Fritz Leiber – Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series

FrtizLeiber Who of you ever heard of Fritz Leiber or of “Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser”? I myself have to admit that I’ve never heard of him or his two main characters since yesterday. I read an article at Spiegel online (for all my German readers I recommend to read this article.) about the Roleplay-ancestor Fritz Leiber. I thought: “Hm, never heard of him” so I started to read the first paragraph of the article and as he was described as the Anti-Tolkien, my interest awoke. Yes, yes for all of you Lord of the Ring lovers, it is the best fantasy series ever written, calm down Winking. I never read and never will read it, I mastered to watch the movies and that’s it.

Now back to Mr. Leiber and his novels.

I learned via Wikipedia, Amazon reviews and several other sources that Fritz Leiber (1910-1992) was one of the most influential American fantasy, horror and science fiction author’s of his time. He even coined the term of “Sword and Sorcery”, to describe this type of fantasy stories. He created the two Anti-heroes Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser who “spend a lot of time drinking, feasting, wenching, brawling, stealing, and gambling, and are seldom fussy about who hires their swords” ( Sounds kinda interesting, I mean most fantasy novels are about the clean, dressed up, standard heroes. Leiber also created the world of Nehwon and set the two main characters into the city of Lankhmar. His novels are mostly credited for the detailed world the stories are set in (he was one of the first authors who first created a world before he started to write the novel or the short story).

He wrote the stories about Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser in a span of 50 years, first appearing in 1939 in the short story “Two Sought Adventure”.

Well, have a look at the overview of the “Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser” series. Most of those stories were collected and put together into the Sword series, for example starting with “Lankhmar Book 1: Sword and Deviltry”. It includes the origin story of each hero as well as the “Ill met in Lankhmar” wherein the two heroes finally meet. Content overview of each book –> Here
Leiber’s novels of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser were translated into several languages:

  • French: Le Cycle des épées, Tome 1 : Epées et démons
  • German: Fritz Leiber: Der unheilige Gral (Fafhrd und der Graue Mausling 1)
  • Polish: Miecze i ciemne siły (only two books were translated!)
  • Spanish: Lankhamar I: Cuentos de Fafhrd y el Ratonero Gris
Now my question on you. Who already read some of Fritz Leibers “Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser” books and can you recommend them?
For all of you who were as uninformed as me, at you can read some pages of the original books reprint called “Lankhmar Book 1: Swords and Deviltry”.

I am really thinking about to buy them for Christmas, if “Cathay and the Five Kingdoms” isn’t published until then.


4 Response to "Fritz Leiber – Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series"

  1. Lektu says:

    I read them many years ago. They're very good, totally non-Tolkien in setting and style, and pretty funny. The adventures, though interesting, are irrelevant; it's the characters (the "heroes" and their adversaries) what makes this series top-notch.

    If you haven't read any Leiber, most of his stuff is good. Some of his books are a bit outdated now, but the writing is superb and the humor pervasive. Try the Change War stories, for example. Highly recommended.

    Mordom says:

    Thank you for recommending an other series of Fritz Leiber. I didn't hear of the Change War stories until now.

    But I saw that it is science fiction and I first wanted to start with his most famous fantasy stories.

    But I'll keep it in mind and put it on my ttd list.

    Most folks that I've talked to find Swords and Deviltry a little hard going. That is because the first two stories are origin stories starting with Fafhrd's origin then the Gray Mouser's. Then you get to Ill Met in Lankhmar where the two join forces. That's the story that first hooked me.

    There are lots of great stories in the second and third book, Swords Against Death and Swords in the Mist. The fourth and fifth continue fairly strongly--Swords Against Wizardry and The Swords of Lankhmar. The Swords of Lankhmar is actually a full-length novel, the only novel of the series.

    Hope that helps.

    Sethariel says:

    Polish Wiki told me that more than two books about Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser were translated:

    Cykl o Fafrydzie i Szarym Kocurze

    * Miecze i ciemne siły (Swords and Deviltry, wyd. polskie 1993)
    * Zobaczyć Lankmar i umrzeć (I'll Meet in Lankhmar, 1970, Hugo i Nebula, wyd. polskie 2004) - in which Swords and Deviltry and Swords Against Death are put together
    * Przez mgły i morza (Swords in the mist, 1968, wyd. polskie 2004)
    * Droga do skarbu (Swords against wizardry, 1968, wyd. polskie 2004)
    * Oblężenie Lankmaru (Swords of Lankhmar, 1968, wyd. polskie 2005)
    * O krok od zguby (Swords and Ice Magic, 1977, wyd. polskie 2005)
    * Rycerz i łotrzyk (The Knight and Knave of Swords, 1991, wyd. polskie 2008)

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