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Swords Against Deviltry, by Fritz Leiber

Swords Against Deviltry

I enjoyed these stories much in the same way as I enjoyed Gary Gygax's Gord the Rogue books. A tale of two mercenary-type rogues who undergo all sorts of crazy adventures.

Fritz Leiber is credited with coining the descriptive label: "swords and sorcery". Leiber began writing his good-humoured, roistering tales of the barbarian Fafhrd and the sneak-thief known as the Gray Mouser in the late 1930s, though the first volume of the heroes' exploits, Two Sought Adventure, did not appear until 1957 (it was later expanded and retitled Swords Against Death). Since then there have been five more books in the "Swords" series, but only one of them, The Swords of Lankhmar, counts as a full-length novel. "Fafhrd and the Mouser are rogues through and through," says Leiber in his preface to the book, "though each has in him a lot of humanity and at least a diamond chip of the spirit of true adventure. They drink, they feast, they wench, they brawl, they steal, they gamble... It strikes me that Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are almost at the opposite extreme from the heroes of Tolkien. My stuff is at least equally as fantastic as his, but it's an earthier sort of fantasy..." This is true. One of the elements which makes Leiber's fiction so different from Tolkien's (and Howard's) is its erotic spiciness. There is a great deal of nudity and sexual dalliance in the imaginary world of Nehwon -but there is also much repartee, magic and violent action. And everything is narrated in a rich descriptive prose.

All in all, I liked these stories, although some got a bit strange, such as the time The Mouser found himself buried alive and spent most of the story traveling underground after he found that he could inch his way around by shifting his body in just the right way... and could somehow breathe.

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