For the first time, Marek felt a twinge of uncertainty. Until now, nothing he had seen in this world had seemed out of place, or unexpected. The monastery was just as he had expected. The peasants in the fields were as he had expected. The tournament being set up was as he had pictured it. And when he entered the town ofCastelgard, he again found it exactly as he had thought it would be. Kate had been appalled by the butcher on the cobblestones, and the stench of the tanner’s vats, but Marek was not. It was all as he had imagined it, years ago.
But not this, he thought, watching the knights fight.
It was so fast! The swordplay was so swift and continuous, attempting to slash with both downswing and backswing, so that it looked more like fencing than sword fighting. The clangs of impact came only a second or two apart. And the fight proceeded without hesitation or pause.
Marek had always imagined these fights as taking place in slow motion: ungainly armored med wielding swords so heavy that each swing was an effort, carrying dangerous momentum and requiring time to recover and reset before the next swing. He had read accounts of how exhausted men were after battle, and he had assumed it was the result of the extended effort of slow fights, encased in steel.
These warriors were big and powerful in every way. Their horses were enormous, and they themselves appeared to be six feet or more, and extremely strong.
Marek had never been fooled by the small size of the armor in museum display cases–he knew that any armor that found its way into a museum was ceremonial and had never been worn in anything more hazardous than a medieval parade. Marek also suspected, though he could not prove it, that much of the surviving armor–highly decorated, chiseled and chased–was intended only for display, and had been made at three-quarter scale, the better to show the delicacy of the craftsmen’s designs.
Genuine battle armor never survived. And he had read enough accounts to know that the most celebrated warriors of medieval times were invariably big men–tall, muscular, and they were from the nobility; they were better fed; and they were big. He had read how they trained and how they delighted in performing feats of strength for the amusement of the ladies.
And yet, somehow, he had never imagined anything remotely like this. These men fought furiously, swiftly and continuously-and it looked as if they could go all day. Neither gave the least indication of fatigue; if anything, they seemed to be enjoying their exertions.
As he watched their aggressiveness and speed, Marek realized that left to his own devices, this was exactly the way he himself would choose to fight–quickly, with the conditioning and reserves of stamina to wear down and opponent. He had only imagined a slower fighting style from an unconscious assumption that men in the past were weaker or slower or less imaginative than he was, as a modern man.
Marek knew this assumption of superiority was a difficulty faced by every historian. He just hadn’t thought he was guilty of it.
But clearly he was.
Timeline, Michael Chrichton, Pg 230-231