Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser

Oddly enough, I had never read any of these D&D-formative stories, though I enjoyed the write-ups of the characters in the 1st edition Deities & Demigods. I picked up Vol I of White Wolf’s published compilation a couple years ago, but didn’t get a chance to read it before it went into storage. Now that I’m receiving some of my stuff, I stuck it in my suitcase for my New York trip a couple weeks ago.

Here’s the thing. The author Fritz Leiber, had been writing F&GM stories since 1939. This book (Lankhmar: Talkes of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Volume 1) contains their origin stories and the story of their first adventure together, which Leiber wrote in 1962 and 1970. So their very first book in the series, the one intended (I assume) to showcase Lieber’s stories to those who’ve never read him, skips twenty years of Lankhmar stories that made the characters popular, and instead went with their origin stories.

So most of the book is Fafhrd, or the Gray Mouser, but not so much Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. And their first adventure together basically amounts to them taking vengeance on the thieves’ guild and then fleeing the city of Lankhmar, never to return (but of course they do, as the previously-published stories all take place after these origin tales). Rather than giving me the earlier stories that grabbed everyone’s attention about these cool characters and location, we learn backstory, when (as 20 years of books proves) the backstory wasn’t what was selling the books in the first place. Sorta like a publisher in the future getting the rights to republish an obscure little world called “Middle-Earth” and their first book is The Silmarillion, which isn’t the best story in the series. :p

Strange.

Anyway, the stories were an entertaining read. Nothing too exciting (which is why I want to read the earlier ones that actually grabbed everyone’s attention) but worth reading.

One bit I particularly liked was a spell cast by Mouse (in his origin story, before he becomes the Gray Mouser), as he was for a time apprenticed to a White Magic sorcerer. He has to evade some people who want to kill him, so he hides in the forest and chants this little bit to confuse his pursuers and cover his trail:

“North be south. East be west. Copse be glade and gully crest. Dizziness all paths invest. Leaves and grasses, do the rest.”

Now I’m not much for rhyming magic, having seen far too much of it done very poorly, but I dig that.

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6 thoughts on “Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser

  1. I recommend you start with “Jewels In the Forest” (alternatively titled, “Two Sought Adventure”) and “The Howling Tower”. Those might give you a better idea. :)

    I also highly recommend the excellent Dark Horse comics adaptations, which are just about perfect.

    -The Gneech

  2. Have you ever read Lieber’s other stuff? He did a batch of stories (not surprisingly, during the 1950s) about a future America which had a repressive, fundamentalist government in response in part to nuclear fears; even though it’s been years since I read them, they stood out enough to be memorable.

  3. Lieber’s F&GM stories vary in quality, I find.

    My favorite was Bazaar of the Bizarre.

    If you are looking for an interesting bit of Sci-Fi by Lieber, there’s a book called Conjure Wife, that details that all women of the world are in conspiracy against men, and one unlucky fellow discovers that …

  4. Too bad playing AD&D in the Lankhmar setting basically sucked if you wanted to play as a spellcaster. Hmm, I multiply all of my casting times by ten and if I’m a wizard, I start losing fingers/becoming a freak of nature after a certain level. Sweet!

  5. I recommend the novella “Lean Times in Lankhmar” as one of the best of the genre.

    (and the opening scene is alot of fun)

    “Bazaar of the Bizarre” is also excellent, as mentioned.

    I love Leiber’s prose and also his sense of humour in the stories.

    • Those are both good. Ironically, I read them in chronological order in the 80s when Del Ray put out a set of six books. I enjoyed “Swords and Ice Magic” where we see Fafhrd’s origins though. There’s also a Cthulhu/Lovecraftian homage elsewhere, but I can’t remember the title. It’s good stuff.

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