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The First Book of Lankhmar (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 14 Jun 2001
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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
Witty, gripping and urbane, Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar books are among the best loved of all modern fantasiesSee all Product description
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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.
Why only 3 stars? Not entirely my cup of tea - the "witty" writing style started to grate after a while and some of the stories seemed a bit rambling and lacking in sharpness.
But, if you want to be entertained rather than challenged and to have a book that you can pick up and put down at will, then go for it.
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. The second volume consists of later stories in which Leiber has clearly lost his edge. Despite that, I would reccomend volume 2 to anyone, as Leiber, even not at his best, is far superior to most of the current Fantasy writers around today. But this volume, the best of Leiber's Lankhmar stories - this one's a must.
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....