge alignment naturally.
The sharp blade also proved capable of quick, deep thrusts. It passed effortlessly through the pumpkin without knocking it off the cutting stand. I tried one of my half-swording techniques to test the ricasso’s functionality, and gripping the ricasso in the left hand proved very effective in point control when thrusting.
The second pumpkin I saved for my sister. She has not trained in swordsmanship at all, and consequently her form is classic beginner (i.e. tense, uncontrolled in her wrist, too controlled in her shoulders and arms, not turning properly to maximize cutting effectiveness, etc.). Yet, despite her inexperience, her edge alignment was spot-on. She only failed to slice the pumpkin in half on the first cut; every subsequent forehand and backhand cut sliced clean pieces off the pumpkin, even as she cut it down in height. Based on my observations of her technique, the handle design naturally lines up the edge with the cutting target when she swings the sword.
We did have one incident where her aim was off, and she cut through the pumpkin and into the rotted wood of the post we used as a cutting stand. I was impressed to see how deep the Warmonger bit into that wood. It went so deep it got stuck, and I had some difficulty pulling it free. I was also pleased to see it took no edge damage, no warping, not even a scratch.
I also had my sister try thrusting with her left hand on the ricasso in the same half-swording technique I used. She has more difficulty with the thrust, but even with her form issues the sword point easily pierced the pumpkin.
The Warmonger also passed the water bottle test with flying colors. Once again, its handle design guides the edge alignment, and is sharp enough to cleanly cut water bottles in half. I used both two liter bottles and smaller water and soda bottles as targets, and Warmonger delivered clean cuts to each of them.
I did briefly hand the sword off to my friend Mitch to help test the edge, since he has more training and experience with target cutting. The Warmonger performed the same for him as it did for me, although his cuts were even cleaner and much more precise than mine.
A word on the sharpening service: I ordered the Warmonger sharpened, just like I did for Vindaaris and Aurabaris. On those swords, the blades were sharpened to the point where they could shear paper, but the cuts weren’t clean. I also had some difficulty cutting water bottle targets with them. This is not the case with the Warmonger sword; this blade is sharp enough to cleanly slice paper and cut water bottles in half. Based on my experience, the Darksword Armory sharpening service is a hit-and-miss when it comes to blade sharpness.
Armory’s customer service deserves a mention here. When I received the
original Warmonger sword, it wasn’t properly peened (I don’t think it
could even be called a peen). I wrote to them about the problem and
invoked the warranty to fix the issue. Darksword responded within 48
hours saying they would take the sword back and ship me a replacement.
They also apologized for the peen issue after I inquired why I had
received two swords in separate purchases that had peen issues (the
other being my Mother of Dragons sword, Aurabaris). They agreed that it
shipped back to them on November 1st, and it took 6 weeks for me to
receive the replacement sword. The replacement sword shipped out to me
on December 7th, and I received it on December 12th. The new sword is
the one that I review here.
Darksword also sent along a 9” Raven Knives chef knife, one of the non-sword products they sell. The price is $125.00 for the knife alone. I was not expecting to find it in the box with the sword, so this came as a surprise. When I inquired if there had been a mistake in shipping, Darksword told me they had included the knife as a gift for all the trouble I’d had with quality control and their swords. They didn’t have to do this for me, so I appreciate them going above and beyond with their gift. It shows that they do care about their customers and delivering good customer service.
The Warmonger is a nice sword that incorporates mythic fantasy elements into its design with only a small impairment to its functionality. The artistry on the hilt is very detailed and life-like, and it comes with a special scabbard that accentuates the sword’s fantasy theme.
The Warmonger feels light and well-balanced in the hand, and possesses great potential as an introductory training sword for the beginner swordsman. Someone with no experience in swordsmanship can use this blade safely and still learn proper cutting technique with it. Its balance and weight provide for great control over the blade, which would allow a beginner to learn historical fighting techniques and focus on the technique rather than the sword itself. It’s also fun to wield for a trained swordsman, particularly since it becomes much more responsive to properly executed techniques.
Its light and balance also make this a good sword for casual backyard cutting, since it doesn’t require a great deal of training, and its handle design guides proper edge alignment. Overall, it’s both a nice and versatile sword.
• Light and well balanced overall.
• Detailed and elegantly cast bronze castings.
• Unique ricasso helps with point control when employing half-swording or over-gripping techniques.
• Sharp blade capable of cutting paper, pumpkins, and water bottles cleanly.
• Crisp and sharply defined runes.
• Comfortable handle that guides proper edge alignment.
• Very responsive to proper technique, and forgiving of improper technique.
• Ideal for a beginner swordsman, or someone who only wants a sword for casual cutting.
• Fun to use for a swordsman with some experience.
• Slight bulge in the blade between the end of the fuller and the tip.
• Some black stuff and scuff marks inside the runes.
• Scabbard can’t be easily worn for carrying the sword.
• The snake design on the pommel creates hot spots on the hand unless you wear gloves.
• Design might not fit in with décor for display purposes (although very much up to the displayer’s preferences).
• The Price.
So time for the big question: would I recommend this sword?
After seeing how it performs, my answer is absolutely … if you have the money to spend on it and it is still available for sale (it is limited to only 1,500 copies worldwide).
As I stated before, this sword makes an excellent training sword. It also has a design that encourages good edge alignment, making it a fun sword to use for backyard cutting. This is a sword I would feel comfortable putting in a beginner’s hands and teaching them to cut with (as I already have).
From a design standpoint, the guard and pommel designs are works of art in their own right. The detail work is very precise and refined, which makes the snakes look alive. The bronze on the ricasso helps with the functionality of the sword, but the pommel snakes hinder some function. This hindrance, however, can be mitigated by wearing a glove. The runes on the blade are also large and well-defined, giving the whole blade a crisp, clean appearance.
The biggest hurdle in recommending this sword is its price. The expensiveness is more than likely attributable to its limited edition status, but it still costs almost as much as an Albion if you don’t have a discount coupon. The most difficult part is that, while it makes a phenomenal training and test cutting sword, there are cheaper swords out there equally suitable for training and test cutting. But if you, reader, have the money and can afford to make such an expensive purchase, then it’s a good candidate for one interested in training and/or test cutting.
While the base price is $910 with the sharpening service, we offer it HERE at the SBG Sword Store for $875 plus we also include FREE SHIPPING in North America, making it the best deal around.
Plus, here is a discount coupon code you can use to get it at our store at an even better overall price than what our reviewing member could get it for..
I hope this review of the Warmonger sword has been helpful. To return to Decorative and Functional Swords from Warmonger Sword Review, click here
As she freed the Warmonger from its wrappings, the light of the Christmas tree shone upon its blade like luminescent jewels, and flickered in the runes like tongues of multicolored flame. The eyes of the snakes flashed savagely as its new mistress turned the hilt this way and that, taking in every detail. “It shall be known as Iormungander,” she said, “for the World Serpent from Norse mythology.”