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.S.E. Lindberg
Leiber’s Mouser and Fafhrd are the Scooby and Shaggy Of Sword and SorceryAtmosphere and Style: Fafhrd and Mouser are two rogues who are braver and smarter than Scooby and Shaggy, but form as legendary a duo in many ways. The pair were chronicled over ~5 decades by the man who termed the genre “Sword & Sorcery” (Fritz Leiber) in separate short stories (covering ~40 stories, published over 1939 to 1991). Their adventures in the City of Lankhmar and World of Nehwon were captured in seven books. Scooby Doo Where Are You? was a Hanna-Barbera production, broadcast from 1969 to 1978 (notably the same time many of Leiber’s work was compiled into novels.) Scooby Doo (and its reboots) were known for juxtaposing scary atmospheres with acceptable silliness…in episodic form. This is exactly what Swords against Death delivers, and presumably represents the other Fafred and Mouser novels. A possible exception is the chapter “Ill met in Lankhmar” (the last story in Vol-1 “Swords and Deviltry” in which the scary-silly style is presented, but the outcome more dire than anything in this second volume.)Fafhrd and the Mouser float from one independent adventure to the next. Each chapter is an enjoyable episode, but there is an apparent lack of an overarching conflict for the duo. Ostensibly the chapters are linear in chronology, but they really seemed stand alone and could be read in any order. From the opening (and the end of the first Volume Swords and Deviltry) I expected the pair to be haunted by their past loves, but these haunts were only addressed in only one chapter later. Varied perspectives and controlled revelations keep each narrative fresh. The stories are indeed fortified with literate prose and abundant vocabulary, but just when you think Leiber may take his milieu too seriously, you will be treated to a ludicrous robbery by fishing pole, a grand displacement/theft of a house, an assault from giant snowballs, or a hunt from bad guys skiing in an apparent satire to a Bond film. But, the silliness does not detract from enjoyable adventure. Just like the original Scooby Doo cartoon. Emotive Oil Painting: Oil paintings will forever inspire emotion of fantasy media. For Scooby Doo, background stylist Walt Peregoy created some truly scary paintings worthy as any cover art. During the same years, Jeff Jones illustrated the first five of the ~1970's editions for Fritz Leiber (Michael Whelan did the sixth). Check out the series:1970; 1970; 1968; 1968; 1968;1977; 1988Antonio 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.Travis
More great fantasy adventure featuring the greatest duo of rogues every to grace a fantasy novel.The guys fight, hunt treasure, drink, wench and generally cross paths with various monsters and magical beings.Clever writing and some great takes/twists on fantasy cliches.Why hasn't someone scooped up the movie rights to these guys?Keely
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 SuggestionsJoseph
More escapades with Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, a surprising number of which still take place far from Lankhmar, the City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokes. Now that the origin stories have been dispensed with (in the previous volume), we can finally see Fafhrd and Mouser as the (mostly) inseparable comrades we've been expecting. Chronologically speaking, the stories are a mixed bag -- most date from the 1940's (including "Jewels in the House", a.k.a. "Two Sought Adventure", their first published outing) and a couple date from the early 1970's ("The Circle Curse" and "The Price of Pain-ease", both of which tie off narrative threads from the previous volume's "Ill-met in Lankhmar").There are some fine, fine stories in here. If forced at the point of Scalpel or Graywand (Mouser always calls whatever sword he's currently using Scalpel, and Fafhrd recycles the name Graywand) to pick just one I'd be tempted by "Bazaar of the Bizarre", the story of a peculiar shop selling most intriguing wares. But really, you can't go wrong with any of them.Again, one of the great joys is Leiber's elegant, sardonic prose. I almost feel like I can follow a through-line from James Branch Cabell to Leiber to Terry Pratchett. Or have I had one too many jugs from the Silver Eel?Valerie
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.Kevin
This collection flirts at times with a supernatural horror out of Poe or Lovecraft, but this influence is perhaps a little naked and, less forgivably, pales in comparison to the real deal. "The Howling Tower" and "The Seven Black Priests" come closest to hitting that sweet spot. "The Sunken Land" is a bit like "The Shadow over Innsmouth" but with an ending that seriously underwhelms. "Bazaar of the Bizarre" has an anti-capitalist message that is goofy even to this avowed socialist and undermines the threat and mystery of its antagonists, the Devourers.You know, "Thieves House" was good, too, a short sequel to "Ill Met In Lankhmar" that captured the original's swashbuckling zest and had some spooky moments besides. Overall, I'd say this was a mixed bag, and a few of the stories I thought were kind of a chore, mostly the framing narratives of "The Circle Curse" and "The Price of Pain-Ease", which attempt to force a character arc upon the other stories that just isn't there.Newton Tio Nitro
Nesse segundo livro conhecemos mais a cidade de Lankhmar, cujas histórias parecem um noir de fantasia, com bandidos por todos os lados, drogas, prostitutas e muita ação e diversão. Além dessas aventuras, a dupla embarca em jornadas pelo mundo de Nehwon, aventuras que misturam horror lovecraftiano com muito humor e pancadaria.A Morte é um dos temas frequentes nas histórias de Lieber, e nesse livro a dupla confronta várias vezes com sua própria mortalidade e sofre mudanças psicológicas por causa desses confrontos. A caracterização e a prosa bem humorada de Lieber são os seus fortes, e as histórias são sempre usadas para revelar novas facetas das personalidades de Fafhrd e do Gray Mouser.Erik
Every single story in this collection is superior to those of the first book and each reminds me, in some way, of the shorts of Poe or Lovecraft or even the sort of X-Files-esque monster-a-week mindset that characterizes most non-drama/comedy television.While those stories contained in book #1 (Swords and Deviltry) are rather standard fantasy fare, these are much more original and interesting. The heroes fight against various evil dwellings, including a living tower; they encounter their own sunken island, very much in the vein of Lovecraft's Cthulu; they fight various incarnations of Death himself and other evil gods and goddesses. They seek after a great many jewels though, of course, rarely succeed in acquiring them. Just as noir crime thrillers have taught me to never trust a beautiful women, so too did these stories teach me to never trust a beautiful jewel! Always strings attached, you know.The stories really do come across more as idea explorations than fantasy pulp, and they're the better for it.With that said, fantasy short stories feel very dissatisfying to me, in much the same way as I recently explained how comic books feels very dissatisfying. It never actually feels like Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser are getting anywhere. Like they're running in place, y'know? A whole lot of fighting and sharing of witty thoughts to no end. That's the nature of short stories, sure, yet one of the things I most enjoy about the 'Epic' mode of fantasy writing (as opposed to Leiber's sword and sorcery) is the world building and the sense of the journey. Fantasy short stories, at least these, are the broken-record version of a journey. Each one begins with a quick, brief intro of Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser and then they're off, in a quick and entertaining little jaunt that nevertheless doesn't provide any character change at all.So they are well-written, yes, and deserve their four star. But I don't know that I would ever recommend them, and I don't know that I'll be picking up any more of Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser.Jefferson
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.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.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)Brad T.
Leiber's books are classic works of fantasy. Reading them brings to mind many hours spent as a teenager playing Dungeons and Dragons in my friend Joe's spooky house. Whenever I start a fafhred and grey mouser book I start with excitement but end in disappointment. The stories are trite and without depth. The situations are contrived and the sequence of events too unbelievable for me to believe that they occurred even in a fantasy novel.I read them for the memories of my youth than I do for the stories themselves. That said, I do recognize that when I read them as a youth, I enjoyed them, so much more because I had not been jaded through the reading of thousands of really good books after it.Leiber paved the way for many really good fantasy writers after him so for that his works remain classics.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.