The fourth collection of Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser stories, this book features two of the best so far, Stardock and The Lords of Quarmall. Fritz Leiber continues to create his strange world, peopled with unusual, dangerous, and sometimes very funny people. And he continues to put the giant Northman Fafhrd and the diminutive thief Gray Mouser into very odd circumstances.
In Stardock, our heroes find themselves heading north into the mountains on a hunt for vague rewards and riches. Leiber really revels in the terror of rock climbing and the fear of heights. I was surprised to find myself with chills and goosebumps on a few occasions. Then things get really weird.
The Lords of Quarmall gets into a strange underground civilization that reminds me in some ways of something out of Robert E. Howard, but also serves as a reminder that Leiber was one of the big influences on the original Dungeons & Dragons. The story’s finale was a bit wonky, but still pretty interesting.
Risking sounding like a broken record, you should definitely check out Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser stories. This is likely not the best place to start, but still, do yourself a favor.
I read this as part of the White Wolf collection Lean Times in Lankhmar, along with Swords in the Mist.