I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where Fritz Leiber books were purchased as fast as they were published; my father was a fan. Now that my children are reaching the age I was when I was introduced to Lankhmar and the rest of Leiber's worlds, I thought they might find them as much fun as I had. I was dismayed when I discovered that most of Leiber's work seems to be out of print, but I was delighted to see that many of the stories are now on Kindle.
If you're a fan of Leiber, then you are either going to buy this book, or own in already, no matter what I say. If you're just starting with Leiber and Newhon, then you probably want to read the books in order and reach this book later. It's possible to leap into the middle without missing much -- most of these stories were written as stories for magazines, so they're intended to be understood independently -- but there is some backstory, and there is some fun in watching Leiber develop the characters and figure out who they are.
"Swords in The Mist" is a solid entry in the Fafrd and Grey Mouser tales. These tales, which range from short stories to longer, novel-length works, also range in topic, tone, and plot. Unlike many authors, who seem to make a career writing variations on the same stories, Leiber is unpredictable and difficult to characterize. As a result, some of the stories have more appeal than others, but which stories these are varies somewhat from reader to reader. In my opinion, "Lean Times in Lankhmar" and "The Adept's Gambit" are the best of this bunch, and are essential stories in the Newhon chronicles.
Leiber's sword books stand alone in heroic fantasy for their gallows humor, perverse plots, and decadent settings. He treats his heroes with a respect, compassion, and maturity not common in fantasy or horror writing.This books of stories includes material written in the 1940's to 1960's. In addition to the famous "Lean Times in Lankhmar" - the story of Issek of the Jug's rise on the Street of the Gods - and "Adept's Gambit" - where the heroes come to the Macedonian empire on our Earth, the book includes "The Cloud of Hate", "When the Sea-King's Away", and a pair of short-shorts written as segueways between the previously published stories.
Swords in the Mist (1968) is Fritz Leiber's third collection of stories about Fafhrd, the big northern barbarian, and the Gray Mouser, his small wily companion who has a predilection for thievery and black magic. The tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser originally appeared in pulp magazines, short novels, and story collections between 1939-1988. Swords in the Mist contains:
* "The Cloud of Hate" (1963) -- This is a short eerie metaphor in which hate becomes a mist that reaches out in tendrils throughout Lankhmar to find corruptible souls to use for evil deeds. * "Lean Times in Lankhmar" (1959) -- In this novelette, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser part ways and find themselves at odds when Fafhrd becomes an acolyte and the Mouser is hired to extract money from Fafhrd's cult. Humorous and cynical, this story makes fun of Lankhmar's polytheism and makes the seediness, decadence, and corruption of the city come alive. The ending is hilarious. * "Their Mistress, the Sea" (original publication) -- This story makes a nice bridge between "Lean Times in Lankhmar" and "When the Sea-King's Away" but it's entertaining in its own right. * "When the Sea-King's Away" (1960) -- This is a fun fantastical story with a great setting (under the sea!) in which Fafhrd has a sword fight with an octopus. * "The Wrong Branch" (original publication) -- This is a bridge between the previous story and the following novella: * "Adept's Gambit" (1947) -- Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser arrive in our world (Macedonia) in this novella. There are some funny parts here -- Fafhrd kissing pigs and analyzing Socrates, but mostly I found this story dull.Read more ›
Don,t really want to review each book of this series. Just that I loved these stories as a kid, and love them now as adult. Dive in and enjoy this universe and two of the best scoundrels you could ever hope to meet.
I must say first that I'm terribly biased. My introduction to Fritz Leiber was hearing the author himself reading "Lean Times in Lankhmar" in Berkeley. His Shakespearean voice made this the single most memorable reading of my life. The story is a satire of formal religions, but a rather gentle one in most ways, it is very funny and the closest comparison I can make is Terry Pratchett's "Small Gods" with a similar, though rather more harsh appraisal of religion (Pratchett is an avowed fan of Leiber...Ankh-Morpork is an homage to Lankhmar). We learn when Fafrd becomes an acolyte of "Issek of the Jug" ("...not to be confused with 'Jugged Issek', who owed his fame to being confined to a not overly roomy eathenware jar...") what the difference is between the Gods OF Lankhmar and the Gods IN Lankhmar. This volume is Leiber at his best with his best characters, Fafrd and the Grey Mouser. The first collection "Swords Against Death", was mostly dark. In "Swords in the Mist", the third book, Leiber lets out the lighter side of his characters more than any of the other collections. Not that there aren't dark stories here, both "The Cloud of Hate" and "Adept's Gambit" are dark explorations of evil, familiar territory for Leiber. But with Fafrd and the Grey Mouser...and he is GREY for a reason...navigate between good and evil and always triumph in the end. They are certainly not your classic do gooder heroes, though they always seem to end up on the side of right...one way or another.