Saturday, 1 April 2017


"The rest were in a melee with the Protectorate men-at-arms, horses circling and snapping as blades swung in bright, glittering arcs."
-SM Stirling, A Meeting At Corvallis (New York, 2007), Chapter Nine, p. 247.

I quote this sentence because the word "melee" recalls:

ER Eddison;
James Blish;
John Brunner;
Poul Anderson.

For this particular connection between these four authors, see here - and the same post also addresses yet another parallel between Poul Anderson and Neil Gaiman.

A Meeting At Corvallis is set in a period when medieval terms like "melee" are back in practical use.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think "melee" is still a practical military terms. Because there are still times when soldiers of hostile armies engage in up close and VERY personal combat.


David Birr said...

The term "melee" is OFTEN, and indeed routinely, used in role-playing games such as *Dungeons & Dragons*. It actually startled me to see that you seemed to consider it archaic or obscure.

Paul Shackley said...

But such games use archaisms?

David Birr said...

In the DIALOGUE, certainly; the ones set in fantasy situations. Not so much in the rulebooks' advice, and it's there to which I referred. The rules of D&D speak of two types of physical battle (other than casting spells against the foe): melee combat and missile combat.

What's more, I've got two dictionaries I regularly consult: a Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedic from 1972, and a Merriam-Webster Collegiate from '93. Neither of them adds the "Archaic" tag to the definition of "melee." The Merriam-Webster, in fact, indicates the word was first attested in English print only in 1648.