Review – a book of Getting Hammered, Swordfights, Rats, and Skeletons (and there’s a kitten!)

The Swords of Lankhmar; Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Book 5

Only reading Fritz Leiber can I reliably find words I’ve never read/heard before, and also read about poo.

The Lankhmar books, for all they’ve contributed to and generated fantasy tropes and cliches alike, always surprise me, and that’s why I’ll definitely read all of them. Leiber’s writing breaks every MFA-modern-writing-rule, and is fantastically engaging, beautifully written, succinct where it must be, poetic where it wills, shocking, hilarious, and even moving, on occasion.

The Swords of Lankhmar will appeal most to those who’ve read some of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser’s adventures already, harkening back to a number of previous stories and happenings (Praise Issek!). It’s all one long story, rather than the more typical shorts, and so manages to explore in greater depth some aspects of the characters, Newhon, and Lankhmar than previously allowed.

As usual, Leiber’s writing is full of snappy retorts and sharp words and sharper blades. The fights are excellent, perhaps among Leiber’s best-written, and the plot littered through with surprises and red herrings. It was an absolute blast to read, although the length, compared to other F&tGM stories, came off a little jarring. I expect if I wasn’t used to his short stories that wouldn’t have been the case. Great addition to a great series.

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