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

Joseph

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?

Meo

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.

Benjamin

Fritz Leiber's continuing fantasy stories about the adventures of two lovable rogues, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.My thoughts on this are somewhat disorganized, so you get a list:1. It annoys me that these stories in this series are arranged in internal chronological order; so, for instance, in the first book, Swords and Deviltry, we get "Ill-Met in Lankhmar," the 1970 story that tells how Fafhrd, the northern barbarian, and the Gray Mouser, the urban rogue, joined up for their adventures; and in this book, we get several stories of their adventures that were written long before 1970. So it's easy to see how these stories fit together now, but it doesn't give you a fair sense of Leiber's growing writing power and his potential changes in characterization.2. It amuses me that Neil Gaiman's introduction praises Leiber for his ironic tone when Ursula K. Le Guin sadly castigates him for his uneven tone in her wonderful essay, "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie." They're both right about that tone: the irony here comes through a lot of seesawing in tone, both on the sentence level and on the plot level, where Fafhrd and Gray Mouser only take themselves a little seriously: for instance, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are heartbroken over their lost loves, but occasionally find other women.3. Leiber was too young to really be friends with Lovecraft and Howard; and whereas depressive Lovecraft and suicidal Howard (especially in the Conan stories) really want you to understand the nihilism of human experience, I can't quite get a read on Leiber's nihilism here and what he actually means by it. There is a lot that seems Howardian nihilism: people die easily in these stories; very little is actually accomplished. (The typical Fafhrd and Gray Mouser story is 1st) find a huge treasure, 2nd) lose a huge treasure, 3rd) get drunk before the next adventure); and there are occasional glimpses of cosmic emptiness. But sometimes that nihilism almost seems like a lark, like an enjoyable put-on job. In some ways, my less-generous self wants to compare Leiber's take on Howard as the later cyberpunks take on Gibson: who cares about the serious ideas here, let's wear leather and chrome!4. That said, Leiber at his best--which is probably "Ill-Met in Lankhmar"--takes the sword and sorcery style and gets some fun tricks out of it: for instance, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser run across a standard-seeming ghost story (reminiscent of Wharton's "Kerfol" in its use of ghost dogs), and though there isn't much story there, the insane monologue from the haunted man at the center of this story is a knockout of condensed dread; and "The Bazaar of the Bizarre" seems like a fantasy indictment of American's consumerism, like Simak's They Walked Like Men (where aliens take over the Earth by selling us useless things and buying it up).5. And while Leiber occasionally pays homage to the cosmic loneliness of his forebears (Howard, C. L. Moore), he's at his best in the personal stories of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and the way he plays with the archetypes even as he's building them. For instance, Fafhrd is a barbarian, like Conan; but Fafhrd is also trained as a singer and scholar in some ways. Mouser is the urbane sophisticate, but he's also the superstitious rube. And though one adventure stretches into the Shadowlands of death, it begins with Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser steal a garden house while drunk so that they finally have a place to live.6. Also, even though these stories are arranged suboptimally for my purposes, and I suspect are somewhat edited, there are some hilarious notes to cover up inconsistencies in the text. For instance, Fafhrd's sword is described differently in different stories; and we later learn that's because he constantly breaks and loses his sword and has to steal a new one, which he gives the same name to. It's funny to me because it undercuts the self-important mythologizing so common to fantasy.

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.

Kat Hooper

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.Ho, Fafhrd tall! Hist, Mouser small!Why leave you the city Of marvelous parts?It were a great pity To wear out your heartsAnd wear out the soles of your feet,Treading all earth, Foregoing all mirth,Before you once more Lankhmar greet.Now return, now return, now!Swords Against Death is the second collection of stories about Fafhrd, the big northern barbarian, and The Gray Mouser, the small thief from the slums. For the past three years, the two have grown so close that they are now (as Neil Gaiman suggests in his introduction to the audio version) like two halves of the same person. They’ve been traveling the world together in an effort to forget their lost loves.During their travels “they acquired new scars and skills, comprehensions and compassions, cynicisms and secrecies — a laughter that lightly mocked, and a cool poise that tightly crusted all inner miseries,” but they haven’t been able to assuage their guilt or lessen their feelings of loss outside of Lankhmar, the city which they swore never to return to.But as Sheelba of the Eyeless Face prophesied (“Never and forever are neither for men. You’ll be returning again and again.”), Fafhrd and the Mouser are persuaded to return to Lankhmar where, it turns out, they have not been forgotten, and soon the duo is back to their old tricks and dealing with their former enemies in these stories: “The Circle Curse,” “The Jewels in the Forest,” “Thieves’ House,” “The Bleak Shore,” “The Howling Tower,” “The Sunken Land,” “The Seven Black Priests,” “Claws from the Night,” “The Price of Pain-Ease,” and “Bazaar of the Bizarre.”Some of the stories are better than others (my favorite was “Bazaar of the Bizarre”) but all are “classical rogue” (Neil Gaiman’s term) and all are worth reading simply because they’re written in Fritz Leiber’s gorgeous prose, which is thick with alliteration, insight, and irony.I listened to Swords Against Death on audio. It was produced by Audible Frontiers, introduced by Neil Gaiman, and read by Jonathan Davis who does a terrific job with this series. His voices for Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are perfect — Fafhrd sounds pensive, intellectual, and introverted while Gray Mouser sounds a bit greasy and common. I highly recommend this format; it adds an extra dimension to these fun stories.More Leiber reviews at FanLit.

Keith

"Swords Against Death" is collection number 2 of Fritz Leiber's linked stories of two thieving companions named Fafhrd and Grey Mouser.Stories include:The Circle CurseThe Jewels in the ForestThieves' HouseThe Bleak ShoreThe Howling TowerThe Sunken LandThe Seven Black PriestsClaws from the NightThe Price of Pain-EaseBazaar of the Bizarre

Darren

The gritty and visceral tone of fantasy prose that I've come to expect of Leiber and his Lankhmar series once again jumped off the page in this book. I enjoyed it more than Swords and Deviltry (the first book of the seven book series) - not for lack of appreciation of the backstory Leiber devoted most of the first book to, but for the action packed ride we are taken on as the Gray Mouser and Fahfrd adventure across Newhon. You get a great feel for the scope of the worldbuilding and characterization as well, which is an aspect of the craft that Leiber never ceases to amaze me with.True, old-school sword & sorcery here. Worth your time.

Gary

I did enjoy the classic fantasy element of this book. Understanding where a genre began and understanding the influences is important to me. That is why I chose this series. I found my mind wandering at times and needed to reread sections. Quite often, really. I commented on this to my 13 year old daughter (who is a sometimes voracious reader) and she promptly informed me that her mind wanders when a book bores her and she quits it.Maybe she was right. Maybe this book did bore me. It shouldn't have. It had all the elements of an interesting plot, developed characters, bizarre villains. But my mind did wander and it was a struggle. Hence three stars rather than four.Maybe I need a break from this. I need to read something immersive for the sake of reading rather than trying to understand a genre. Maybe I am just over complicating this and this book bores me a little.

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?

Larou

This is the second volume in Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser books, and I would say that the series really hits its stride here… except that the stories this volume collects are some of the earliest he ever wrote for this setting (in fact, it contains the very first of them, “The Jewels in the Forest”, first published in 1939) and thus precede everything collected in the first volume.There is a brief introductory piece Leiber wrote for Swords Against Death that connects this volume to the ending of Swords and Devilitry, describing our heroes’ wanderings around the world of Nehwon after the events related in ”Ill Met in Lankhmar”. In a somewhat odd turn, Leiber lets Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser return to that city for one story only to have them again leave it to travel to the ends of the earth in the one immediately after, and then has several stories that tell of incidents during their second trip back. This is all a bit weird, and undoubtedly owing to the authors attempt to impose some kind of internal chronology on stories he had writter over the course of three decades. Such things generally tend not to go very well, and Leiber’s series is no exception (and there will be even more abstruse things to explain away in the next volume), one can still see the glue where he has tried to stick the ill-fitting pieces together, and it is not even necessary to look hard for the cracks.One really wonders why Leiber even bothered with this – the stories do not need a narrative continuum to exist in, they work just fine as unrelated episodes. In fact, one might even wonder if the decrease in quality noticeable in later stories is not due to precisely the author’s ambition to force his tales of rogues & ribaldry into the tight corset of a timeline, if he did not douse the ebullient spirit of adventure the early stories radiate with his attempt at making everything fit into consisent worldbuilding. In the tales collected in Swords Against Death, however, it is quite obvious that he merrily makes stuff up as he goes along and the stories are not any less fun for it.Very much in evidence here are both Leiber’s fondness for the bizarre (what his worldbuilding lacks in consistency and plausibility it more than makes up for in invention, imagination and general weirdness) and his sense of humour (I’m convinced that Leiber has been a major influence on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and anyone who loves those books and has not read any Fafhrd and Gray Mouser yet should do so right away). He even gets outright satirical at times, most pronounced in “Bazaar of the Bizarre” where he takes some – not exactly subtle, but quite funny – stabs at consumerism culture. That story is also a great example of how the friendship between the protagonists fuels and kindles those stories – like all close friends they do not always agree with each other, often are even explicitly at cross-purposes, but in the end they always work together in some way, voluntarily or not. The first volume in the series was an enjoyable read, but this here is great stuff, with the fun factor quite often going through the roof.

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 Suggestions

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.

Brigid

The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories are the wittiest take on pulp sword and sorcery out there. This is one of the best of the collections, barring the first story. It has battles and jewels and lissome dancing girls and sorcerous death in the night, but done with panache and a dash of irony. Even if you don't ordinarily like this sort of thing, you might like these.

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)

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.

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