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The First Book of Lankhmar (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 14 Jun 2001

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The First Book of Lankhmar (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) + The Second Book Of Lankhmar (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) + Tales Of The Dying Earth (FANTASY MASTERWORKS)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (14 Jun. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857983270
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857983272
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 4.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 103,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The First Book of Lankhmar is one of a series of Fritz Leiber's stories, involving Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, which are among the best pulp fantasies ever written. Leiber was an intelligent and gifted writer who, throughout his adult life, used the sensitive barbarian hulk and the "not as clever as he thinks he is" urban rogue as voices for the two sides of himself. Some of the stories here are hilarious farces, others exciting adventures, a couple passionately sad tragedies of disappointment and lost love. Somehow Leiber manages to keep the same consistent tone in these stories, in which he was learning his craft, as those from later in his distinguished career. This omnibus compilation brings together four collections that deal with the earlier stages of the rogues' lives. The title correctly emphasis Lankhmar--the Alexandria-like metropolis where they experience many of their set backs and adventures--because over the years Leiber never took them away from it for very long. Particular highlights here include "Lean Times in Lankhmar", in which they discover the seamier sides of temple protection rackets, and "Ill Met in Lankhmar", in which we learn how they fall foul of the Thieves' Guild. --Roz Kaveney

Review

Some of the finest heroic fantasy ever written.' SF Chronicle 'One of my very favourite books, by one of my very favourite writers, starring two of the most delightful characters in the history of fantastic fiction.' Neil Gaiman 'Most fantasy writers, if asked, admit that Fritz Leiber is our spiritual father, and for the most part we're sweating to keep up, let alone overtake him.' Raymond E. Feist 'A writer who is, in my opinion, still the greatest of us all.' Michael Moorcock; 'The most literate and important sword and sorcery series.' Mike Ashley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S. Flaherty VINE VOICE on 6 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
OK, the title is hyperbolic but justified. Two things. One, these stories are Sword and Sorcery, more similar to Conan than to Lord of the Rings. Two, they're different from Conan in a number of ways, better in my opinion.
For those who've not heard of them, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are, respectively, a northern barbarian and a city slum kid who get together in the third story (the first two stories introducing them seperately.) Despite being two very different people they get on and after tragedy strikes in the third story go wandering off around the world engaging in various types of (usually illegal) business. Thus far they're similar to Conan. But the stories differ in being more cerebal, exotic and entertaining than Conan. Lets face it, Conan's response to any problem is to hit it. Fafhrd and the Mouser do hit things but, and this sounds terrible, are usually more thoughtful about it. What I'm trying to say here is that the appeal of Conan (and I am a fan of Conan) is his brute fury, his barbarian rage. That's not the case here, the characters are far more thoughtful and realistic, they do get angry but it isn't their central characteristic, there's more to them than that.
And the writing is wonderful. Leiber was able to describe the weird, the wonderful and the exotic in ways that hold your interest and never becomes overblown. The world in which Fafhrd and the Mouser live is magical and yet also deeply sordid and decadent and Fafhrd and the Mouser too are ocasionally engaged in sordid and reprehensible deeds. The result is to have a world and heroes which are both more realistic and more entertaining than most of the current crop of Fantasy writers.
These are the best of the Lankhmar stories.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Giuseppe Lippi on 11 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
The late Fritz Leiber, jr. (1910-1992) excelled in three realms of fiction: horror, science fiction and fantasy. In this omnibus volume you'll find the first part of his "sword & sorcery" saga (by the way, it was Mr Leiber who coined the phrase) about a rude and rough Northern barbarian, Fafhrd, and his friend the Grey Mouser, one of fantasy's true great characters. Mr Leiber's prose is, as I have stated, witty and literate, but lovers of sheer magic will find plenty to satisfy their wildest dreams: the action takes place in a remote universe of its own, the splendid city of Lankhmar is one of the really arcane towns in many worlds, and beautiful women, perilous enchanters, gods & demi-gods haunt these exuberant adventures. It's for lovers of the fantastic, macabre and out-of-this-world action stories -- epic fantasy at its artistic best.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Neal VINE VOICE on 15 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bit of a throwback this one and something I would normally have read about twenty years ago, but still, this collection of 4 novels about the adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are written in a high-literary style, reminiscent of the best of Robert E Howard and come recommended if you like the pre-1970's style of sword and sorcery which is invariably darker and distinctly more bloody than its descendents. Generally I prefer the stranger writings of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, but this collection still hits the spot. This volume actually contains 4 separate books, of which my favourite is the last, with the totally immersive tale of the ascent of Stardock. Loved it.
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As part of a generation raised on Elves, Dragons, and Vampire knock offs, Leiber's tales brought a refreshing change from the countless Tolkien imitators that dominate the market. Almost immediately, you're struck at how rational these characters are - concerned as they are with self-preservation and motivation for their own ends. They don't run off at the drop of a hat to save the world from a dark lord or rescue a damsel in distress. If anything, if the pay's good, they may end up working for said dark lord! Imagine that, a fantasy story that contains well rounded, adult characters, rather than the usual do gooder children of the Harry Potter series.

The stories can be hit or miss, and as other reviews have noted, they're best enjoyed in small sips rather than a full dose, but by god, when they're done well, only Robert E Howard's Conan series comes close to matching them.
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By Rubber Duck on 25 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These stories are well-written, spectacular fun, and outlandishly creative. I have now read several tales within the Sword and Sorcery genre - including Conan - but these tale surpass every single one. Fritz Leiber was clearly an immensely talented writer, and Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are two of his finest creations, being flawed but likeable.
I whole-heartedly recommend these stories to all lovers of Fantasy fiction, and am deeply baffled by the mediocre reviews this book has received, for it is certainly undeserving of them.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Paul S. Bird VINE VOICE on 30 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar books are in my opinion among the best fantasy ever written. Although the series gets off to a traditional and slow start, things soon pick up. By the end of Ill Met In Lankhmar you'll be hooked. This is a tale that completely subverts your expectations pulling the fantasy, which is often light in tone due to the banter between the splendidly named Grey Mouser and Fafhrd, into a darker area.
Read and enjoy - These are great romps, full of ale and adventure, that never fall fowl of the "men with big muscles hitting monsters and rescuing pneumatic amazons" trappings that some pulp fantasy has....
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