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

Angela Alcorn

Read Return to Lankhmar first (which we have).


Fafhard and the Grey Mouser are now respectable, married businessmen, content to be settled and enjoying their wealth and leisure time.Oh, if only it was that easy! They still can't help stumbling upon magical things or grabbing the attention of various mystical beings.One last romp for those two great fantasy heroes, now with their very tolerant wives, and slightly baffled and anxious chief assistants dragged along. The last story is every bit as fantastic, fun and witty as the first and the only cloud on the horizon is that this is the last story and there are no more new ones to look forward to.Someone needs to get the movie rights to these books.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


Either Lieber is genuinely not as good as i remember, or this is him attempting to milk the brand for money. The writing is weak, at best. Have to dig up some of his older stuff to compare, but haven't gotten around to it yet.Recommend to burn this one on sight.


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

Joseph Panno

God awful. This series has sadly gone way off track. The two main characters are practically nothing resembling what made me like them in the first place, the story itself is weak, the supporting characters are boring but the worst is how deviant parts of this book are. Mentions of pedophilia and damn near outright porn: it reads like it was written by a lecherous old man. A big disappointment.

Newton Tio Nitro

No sétimo e último volume da saga de Fafhrd e o Gray Mouser, o surrealismo toma conta das aventuras da dupla. As histórias ganham cada vez mais surrealismo, em detrimento do aspecto épico e sujo das primeiras histórias da dupla mais famosa do gênero de Espada e Magia (a partir dessa resenha, vou usar esse termo para falar de Sword and Sorcery).O livro contém as seguintes histórias “Sea Magic” (1977), “The Mer She” (1978), “The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars” (1983) ,”The Mouser Goes Below” (1987, 1988). As três primeiras histórias são muito boas, com “The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars” se sobressaindo por sua originalidade intercalando uma maldição dos deuses em cima da dupla com a perseguição de dois assassinos vindos de Lankhmar.Já a última história, apesar da originalidade da premissa (o Mouser sofre com uma vingança de um deus e começa a afundar pela terra), é mais uma desculpa para uma série de cenas de voyerismo e eroticismo, que apesar de bem escritas, não são o que eu esperava para a última história da dupla.Erotismo e sexo são bem presentes em toda a saga de Fafhrd e o Gray Mouser, e de certa forma, escritas com mais “literariedade” e humor do que outros autores de Espada e Magia. Mas em “The Mouser Goes Below”, o Lieber exagerou na maluquice. Mesmo assim, entendi a noveleta como uma meditação sobre a mortalidade, com Mouser vivenciando a realidade de maneira incorpórea e refletindo sobre sua vida (especialmente as mulheres com que ele se envolveu).Analisando os sete volumes, impressiona a imaginação sem limites de Lieber, seu senso de humor e o modo como caracteriza seus personagens. Fafhrd e o Gray Mouser são muito bem construídos, são daqueles personagens que se imortalizam, independente das histórias que participam.Fica a recomendação, parte da leitura obrigatória para os fãs de Espada e Magia.E agora, como parte desse desejo de conhecer os textos mais influentes e fundadores da tradição da Espada e Magia, estou começando a leitura coleção de 3 volumes da editora Del Rey com TODAS as histórias originais do Conan escritas pelo Robert E. Howard. Os volumes são vol.1 The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, vol.2 The Bloody Crown of Conan e vol.3 The Conquering Sword of Conan.Depois de ler os contos picados, finalmente vou poder ler todos os escritos do Tio Howard sobre o bárbaro doidimais. E juntando isso com a leitura dos quadrinhos do Conan da Darkhorse (saga de 2003-2008, que é muito fiel aos originais do Tio Howard), é mergulho na era Hiboriana, depois de ter viajado pelo mundo de Newhon, de Lankhmar.

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