This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Three of Swords by Fritz Leiber

The Three of Swords

by Fritz Leiber

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (Omnibus 1-3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
277958,551 (3.98)3



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This omnibus volume contains the first three books of the series of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. The individual books are themselves collections, though, made up of individual stories not all written or first published in the sequence of internal chronology with which they are presented. Still, there are general plot advancements peculiar to each book. In Swords and Deviltry we are supplied with the youthful origins of the two separate heroes, their meeting, their orientation to the city of Lankhmar, and the loss of their first loves. Swords Against Death accounts for the period in which they acquire their sorcerous patrons, Sheelba of the Eyeless Face and Ningauble of the Seven Eyes. Swords in the Mist mainly supplies the novella "Adept's Gambit" (1947), which puts Fafhrd and the Mouser in the classical Near East, adventuring out from Tyre in search of a sorcerer who has cursed them.

The earliest component stories in the whole omnibus are "The Bleak Shore" (1940) and "The Howling Tower" (1941), first published in Unknown Fantasy Fiction. These make Fahfrd and the Mouser less than a decade junior to Robert E. Howard's Conan, and part of the original generation of sword and sorcery in American pulp adventure fiction. The flavor of these is quite distinct from that of the Conan stories, though. The Conan prose is generally high tempo narrative in a fairly transparent contemporary style, although framed by the imaginary ancient canon of the Nemedian Chronicles. (Moorcock's Elric stories pick up this mode intact.) But Leiber presents us with a more orally-oriented storytelling, invoking rumor, riddle, and enigma. His heroes are accomplished rogues, not destined for high histories, despite their daring achievements.

Besides style, the main difference between a Conan story and a Fafhrd and the Mouser one is that Conan--companions, lovers, and lackeys notwithstanding--is a loner with a sovereign destiny. Whereas the Mouser and Fafhrd are an indissoluble duo, even when they are at odds with one another, and the fate of each is bound up with the other. Neither is dominant; each saves the other's bacon with equal frequency as vice versa. Their ultimate bond to one another is really the fantasy cornerstone of their heroics.

The three component collections pull together the various stories according to internal narrative chronology, and insert brief bridging stories to solidify the continuity where needed. Thus, in 1968 Leiber started doing for his own pulp sword-and-sorcery heroes what Lin Carter and L. Sprague deCamp had begun doing to Howard's Conan a year earlier. This effort, with its patent commercial motivation (and doubtless some genuine appetite to systematize and canonize the stories) is still uneven when done by the author, though better than the posthumous treatment the Conan stories received. The table of contents gives wonderful glosses on each of the stories, such as this:

"Once again blackness, spirit of night, with the Grey Mouser (one who strikes a balance between black and white) and russet-headed Fafhrd battling it. The well-known dangers of stealing the eye of an idol, whether the idol be doll-tiny or mountain-huge. Ice, snows, volcanoes, lava--and seven most deadly killers." (ix)

My favorite stories in this volume were "Claws from the Night" (1951), "Bazaar of the Bizarre" (1963), and most especially "Lean Times in Lankhmar" (1959). All of these transpire in the city that forms the geographic focus of the series. Although a majority of the stories take place in distant countries and wildernesses, the best ones are set in "Lankhmar the Imperishable, City of the Black Toga," where the two renowned swordsmen, whether they like it or not, are at home.
7 vote paradoxosalpha | Sep 23, 2017 |
A compilation of three of Leiber's books about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser including a couple of short origin stories for each and of their meeting in Lahnkmar.

Even though I enjoyed the books, they didn't compel me to read. It took me a very, VERY long time to finish this volume. None of the stories were bad, it's just that as a whole, reading it seemed to be more of a chore than an a compulsion. I usually find myself drawn into books and read them almost against my will. But not in this case.

Read 4/2015 ( )
  helver | Apr 29, 2015 |
This is a series of three books about the adventures of Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser (my favorite). I love these stories it is a fun read. ( )
  RBeene | Mar 18, 2015 |
i have known about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser since i began playing D&D in the early 1980s. they always sounded intriguing and they were obviously influential but i never got around to reading them until now.

i have to say that i wish i would have read them years ago. good stuff, this. like a gritty, back-water version of LotR told from the POV of peripheral characters who really have no bearing on the main plot but nevertheless live in the same world.

like LotR, this is a tale to be read out loud ‘round a fire or a heavy table in a candlelit pavilion. the language is easy to read yet archaic in feel, not at all unlike that found in Harry Potter, and the story conveyed in each paragraph is dense. harkening more than a bit to Michael Moorecock’s Elric series, the two protagonists seem like aspects of the same warrior- and Leiber says as much at the outset. they compliment one another in ways even they do not understand. Fafhrd tall and matter of fact and yet constantly wondering about what else while the Mouser is a bit more urbane and slick, coming off more like a con-artist than anything else. but both aspire to the acting arts and it serves them well when they need it, disguising themselves and playing roles to entertain for money but also to obtain otherwise secret or guarded information. thieves, rogues, and swordsmen seeking adventure. no noble causes for them although they are inherently and usually on the side of the Good and the Underprivileged.

it reads like a D&D campaign mixed with a healthy dose of mythology and Twilight Zone. it is very easy to see the influence it had on RPG development and later fantasy works like Martin’s the Song of Ice and Fire. ( )
1 vote keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
I've reviewed these separately at FanLit: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/fantasy-author/leiberfritz/ ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fritz Leiberprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bell, JulieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morrissey, DeanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Sundered from us by gulfs of time and stranger dimensions dreams the anceint world of Nehwon with its towers and skulls and jewels, its swords and sorceries.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0739430165, Hardcover)

3-in-1 volume - SFBC Edition - Contains the first three Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser Books - SWORDS AND DEVILTRY - SWORDS AGAINST DEATH - SWORDS IN THE MIST

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.98)
2 1
2.5 1
3 7
3.5 5
4 21
4.5 4
5 10

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 129,010,060 books! | Top bar: Always visible