In The Swords of Lankhmar, a plague of rats overruns the capital city and glittering gem of the land of Nehwon. Commissioned to guard a ship of grain from the cursed rodents, brother-in-arms Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser soon discover the plague has progressed to a fatal point. Mustering the strength of sorcery, they descend into the depths of Lankhmar and rise to battle in order to save the soul of the ill-fated city.
The late Fritz Leiber's tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser launched the sword-and-sorcery genre, and were the inspiration for the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.
BONUS AUDIO: In a wonderfully written essay, Neil Gaiman says, "The Swords of Lankhmar glitters and shimmers and dances", and Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are "the finest rogues you will ever meet".
Epic edge: download more tales of Lankhmar.
©2008 The Estate of Fritz Leiber; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"One of my very favorite books by one of my very favorite authors, starring two of the most delightful characters in the history of fantastic literature." (Neil Gaiman)
"Fritz Leiber's tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are virtually a genre unto themselves. Urbane, idiosyncratic, comic, erotic and human, spiked with believable action and the eerie creations of a master fantasist!" (William Gibson)
The tales of Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser are, for the most part, just that - short stories and novellas. Some are great, some less so. So each book in the Lankhmar series is really a collection of stories - except for this one. THE SWORDS OF LANKHMAR is the only full-length novel Fritz Leiber wrote about his sword-and-sorcery anti-heroes. For me, it's the most satisfying listening experience among the bunch. It's a fully fleshed-out story, the one that truly develops these wonderful characters. It has everything that makes this series a classic - the dark humor, the fantastical story and, of course, the wenches and the grog. Plus, this is the best example of Jonathan Davis' many talents.
If that's not enough, THE SWORDS OF LANKHMAR begins with a fabulous bonus - a lengthy, very personal appreciation written by - and read by! - Neil Gaiman. That alone is worth the price of admission.
My suggestion - get to know Fafhrd and the Mouser in this full-length adventure - then tackle the story collections. You'll be happy you did.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I can see why Neil Gaiman felt that Fritz Leiber deserved to have some of his work brought to the attention of 21st century readers in audio form. This book is a delight, a mix of classic swords-and-sorcery adventure, sardonic, dark fairytale, and imaginative world creation, with a little tales-of-ribaldry kinkyness thrown in. While it's fifth in a series, I don’t see any reason you can’t start here. The hairy barbarian Fafhrd and the small, quick-witted Gray Mouser are two instantly familiar roguish heroes, no introduction required beyond the first chapter, and Lieber quickly pulled me into their world with his deliciously visual, textured descriptions and playful, literate command of language. Fans of Jack Vance will find his style familiar, though it’s less absurdist.
The story here has Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser low on cash, and compelled to take a commission guarding a grain barge for the amusingly decadent ruler of the impressive, seedy city of Lankhmar. Once out to sea, they learn that their convoy is also carrying a not particularly innocent maiden and her collection of preternaturally intelligent rats. Soon, things go amiss, and our heroes find themselves headed, by separate routes, back to Lankhmar, which is now having some serious rat problems. Any not just any rats, but ones that seem to be more and more humanlike, and to be coming from somewhere under the city. I won’t spoil what happens next, but before all is said and done, there will be duels, ill-advised romances, spying in magical disguise, battles, grotesque sorcerers, strange creatures, otherworldly travelers, and a few mildly naughty scenes.
IMO, this is fantasy that’s a happy medium between the grimness of Howard / ponderousness of Tolkien and the silliness of Vance, pulpy but actually creative. It’s not hard to to see the influence Leiber had on more modern writers in the genre, from Terry Pratchett to David Eddings to China Mieville (particularly the weird romance) to Neil Gaiman himself. Audiobook narrator Jonathan Davis does a fine job as usual, his calm, arch style a great fit for Leiber’s writing (though his scene switches are a little abrupt).
This is delicately written, wonderful prose, written for adults. Neil Gaiman's intro alone is worth the price of the book. Johnathan Davis is always a wonderful reader, but here his subtle voice and sly humor fit the material so perfectly that you find yourself lulled by it and slip into Lieber's world smoothly and easily. If you're looking for immature hacking and 3rd grade level writing, you won't find that here. But if you are looking for descriptive and lyrical fantasy in the grand old style, this book is a treat.
I understand why Neil Gaiman considers this one of his early favorites. Fafrhrd and the Gray Mouser are true originals and Leiber is a free-wheeling story teller. Fun story and excellent narration, as long as rats doesn't make you squirm (too much).
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
I never get tired of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser ??? I adore those two rogues! In The Swords of Lankhmar (a full novel rather than the usual story collection), the boys have been hired as guards for a fleet of grain shipments because several ships have recently disappeared. Aboard the ship they meet a couple of enchanting women who are escorting a troupe of performing rats across the sea. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser soon discover that these are not ordinary women, and those are not ordinary rats.
Back in Lankhmar they find that the city is dealing with rats, too. The rodents have become belligerent and troublesome. The Mouser begins to suspect that there might be a connection between those two ladies and Lankhmar???s troubles. With the help of his magical patron, the Mouser goes underground to spy on the rat army.
The Swords of Lankhmar is an expansion of Leiber???s novella Scylla???s Daughter (1961, Fantastic Stories of Imagination) which was nominated for a Hugo Award. The Swords of Lankhmar has everything fans have learned to expect from one of Fritz Leiber???s LANKHMAR series. It???s strange, creative, fast-paced, and fun. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are a couple of the best characters in all of fantasy fiction ??? if you haven???t read any of their adventures, you???re really missing out.
Let me again recommend the audio version of this series which has been produced by Audible Frontiers ??? Jonathan Davis???s performance is so entertaining!
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Suffering an invasion by a foe whose army outnumbers yours 50-1? Just call on Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.
What an irreverent and entertaining romp (above ground and under) Fritz Leiber's Swords of Lankhmar as read by Jonathan Davis is! A sardonic tongue in arch cheek sword and sorcery story with a touch of mock epic fantasy. I could have done with a little less of Leiber's light S&M flavored erotica, but there are so many interesting, original, and humorous lines and scenes and developments in the novel that I just sat back and enjoyed it. None of the clear-cut good versus evil story lines or typical admirable heroes that appear in usual genre stories. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are too (amusingly) flawed for that. There is plenty of action, from comical duels and vicious brawls to climactic battles involving rats, cats, skeletons, and men. There is also plenty of weird romance, too, cross classes, species, and even races. Still more, Leiber's prose (sounds, rhythms, images, metaphors, etc.) is delicious, requiring frequent rewinding to savor.
Jonathan Davis does his usual excellent job reading the novel, giving Fafhrd an American accent and the Mouser a kind of British (or is it Australian?) one, and the other characters suitable voices for their various characters and purposes. My only complaint is that he doesn't pause quite long enough when switching to a new point of view character and setting, so that it's sometimes jarring to finish a sentence about the Mouser in one locale only to move without any warning pause to Fafhrd in another.
Anyway, if you are a fan of sword and sorcery, you should give Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser a try, and this book, being the only novel by Leiber featuring his famous heroes, is a good place to start (though Swords and Deviltry, with its more serious and horror-tinged origin novellas, is also an excellent introductory book).
first, the reading of the book is excellent, the tone and flow of the smooth voice draw you away from reality if even just for a little while. second, the story is classic for this genre, it defines the genre.for the type of science fiction it represents it is a classic, one of the best.
perhaps in a slightly different off shoot of older sci-fi "Old Man's War" by Scalzi or any number of Heinlein's early works.They have a certain quality about their story's, a richness and thoughtfulness.
Each of the two main characters, one in his youthful strength and simplicity and the other in his more worldly less trusting "there is always an angle" approach, is rich in his own way, neither is a favorite, both are relived in my mind in my everyday pursuits.
moved me? no but the development of the characters and the adventures they have together provide a rich memory that continues for me long after all of the books in the series.
real sci-fi readers, listeners, should not miss this book, this series.
I am a huge fan of Leiber but this story neve caught me up. It was a lot of disjointed chapters with no main thread.
I have enjoyed the Mouser and Fafhrd but either the production or the story does not seem to lend itself to the audio format. I was hoping to like this but I am sorry I wasted a credit on it.
Fafhred and the Grey Mouser are legendary staples in Swords and Sorcery fiction, but I found this book a muddled, overwritten mess. Leiber's text is distractingly overwritten and after awhile all the unwieldy names seem to run together. The narration, while not awful, doesn't help the swamp-like text at all.
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