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Swords in the Mist by Fritz Leiber
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Swords in the Mist (original 1968; edition 1968)

by Fritz Leiber

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8201411,078 (3.8)3
Member:seandavidross
Title:Swords in the Mist
Authors:Fritz Leiber
Info:Ace Books (1968), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Swords in the Mist by Fritz Leiber (1968)

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English (12)  Polish (1)  French (1)  All languages (14)
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ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

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. The sorcerer Ningauble of the Seven Eyes has sent the boys on a near-impossible quest, but the exciting parts are quickly skipped over and too much of the story is spent with an unpleasant character’s excruciatingly long autobiography.

I love Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser because they’re intelligent rogues. They look like a big dumb barbarian and a sneaky little street urchin, and they love nothing more than drinking, fighting, and wenching, yet they’ve got big vocabularies, make glorious similes and metaphors, and enjoy philosophizing. When they’re doing these things, they’re irresistible, especially in the audiobook versions narrated by Jonathan Davis (Audible Frontiers).

However, half of Swords in the Mist consists of a novella that was not as fun as I’ve come to expect from Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories (perhaps this is partly because it doesn’t take place in Lankhmar). I would suggest that, unless you consider yourself a completist, you find “Lean Times in Lankhmar” and “When the Sea-King’s Away” and skip the rest of Swords in the Mist. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
My favorite of his first three, though not worthy of a full star’s rating increase. The final novella had big unwieldy chunks of exposition that dragged. ( )
  sben | Feb 11, 2014 |
"The third book of Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser wherein the two greatest swordsmen in Lankhmar try out a new way of life, but give it up in favor of the lure of the sea and an Adept's Gambit." ( )
  Lyndatrue | Dec 8, 2013 |
The first book was comprised of longer tales, as is the next (Book 4). Books 2 and 3 showcase Leiber's episodic storytelling: he uses set pieces, later adapted to the classic RPG module scenario. Leiber is episodic not only in choosing the short story, but within stories there are gaps between action, often linked by atmospheric description or the aside of the omniscient narrator. In one story at least ("The Sunken Land"), narration is with both heroes for a stretch, and then shifts to just one, and stays with him even after the action links the two characters again. In "Bazaar", the narrator is first with one, then the other. Readers stitch together something bigger from the episodes, though, and this stitching lends a distinct character.

//

"The Cloud of Hate" (1963 / Fantastic Stories of Imagination)
A companion and fitting prelude to "Lean Times", with the hate of believers focused and channeled into an eldritch foe.

"Lean Times in Lankhmar" (1959 / Fantastic Science Fiction Stories)
"Their Mistress, The Sea" (1968 / newly written for this book)
"Lean Times" being one of the central tales in the cycle, both for plot and inventive scene-setting. Like "Bazaar" the subtextual commentary isn't so much subtle as woven into the storytelling so well as to be comic but never farcical. Lankhmar's religious tradition as central to the city's culture and sense of place as is the Thieves' Guild. "Mistress" follows on immediately, the plot is not crucial, essentially a meditation on what is needed to bring the heroes back to fighting trim, bodily and spiritually.

"When the Sea-King's Away" (1960 / Fantastic Science Fiction Stories)
Feels like it took inspiration from a myth or legend, or perhaps simply written as though it were. They are not triumphant in their immediate quest, but characteristically they snatch a minor victory from the jaws of defeat.

"The Wrong Branch" (1968 / newly written for this book)
"Adept's Gambit" (1947 / Night's Black Agents)
"Branch" one of Leiber's bridging stories, as he fits stories into a consistent biography. Curious that "Gambit" is slotted so late into the cycle, perhaps simply because early in writing Leiber was inventive and liked the prospect of bringing his heroes into the Roman Empire, despite the setting not being central or even necessary. Indeed, there is enough here for three or four of the more typical tales. ( )
  elenchus | Jul 27, 2013 |
Fantastic, if not quite as good as "Swords Against Death". ( )
  Brendan.H | Jul 21, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fritz Leiberprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barlowe, WayneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fibla, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, JeffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Les tambours résonnaient sur un rythme lancinant, des lumières rouges vacillaient, de façon hypnotique, dans le sous-sol du Temple des Haines, où s'étaient agenouillés cinq mille fidèles en haillons, qui s'humiliaient et se frappaient extatiquement le front contre le carrelage froid et rugueux, tombant peu à peu en transe et saisis par un venin humain.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0583130887, Paperback)

1st edition paperback, vg+

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:52 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Graphic Novel. Lean times in Lankhmar force brothers-in-arms Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to part ways. Only after a joust of wits and swords do the friends join together again, stealing the ship the Black Treasurer and sailing round and through The Claws. Fighting sea kings, curses and seven-eyed wizards, the pair set out on their heroic wanderings through the wilds of Nehwon.… (more)

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