Saturday, 1 April 2017

Melee

"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.

4 comments:

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.

Sean

David Birr said...

Paul:
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...

David,
But such games use archaisms?
Paul.

David Birr said...

Paul:
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.