Fritz Leiber is nothing if not unpredictable. He takes Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser into some weird places this time ‘round. Splitting the pair up in Lean Times in Lankhmar, he gets into the intricacies and hypocrisies of religion. Later, after they’re friends again, they visit a strange undersea kingdom. Sure. OK. And then in a twist I really, really didn’t see coming, they end up in ancient Greece dealing with even more ancient magics, demons, family drama, and more. That’s a wild tale, to be sure.
Leiber’s imagination is on fire with these crazy tales of high fantasy. This is as wild and weird as it gets. At times, it feels like it borders on the humorous farse of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, while at others, it feels like Robert E. Howard. There’s a humor and a sadness about it all, and it frequently feels like glimpses of a mysterious myth cycle.
Fantasy fans and book readers in general should definitely give Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories a read. They’re something special, something out of the ordinary. And for this writer, they’re also a source of inspiration and a reminder that sometimes rules work best when you smash them to pieces.
I read this as part of the White Wolf Publishing collection Lean Times in Lankhmar.