Just how cool is legendary fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett? In early 2009, he was knighted, reportedly saying on the occasion that “you can’t ask a fantasy writer not to want a knighthood. You know, for two pins I’d get myself a horse and a sword.” This year, he took his new station of Knight Bachelor seriously: Pratchett took it upon himself to forge a sword using more than 175 pounds of iron ore found in a deposit near his home in Wiltshire. For good measure, he added several chunks of meteorite — “thunderbolt iron” for their “highly magical” properties: “you’ve got to chuck that stuff in whether you believe in it or not.”
With help from his friend Jake Keen — an expert on ancient metal-making techniques — the author dug up 81kg of ore and smelted it in the grounds of his house, using a makeshift kiln built from clay and hay and fuelled with damp sheep manure.
After days of hammering the metal into bars, he took it to a blacksmith, whom he helped to shape it into a blade, which was finished with silverwork.
Pratchett: “Most of my life I’ve been producing stuff which is intangible and so it’s amazing the achievement you feel when you have made something which is really real.”