Review: Two Sought Adventure

Fritz Leiber
1957

I was looking forward to reading this very much as a bit of an escape from the usual SF fare. As soon as I started reading it, I had my doubts about the worth of the contents. I have never liked being introduced to a fantasy book by the scene being set with what seem clumsy and contrived fantasy names and locations. It’s as if the author wants to impress with the power of his imagination and how exotic and mysterious his world must be.  Maybe back in the day it was fine, but these days to this sometimes jaded and experienced reader it’s not interesting, even a turn-off perhaps unless you’re about 16 years old.  However, as I often say here, when reading these stories we mustn’t be too critical in a contemporary light.  We must try wind our minds back to the times in which they were written.  Not an easy thing when you’re born in 1969, but as I was weaned on Heinlein juveniles and Hugh Walters around 1980 or so it’s no big deal really.  I really want to pick up some Walters first editions sometime… hard to come by those.

To the book at hand.  While I did start with a fair bit of skepticism, that quickly disappeared as I got engaged in the capers of this pair of fearless and daring adventurers.  Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser present an unlikely couple in the form of a Conanesque barbarian and a diminutive thief in the mold of a kind of a half-elf character from Dungeons & Dragons.  Indeed, these characters and their world were apparently an influence in the role-playing world.  You can read about them in more detail on wikipedia here.

Fritz Leiber presents a bit of a tragic figure for all his ability as a writer in the realms of SF, horror and fantasy.  Apparently an accomplished fencer, this skill of his comes through in excellent and believable descriptions of bouts of swordplay throughout the collection.  It is a collection, did I mention that?  Anyway, these two good friends engage in a bit of hack & slash and various other types of derring-do – breaking and entering, wasteland adventures and such and so forth.  Their influence as literary characters and that of their world (in particular their hometown of Lankhmar) remain to this day.  I recommend looking into these two more widely on the Internet.

This isn’t a particularly good review.  It’s the first since, well… Mutant, way back in December ’09!!  Man, I’m out of practice.  Still this is better than nothing and will hopefully get my Review wheels turning again.

Bottom line is (and this is what we all want after all..) that this is a good collection of Fantasy tales with two very believable and human protagonists.  No superhuman abilities or miraculous escapes, just excellent fantasy fun with engaging characters.  If you are seeking adventure, make it three and join Fafhrd and Mouser.  Highly recommended.

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