Elendil’s, and later Aragorn’s, sword in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
There’s lot of history behind it, to be sure: forged by a Dwarf, wielded by Men, reforged by the Elves. Cuts off Sauron’s finger. Helps rallies the Dead to defeat Sauron’s hordes besieging Minas Tirith. But in mythic or magical terms, did it really have any special powers or attributes? I don’t recall that it was particular sharp, or strong, or lethal beyond the skill of whoever held it.
It seems to me that the great bulk of the items that are spoke of as “magical” in Tolkien’s works do not have any readily identifiable magical powers, at least as they would in a Dungeons and Dragons type context.
Instead, at best, the powers are subtle and implied. You get the feeling that Tolkien intentionally wanted the powers to be subdued, and more along the lines of “always sharp” and “somehow he slew 100s of Orcs with that sword” as opposed to defined powers.
Of course, someone will have read his, “Fifth Letters Regarding the Shire,” and tell me that it is a +4 Sword of Sharpness, with an inlaid emerald that casts Acid Spray three times a day.
I might be off base here, but always kind of figured it was Tolkein’s decision to make them vague on purpose. He was working in the framework of the old epic legends. Like I don’t remember any specific powers of Excalibur, but it amorphously made the wielder “Great” . Just kind of the undefined Epic hero nature that made guys from Ajax to Siegfried to Beowulf worth 100 men in combat could either be inate, or imbued through a magic device.
Nardil, when finally accepted by Aragorn(or others predisposed), allowed his true repressed greatness to come out. So to me it’s more than a symbol, but not really a magic.
Well, the whole bit with Aragorn carrying the broken sword was excised by PJ; he pulled a perfectly whole sword out in Bree in the movies. It’s possible that he felt that everyone having a magic sword was a bit much. Or it could be he was just smoking crack; look at some of the other idiot decisions he made with the movies, like Faramir.
I think the sword was mainly meant to by symbolic of his royal lineage, rather than having any really specific ability.
Presumably a ranger would tote at least one sword in operable condition for pulling at the necessary time. Narsil had been broken for like 3000 years before Aragorn was in Bree. Wouldn’t matter if it was on an altar in Rivendel or nestled in his dirty underwear in his knapsack–still wouldn’t have been much good against a Nazgul.
I don’t understand your point, good sir.
Interestingly enough, other blades in LoTR were (or at least were presented as) far more magical. Orcrist and Glamdring, did the orc proximity glow (as did sting) and the mere sight of them was painful to Goblins (although this may just be a Hobbit leftover. Other blades, solely in LoTR, packed a (seemingly) bigger punch than the hunk of steel Aragorn was packing. The Barrow Downs blades (at least Merry’s) has the ability to render Nazgul mortal; The Witch King’s blade could turn the victim into a devoted member of the Sauron Youth.
I think Tolkien kept his sword’s powers vague to ensure that Aragorn wasn’t seen as some sort of “magic-sword-aided hero”.
It may have been only in the bowdlerized tales of King Arthur I read as a child (I don’t recall reading about it in my “Arthurian Romance” class in college), but one attribute of Excalibur was that while the wielder wore the sheath, he could lose no blood, no matter how deep an enemy’s sword (or other weapon) were to bite.