Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

These are generally figures of some mythic stature, harking back to the smith-Gods Vulcan in Greek Myth, Ilmarinen in the Kalevala, and Weland Smith. Other godlike smiths may be encountered, diminished by Thinning but still potent – like the thinned Weland of Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill (coll 1906), or Elof in Michael Scott Rohan's Winter of the World trilogy, an Avatar of Ilmarinen. Smiths' ability to handle and forge Cold Iron, besides making them unusually resistant to hostile Magic, goes with qualities of physical strength and honesty. As Mentors they tend to attract Ugly Ducklings who must learn to forge their own Swords as one Rite of Passage en route to leadership, like Taran in Lloyd Alexander's Taran Wanderer (1967). Smiths know the Land's old ways and hidden roads, and here function as Liminal Beings, as in Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising (1973); the canny smith of Fay Sampson's Black Smith's Telling (1990) is a powerful force in the old Religion of the Horned God, though still no match for Morgan Le Fay. Dwarfs are traditionally excellent smiths. [CB/DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.