Friday, May 19, 2017

Swords Against Death (Fritz Leiber)

Swords Against Death
(The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, Volume 2)
Fritz Leiber
Open Road Media
Fiction, Collection/Fantasy
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: In Nehwon, realm of strange magic and dark secrets, countless gods and unnumbered devils, lost secrets and found dangers, two heroes lived a legend that would tower over all others: the tall, brash Northern swordsman and skald Fafhrd, and the slight, cunning thief and magic-dabbler the Gray Mouser. Here, their adventures continue in ten more tales that take them from the great sprawling metropolis of Lankhmar to the unseen Bleak Shores, from the forgotten crypts beneath the Thieves Guild to the tower of a banished god, even as far as the throne room of Death itself.

REVIEW: These stories, like those in the first volume, are the stuff classic sword-and-sorcery fantasy is made of: swordfights, thefts, lost treasures, strange and cunning traps, and the obligatory wine and women at the Silver Eel tavern on the side. They're not particularly socially progressive, particularly with regards to women, but such were the times these stories were written in, and the state of the genre they represented. The tales are still entertaining for what they are, grand adventures brimming with imagination and some sly tongue-in-cheek pokes at the genre's grandiose nature. Fafhrd and the Mouser remain larger-than-life archetypes who are nevertheless more human (and thus more interesting to spend one's time with) than some classic fantasy characters. This volume introduces the recurring figures of Sheelba of the Eyeless Face and Ningauble the Seven-Eyed, archmages to whom the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd are compelled to swear fealty to respectively, who sometimes pit the two heroes against each other in their ongoing magical rivalry. A few of the stories seemed a little short, but none of them stand out as particularly weak. Indeed, overall, I found them a little stronger than the origin stories in the first volume. They remain decent examples of classic sword and sorcery, worth reading today by anyone interested in fantasy's roots or just looking for some old-school Conanesque adventure.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Phoenix on the Sword (Robert E. Howard) - My Review
Swords and Deviltry (Fritz Leiber) - My Review
Hero for Hire (E. B. Pratt) - My Review

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