JLS (jlsjlsjls) wrote,

Yet another even-day favourite series

I've never read a Fritz Leiber book I didn't like ... the man could be hilarious and deeply philosophical in the same sentence and always, always entertaining. And like most Leiber fans, my first exposure was via his most famous characters, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The term "sword and sorcery" was coined to describe these two, and they also do something that's quite rare among fictional characters in any genre ... they age: around seventeen-eighteen in their solo pre-meeting stories, eighteen/nineteenish at their encounter that began their friendship/partnership (they had "met" once before but not in a setting conducive to conversation ***GRIN***) and in their mid-forties by the final tale. They're also notable for being the first fantasy characters to talk like normal human beings instead of the somewhat stilted olden-times-speak that was the norm when they first saw print. There are only two Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser novels ... the rest of their adventures are mainly shorter stories, ranging from brief vignettes to novellas. The old Ace Books compilations have tables of contents descriptions that are just as entertaining as the actual stories; the recent Dark Horse reprints, sadly, lack these.

The first conversation, from "Swords and Deviltry":
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser faced each other across the two thieves sprawled senseless. They were poised for attack, yet for the moment neither moved.
Each discerned something inexplicably familiar in the other.
Fafhrd said, "Our motives for being here seem identical."
"Seem? Surely must be!" the Mouser answered curtly, fiercely eyeing this potential new foe, who was taller by a head than the tall thief.
"You said?"
"I said, 'Seem? Surely must be!'"
"How civilized of you!" Fafhrd commented in pleased tones.
"Civilized?" the Mouser demanded, suspiciously gripping his dirk tighter.
"To care, in the eye of action, exactly what's said," Fafhrd explained. Without letting the Mouser out of his vision, he glanced down. His gaze traveled from the belt and pouch of one fallen thief to those of the other. Then he looked up at the Mouser with a broad, ingenuous smile.
"Sixty-sixty?" he suggested.

The titles in this series are, in order of character aging:
Swords and deviltry
Swords against death
Swords in the mist
Swords against wizardry
The swords of Lankhmar
Swords and ice magic
The knight and knave of swords

There's also an excellent graphic adaptation of several of the stories, written by Howard Chaykin and drawn by Mike Mignola.
Tags: bookseries: fafhrd_mouser, reading

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