Espadas Contra La Muerte

ISBN: 8427010125
ISBN 13: 9788427010123
By: Fritz Leiber

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About this book

In the second installment of this rousing series, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser journey from the ancient city of Lankhmar, searching for a little adventure and debauchery to ease their broken hearts. When a stranger challenges them to find and fight Death on the Bleak Shore, they battle demonic birds, living mountains, and evil monks on the way to their heroic fate. Fritz Leiber’s witty prose, lively plots, and superb characterizations stand the test of time.

Reader's Thoughts

K. Axel

Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are well-known characters of Fritz Leiber and Sword & Sorcery. I've read plenty of these shortstories to really like the witty bantering of the two antiheroes.This anthology surprised me by giving emotional depth to the characters. They are not just traveling warriors who steal and kill.This is a review-in-progress and I will add reviews of each of the stories as I read them.The Circle Curse is the story about how Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser left Lankhmar after their loves had been killed. They had sworn never to return, but could they really keep that promise? A different kind of story that showed me some new sides to Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. I really liked it. (4 stars)The Jewels in the Forest tells the tale of how Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser fought a band of brigands and... a house! This story is more classic S&S, but introduces some nice ideas. (2.5 stars)


This second book of the series seem richer than the previous collection, now that it's not burdened by the apparently necessary origin stories. In general this format works better: shorter, punchier stories and a willingness to let some incidental character become the viewpoint briefly.I'm fascinated by the role that Nehwon and Lankhmar play in the development of popular fantasy: how much of Lankhmar is in New Crobuzon or Viriconium or Adrilankha? There is a miasma of The Weird in all of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories, whether in the outré settings or unconventional magic or the hints of otherworldly visitation.


Swords Against Death (1970), the second book in Fritz Leiber's classic sword and sorcery series featuring Fafhrd (the pale giant barbarian) and the Gray Mouser (the dusky, compact ex-slum boy), is a collection of ten entertaining short stories assembled by Leiber into a fix-up that, with some strain, is almost a composite novel dealing with the attempts of the duo to come to terms with the violent deaths of their beloved lovers at the end of the first book, Swords Against Deviltry (1970). In the first story, "The Circle Curse" (1970), the friends are so sick of grief, guilt, and loss in Lankhmar that they leave the city forever, they believe, wandering the world of Nehwon and living by "thievery, robbery, bodyguarding, brief commissions as couriers and agents… and by showmanship," gaining "new scars and skills," and learning that “Never and forever are neither for men."In "The Jewels in the Forest" (1939), Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser go on an amusing and suspenseful treasure hunt involving an architectural guardian, a quirky peasant family, and some rival rogues.Multiple sets of characters compete for the possibly animated ruby-eyed skull and jeweled hands of an ancient Master Thief in the madcap "Thieves' House" (1943). In "The Bleak Shore" (1940) a mysterious stranger puts a geas on the Mouser and Fafhrd to see if they can cheat Death, who commands sword-armed dinosaurs. After their geas-quest, "The Howling Tower" (1941) finds the friends on their way back to Lankhmar, encountering belling ghost hounds, spooky bandages, and a cracked wizard. In "The Sunken Land" (1942), Fafhrd catches a fish and finds an old ring its stomach: is he as lucky as he thinks or should he obey the Mouser's advice to throw the thing overboard?In the loopy "The Seven Black Priests," still Lankhmar-bound, Fafhrd and the Mouser stir up a cult of black-skinned priests protecting a hill bearing an ominous stone face in the snowy Cold Wastes. Back in Lankhmar, the friends are caught up in an avian crime wave that has left ladies of rank wearing protective gilded bird cages on their heads in "Claws from the Night" (1951). "The Price of Pain-Ease" (1970) is an oddly moving story, in which the Mouser and Fafhrd take up housekeeping in a purloined ducal garden house set on the ashes of their former lovers. Although at first they enjoy their new digs (in which they find books of erotica and death), soon they are being visited by the ghosts of their loves, until they are compelled by impending madness to strike bad bargains with some mysterious wizards. The collection closes with "Bazaar of the Bizarre" (1963), a satiric critique of mercantilism and consumerism. Are the inter-universal super-merchants who've set up shop in Lankhmar's Plaza of Dark Delights selling what the Mouser sees, lenses revealing "the blue heaven-pinnacle of the universe where angels flew shimmeringly like dragonflies and where a few choice heroes rested from their great mountain-climb and spied down critically on the ant-like labors of the gods many levels below"? Or what Fafhrd sees, "old bones, dead fish, butcher's offal, moldering gravecloths folded in uneven squares like badly bound uncut books, broken glass and potsherds, splintered boxes, large stinking dead leaves orange-spotted with blight, bloody rags, tattered discarded loincloths, large worms nosing about, centipedes a-scuttle, cockroaches a-stagger, maggots a-crawl"? Despite ranging over roughly five decades (from the late 1930s till 1970), and despite Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser forgetting their dead lovers for entire stories, the tales in Swords Against Death mostly cohere in tone, plot, theme, and setting, unified by the rogue-adventure friends' relationship and by Leiber's sardonic vision and baroque prose, which percolates with alliteration and rhyme and archaic or obscure words. He writes fresh and witty dialogue, as when the friends discuss a man who wrote poems daring adventurers to pilfer his jewels: "'The man's mind runs to skulls,' muttered the Mouser. 'He must have been a gravedigger or a necromancer,'" while Fafhrd chips in, "'Or an architect'" And he writes great descriptions, as in this one redolent with mood: "She stood breathless and poised, one hand touching a treetrunk, the other pressing some leaves, ready to fly away at the first sudden move. Fafhrd and the Mouser stood as stock-still as if she were doe or a dryad."Like Robert E. Howard's Conan, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser have self-serving but generally humane ethics, which means that all their possessions--even their swords--are stolen and that they rarely indulge in gratuitous cruelty. Unlike the laconic loner Conan, Fafhrd and the Mouser are often a garrulous comedy duo, bantering about their different predilections and stratagems. Fans of the contemporary realistic fantasy of Martin, Erikson, Cook, and the like may not enjoy Leiber's old sword and sorcery, but I found that the dry wit, baroque style, anti-heroism, imaginative adventures, satires on religion and civilization, vividness of Nehwon and Lankhmar, and humor and horror, all make most of his stories (apart from their dated sexism, by which women--"girls"--are untrustworthy or "for dessert") entertaining.

David B

Fritz Leiber's second collection of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser adventures is more entertaining than the first. Although Leiber is quite imaginative and conceives several unique perils for his adventurers, there is also a certain sameness to the straightforward, uncomplicated structure of each story that can grow a little too familiar after a while. It is best that none of these stories are too long, as their fast-paced nature definitely provides momentum to get the reader past the occasional dull patch. Things pick up when the duo's sometime employers, Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face, make their appearance. I look forward to seeing more of them later in the series.


This was much better than I was expecting. I enjoy a good pulp now and again, but this nearly reached the mirth and derring-do of Dumas' Musketeers. Many of these stories were written before those of the first collection. They were short magazine submissions, and it was only later that Leiber thought to write introductory stories.Being written in the early part of Leiber's career at different times and places, the stories show a great deal of pleasing variance. Each short tale presents its own setting, its own locations, and its own feel. They are all loosely connected into a grander arc, and the reader is invited to draw connections and conclusions about the interstitial parts, evoking real historical accounts.It's not difficult to see how, writing these stories without a clear path, at many times throughout his life, we get a grander scope of his world, from vibrant, rough stories to more complex, idea-driven ones. This somewhat piecemeal approach is engaging and unpredictable, especially in comparison to Leiber's later work on the series, which is unfortunately repetitive and narrow in scope.There are a few sections which grow a bit silly and stilted, but it is altogether quick and enjoyable, with the vivacity, wit, and creativity to keep the reader occasionally surprised and often amused.My Fantasy Book Suggestions

David Bonesteel

Fritz Leiber's second collection of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser adventures is more entertaining than the first. Although Leiber is quite imaginative and conceives several unique perils for his adventurers, there is also a certain sameness to the straightforward, uncomplicated structure of each story that can grow a little too familiar after a while. It is best that none of these stories are too long, as their fast-paced nature definitely provides momentum to get the reader past the occasional dull patch. Things pick up when the duo's sometime employers, Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face, make their appearance. I look forward to seeing more of them later in the series.

Antonio Pizzo

Divertente, senza tempi morti o inutili giri di parole e pieno di idee adorabilmente sopra le righe. Tesori maledetti, corvi giganti che rubano gioielli, stregoni pretenziosi, spettri indisponenti e case che masticano o percuotono a colpi di torre i visitatori sgraditi sono solo alcune delle situazioni più o meno assurde in cui finiscono per cacciarsi stavolta quei due adorabili furfanti di Fafhrd e Gray Mouser. Consigliatissimo a chi sia stufo di saghe da millemila pagine e voglia ritrovare quella freschezza anche un po' ingenua della Sword & Sorcery dei bei tempi.

Commodore Tiberius Q. Handsome

Fritz Leiber invented the term "sword and sorcery", and he was the finest author the genre has ever had. In fact he was, in my opinion, the finest author of fantasy period. I rank him above Tolkien, Howard and Moorcock, never mind Martin or Jordan. I've read him described as a "master prose stylist", and the description is apt indeed. Fritz Leiber was, simply, a terrific, extremely talented writer with a true love of language and a prodigious, playful, incredibly unique style. The odd, absurd, weird, and terrifying, he was a maestro of storytelling, a humorist, and a weaver of weird tales and action-packed adventures. He was the best, period, and anyone with any interest at all in fantasy who neglects Leiber is cheating himself.


There are many things to say about this grand old forebear of the sword and sorcery genre - comic where you might expect it to be tragic, tragic where you might expect it to be epic, and epic at times when you might have expected humor. I'll try to limit myself.While D&D is awesome on its own merits, one of the insidious things that it did to the fantasy landscape was to infect characters in novels with this sense of game-like balance to their traits and personalities. Thus you have the sickly wizards who have sacrificed health for power, and brawny but dumb fighters, and quick but fragile thieves, and all these archetypes in modern fantasy. What's great about the proper "sword and sorcery" stuff (Conan's another good example) is that it predates those tropes. You never know what you're going to get with these heroes - they're not so easily stereotyped.Fafhrd's a big barbarian, but a singer and poet as well - cheerful, well-read, and agile despite his size. The Grey Mouser is slim but possessed of a wiry strength, a fondness for cleaning and organization, and has a cynicism that does not preclude his cat-like propensity for sniffing out trouble and dangerous artifacts. They're both generally good-humored rogues - none of the existential brooding that you get with vampires or cursed rings - these guys are just out for a quick buck, a roll in the hay, and a story to tell at the bar. The two of them together are a thieving team supreme, but as often as not they end the day with no more treasure than they had at the beginning due to the inevitable double-crosses and misfortunes that are a thief's lot. Their adventures are all short stories, but they go so quickly that you may find yourself reading more than one at a stretch. Good, good stuff.


The second book in the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser Series was equally enthralling as the first book. I enjoyed the treks across the world of Newhon and beyond. The mixture of fantasy and the elements of horror were perfect. I think the story that stood out for me the most was the Sunken Land. I love maritime stories and this reminded very much of Dagon (H.P. Lovecraft). Yet to single out a specific story is very difficult in this treasure trove of awesome!I believe it was The Jewels in the Forest we get a very interesting glimpse of Fafhrd that is not repeated in any other story I have read yet. He mourns over the opponent he has killed. I thought rather strange this was presented because at no other time does he seem to morn like this. For a bit it seemed he had some kind of prohibition against killing but that does not present itself in any other story I have read with them. Maybe it was an avenue Leiber pondered but never took up.I eagerly look forward to the third book that I do. The flow of the writing is just beautiful, the word choice perfect. Not once was I bored or felt the story meandered. Great stuff, that it is.

Bro (Dave Kurimsky)

Fritz Lieber was an early Fantasy/Sci-Fi Author. His career spanned from the 30's till the 90's. This is one of his books. This can best be described as a collection of well-crafted pulpy short stories, set in a quasi-medieval world, starring the same two morally flexible characters in sort of "buddy movie" roles. He was a very creative author and knew how to cram an exciting story into 25 pages or so. Many people credit him as an overlooked but major influence on modern fantasy authors. He gets a lot of credit for introducing flawed, very human characters into fantasy. I don't know about all that, but he writes fun stories, some better than others.One quip, typical of Pulp fantasy of the time, female characters are either non-existent or are 1-dimenional objects of lust.

Michael Hall

Another collection of short stories about the heroic vagabonds Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. It's great to read these tales in the chronological order of the characters' adventures, yet slightly jarring to notice the changes in Fritz Leiber's writing style and tone over several decades -- especially when he switches back to his earlier archaic prose in a 'later' story. Unfortunately the adventures of these two miscreant heroes seem to repeat a formula of gaining a treasure, losing said treasure, and getting drunk before the next adventure all amidst great violence and death... so you see little gain for the pair or little forward movement in their growth. Despite the (small) drawbacks, these are still entertaining stories full of action, mysterious encounters, and dark humor.


I always wondered what was wrong with me that I couldn't get into sword-and sorcery books. Then I picked up my 1st Leiber book, and figured it out. They take themselves too seriously. There's not enough humor.Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser remedies that nicely. I'm pretty sure I read this specific book--but I know I've read quite a few of them.


Another series of stories about the barbarian Fafhrd and his nimble friend, The Grey Mouser. Linked, mostly, by the theme of their trying to live life to the full and forget their murdered girlfriends, the pair find themselves sailing to the ends of the earth, encountering a city long-thought sunk under the waves which has risen again, fighting off the remaining priests who prevent a god from rising and stealing a Duke's summer-house, before (employed by a pair of strange wizards), they encounter a strange shop where nothing is as it appears. The individual tales are short and punchy, with little character development other than for the two leads. The stories do not always revolve around brawn and sword-play, as both Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser need to think their way out of the problems at times. The majority of these first saw print in "pulp" magazines, and their origins can be seen in their style. But, in a good way, the brevity and directness is a great antidote to the multi-volume epics which Fantasy seems to depend upon these days. This book is not merely a trip back into the early years of the genre, the quality of the stories (if not the writing, at times) makes them still shine as relevant and entertaining.

Bill Kerwin

In this collection, our two rogues journey from Lankhmar, seeking to avoid this city which holds painful memories of the deaths of their two beloved "girls," and are led instead to encounter death in two other forms ("The Bleak Shore," "The Price of Pain-Ease") before finally banishing the ghosts of their loves. There are many entertaining individual tales here, my favorite being the two stories about towers ("The Jewels of the Forest" and "The Howling Tower" and Leiber's affectionate--although not slavish-tribute to the Cthulhu mythos of his mentor Lovecraft in "The Sunken Land."

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