The Knight and Knave of Swords (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #7)

ISBN: 068808530X
ISBN 13: 9780688085308
By: Fritz Leiber

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About this book

Ramsey Campbell, the highly regarded British horror author called him, "the greatest living writer of supernatural horror fiction". Drawing many of his own themes from Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, and H.P Lovecraft, master manipulator Franz Leiber is a worldwide legend within the Fantasy genre, actually coining the term "Sword and Sorcery" that would describe the sub-genre he would more than help create. While Lord of the Rings took the world by storm, Leiber-s fantastic but thoroughly flawed anti-heroes, Fafhrd and Grey Mouser, adventured and stumbled deep within the caves of Inner Earth as well, albeit a different one. They wondered and wandered to the edges of the Outer Sea, across the Land of Nehwon and throughout every nook and cranny of gothic Lankhmar, Nehwon-s grandest and most mystically corrupt city. Lankhmar, is Leiber-s fully realized, vivid, incarnation of urban decay and civilization-s corroding effect on the human psyche. Fafhrd and Mouse are not innocents; their world is no land of honor and righteousness. It is a world of human complexities and violent action, of discovery and mystery, of swords and sorcery. "Fritz Leiber's tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are virtually a genre unto themselves. Urbane, idiosyncratic, comic, erotic and human, spiked with believable action of a master fantasist!" William Gibson "After too long a wait, the master story teller of us all returns with a huge, anecdotal adventure in the magic-drenched lives of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Glowing imagination melds with gorgeous language to make this one of Leiber's very best...which is a better best than this poor world usually has to offer. Leiber's back: rejoice!" -Harlan Ellison "It's all Fritz Leiber's fault. If he weren't such a deadly fine fantasist I wouldn't be stopping everything to read his tales. And if he weren't such a master I wouldn't occasionally look out of the window and wish he'd interrupt my routine again, as he doesn't do it often enough. The Knight and Knave of Swords came into my life and took over an otherwise fully programmed afternoon. I stop everything when a new Fafhrd and Gray Mouser story comes into my hands." Roger Zelazny.Contents:9 · Sea Magic · ss The Dragon Dec ’77 29 · The Mer She · nv Heroes & Horrors, Whispers Press, 1978 63 · The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars · na Heroic Visions, ed. Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Ace, 1983 117 · The Mouser Goes Below · na *; portions first printed as “The Mouser Goes Below” (Whispers #23 ’87) and “Slack Lankhmar Afternoon Featuring Hisvet” (Terry’s Universe, ed. Beth Meacham, Tor 1988).

Reader's Thoughts


Могу сказать, что не сложилось у меня с этими книгами, потому что буйную фантазию автора на тему Фентези можно читать пожалуй только из некоторого пошлого интереса. Разрозненные истории о главных героях, описаны сухо и совсем не ярко, мир не увлекает и не зачаровывает, могу сказать точно, что продолжать читать эту серию после данной книги мне совсем не хочется. Оригинальные идеи есть, но они теряются в общем потоке не слишком занимательного повествования.

Iain Watson

The knight and knave of swords by Fritz Leiber (1988)


7th Fafhrd and Grey Mouser book. Unfortunately not pictured is the ultimately ridiculous cover I have. Embossed and glossy totally goofy mass market fantasy stuff, but of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser decked out in like Shakespearian or jester gear.


I read this book at some point several years ago, but had completely forgotten. Possibly because some of the themes weren't as resonant with the younger version of me as they are now. In any case, this is an incredibly satisfying ending to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser's adventures. Fritz Leiber once again proves that he's the master of sword-and-sorcery-and-snarking.


I liked the writing style and the dialogue, but something about this book kept putting me to sleep.


Some media is difficult to consume, when we know it will be our last taste. This is how I felt watching the last episode of The Wire, the last Morse mystery, and now reading this book. It's why I put off reading the last Dark Tower novel. Reading The Knight and Knave of Swords I was filled with melancholy. I'm certain I first discovered Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser when I was 10 or 11 years old, and while scouring used book stores happy to grab any of the paperbacks collecting their adventures. These stories filled with adventure, humor, magic, not-overly powerful gods, and sexy women were a great pleaure to read. For D&D players, not enough credit can be given to Leiber, who came up with a dozen of the concepts incorporated into the RPG.I've always thought Leiber had the best story titles, Ill Met in Lankhmar being my favorite.And so I'd put off reading this book for more than 10 years. I finally added it as a briefcase read. The book includes two short stories and a novella. I'd call one of the short stories, a gem. Fafhrd is cursed to look up and obsess with stars, while the Mouser is cursed to look down obsessing with trivialities like the shapes and colors of pebbles and sticks. Their obsessive curses prevent them from taking note of assassins sent from Lankhmar hired to settle old scores.The other short and the novella were not as good. Not bad, but not particularly good either. The heroes are too passive, riding out circumstances with essentially no power to influence events.The cover of the book is A-1.


Good fun. I hadn't read any Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser stories before, although I had heard of them. The alien/antique language and rascally heroes reminded me of Vance.


Fafhrd, the towering barbarian, and his best friend the Gray Mouser, a cutpurse small in stature, are now middle-aged swordsmen with an abundance of adventures behind them. But the fates aren't through with them yet, and in this collection of stories, Fritz Leiber gives us more of their exploits. A rollicking read for sci-fi and fantasy fans.


The seventh and final volume in Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series, containing stories from the late seventies and eighties. This one was a bit different than the previous for me, insofar as it is the only volume I had never read before, as it had not been released (or indeed, written) yet the last time I read through the series. Knight and Knave of Swords is generally considered the series’ low point, and with very good reason – while Swords and Ice Magic was rather mediocre, this one is outright bad, and if it wasn’t for my stubbornly insisting on reading the series in its entirety I probably would not have finished it.The volume’s basic structure is similar to Swords and Ice Magic – it starts off with some shorter stories (not quite vignettes this time, though, even though there is not really that much more happening) and then ends with what one might consider as either a long novella or a short novel. Noteworthy about Knight and Knave of Swords is that it is the longest volume in this series – it is not quite a doorstopper but it has a significantly higher page count than any of the previous books. And this turns out to be not a good thing at all – where Leiber’s storytelling used to be lean and slink, propelled by action and humor, here its most characteristic feature is a huge amount of bloat, the stories’ narrative momentum getting lost in lacklustre descriptions of pointless detail – Knight and Knave of Swords reads like a re-imagining of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser as done by Robert Jordan.The three introductory stories are bad enough in that respect, but things take an even worse turn in the concluding novella “The Mouser Goes Below”. All the colour and wit, all the elegance and ironic touches that made this series so special seem to have been drained from Leiber’s prose, leaving a dry, dull husk that is all the more painful to read for those extremely rare moments when there is a brief sparkle of its former brilliance (like when it turns out that the Fafhrd’s child is actually closer in character to the Grey Mouser and vice versa). But those moments are so few and far between as to be almost non-existent, and the rest of the novella resembles nothing more than one of the pointless vignettes from Swords and Ice Magic – blown up to over 200 pages. Our supposed protagonists are even more passive than in the previous volume’s “Frost Monstreme / Rime Isle”, they are just being pushed around like pawns and this time there is not even any real purpose behind it, the whole novella reads like one long exercise in utter futility.Even though after reading Swords and Ice Magic I did not go with any high expectations into this volume, Knight and Knave of Swords still managed to be a huge disappointment and I cannot imagine even the most diehard fan of the series deriving any enjoyment from this volume. Even the attempts at fan service (Fafhrd’s daughter and the Grey Mouser’s son) fall woefully flat and the whole thing is a dreary mess that leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. I had to thumb through some of the early volumes to get rid of it and to remind myself that this used to be a wonderful series. Knight and Knave of Swords is emphatically going to get skipped in any further re-readings of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser I might be undertaking.

Angela Alcorn

Read Return to Lankhmar first (which we have).

Maxwell Heath

The stories contained in this volume are okay, but definitely not as good as those in the earlier books. The last and longest one especially suffers from being rather disappointing, as the premise of the Mouser being trapped underground while Fafhrd is whisked into the sky upon an airship are largely used as framing devices for weird erotica and other such things that don't really match what I want out of a fantasy story. The concept of the sky kingdom is interesting but sadly is barely developed.


Although I like Fritz Leiber's work, some of his fantasy skirts along the edge of sexual behaviors that I find rather disturbing. It's nothing graphic, only suggestive, but it suggests things that I don't particularly care for.


The final chapter in the adventures of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, Knight and Knave of Swords is overall a fine bookend to the classic series that inspired Dungeons and Dragons. There are a few flaws, however. Leiber sometimes lurches into purple prose, throwing out run-on sentences that last for four or five lines and jerk the reader out of the story. Despite this, the stories in this volume make a fine addition to the heroes' adventures, as both learn to deal with growing old, settling down, and perhaps even having families. Their old enemy Death may have something to say about it, however ...


Unfortunately, the last few collections of Leiber's epic series cannot measure up to his earlier stories. In this volume, he once again refrains from the short, punchy stories which won him fame. Instead, he writes a single slow-going, bloated story originally released in chapters, which means Leiber is constantly reminding us what we're reading and what happened.As we chart the ebb of Leiber's once-voracious imagination, each book has less semblance of plot, moving sluggishly between unimportant problems and convenient solutions. Leiber's heroes have grown older and settled down, but even so, he doesn't provide us anything new to carry the plot to take the place of their lost derring-do.A charming portrait of their dotage might have been an amusing and satisfying conclusion to our heroes' lives, but we don't get that. Instead, we get more of Leiber's fetishism, meaning allusions to orgies, whole-body shaving, awkward euphemisms for anal sex, and even some teen lesbian teasing. He does momentarily ask us to consider what The Mouser and Fafhrd's relationship might have been, if they were more than friends, but this brief aside hardly balances the otherwise one-sided sexuality.We also get more of his poetry, which isn't pretty, though I was taken aback by the way he dropped in the four-letter words. I don't mind such good Anglo-Saxon language, but it didn't make his awkward verse any more palatable.If he seemed like Pratchett in the former volume, this one has taken a half-step into sex farce. Unfortunately, a sex farce is not something that should be done halfway.Little remains of the bold characterization or striking language that marked the height of his talents. The growing cast of undifferentiated characters (including a gaggle of sexy teen girls) muddles about the dull, cold island trying to solve a problem whose source is never clear and whose solution provides little in the way of a conclusion.The simplest definition of plot may be 'things happen', but woe to the author who takes that too literally. Leiber's early stories are some of the most delightful, imaginative, and varied in the genre, but the latter are mere shades, faltering in a mummer's dance of a glory that they cannot recapture.My List of Suggested Fantasy Books


300 pages is too long for a Fafhrd/Gray Mouser story (or rather, three semi-related F/GM stories, as it is) and the whole thing drags by the second half. Not the best Leiber I've read.

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