knives in books


Oct 1, 2000
Since I started reading BFC on a regular base, several "knives in movies" threads showed up.
But how about looking for knives in books. Probably knives are not very often named in books, there will just be something like "a knife". On the Spyderco Forum, there is a thread about Hannibal Lecter's knives in the book.
Discussion opened

Gruesse Seb-
As far as knives in books go, there are a bunch of references. The Rogue Warrior series did wonders for the popularity of Emerson knives. The Fonseca novel "High Art" was the basis for "Exposure" which is regarded as a "good" knife film. The lead character in the book/film "The Fan" is a knife dealer- & there are mentions of Randalls, etc.. Knifeplay features a good bit in the book "The Cider House Rules"- never saw the film. And then there's Sci-Fi/Adventure fiction that is fairly choked w/ blades...

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" (Celtic Proverb)
AKTI# A000107
Hi all,
There's a series of books by Donald Hamilton that mentions quite a few knives over the years. I think AG Russell did an article about them in one of the Knives Annuals.
Greg Walker also did a series called "Springblade", which is an action series that always had a knife element. Out of print but available on ABEbooks....
I've always got my eyes peeled for knife references, with many a page dog-eared.

I recently finished one of my favorite short stories by Tolstoy, "The Cossacks," where daggers and swords were mentioned a fair amount.

Dickens will toss in a knife here and there, with one guy using a pen knife to do himself in even.

Spanish clasp knives were mentioned in "For Whom the Bell Tolls," primarily used by the main character Robert Jordan...

I read alot of "suspense"-type books, and like Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz, Robert Ludlum, and a few others.
Knife descriptions are usually very general, and don't give alot of detail. Like most descriptions of firearms and other equipment, authors probably wouldn't get it right, anyhow.
Tom Clancy does a good job with firearms and knives, though, and gives a description of the Kabar USMC fighting knife in "Without Remorse". Main character John Kelly uses it to dispatch a drug dealer by stabbing it into his heart. That one came to mind because I reread it last week.
Forgot, he also uses a mugger's own knife against him, ramming it into the base of his skull after dislocating his shoulder and putting him on the ground. No description of the knife, other than it was a folder or auto that made a "click" upon opening.

[This message has been edited by OwenM (edited 01-11-2001).]
Lots of knives in the latest William Gibson novel "All Tomorrows Parties." Several characters carry various blades, including a spooky assassin who sharpens up his tanto using a Sharpmaker-type system built right into his desk. There is also description of someone forging a knife from a motorcycle chain and handling it with recycled printed circuit board material. The knife is later used to stab a bad guy...

[This message has been edited by mr44 (edited 01-11-2001).]
Interresting topic!

Here are some more:
-Manny Louis L'Amour books. Esspecialy the Sacket series (the "Tinker made knifes/Bowies"). 'Lando' in one of my all time favorite stories for this series.

Robert A. Heinlein: Several book in which the Laserus Long carracter pay an importend role. Also 'Tunnel is the sky', good book with interresting knife ideas.

Joseph Conrad: The short story 'Il Conde' (or something like it) from the book 'A set of six', a stiletto in Napels and a great storie. 'The Duel' from this same book is not to be missed eighter (swords).

Ken Follett: 'The eye of the needdle'. There was also a movie of this book, though I think the book was better. It features a stilleto.
Also 'The key to Rebbeca', for an Arabian knife. (Sorry forgot how you write the name of the knife.)

Jack Higgins: 'Luciano's luck', a switchblade.

Frederick Forsyth: 'The dogs of war', a sleeve knife.

W.E.B. Griffin: 'The Corps' part I, a baby Fairbairn.

If you love books I highly recommend the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian. Not much knife content (some beautifully written peaces exepted), but some of the best prose in the English language!

Hope more people join in and share there favorite knife books. I am sorry for my bad spelling.
Reading Marcinko's Rogue Warrior books is how I got back into knives (more heavily) a few years ago. He gave the Emerson CQC6, Spyderco, and Mad Dog prominent roles in his early books. A search for Mad Dog led me to, and later here. I tried to read one of the recent marcinko books recently, and it seemed very juvenile, too laced with gratutitous profanity for my taste.

I just finished a novel called "Numbered Account", about dirty Swiss banking, and someone was right - most often people get the details wrong. case in point: the main character had a "double-edged" Marine-issue "K-BAR" (spelling error the author's, not mine), with one plain and one serrated edge.

Bear in mind, the character also was armed with a 10-round capacity Colt 1911
JD Wijbenga I've read most of Patrick O'Brians series.

The most knife content though is either during a boarding or when Steven duel's with whatsishead.

One series with some very descriptive knife fighting is the Mad Ship series by Robin Hobb.

Jus' my $0.02

You may think it's funny but wait till it's your turn.
Donald Hamilton wrote the Matt Helm spy series. The hero prefers to be discrete and uses a modest-sized German lockback or a silenced .22 by preference. Hamilton knows his guns and knives and writes a good story.

Another definition of "knives in books": As a youth I owned several switchblades that my folks did not know about. I kept them in paperback novels that I carefully cut out to precisely fit the closed knives.
Great thread!

I remember Edwin C. Tubb's "Dumarest Series." The hero, Earl Dumarest always keeps his ten inch blade knife in his boot. When he draws it, a bad guy is gone.

Here I have bunch of samurai stories. Does "swords in books" count?

\(^o^)/ Mizutani Satoshi \(^o^)/
The Wheel of Time series by Jordan has a bunch of sword and sorcery content. Blademasters usually have a heron marked blade.
Good to hear you like the topic...

Jeff: containing things, especially weapons in books is a quite often seen "theme"
In a movie with Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins as prisoners (dunno the english title) he (tim) keeps a hammer in his bible.

I think a reason for not including lengthy discription of knives on books is that it would destroy the atmosphere... imagine: "the bad guy steps out of the dark pulling a knife
The knife has a 5 inch drop point blade made of ATS 34 with green micarta handles and comes in either leather or kydex sheath...
oh, but back to the story... now where did we stop... oh yes the BG steps out of the dark..."

And actually naming a knife (pulls out a Microtech socom) would not be very helpful to anyone except us knifenuts...


Hi Seb!

This is a great question. Maybe you once edit an anthology on knives in literature.

1. Miss Smilas sensibility for snow (by Peter Hoeg)

The spooky ships mechanic makes a razor-sharp knife out of a sawblade and uses it later for killing. The author describes in detail the the grinding and polishing the edge. The mecanic uses Vienna chalk to polish the edge, because then it stands longer. (I use Vienna chalk for cleaning my carbon steel knives).

2. River Kwai
In the beginning speaks the main character with a military instructor about the use of the commando dagger (Beware of this book - it was written after the movie and was written increadable bad)

3. All quiet at western front (Remarque)
There are some fresh recruits in the trench, and the experienced Landsers (i.e. Grunt) give them some advice. One is to trow away the bajonet with the saw back. If the French would capture one with such a knife, they would probably lynch him. Because this weapon causes horrible wounds it used as bajonet. (In fact this knives were issued for light wood work in the field to engineers and foot artillery. But they had a bajonet catch.)

4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Tom gets a Barlow folder from his siter for present. This raw copy is very dull. Tom can´t even carve into his aunt´s furniture. (There is a fine website about Barlow knives:

5. Winnetou I (by Karl May)
(Does anyone of our american pals know this author?)
Karl May tells that his alter ego, Old Shatterhand hunts down a grizzly bear with a Bowie. (In the movie is a fight between Old Shatterhand and a mean redskin, where both use Puma White Hunters)

6. Che Guevara
Che was once arrested and had to give his folder to the prison warden. He swore he would once come back to get his "navaja". (I Can´t remember wher I read this story. I don´t agree with Che´s political opinions, but agree in the sentiment for the knife in the pocket.)

7. Nathan La Plumes Story
In this story plays a Barlow an important róle. I found this text by search engine on research about Barlows.

WARNING: This story may contain words and facts that can insult your moral convinctions. The story is not siutable for children!

Hope, we and our friends will find some more quotations!



A man without a knife you can´t really call a man.

My Grandfather
Stephan Brust's Vlad Taltos aka Vlad the Assassin books. He carries lots of knives, throwing and others.
One of the most famous references to knives in literature is in Bram Stoker's Dracula, where there is a rousing knife fight between the heroes and the gypsies who were protecting Dracula and where the old blood-sucker was eventually "terminated with extreme prejudice" with a bowie knife and, if my memory serves me correctly, a kukrie.

Hallo Claus-
I know "Old Shatterhand"- but I actually know Karl May from living in Germany- he wasn't as popular in the US. I was actually jokingly referred to as "Old Shatterhand" by my ex-girlfriend & her sister a couple of times because 1) I'm American & 2) I play with knives.

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" (Celtic Proverb)
AKTI# A000107
There are lots of references to knives(well, mostly swords) in the Bible. Ok, well, maybe no references to anything But they are still there.

I remember the Matt Helm series by Donald Hamilton: My favorite quote from Matt Helm,after a fight where he used a Buck 110,was " the cheaper the punk,the longer the blade".

Those who beat their arms into plowshares will plow for those who do not.