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The First Book of Lankhmar (Fantasy Masterworks 18) [Paperback]

Fritz Leiber
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 April 2008 Fantasy Masterworks 18
From the moment when they first met, in the commission of the same, audacious theft, Fafhrd, the giant barbarian warrior from the Cold Waste, and the Gray Mouser, master thief, novice wizard and expert swordsman, felt no ordinary affinity. Forged over the gleam of sharpened steel as, back to back, they faced their foes, theirs was a friendship that would take them from adventure to misadventure across all of Nehwon, from the caves of the inner earth to the waves of the outer sea. But it was in the dark alleys and noisome back streets of the great fog-shrouded city of Lankhmar that they became legends. THE FIRST BOOK OF LANKHMAR includes the first four volumes of the hugely enjoyable Swords series.

Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; paperback / softback edition (3 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575082747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575082748
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 396,585 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Sword and Sorcery stories ever 6 Dec 2002
By S. Flaherty VINE VOICE
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty & Literate Weird Tales 11 Oct 2001
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Swords and Sorcery at its best. 15 Sep 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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any collection 30 Aug 2001
By Mr. Paul S. Bird VINE VOICE
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Brings back many memories 4 July 2014
Excellent book, takes me back to my youth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic 18 Oct 2013
By Dave
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book reread for the first time in 30 years. Still an excellent read that puts many of the modern books to shame
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5.0 out of 5 stars Swords and Sorcery at its best 28 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite!
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... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Rubber Duck
1.0 out of 5 stars Just Bad
I used to read a lot of fantasy, and have read most of the 'greats' . This is not one of them , this book is awful. Read more
Published on 4 April 2012 by Mr. T. Eagling
1.0 out of 5 stars not for me
I don't get why the Lankhmar stories are praised to high heaven. In theory I should have loved this. Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2012 by Jason
3.0 out of 5 stars High adventures, nice writing, but little consistency
This is not one book, but five books in one binding.

In fact, it's not even that. It's a few dozen short pulpy adventure tales, divided into five nominal books, bound... Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2011 by Federhirn
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining
A weighty tome of easy-going spell and hackfests, providing a good dose of entertainment in a light hearted manner. Read more
Published on 26 Sep 2006 by A. Johnston
5.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of fantasy
One of the best things about Leiber is the way the incidental never gets out of hand. In one passage he recounts our heroes are not seen for a year, and bit by bit stories filter... Read more
Published on 13 May 2004 by "froggy449"
5.0 out of 5 stars The Master
If you wanted proof of Michael Moorcock's contention that all the best, most vigorous epic fantasy prose is American, you only have to read Leiber. Read more
Published on 13 Jan 2002
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