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Swords and Deviltry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #1)

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  5,604 ratings  ·  246 reviews
One of the most influential and critically acclaimed fantasy writers of all time, Fritz Leiber pioneered the sword-and-sorcery genre.

In the ancient city of Lankhmar, two men forge a friendship in battle. The red-haired barbarian Fafhrd left the snowy reaches of Nehwon looking for a new life while the Gray Mouser, apprentice magician, fled after finding his master dead. The...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by DH Press (first published 1970)
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A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Complete Chronicles of Conan by Robert E. HowardThe Blade Itself by Joe AbercrombieElric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock
Sword and Sorcery
8th out of 469 books — 199 voters
Mage's Burden by Whit McClendonSwords and Deviltry by Fritz LeiberThe Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. HowardA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinElric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock
Best Sword and Sorcery
2nd out of 102 books — 106 voters


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Community Reviews

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Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Leiber is one of the fathers of sword and sorcery fiction, and it shows. Reading these stories feels a little like sitting at the feet of an old, old storyteller while he reminisces about childhood heroes. There's a feel of both age and timelessness about these stories--tall, fur-clad barbarian and short swordsman-thief who can vanish in the shadows--this is like reading the origin myth for characters we've known for decades.

The four stories (three novellas and one vignette) within describe the...more
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I must confess that I had some preconceived notions about Fritz Leiber’s work. Because he’s credited with coining the phrase “Sword & Sorcery,” and because I never hear women talking about his stories, I imagined that they appealed mainly to men who like to read stuff that has covers like these:
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But, four factors made me decide to give Fritz Leiber a try:
1. I feel the need to be “educated” in the fiel...more
Gary
This book is like a trip back in time to the beginnings of the sword and sorcery era. Yes, the language is dated. Yes, the viewpoint is clearly outmoded and outdated in terms of male/female relations. But if you look at this book as a snapshot of history, it is exactly what it should be-a formative piece of writing that inspired generations of writers and is a subterranean root drawn on by many of our current fantasy authors knowingly or unwittingly.
There is a degree of callousness in the collec...more
Jean-marcel
Before I say anything about this book specifically, I must flat-out state that Leiber's tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are my favourite on-going fantasy series. I don't generally read huge, sprawling multi-volume sagas of anything, just because I can't imagine how a writer could possibly keep up interest or inspiration over thousands and thousands of pages for the same world or set of characters and maintain a consistent enough quality to make the undertaking a worthwhile experience for me....more
Michael
Ah, sexism, we meet again. And in such an unexpected location: a pulp fantasy novel!

I don't know what Leiber looked like, but I'm picturing that sickly-skinny kid from The New Guy. This book is every bit as embarrassing to read as Piers Anthony, although it has a slightly lower number of naked women per page. What it has to make up for this is SCREAMINGLY stereotypical and degrading female characters. Women fit conveniently into one of two boxes:

(1) Old, jealous hags,
(2) Young hotties who put o...more
Evgeny
This is the first book of the series which gave us term and fantasy sub-genre Sword and Sorcery. It consists of 3 novellas which talk about the background of the main characters, Fafhrd and Gray Mouser and their fateful meeting.

The Snow Women. Fafhrd is a barbarian living in the lands of North where the harsh climate allows the survival of the strongest. This was the longest novella and also the most boring one. Not much happened except for Fafhrd's brooding and longing to see the civilized land...more
Stephen
3.5 stars This novel collects the first of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. The first two stories, The Snow Women and the Unholy Grail introduce us to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser individually. While these are decent stories, the real magic is when the two meet for the first time in Ill Met In Lankhmar which is a superb story in the classic sword and sorcery meets buddy book genre. The last story is a 4.0 to 4.5 star story. The relative weakness of the first two stores is what brings the ov...more
Jocelyn
This is a great piece of rollicking fun that, even with its countless recommendations, still managed to surprised me with its energy and wit and ability to delight me with even the tiniest details.

Part of the reason is just the language. It varies from flowery and ornate to straightforward and witty, but either way it never seems to lose momentum, even when the story itself threatens to sag. And Leiber has a wonderful instinct for when to turn his tone and style without losing consistency. I fou...more
Bill  Kerwin

This is the first volume in Fritz Leiber's classic fantasy saga, the adventures of Fafhrd and his friend and partner, The Grey Mouser, composed from the 40's through the 70's. The volumes are ordered chronologically by their position in the saga, not the date of their composition, and this volume features some of Leiber's most mature works. We meet the young Fafhrd--a barbarian of the northern wastes dominated by his mother, the great Snow Witch--who longs for the excitement and variety of civil...more
Algernon
I picked this up in order to fill one of the gaps in my fantasy education. I kept seeing references to it everytime discussions turned towards sword and sorcery fantasy books. I can now add one more flag on the road mapping the transition from Poe to Howard, to Thieves World to [for example] Riyria.
I'm glad I have finally got to know Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser - two spirited adventurers through highly magical and dangerous world of Newhon. This introductory collection of stories presents the her...more
Keely
Though Leiber wasn't the first to write swords and sorcery adventures, the imagination, verve, and whimsy of his writing not only set him above his contemporaries, but have made him one of the most influential authors in epic mythological fiction. He is responsible for Thieves' Guilds and Wizard Scrolls, as well as numerous elements of characterization and tone.

However, he didn't simply pluck these concepts from the waiting air. Like Howard, Leiber enriched his work with details from ancient ta...more
Joseph
Not one, not two, but three, three, three! origin stories in one. First we see Fafhrd the northern barbarian, strangely fascinated by decadent civilization, up in his cold northern wastes; then we meet the Gray Mouser (well, "Mouse" at this point), wizard's apprentice with an undercurrent of darkness. Then finally, in Ill-Met in Lankhmar, they join forces for the first time, with unexpected and tragic consequences.

This is kind of an odd one -- the stories were written as backstory long after Faf...more
Allan
If you like low fantasy (less lofty and more gritty than, say, Tolkien) you'll probably love these classic stories of the two swordsmen and thieves, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. Really refreshing while at the same time fundamental.
Mohammed
The only story i have read of Lieber before this collection was "Ill Met in Lankmar" in some fantasy masters short story collection.

Reading these three first Fahred and Gray Mouser stories reminded why i like reading so much different fantasy stories. The stories in this collection are so imaginative,picturesque,witty and still have S&S hardcore feel. Made me think it was like reading Vance/Zelazny's Dying Earth/Amber if they were written in S&S subgenre. Leiber seems to have his own sty...more
Jim
It's Sword & Sorcery &/or Heroic fantasy mixed with some satire & horror elements, the latter reminiscent of Lovecraft to my eye. Leiber started off with this series I believe & worked on it most of his career, so the collection of short stories (all? One novel?) varies a lot in the mood, but the quality is always there. I'm only giving this one 3 stars, but it might be worthy of more. I didn't like this quite as much as some of the other ones, probably because the characters wer...more
Amanda
Read this earlier this year and had forgotten about it until i saw a discussion about it on here today. I figured i should write a review giving my reasoning for such a low rating. First of all, i had heard about these books for years and was excited to finally get an omnibus edition with the first 3 or 4 books in the series.
I found it uninspiring and very stereotypical overall. It is abundantly clear while reading it that it is created by the immature mind of college age boys. Leiber has said t...more
Darren
An excellent introduction to Lankhmar and its principal protagonists.

I'm a sucker for great characters. In fact, a lot of the authors I read in the genre today have drawn inspiration from Leiber. My first introduction to Lankhmar wasn't through Leiber, though, it was through D&D when they introduced the setting in the 90s, so I'm happy to go back and walk my way through these books!

Each of the books in the seven book series is a collection of 'short' stories (usually a handful or so). For S...more
David Sven
Not a bad read. Nothing complicated. The story is pretty straight forward. The characters aren't that deep. You have your stereotypical Northern Barbarian(Fafhrd) hooking up with the wood elf type magic user (Mouser or Mouse). The setting is very Elder Scrolls/Skyrim-ish. I liked it.

The story is only 200 odd pages so its a quick and light read. Some great slap sticky style humour. Especially when the two get drunk before embarking on a stealth mission.

"Drink may slow a man's sword-arm and softe...more
Nikki
Not entirely sure what I think of this one. I can give it a bit of latitude due to its era, etc, but it's ridiculously and stereotypically male oriented. There's a point where a seemingly spineless girl does something immensely brave and difficult -- I nearly cheered. But that's pretty short-lived. Otherwise, there's a bunch of stereotyped controlling women, and a bunch of violence. It's... okay, with some lovely bits of prose and touches of humour, but. Eh.

I know these books are classics so I'...more
Brian Lane
My latest and probably third reading of this classic. The stories in this volume are lean - there is no unrequired heft. The prose is clean, the storytelling concise, the characters well-rendered and the action leaps from the page. I am amazed at what depth results from such a slim bit of novella - compared with much of the heavier (and "taking itself way-too seriously") fantasy fiction I've been reading of late. The other aspect of this authors' fiction and in particular these characters is the...more
Charles
Leiber is a fine writer and there is certainly music in his prose. I don't think he's as good a storyteller as Robert E. Howard, and at times his "tongue-in-cheek" approach is a bit aggravating to me. But he can tell a good story and the characters and the world are well-drawn and certainly imaginative.
Rasheed
The Snow Women 2.5/5
The Unholy Grail 3/5
Ill Met in Lankhmar 4/5
Julie Davis
It's Saturday, I'm cleaning house and finding that only an audiobook gets me through it. But I've got nothing that appeals at the moment. Thank goodness I recalled that my Audible membership just cycled through another month so a credit is available!

I've been trying to get this Leiber series for a long time but the library doesn't have it. I read one of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories in Otto Penzler's Big Book of Adventure Stories. That really piqued my interest. That made me happy to se...more
Alex
Mar 02, 2010 Alex rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alex by: my good friend, Jeff
I was a huge fan of Lord of the Rings when I was growing up. I really admired Tolkien's world-building, the staggering amount of backstory that bolstered every little bit of his unfolding mythos. It's a world based on history, language and the austerity of myth. It's also very British.

If Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are the British archons of modern swords-and-sorcery, America's answer is probably the tandem of Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan, among many other characters) and the author in question...more
Commodore Tiberius Q. Handsome
Fritz Leiber invented the term "sword and sorcery", and he was the finest author the genre has ever had. In fact he was, in my opinion, the finest author of fantasy period. I rank him above Tolkien, Howard and Moorcock, never mind Martin or Jordan. I've read him described as a "master prose stylist", and the description is apt indeed. Fritz Leiber was, simply, a terrific, extremely talented writer with a true love of language and a prodigious, playful, incredibly unique style. The odd, absurd, w...more
Stefan
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 D...more
Nicolas
Dans ce premier tome des aventures de Fafhrd et du souricier gris, on les découvre, jeunes, chacun de leur côté, tenter de changer un monde qui ne leur oppose qu'un sinistre dédain. Ils lutteront, et perdront beaucoup ... avant de se retrouver dans une Lankhmar qui m'a toujours paru être l'inspiration de l'Ankh-Morpokh de Pratchett.
On trouve donc dans ce recueil une langue baroque par sa richesse et ses vagues relents Cthuliens (c'est rempli d'horreurs innomables qui vous dressent les cheveux su...more
Danns
My introduction to Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser was back in my youthful Dungeons and Dragons days. Being a huge role player I picked up the City of Lankhmar boxed set and marveled at the misty city's layout. Fafhrd and Grey Mouser were just bit players in my fantasy world relegated to nothing more than some stats on a sheet, never to be used in my campaigns. Lankhmar equally unused, but the boxed set was cool. Why it did not dawn on me at the time to seek them out I do not know.

The moment I picked...more
Jake
Mar 11, 2009 Jake added it
Recommended to Jake by: jsteinmann@gmail.com
Leiber, like Howard, is one of those defining figures of fantasy that I should have read in my youth, but was never able to. Like Howard, I believe his stuff was out of print for a long time, or perhaps I just never really knew much about him. I know that the notion of the “Grey Mouser and Fafhrd” as some sort of pairing of a small, sneaky, guy and a big, strong, barbarian guy was in my head by college, but beyond that, I really can’t remember.

In any case, someone over at Dark Horse (a fact whic...more
jeremiah
This is a collection of the first three stories following the two classic fantasy characters Fafhrd (FAF-herd) and the Grey Mouser and their adventures in Nehwon. I had never heard of these stories until a few weeks ago, when I heard them described as being extremely influential on what we now consider "Sword & Sorcery" fantasy. The stories were written around the same time that Conan The Barbarian was being published in "Weird Tales" (mid-late 30s) and predate The Lord of the Rings.

Although...more
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23001
Fritz Leiber was one of the more interesting of the young writers who came into HP Lovecraft's orbit, and some of his best early short fiction is horror rather than sf or fantasy. He found his mature voice early in the first of the sword-and-sorcery adventures featuring the large sensitive barbarian Fafhrd and the small street-smart-ish Gray Mouser; he returned to this series at various points in...more
More about Fritz Leiber...
Swords Against Death (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #2) Swords Against Wizardry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #4) Swords in the Mist (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #3) Ill Met in Lankhmar (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #1-2) Swords and Ice Magic (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #6)

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