Revision with unchanged content. Swords have been used throughout history as weapons of war, as symbols of power and wealth and as national and religious icons. Unlike other weapons however, the sword did not simply fade into the background as technological improvements caused the martial value to lessen. The primary purpose of this book is to look at the development of the sword as an object of art, specifically in the countries of Spain and Japan, after the invention of the firearm. A brief history of the development of the sword from the earliest manifestations through the Iron Age is provided as way of introducing the subject. The author concludes that the sword, the weapon upon which empires rose and fell for centuries, has moved into the realm of cultural icon. Increased sale values at auction, the infusion into popular media, such as books, movies and video games, and the growing number of collectors and aficionados all serve as indicators of a thriving global sword society.