|“||It is pointless to marvel over one's power. That is not the kind of strength I seek.||”|
— Karel to Fir in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
Karel (カレル, Kareru) is a recruitable swordmaster in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade and Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword. Acting as among the few characters that are playable in both The Binding Blade and Blazing Sword, Karel undergoes a radical shift in personality between games, going form a murderous warrior to a calm, indirect mentor. In both games, he is more well-known by his nickname (either The Sword Saint or the Sword Demon), and he is considered one of the best swordsmen in all of Elibe.
While Blazing Sword shows Karel as a bloodthirsty, almost insane swordmaster in search of worthy opponents, an event during the twenty years between games causes Karel to mellow out considerably. The event itself is never directly stated, and it is also never stated where or when this event takes place. Metaphorically, Karel references how he had grown sick of training his swordsplay; in supports with his niece, Fir, he says that his blade "never gained any power", and when speaking with Noah, Karel claims that Noah's story about how the Sword Saint saved his village from bandits is "wrong".
Karel does not appear in the game until Roy and his army begins their pursuit of the Dark Dragon Idenn after the death of Zephiel; in the battle that is soon to start between the Dragon Lord Brenya and Roy's army, Karel is at a village, promising its denizens that he will protect the village during the battle. As such, most characters who visit the village will cause Karel to not join the army and lock down the village, under the claim that there is no one who can fight; visiting the village with either his niece Fir or his brother-in-law Bartre, however, will cause Karel to join, not out of wanting to protect the peace of Elibe, but rather, to fight with what is left of his family.
After Idenn is sealed away in Arcadia, Karel elects to continue living in Bern in peace; his ending also says that he refuses to directly teach prospective students in the way of the blade, and instead, indirectly teaches them by having them train by his side. In addition, Karel's previous title of "Sword Saint" is also passed along to his niece Fir.
Karel, Sword Saint
Short: Retired to a small village in Bern.
Long: Karel retired to a small village in the mountains of Bern and lived his life in peace. Although many swordsmen came to him seeking direction, he never did teach any of them directly. However, many said that they were able to seek out their path simply by training at his side.
Starting stats and growth rates
While lacking the ability to use all weapons in the game and a specific mythos relating to events prior to the game, Karel acts as the Gotoh of The Binding Blade. In addition to having very high base stats for his class and level, to the point of potentially even surpassing both Fir and Rutger, Karel also appears near the end of the game as a character that the player can use to improve their power against the last few enemies of the game. Karel also comes with the Wo Dao, which the player can get only three of in the game, and this weapon compliments any of the three swordmasters the player may have.
Among Karel's most notable traits are his growth rates; in all Fire Emblem games, Karel's average stat growth remains the highest of all characters in the series. In addition to boasting growths that are either at or above 100%, some of these stats have a chance to increase by 2, and his HP has the slim potential to increase by 3. However, Karel can only take advantage of these growths once, due to being level 19, and as such, the player must hope that Karel can take good advantage of these growths. Despite this, players need to take note of Karel's low HP; even with a +3 potential, Karel's starting HP of 44 is below-average of what the player expects at his level, and saving a Seraph Robe for him is likely needed if the player elects to use him.
Karel hails from Sacae; his specific tribe is never disclosed, though in supports with Karla, it is made clear he comes from a family of swordmasters of six members. In addition, the craft of Karel's sword is, to him, meant to be held by "only one". As such, he murdered all members of his family as to keep the secret of the sword to himself only; the sole survivor of this killing spree was Karla, as she refused to wield "a skill that could only be used to kill". Prior to this event, however, it is suggested that Karel was more akin to his The Binding Blade self; Karla recalls an event where Karel carried an exhausted and crying Karla back home after she lost her way, an event Karel denies remembering.
Directly after his massacre, Karel begins to travel across all of Elibe seeking worthy opponents and killing all of them in duels; among his victims include a giant three times taller than ordinary men, a mage in Ilia that could freeze the blood in his opponent's veins, and even an entire army of knights. These escapades eventually lead him receiving the nickname "Sword Demon", as well as becoming a legend in Elibe; Dart, for instance, asks Karel about the swords he supposedly owns from all of his defeated enemies, to the confusion of Karel.
While Eliwood and his army attempt to regain the Fire Emblem back from the Black Fang operatives of either Jerme or Kenneth, Karel has the potential to show up in the battle; upon noticing a supple supply of enemies for him to train his swordplay on, he elects to attack Black Fang members on the map. Upon being spoken to by Hector, Eliwood, or Lyn, however, he elects to join them, not out of interest of their goals, but rather, as a way to try and find more and more worthy opponents.
True to his appearance in The Binding Blade, Karel's ending states that he has calmed considerably from his past as the Sword Demon, eventually becoming "The Saint of Swords". Like the previous game, however, it is not disclosed why he chose to change his name, nor why his temperament changed.
Karel, Saint of Swords
Once, Karel was known as the Sword Demon. Now, he bears a new name. What prompted this change, he will not say.
Starting stats and growth rates
Karel is considered one of the better prepromotes in Blazing Sword, owing to his relatively low starting level and average growths. As a swordmaster, Karel's primary advantage is the natural 15% addition to his critical rate; in tandem with his Wo Dao, high skill and above-average luck, Karel can naturally exceed 50 critical chance in battle, and this number can be boosted even further with proper supports. In addition, Karel's innate high speed allows him to have a very high avoid rate, which makes up for his low defence growth. In addition, Karel's high con of 9 gives him fewer penalties to his skill and speed than either Karla or Guy (6).
Karel's primary flaw is his low HP; while having a high growth in the stat at 70%, Karel's starting HP is low, at only 31. Compounded with only 12 levels to increase stats, Karel can only get a maximum of 43 HP, which is hampered by a poor defence; if the player elects to use Karel, it is then recommended that he be given an Angelic Robe, which would put his HP on par with other units.
Comparison to Harken
While Karel's class may make comparisons to both Guy and Karla inevitable, a more practical comparison takes place between Karel and Harken; as only one can be recruited, there exists a decision that the player must make. Both come at level 8, and both come with among the rarest weapons in the game: Harken has the only obtainable Brave Sword and Karel has one of only two Wo Daos. Statwise, Karel has superior skill, speed, luck, and resistance, as well as superior growths in skill, speed, and luck, leading to an ease in criticalling enemies, but potential difficulty in surviving attacks and dealing high raw damage. Karel's constitution of 9 is also lower than Harken's constitution of 11, leading to Karel potentially taking speed reductions with heavier swords. Karel's swordmaster class comes with an extra 15% boost to criticals, wheras Harken's Hero class allows him to wield both swords and axes, allowing him to potentially negate or take advantage of the weapon triangle.
Complicating the comparison further, however, is that both Karel and Harken have potential of being outclassed by characters that can be recruited earlier (Guy and Raven, respectively); in this regard, Harken is considered the superior unit, as he has a better chance of being equal to Raven, wheras Karel will have difficulty matching Guy. Adding further to the rift between the two is Hard Mode boost; Harken gains additions in many of his stats in Hard Mode due to starting off as an enemy, whereas Karel receives no such benefit due to appearing as an NPC.
If the player elects to use both Raven and Guy, and both are at higher levels than either Karel or Harken, the comparison comes down to whether the player prefers the Brave Sword or the Wo Dao; most players agree that the former is the superior weapon, owing to its guaranteed multi-hit properties compared to the Wo Dao's luck-based ability, as well as the fact that the Wo Dao can only be used by myrmidons, swordmasters, and Lyn, making it available to only four units in the entire game.
Personality and character
Karel's personality shifts radically between Blazing Sword and The Binding Blade. In the first game, Karel is depicted as callous, detached, and perhaps crazed; when Guy asks for his assistance in teaching him the way of the sword, Karel initially flatly refuses and asks Guy to leave him, with the warning that if Guy were stronger than him, he would kill him right "where [he] stands", and when speaking with Lucius, he constantly belittles and insults the monk for his faith in St. Elimine. Karel himself is aware of his temperament, and when asked why he acts this way, he says that both he and his sword crave blood; in addition to this, Karel tells Lucius that he "never had the luxury even to imagine fatigue", only aiding his "hunger".
Another significant part of Karel's personality in the game is his secrecy; in his C and B supports with Dart, he doesn't state his name at all and instead chooses to listen to the supposed legends about him, and upon being confronted on how he didn't say his name, he hurriedly says "You didn't ask". In addition, Geitz's attempts to try and understand Karel fail to work, with Karel refusing to speak often, and when asked if he was sneaking up on Geitz for a sneak attack, his only reponse is "Pfah". In supports with his younger sister, Karel also claims to have no memories of Karla, including one where he carried her home after she got lost.
In The Binding Blade, however, Karel is a considerably calmer force than seen Blazing Sword. Most notable of these changes is perhaps his general refusal to use his sword; if the player doesn't visit the village with Fir or Bartre, he elects to simply not fight with the player's army, and when confronted by Rutger, who acts similar to the younger Karel with his blade being meant for death, Karel refuses to teach the young swordsman the way of the sword, claiming that Rutger's path for vengeance will only lead him down the same path he himself took. Even when he chooses to join Roy's army, his reasons are not due to wanting to fight or to otherwise uphold the peace of the area; rather, he is only interested in fighting alongside his family after learning his sister passed away while he was gone.
The Binding Blade
— Karel in The Binding Blade.
|“||Death cannot be bested with a sword. My skills are not yet honed to such a level. I should take my leave of this battle.||”|
— Karel in Blazing Sword.
Post-battle conversation in Blazing Sword
Eliwood: How is Karel? I heard he suffered a grave wound.
Hector: It seems he just vanished...like the wind. I'm sure he's out there somewhere.
Final Chapter quotes
|“||So, let's see the power of the Demon Dragon.||”|
— In the final chapter of The Binding Blade.
|“||As long as there's someone to cut, you will have my aid.||”|
— In the final chapter of Blazing Sword.
Battle History quotes
|“||Hmph. I fear you may be my next opponent.||”|
— Karel, with S or A rank
|“||...Not bad. ......Hmph.||”|
— Karel, with B or C rank
|“||Could it be? Is my blade...not worthy?||”|
— Karel, with D or E rank
|“||Your name is Mark, correct? A tactician? I see. You use wisdom as your blade... Interesting... Mark, I will remember your name.||”|
— In Chapter 28 of Blazing Sword.
Karel has not made any appearances in official media, save for his appearance in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance's official art gallery. As Hasha no Tsurugi follows the bad ending of The Binding Blade, Karel is among the only characters in the game to not appear in the manga.
Etymology and other languages
|Names, etymology and in other regions|
|Language||Name||Definition, etymology and notes|
|English||Karel||Derived from "Karl", a Germanic name that loosely translates to "man".|
- Despite not appearing in ordinary gameplay, Karel's swordmaster sprite appears in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones's opening class roll for one of the "Swordmaster" vignettes.
- Karel has both the highest defense growth in The Binding Blade (110%) and the lowest defense growth in Blazing Sword (10%).
|This article is part of Project Characters, a project focused in writing articles for every character present in the Fire Emblem series.|
|Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword|
|Fire Emblem: Awakening|