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Swords and Deviltry

(Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  10,540 ratings  ·  607 reviews
Here is the legendary epic of how the greatest heroes in the annals of fantasy met for the first time! Fafhrd, the white-furred princeling of the barbaric cold waste; and the Gray Mouser,a wizardling of the whitest magic.

Little did they realize, as they suspiciously eyed each other one night i murky Lankhmar,that they were two long-sundered halves of a greater hero - that
Paperback, 191 pages
Published June 28th 1979 by Granada Publishing Limited (first published 1970)
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Bill Kerwin
May 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

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
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
This beautifully, illustrated by Tom Kidd, version of the book also contains additional material.

007 - Introduction by Michael Moorcock
015 - The Original Appearance of the Grey Mouser and Fafhrd of the Blue Eyes by Harry O. Fischer
019 - Authors Introduction by Fritz Leiber (1973)
021 - "Swords and Deviltry" including:
021 - I - Introduction
023 - II -"The Snow Woman"
116 - III - "The Unholy Grail"
149 - IV - "Ill Met In Lankhmar"
227 - Introduction to "The Childhood and of the Youth of the Grey
May 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, fantasy
Fritz Leiber is another of the early defining authors in fantasy, mostly because of the coining of the term 'Sword & Sorcery'. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser is the tale of a companionship between a mountain tribe barbarian and a failed wizard's apprentice, and their journeys together in Lankhmar and the surrounding lands.

Swords and Deviltry is the first book (actually first collection of short stories) in the series, and introduced the two protagonists with one origin story each, then ends with
Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wayne’s World!

Wayne’s World!

Wayne’s World!

Party on! Excellent!

Wayne: OK, welcome to our show, today we’ll be talking about some swingalicious sword and sorcery action, specifically Fritz Leiber’s 1970 collection of “prequel” stories, beginning the chronological adventures of his AWESOME heroes Fafhrd and Gray Mouser.

Garth: Yeah, they’re sword and sorcery heroes kind of like we’re rock heroes.

Wayne: Ha! Yeah, Garth, I’m kind of like Fafhrd, muscular and testosterone oozing swordsman and you’re
Kat  Hooper
Aug 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Allison Hurd
I'm sorry, I have nothing good to say about this. ETA let it not be said I don't listen. I will say something nice. I can see in this the seed that so many people watered into the staple of troupe based fantasy and I understand the draw of the band of brothers story.

Okay, back to my rant, now that I am chastened. At best I'd say it's amateurish wish fulfillment, smut of the swashbuckling variety. Please only continue reading if you're looking for a good rant. Otherwise, allow me to politely
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"In the midst of the table an alembic was working. The lamp’s flame—deep blue, this one—kept a-boil in the large crystal cucurbit a dark, viscid fluid with here and there diamond glints. From out of the thick, seething stuff, strands of a darker vapor streamed upward to crowd through the cucurbit’s narrow mouth and stain—oddly, with bright scarlet—the transparent head and then, dead black now, flow down the narrow pipe from the head into a spherical crystal receiver, larger even than the ...more
Jun 06, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
J.G. 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
Its Swords and Deviltry, a CLASSIC of sword and sorcery fiction! A GIANT amongst the pale imitators!! The PINNACLE of fantasy adventure fiction!!!

Aaaaaaand...I didn't care for it as much.

It is broken up into three stories. The first one is about Fafhrd and, looking through the reviews, even some of the people that like this book say that this isn't a terribly great story. Yeah, it's a slog where almost nothing happens.

Next, we get a story about the Gray Mouser. It is a little better, but maybe
Gary Sundell
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book contains three shorter works. The first features Fafhrd before he leaves the North. I have read it before, but it was slow going until near the end of the story. The next tale deals with Mouse before he becomes Gray Mouser, more enjoyable than the first story. The gem in this collection is Ill Met in Lankhmar,a tale well deserving its awards.
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
A bit of late-60’s/early-70’s era sexism aside, this is a wonderful combination of rollicking adventure, delightfully droll dialogue, and crystalline action, which also features a welcome sprinkling of heartfelt pathos. It’s my first encounter with the SFWA Grand Master Fritz Leiber’s work, and it won’t be my last. I see now why his two supremely famous rogues, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, are so famous: they are depicted with utter charm and humanity, featuring an authentic blend of rakish, ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
Swords and Deviltry: The origin stories of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
If you want to read “sword & sorcery” tales, why not go back to the source? Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series was first conceived in the 1930s and the first story “Two Sought Adventure” was published in 1939 in Unknown. For the next two decades he wrote additional stories but it was not until the 1960s that Leiber decided to organize and integrate the stories more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, that was a jolly enough origin story for the duo, I suppose.

Included were some glaring gender politics (the usual resulting mix of world/personalities portrayed, era of conception and originally intended target audience), and drunken stupor used to promote charismatic personality (again, as a part of the characters portrayed, but which in me personally tends to cause more irk/pity rather than mirth).

The most enjoyable aspect of the whole was by far the originality of the prose; the almost
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the first in Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series. The book contains three origin stories: “The Snow Women” (Fafhrd), “The Unholy Grail” (Mouser), and “"Ill Met in Lankhmar" (initial meeting of the duo). The third story is the true gem here.

“The Snow Women” is the weakest of the three. If you can make it through this one, you will enjoy the remainder of the book. Unfortunately, the story is about 110 pages long in my edition, approximately 45% of the book. Fafhrd’s origin is a
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, classic-lit
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
Dawn C
Well this was a fun romp. I have a weakness for anti heroes, for partners in crime, and these two fit the bill. I was at times reminded of Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing, the language was exquisite, classical, just old enough to make you feel like you’ve properly stepped into a different era altogether. The stories themselves are perhaps a bit naive or simplistic - I had to snicker a few times at the unlikely plot twists in Ill Met in Lankhmar - but nomatter, I was entertained by this plucky short ...more
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 ...more
Kristin B. Bodreau
I have no strong feelings about this book either way. Our main characters were interesting in a caricaturistic kind of way. Fafhrd was every bit the “strapping small town boy wants to see things beyond his sheltered life and finds himself a plucky heroine from the outside world.” Gray Mouser was the “small, sweet boy is wronged and grows up quickly as a result and what he lacks in size he makes up for in witty banter and pluck.” The women were likewise “the sheltered and delicate royal” and “the ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The start of one of the best sword & sorcery series ever created.

While I personally feel that sword & sorcery heroes don't really need origin stories (Conan did fine without one), there are three presented here. "The Snow Women" introduces Fafhrd, "The Unholy Grail" focuses on The Gray Mouser, and "Ill Met in Lankhmar" shows how the two heroes joined forces.

"Ill Met in Lankhmar" is an absolute classic in the genre, and is a delight to read and re-read. While it left me cold, so to speak,
Sotiris Karaiskos
In my journey in the genre of sword and sorcery I end up here, in a collection of short stories about 2 very popular heroes. I find them both interesting and their stories are fast paced and action packed but beside that there is not a trace of significant literature in this book. Maybe a good way to realise how much progress has been done in fantasy in the last decades.
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
3.5 stars, rounded to 4. I thought each story improved on the one previous, with the final one giving quite an emotional punch. Great energy in the writing, with some lovely imagery of both places and people's inner motivations.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, fantasy
I was searching my audible library for the books I have not yet read (most are on an i-pod that died and I never got around to redownloading them) and found this one. Neil Gaiman read his introduction and commented on how this was one of the books that inspired him. He explained that it was the first of the fantasy sub-category of swords & sorcery and the first of Leiber's many books telling the tales of Fafrel and The Grey Mouser. I learned after listening to it that it is composed of three ...more
David Sven
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
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Fritz Reuter Leiber, Jr. 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 ...more

Other books in the series

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (8 books)
  • Swords Against the Shadowlands
  • Swords Against Death (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #2)
  • Swords in the Mist (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Book 3)
  • Swords Against Wizardry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #4)
  • The Swords of Lankhmar (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #5)
  • Swords and Ice Magic (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #6)
  • The Knight and Knave of Swords (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #7)
“From all around came very faintly a low sad hum, as the unhoused bees mourned.” 2 likes
“Fafhrd stopped, again wiped right hand on robe, and held it out. "Name's Fafhrd. Ef ay ef aitch ar dee."

Again the Mouser shook it. "Gray Mouser," he said a touch defiantly, as if challenging anyone to laugh at the sobriquet. "Excuse me, but how exactly do you pronounce that? Faf-hrud?"

"Just Faf-erd.”
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