Swords and Deviltry, the first book of Leiber’s landmark series, introduces us to a strange world where our two strangers find the familiar in themselves and discover the icy power of female magic. Three master-magician femme-fatales and a sprightly lad illuminate the bonds between father and son, the relationship between the bravado of the imagination, and the courage of fools. A hedge wizard explains the cold war between the sexes. Mouse and Fafhrd meet again and learn the truth of how Mouse became the Gray Mouser. Together they traverse the smoke and mirrors of Lankhmar learning more and more of the foggy world in which they live, mapping the sinister silent symptoms of the never-ending night-smog. They follow the night-smog’s relation to the region’s longing for larceny and the hazy opiate of vanity. Last but certainly not least, they experience the pleasures and pains of the City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokers that will lead them to countless more adventures and misadventures. (Book description taken from Goodreads.)
Fritz Leiber has been on my reading list for years because many of my favorite authors cite him as inspiration for their writing. I first heard the name Fritz Leiber from the appendix of my 2nd edition Dungeon Masters Guide under “recommended reading”. I knew who Fafrd and the Gray Mouser were but never knew their stories. I am glad that I have finally taken the time to read them and consider it time well spend with an author that is said to have coined the term “swords and sorcery”.
Swords and Deviltry is made up of the first three stories of the famous (or should I say infamous) duo. The first is The Snow Women and is Fafrhd’s tale of how he escaped his home and came to be in Lankhmar. The second, The Unholy Grail is Gray Mouser’s story. The third, Ill Met in Lankhmar tells the tale of how the two met and the tragedy that formed their friendship.
I enjoyed the first two stories more than the third. I enjoy origin stories and it was entertaining to read how these two icons of fantasy came to be. The first two stories had a much more serious tone to them and did not have the levity of the third when Fafrd and the Gray Mouser meet for the first time. The third story is well named and certainly the darkest of the three.
I really enjoyed this book and am planning on reading the rest of the series.
This book is from my personal library.