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Contents: · The Sadness of the Executioner · ss Flashing Swords! #1, ed. Lin Carter, Dell, 1973 · Beauty and the Beasts · vi The Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1974 · Trapped in the Shadowland · ss Fantastic Nov ’73 · The Bait · vi Whispers Dec ’73 · Under the Thumbs of the Gods · ss Fantastic Apr ’75 · Trapped in the Sea of Stars · ss The Second Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1975 Contents: · The Sadness of the Executioner · ss Flashing Swords! #1, ed. Lin Carter, Dell, 1973 · Beauty and the Beasts · vi The Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1974 · Trapped in the Shadowland · ss Fantastic Nov ’73 · The Bait · vi Whispers Dec ’73 · Under the Thumbs of the Gods · ss Fantastic Apr ’75 · Trapped in the Sea of Stars · ss The Second Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1975 · The Frost Monstreme · nv Flashing Swords! #3, ed. Lin Carter, Dell, 1976 · Rime Isle · na Cosmos SF&F Magazine May ’77 (+1)


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Contents: · The Sadness of the Executioner · ss Flashing Swords! #1, ed. Lin Carter, Dell, 1973 · Beauty and the Beasts · vi The Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1974 · Trapped in the Shadowland · ss Fantastic Nov ’73 · The Bait · vi Whispers Dec ’73 · Under the Thumbs of the Gods · ss Fantastic Apr ’75 · Trapped in the Sea of Stars · ss The Second Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1975 Contents: · The Sadness of the Executioner · ss Flashing Swords! #1, ed. Lin Carter, Dell, 1973 · Beauty and the Beasts · vi The Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1974 · Trapped in the Shadowland · ss Fantastic Nov ’73 · The Bait · vi Whispers Dec ’73 · Under the Thumbs of the Gods · ss Fantastic Apr ’75 · Trapped in the Sea of Stars · ss The Second Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1975 · The Frost Monstreme · nv Flashing Swords! #3, ed. Lin Carter, Dell, 1976 · Rime Isle · na Cosmos SF&F Magazine May ’77 (+1)

30 review for Swords and Ice Magic

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    This penultimate volume in the series is as interesting but perhaps not as successful as the others. The novella "Rime Isle"--the longest piece in the book--has a disappointing conclusion--particularly unsatisfying given the vivid, promising beginning. There are, however, many things to like about it too, particularly for the older reader, since the sketchy plots of these individual fictions are also retrospective meditations on the importance of the love of women in a man's life, and how a man' This penultimate volume in the series is as interesting but perhaps not as successful as the others. The novella "Rime Isle"--the longest piece in the book--has a disappointing conclusion--particularly unsatisfying given the vivid, promising beginning. There are, however, many things to like about it too, particularly for the older reader, since the sketchy plots of these individual fictions are also retrospective meditations on the importance of the love of women in a man's life, and how a man's desires and hence his destiny may change as he matures. Both of our heroes show themselves vulnerable and competent in new ways, and Leiber has the grace and good judgment to let them--and his gods--grow old.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    The sixth book in the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series and the premise is getting a bit shop-worn. What does it say about me that I am still daffy about Fafhrd after all these books? Love that guy. The first story in the volume gives some lovely descriptions of Death and how and why he chooses the people that he does. I think it was the best story in the volume for my tastes, although I also did enjoy the small excursion of Odin and Loki into the world of Nehwon. I was, however, distressed by so The sixth book in the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series and the premise is getting a bit shop-worn. What does it say about me that I am still daffy about Fafhrd after all these books? Love that guy. The first story in the volume gives some lovely descriptions of Death and how and why he chooses the people that he does. I think it was the best story in the volume for my tastes, although I also did enjoy the small excursion of Odin and Loki into the world of Nehwon. I was, however, distressed by some of its consequences. Leiber was a fine writer and we get flashes of his immense vocabulary in Ice Magic, but books number 2 (Swords against Death) and 4 (Swords against Wizardry) were for me the best of the series. Book two was their first encounter with Death, culminating in this rematch. I will undoubtedly read the 7th volume, The Knight and Knave of Swords, to assess the fall out of the Odin/Loki situation and to see what becomes of my beloved Fafhrd. My 150th book read from the NPR list of classic science fiction and fantasy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Juho Pohjalainen

    By this time it's pretty clear that something about the longer Fafhrd & Gray Mouser stories rubs me the wrong way. I guess the strange stories and the old-style prose are like a good spice or a dessert: great in short amounts (one of the short stories at the start of this story had me laughing), but quickly wearing me down if there's a lot of it at once, if it's allowed to just pile up without respite. Four stars for the shorts, but only three for the big one. By this time it's pretty clear that something about the longer Fafhrd & Gray Mouser stories rubs me the wrong way. I guess the strange stories and the old-style prose are like a good spice or a dessert: great in short amounts (one of the short stories at the start of this story had me laughing), but quickly wearing me down if there's a lot of it at once, if it's allowed to just pile up without respite. Four stars for the shorts, but only three for the big one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    "Ahoy, small man! Mouser, well met in wildering waters! And now -- on guard!" Yarely! I tell you, the adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser continue, this time with a theme of sea and cold climates, wizards and foreign gods, old flames and old enemies. The duo of lovable scoundrels ('twain' is how Leiber describes them) remains firmly embedded in my sword & sorcery hall of fame, but I must admit, the sixth volume is my least favorite in the collection. Like a populat TV show that start stron "Ahoy, small man! Mouser, well met in wildering waters! And now -- on guard!" Yarely! I tell you, the adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser continue, this time with a theme of sea and cold climates, wizards and foreign gods, old flames and old enemies. The duo of lovable scoundrels ('twain' is how Leiber describes them) remains firmly embedded in my sword & sorcery hall of fame, but I must admit, the sixth volume is my least favorite in the collection. Like a populat TV show that start strong but runs out of ideas in later seasons, I see the stories included here as outtakes, reruns, underdeveloped scripts and repeats of a succesful formula: entertaining and familiar, but running mostly on inertial energy. The Sadness of the Executioner is a very short piece featuring a personified Death (reminds me of sir Terry Pratchett) trying to get the upper hand in a long term competition with our heroes. Beauty and the Beast is a curious and rather forgettable short about following a bizarre and alluring woman/ghost through the streets of a desert city. Trapped in the Shadowland is another piece about Death trying to lure the heroes to their doom. The Bait is another very short, typical piece, about illusions, temptresses and deadly perils. It ties with the earlier three stories featuring Death. With Under The Thumb of the Gods the general outlook of the collection improves, by humorously addressing one of the shortcomings in the series, namely the portrayal of women a sex objects. The girls from the 'twain' past get a welcome revenge, with the help of a few gods disgruntled by the heroes atheism. Instead of falling prompty into the heroes's brawny arms, the girls lead them on a merry dance of unfullfilled erotic daydreams. Trapped In the Sea of Stars has a very interesting dialogue between Fafhrd and Mouser about the geography of Newhon and the really bizarre phenomenons associated with the world's equatorial currents. I didn't expect to find echoes of Larry Niven in a fantasy book. The Frost Monstreme and Rime Isle are the two linked novellas that make the price of admission worthy, and justify the 'ice' reference in the title. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are shown here rather bored and blase about their adventuring (been there, done that, so what next?), iddling the hours in their regular Lankhmar seedy tavern. The way out is shown by a couple of drop dead gorgeous ladies (of course), who offer them employment in repelling a horde of murderous Mingols bent on ravaging their northern isle (based on Iceland - volcanoes, ice, fishing, hardy locals). Things are complicated by an evil wizard who creates from ice a monster ship ( My word's analogous ... to bireme ... quadrireme. Monstreme! -- rowed by monsters ; deathberg ) . Leiber gets his groove back and his prose recaptures some of the lurid, flowery style from earlier books: The weird rays of the rising black sun striking its loadside engendered there a horrid, pale reflection, not natural white light at all, but a loathly, colorless luminescence -- a white to make the flesh crawl, a cave-toad, fish-belly white. And if the substance making the reflection had any texture at all, it was that of ridged and crinkled gray horn -- dead men's fingernails. Odin and Loki from our own Earth mythology put in a guest star appearance to complicate things even further, but overall my reaction to the spectacular finale was lukewarm rather than enthusiastic. On the plus side, we get a new look at the more mature and responsible heroes, organizers and leaders instead of drifters: Her beauty and her Rime Isle silver had chained him, and set him on the whole unsuitable course of becoming a responsible captain of men -- he who had been all his days a lone wolf with lone-leopard comrade Mouser I dont' think Swords and Ice Magic is a good entry point for readers unfamiliar with the two heroes, but it makes an interesting addition for dedicated fans. And it has one of the best covers in the series, courtesy of Michael Whelan:

  5. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Leiber has shown himself capable of vibrant, clever, moody books, but he has lost his touch with age, as regrettably happens to many authors. Every creative mind has its peak, and Leiber has passed his. Though published as separate stories, the chapters of this book form one long, uninterrupted plot, lacking the variance in mood and style which marked his earlier collections. His attempt to continue a single arc while publishing the chapters as stories is awkward, as Leiber constantly reminds us Leiber has shown himself capable of vibrant, clever, moody books, but he has lost his touch with age, as regrettably happens to many authors. Every creative mind has its peak, and Leiber has passed his. Though published as separate stories, the chapters of this book form one long, uninterrupted plot, lacking the variance in mood and style which marked his earlier collections. His attempt to continue a single arc while publishing the chapters as stories is awkward, as Leiber constantly reminds us of characters and plot elements as if we were new readers, but can't seem to find an unobtrusive way to do so. Really, the reminders don't even feel necessary; they weren't in the loosely connected stories that mark his creative peak. He also reintroduces characters and events from several books ago, but oddly enough, rarely prefaces these with reminders. I lamented the faltering of his once-strong women in the last book, and this one is worse. The first quarter shows a strange obsession with the protagonists' former relationships, culminating in the only example of a clip show I've ever seen in a novel. It would be perfectly natural for characters, as they grow older, to reminisce, or even to obsess over their past, but this is less about the characters' internal hang-ups than a parade of nude women who have lost their personalities. Happily, we soon move on to the main plot, which starts promisingly with curious worldbuilding involving Death and his demesne. These light-hearted, long-form novellas only seems to grow more and more like Leiber's follower, Pratchett. But this plot is also left behind for an unrelated conflict on a faraway island, an isolated Thule that has little of the charm of Newhon. Leiber goes off on rather involved asides about the cosmology of the world, with characters acting as encyclopedias, giving unwelcome Tolkienian details about how the stars are meant to work. This is a sudden departure from the Howardian mode, which prefers to reveal the world by small clues, as one might learn about Rome from numerous stories and historians. The cosmology prefigures some interesting background details from Dungeons & Dragons, which has always been more Leiber than Tolkien or Howard. His portrayal of godhood, worship, and alternate worlds parallels Planescape, one of the most remarkable and unusual roleplaying settings. It's unfortunate that, in this case, the inspiration cannot live up to the idea it spawned. The story's conclusion, despite a great deal of build-up, is strangely absent, departing not with a bang, but a whimper. The characters are strangely inactive, failing to solve problems and generally relying on literal Dei ex Machinae. The secondary characters have less personality than the last book, and the love interests are defined more by their appearance than by thoughts or decisions. Leiber does occasionally find his voice, and there are some lovely and evocative passages, as well as exploration of archaic terms and structure, though I couldn't say if that is the result of greater fidelity in a modern edition to the original stories. But by and large, Leiber's dotage has shown an increasing lack of imagination and an almost total loss of the vivid characterization that marked the high water mark of the series. The final remaining Lankhmar book continues this trend, stranding our heroes in their new, dull land and trading in adventure plots for meandering scenes and uninspired sex comedy. It doesn't lessen the achievement of the earlier books, but I'm glad I started at the beginning of the series, or I might have given up on Leiber altogether as simply another old man working chiefly in cliches and awkward chauvinist obsessions. He still isn't as dull or long-winded as some guilty parties of the genre, but it's sad to see a fruitful mind grow sere. My List of Suggested Fantasy Books

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    Originally posted at FanLit. http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi... “I am tired, Gray Mouser, with these little brushes with death.” “Want a big one?” “Perhaps.” Swords and Ice Magic is the sixth collection of Fritz Leiber’s stories about Fafhrd the big northern Barbarian and his small thieving companion the Gray Mouser. The stories in the LANKHMAR series have generally been presented in chronological order, so we’re nearing the end of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser’s adventures in Nehwon and its famo Originally posted at FanLit. http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi... “I am tired, Gray Mouser, with these little brushes with death.” “Want a big one?” “Perhaps.” Swords and Ice Magic is the sixth collection of Fritz Leiber’s stories about Fafhrd the big northern Barbarian and his small thieving companion the Gray Mouser. The stories in the LANKHMAR series have generally been presented in chronological order, so we’re nearing the end of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser’s adventures in Nehwon and its famous city Lankhmar. The tales in this particular volume were published in pulp magazines in the mid 1970s and were collected in this volume in 1977. They are: “The Sadness of the Executioner” — Death is required to kill two heroes before time runs out and he’s got Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser in mind. But Death is a sportsman and thinks heroes should go out with style, so when the duo outwits him, he refuses to pull a deus ex machina and the boys live on. “Beauty and the Beasts” — In this vignette, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser see a beautiful girl who is black on one side and white on the other. Since they can’t decide who she should belong to, they say they’ll split her. Something weird happens when they pursue her. “Trapped in the Shadowland” — Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are dying as they cross a desert and Death is sure he’s going to get them this time because if they survive the desert, they’ll cross into Death’s territory. But Death is foiled again by Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser’s patron gods. Darn those dei ex machina! “The bait” — Death baits the boys with the image of a naked “nubile girl.” This short vignette has Mouser saying the repulsive line “She was just the sort of immature dish to kindle your satyrish taste for maids newly budded.” (Ugh! I can’t believe I read this stuff!) “Under the Thumbs of the Gods” — The gods, upset that the most famous thieves in Lankhmar no longer pay them any attention (not even bothering to use their names in vain!), decide that Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser need to be taken down a few notches. They’ve been listening to the boys boast about their romantic exploits, so the gods decide to hit them where it hurts and arrange for the duo to be rejected by every (naked and nubile) female they’ve ever loved. “Trapped in the Sea of Stars” — While sailing, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser became enchanted with a couple of shimmer-sprites who appear as young nubile girls. (Yes, again!) The sprites have drawn the guys into uncharted waters where no land is in sight. Eventually, after philosophizing about the nature of the sun, moon, and stars in space, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser realize that the sprites may have nefarious motives. “The Frost Monstreme” and “Rime Isle” — Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are bored and reminiscing about past loves in their favorite tavern, The Slippery Eel, when two beautiful (nubile, but not naked) girls walk in and ask them to help the Rime Isle fight an impending invasion by the Sea Mingols. In this novelette and novella, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are possessed by the gods Odin and Loki and they once again cross paths with the two invisible ice princesses who we met a while back in the novella Stardock. Together, these two stories make up most of the page count of Swords and Ice Magic. There are plenty of young nubile girls in this one, and lecherous men fondling their breasts, but there are two strong women, too. I didn’t think the Odin and Loki angle worked very well (Leiber has attempted to tie Newhon to other worlds, including our own, in a few of his stories). There’s a big twist for Fafhrd at the end of “Rime Isle.” At the time the stories in Swords and Ice Magic were written, Friz Leiber was in his mid 60s and had been writing these adventures for more than 30 years. Now Fahfrd and the Gray Mouser are getting older and talking about retiring and settling down with mates. Generally, this batch of stories is not as exciting or creative as the earlier ones, the setting of decadent Lankhmar plays a disappointingly insignificant role, and Lieber’s prose seems less brilliant. I’ve always had an issue with the way Lieber portrays women, but this volume seems to have an inordinate number of young nubile girls with small breasts who get fondled by older men, and there are numerous references to, for example, a “delicate tidbit of girlflesh.” In “The bait,” we’re told that the girl looked no older than 13 though the expression on her face suggests she’s 17. In the first story, Mouser tames a young female warrior who’s trying to kill him (she shoots spikes from her pointy metal bra) by “ravaging” her. Leiber certainly isn’t the only speculative fiction writer whose writing grew more lecherous as he got older, but it’s disappointing to find it in a series that I have enjoyed so much. Even with these issues, there’s no doubt that fans of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser will want to read Swords and Ice Magic, especially the last two stories about Rime Isle because of what happens to Fafhrd. I highly recommend the wonderful audio version produced by Audible Frontiers. Jonathan Davis narrates these and even though he manages only one female voice for every female he reads, his voice is beautiful and his ear for the dialogue and pacing is exceptional. I love the way he portrays Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

  7. 4 out of 5

    A.M. Steiner

    A lacklustre collection of late-career Leiber which would have better remained unpublished. I really wanted to enjoy this one; I have fond memories of reading the Gray Mouser stories as a teen. Sadly, to this middle aged man, this late-career collection of Leiber's stories came across as a publisher-led exercise in barrel-scraping. For sure there were some glorious turns of phrase, but the first four stories all seemed to be little more than fragmentary re-writes of Leiber trying to nail down an A lacklustre collection of late-career Leiber which would have better remained unpublished. I really wanted to enjoy this one; I have fond memories of reading the Gray Mouser stories as a teen. Sadly, to this middle aged man, this late-career collection of Leiber's stories came across as a publisher-led exercise in barrel-scraping. For sure there were some glorious turns of phrase, but the first four stories all seemed to be little more than fragmentary re-writes of Leiber trying to nail down an idea about symmetry or dualism which he never quite pulled off. The final two were ok, I guess, but with issues. While the heroes of these tales have always been sociopathic sex-pests to an extent, in this one they seemed to cross a line from bawdy to creepy. There's just a little bit too much "barely more than a girl" and "budding breasts" going on here. A shame.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I'll say it straight off--Swords and Ice Magic is not that great. Oh sure, there are some good parts. "The Frost Monstreme" is a good story in the old Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser model, where they're approached in a tavern and given a task for hope of gold and glory. While on that task, they run into an inexplicable weirdness that threatens them, and they have to overcome it. It's not too long, it has evocative imagery, and after the earlier stories in this book it was like a cup of water after cr I'll say it straight off--Swords and Ice Magic is not that great. Oh sure, there are some good parts. "The Frost Monstreme" is a good story in the old Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser model, where they're approached in a tavern and given a task for hope of gold and glory. While on that task, they run into an inexplicable weirdness that threatens them, and they have to overcome it. It's not too long, it has evocative imagery, and after the earlier stories in this book it was like a cup of water after crawling a week in the desert. "Rime Isle" also wasn't bad, though it dragged in places and I was not a fan of the main conflict. There is way too much deus ex machina, in both the literary technique sense and in the literal gods solve problems sense. As an example, one of the main conflicts in the story is the reception of the Rime Islers to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, which is quite chilly (get it? get it?). There's a lot of worry early on about whether their mercenary force is actually wanted by the Islers, and how they're going to get paid, and what it means if they don't have a mandate from the council like they thought they did, and whether the Mingols are even invading at all, since the Islers point out that the Mingols are their fast friends and trading partners, and indeed, there are Mingol ships at anchor in the harbor at the time this is mentioned. How is this all dealt with? Well, the Gray Mouser gets possessed, gives a speech which is glossed over because he's possessed, and then the Islers are all, "Man the barricades!" Also, the being that possesses him is a god from another world. I'm not sure why this annoyed me so much, because things popping into Nehwon goes back at least to "The Bazaar of the Bizarre" and probably something earlier I'm forgetting, but what with all the deus ex machina it just seemed like I was watching a chess game that Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser were pieces in rather than the wandering adventures of two sword and sorcery protagonists. If that doesn't bother you, though, the other parts of "Rime Isle" are good. But the other stories are pretty bad. Not necessarily for their writing, though honestly I didn't think it was up to Leiber's usual quality, but their content ranges from "meh" to "offensively awful." In "The Sadness of the Executioner," Death is screwing with the heroes for no obvious reason, which leads to a rape scene where the Gray Mouser "ravishes"rapes the slave girl that Death teleports into his room to kill him, because that's an obviously reasonable reaction. But it's okay, because she stops hating humanity as much and goes on to become a successful merchant! Ah, yes, what I wanted to read was another variant on how the proper solution to a woman's "attitude" is rape. Thanks, Leiber! (┛ಠ益ಠ)┛彡 ┻━┻ "Beauty and the Beasts," "Trapped in the Shadowland," and "The Bait" were all so unmemorable that I had to go back and reread them to even remember what they were about. "Beauty and the Beasts" and "The Bait" can both be summed up as "Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are attacked for no reason, they win, the end," which isn't enough to hold my interest. "Trapped in the Shadowland" seems like an obvious bridge story between this book and The Swords of Lankhmar, but for some reason it comes third instead of first. "Under the Thumb of the Gods" is just weird. Back in "Lean Times in Lankhmar" in Swords in the Mist, Issek's religion is set up as a scam. It's even referred to as "Issekianity" to make sure all the obvious parallels get drawn. But here, all of a sudden Issek is a real god, and he's annoyed that Fafhrd isn't as devoted to him anymore. It kind of undermines the major points of "Lean Times in Lankhmar" and the whole idea of the Street of the Gods if all the gods there are real. Furthermore, the gods' vengeance is basically just, "Remember all those women Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser hooked up with in the past? Well, in case you forget, here they are again." It's a giant recap, and is pretty much as exciting as an actual recap with the added benefit of ruining the previous mood of Lankhmar. I mean, I get that it's supposed to be turning the tables on the pair by showing that all the woman they loved and left don't care about them at all, but it just fell flat. "Trapped in the Sea of Stars" is the Gray Mouser engaging in pretentious cosmological babble. Also there are waterspouts. There, you don't need to read it unless you think that "Nehwon is a bubble floating through the seas of infinity" is an idea that needs a detailed explanation that may or may not be true. I suspect that's why I liked "Stardock" from Swords Against Wizardry but didn't like this one--"Stardock" doesn't have all the discussion in it. On the other hand, it wasn't until I read this book that I really understood exactly what Terry Pratchett was riffing off of when he wrote The Color of Magic and launched the Discworld. It's all here: the world of the heroes is but one among an infinite of worlds, it's possible for beings to travel from world to world, the gods meddle in mortals lives for basically no reason, Death, barbarians from the north with unpronounceable names... Even the world is similar. Nehwon isn't flat (though it may be bubble-shaped), but only half of it has been explored. Apparently there's a version that's just "The Frost Monstreme" and "Rime Isle" bundled together called Rime Isle. If you can, get that collection and skip this one. Those two are the only parts of Swords and Ice Magic worth reading. Previous Review: The Swords of Lankhmar Next Review: The Knight and Knave of Swords.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    In which our heroes become all gwowed up—still lechers, but also leaders, and no longer really able to deal quite so entirely cavalierly with the challenges they are called to face. Unlike many of the earlier stories, which might mention still earlier events in passing, this one builds on knowledge the reader would not have without having read Swords Against Wizardry first, particularly the Hugo Award-winning "Stardock." Passing knowledge of "When the Sea-King's Away" from Swords in the Mist, In which our heroes become all gwowed up—still lechers, but also leaders, and no longer really able to deal quite so entirely cavalierly with the challenges they are called to face. Unlike many of the earlier stories, which might mention still earlier events in passing, this one builds on knowledge the reader would not have without having read Swords Against Wizardry first, particularly the Hugo Award-winning "Stardock." Passing knowledge of "When the Sea-King's Away" from Swords in the Mist, and the original Swords and Deviltry would be advantageous, but lacking those probably would not result in losing the plot, just missing some added color. But it probably works best as I encountered it, being the penultimate cap on a lengthy joy ride.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Clint

    Mixed feels is the best I can say of this. Overall, an average read that never shines, but falters only slightly. The F&GM stories range from “rollicking and awesome” (volumes 2 and 4) to “muddled and murky” (volumes 3 and 5); this one lands in the middle of the two poles alongside volume 1. I like that we are following these two adventurers from excited beginnings to retirement. I’m anxious to see how lackadaisical that retirement ends only to be finished with the reading of. I hope for a bang, Mixed feels is the best I can say of this. Overall, an average read that never shines, but falters only slightly. The F&GM stories range from “rollicking and awesome” (volumes 2 and 4) to “muddled and murky” (volumes 3 and 5); this one lands in the middle of the two poles alongside volume 1. I like that we are following these two adventurers from excited beginnings to retirement. I’m anxious to see how lackadaisical that retirement ends only to be finished with the reading of. I hope for a bang, but as these progress downwards, I expect a whimper. Take none of that as a slam against the ideal Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories. When they are great, I set them upon the shelf with my favorite Robert E Howard yarns; perhaps some on a shelf slightly above. They are just too inconsistent to call marvelous. This volume showed promise. The short stories which start it off are of little consequence and fade from memory only weeks after reading; however, the novella that makes up the bulk of the volume has a promising start that simmers but never boils leaving much to be explained (hopefully) in the final volume. I was interested to see the return (or rather mention of) the dimension hopping, wyrm ridding German from the last book. I am keen to find answers in the next/last book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jefferson

    Swords, Death, Girls, and Ice Magic Swords and Ice Magic (1977), the sixth book in Fritz Leiber's atypical sword and sorcery series about the complementary anti-heroes Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, is comprised of eight stories. The first six are short and variously depict the attempts of Death to deal with the heroes and/or of the heroes to deal with exotic sexy "girls." The last two tales are a linked novelette and novella that occupy twice as much space in the book as the first six. This is goo Swords, Death, Girls, and Ice Magic Swords and Ice Magic (1977), the sixth book in Fritz Leiber's atypical sword and sorcery series about the complementary anti-heroes Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, is comprised of eight stories. The first six are short and variously depict the attempts of Death to deal with the heroes and/or of the heroes to deal with exotic sexy "girls." The last two tales are a linked novelette and novella that occupy twice as much space in the book as the first six. This is good, because while the first six works are mostly disappointing, the last two are mostly excellent and make the book worth reading. The Sadness of the Executioner (1973) is a turgid vignette in which Death finds it a bit harder to dispatch our two heroes in twenty of his heartbeats than he'd expected, not entirely to his chagrin. There is no suspense or joy, and the story seems less organic than programmatic. The earlier stories in the series were usually more exuberant and less mean-spirited. This one features a rape that's supposed to be funny. In "Beauty and the Beasts" (1974) the Mouser and Fafhrd are stalking a beautiful girl who happens to be entirely white (and "sorcerous blonde") on one side and entirely black (and "witching brunette") on the other, when the Mouser suggests physically splitting her with his comrade, and something surprising and unpleasant happens. They are the beasts in the title, but the vignette has nothing in common with the fairy tale. In "Trapped in Shadowland" (1973) Fafhrd and the Mouser are again targeted by Death, who, finding them lost in a terrible desert surrounds them with a Shadowland (his home) that follows them wherever they go. They want to escape because they fear meeting their dead first loves Vlana and Ivrian again. "The Bait" (1973) is yet another unsavory and unamusing vignette. The two friends are dreaming of treasure when they wake up to find a "delicious chit" in their bedroom ("It looked thirteen, but the lips smiled a cool self-infatuated seventeen… Naturally, she was naked") and are about to fight over her when they are attacked by demons. While in earlier stories Fafhrd is attracted to womanly women like Vlana, here he has, like the Mouser, turned his mind to "nubile girls." "Under the Thumbs of the Gods" (1975) is an enjoyable short story. In it three ignored gods decide to teach Fafhrd and the Mouser a lesson when they hear the friends bragging about romantic conquests. "I believe, gentlemen, it is time they suffered the divine displeasure." The gods arrange a series of tantalizing fantasy scenes featuring the heroes' past amours, all of whom caustically reject the guys--until they really meet again the two best thieves in Lankhmar, Eyes of Ogo and Nemia, now aged, who quickly get the men making dinner, washing their feet, going out for wine, etc. Though still too turgid and fixated on "girls," "Trapped in the Sea of Stars" (1975) is fine. While the friends are sailing in their compact ship, they are visited in dream by "beautiful, slim, translucent girls, mirror-image twins," one of whom tells the Mouser to go south to "Life and immortality and paradise," the other of whom tells Fafhrd to go north "to Shadowland and Death." Which way will they go? "The Frost Monstreme" (1976), is a solid "novelette." Two mysterious women, one tall (Afreyt), one short (Cif), hire the now nearly middle-aged heroes as mercenaries, each being told to bring 12 men just like him to legendary Rime Isle in the north to prevent a Sea Mingol horde (aided by the Wizard of Ice Khahkht) from raping the world. The women pay the friends before vanishing. Leiber writes some neat descriptions (e.g., of the ice magical Frost Monstreme) and some funny touches (e.g., the Mouser hiring 12 thieves who are all shorter than he and Fafhrd hiring 12 giant berserks in need of some refining). The last story in the book, "Rime Isle" (1977), is the longest and best. The apocalyptic invasion manipulated by the Ice Wizard Khahkht looms ever closer as Fafhrd and the Mouser show up at Rime Isle. Their involvement with the affairs of the atheistic population of the island in the face of the frenzied Mingols is complicated by the presence of two renegade gods from our own world with agendas of their own. The story features a surprising climax and a satisfying resolution, as well as much humor (especially involving the Mouser) and melancholy (especially involving Fafhrd). It's a neat story for things like Leiber's idiosyncratic take on the traditional heroic fantasy climactic battle, his development of the two aging heroes into leaders, his exploration of gender (ranging from cringeworthy to cool), his nostalgic frame of mind as his heroes recall past loves and family members and homes, some sublime scenes (like the possession of a god and the whelming of a whirlpool), and plenty of great lines ranging from the comical to the Shakesperean to the numinous, like the following. -"We two-footed fantasies will believe anything." -"A small sound close by, perhaps that of a lemming moving off through the heather, broke his reverie. He was already mounting the gentle slope of the hill he sought. After a moment he continued to the top, stepping softly and keeping his distance from the gibbet and the area that lay immediately beneath its beam. He had a feeling of something uncanny close at hand and he scanned around in the silence." -"He and Cif were brought up against the taffrail along with a clutter of thieves, whores, witches (well, one witch), and Mingol sailors." -"The sail sang and the small waves, advancing in ranked array, slapped the creaming prow. The sunlight was bright everywhere." -"Even Mingols relish life." Although this sixth book should probably be called something like, Swords, Death, Girls, and Ice Magic, although readers new to Leiber should begin with the first entry in the series, Swords Against Deviltry (1970), and although I detect Leiber goatishly, morosely, and verbosely if not imaginatively aging in this collection, thanks to its last two stories, this is finally a fine, rewarding, unique sword and sorcery book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Classic stuff. I doubt Leiber could get away with the over-the-top language these days, but the way the man strung alliterative adjectives together was uniquely delightful (in other words, I'll only take it from Fritz). And, let's face it, I've been in love with the Gray Mouser since I was 12. So I might be biased. Book 7 is on the shelf, awaiting my attention, as soon as I catch up on a couple of other things. Classic stuff. I doubt Leiber could get away with the over-the-top language these days, but the way the man strung alliterative adjectives together was uniquely delightful (in other words, I'll only take it from Fritz). And, let's face it, I've been in love with the Gray Mouser since I was 12. So I might be biased. Book 7 is on the shelf, awaiting my attention, as soon as I catch up on a couple of other things.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    What a disappointment! The series had only shifted between good and great to this point, but this ... The first 70 pages isn't even worth reading. The main story of the volume consisting of the Frost Monstreme and Rime Isle is at least entertaining, but our heroes don't even really do much. All the big fights are aborted. To anyone else reading the series - stop at 5. What a disappointment! The series had only shifted between good and great to this point, but this ... The first 70 pages isn't even worth reading. The main story of the volume consisting of the Frost Monstreme and Rime Isle is at least entertaining, but our heroes don't even really do much. All the big fights are aborted. To anyone else reading the series - stop at 5.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Keith Davis

    Leiber was in his late sixties when he wrote these stories and not surprisingly he had his heroes considering retiring from adventuring. It is to Leiber's credit that he let his characters age from young men to older men during the series rather than leaving them frozen in everlasting youth. Leiber was in his late sixties when he wrote these stories and not surprisingly he had his heroes considering retiring from adventuring. It is to Leiber's credit that he let his characters age from young men to older men during the series rather than leaving them frozen in everlasting youth.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan Hindmand

    This is the penultimate collection of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. The heroes seem like they're getting older. They've been on so many adventurers, lost so much treasure, and blown up enough relationships that something had to get through their skulls. There's good stories in here, as well as a few bad ones that bring the collection down. The Sadness of the Executioner follows the Death of Nehwon and is a fun glimpse from his perspective as he balances the equation of life and death. It is This is the penultimate collection of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. The heroes seem like they're getting older. They've been on so many adventurers, lost so much treasure, and blown up enough relationships that something had to get through their skulls. There's good stories in here, as well as a few bad ones that bring the collection down. The Sadness of the Executioner follows the Death of Nehwon and is a fun glimpse from his perspective as he balances the equation of life and death. It is a very short story. Beauty and the Beasts comes right after and is about as short. I disliked this story though it's a pretty good distillation of how Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser have seen women over their careers. Trapped in the Shadowland feels like a sequel of sorts to the first story. Death makes another go for Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. It's a weird, fun little story. I believe this is the only time Sheelba and Ningauble appear in the book, which reminds me that it has been a while since we dealt with their wizardly antics. They are fun characters. The Bait is a lot like Beauty and the Beasts with all the same criticisms I applied before. They even feel like the same story. Under the Thumbs of the Gods makes one of the most memorable stories as three gods Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser have brushed against over their careers decide to get back at the pair. This vengeance comes in the form of making the two revisit all their past relationships, which turns into a greatest hits of all the women from past stories. I dislike The Bait and Beauty and the Beasts, but this was a fun, intelligent call back to old stories and why Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser don't have long-term relationships. And any story where Issek of the Jug shows up is guaranteed to be fun. Trapped in the Sea of Stars is a story about the pair at sea. There's a fun concept in here with the celestial bodies, but the execution didn't work and put me to sleep. This story drags. The final two stories in this collection go together into a novella where Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are hired to defend an island from invasion. So Fafhrd goes off to hire twelve men like himself, and the Gray Mouser also goes off to find twelve men like himself. Throw in two mysterious lost gods that should be very familiar to us and some mountain spirits making a reappearance I did not expect. Fritz Leiber and his characters really seem to be at their best in these longer stories. We get character growth, story arcs, and that dash of weirdness which is Leiber's trademark. It's a classic and some of the best sword and sorcery out there.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pedro Pascoe

    Re-reading the Swords series after decades has proved a solid decision. The 6 stories in this collection range from very very short, to half the book. The stories are by and large sequential, and add to the mythos of the world of Nehwon as a whole. Lieber had lost none of his trade-mark sense of dark humour with these stories, but some of the very short stories, as in prior collections in the series, are bridging stories in between the more important episodes of the lives of Fafhrd and the Grey M Re-reading the Swords series after decades has proved a solid decision. The 6 stories in this collection range from very very short, to half the book. The stories are by and large sequential, and add to the mythos of the world of Nehwon as a whole. Lieber had lost none of his trade-mark sense of dark humour with these stories, but some of the very short stories, as in prior collections in the series, are bridging stories in between the more important episodes of the lives of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. As the heroes are ageing (and hats off for allowing that to happen), the heroes encounter Nehwon's Death and his manipulations, as well as a reminder of their past amorous dalliances, which also act as a reminder of earlier episodes in their danger-dappled adventures. They also take on more responsibilities, particularly in the last story 'Rime Isle', where they are in command of rogue bands themselves. The highlight for me was their philosophising about the cosmology of Nehwon in 'Trapped in the Sea of Stars' with some haunting speculations about the nature of the stars, the Sun and the Moon which, in our world comes across as patently ludicrous, but, in their world, well, whose to say what is possible and what is not? Fafhrd certainly had his objections. I will say this, that, as much as the relationship between Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser drives any narrative, I still prefer stories set in that 'third' character of the city of Lankhmar, surely one of the greatest fantasy-cities in literature! They have been on some very memorable adventures out in the wilds, and the unknowns of Nehwon, but their greatest stories take place in that grandest of settings, and in this particular collection, Lanhkmar is the setting for only a couple of the shorter stories. As for 'Rime Isle', the longest story in this collection, while a decent story, it didn't quite grab me in the way as some of the other adventures outside of Lankhmar had (the climbing of Stardock still quite fresh in my memory from Book 5), and I was missing my fix of Lankhmar. Still, Lieber could write rings around many fantasy writers past and present, and I'm very glad I've taken the time to re-read the Swords Series. Alas, just one more book to re-read...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julian Meynell

    This is a slightly disappointing Fafhrd and Gray Mouser collection. The stories here are linked to some degree, but basically the first third is about sex and death and includes a lot of flashbacks to previous women from the books. The Fafhrd and Gray Mouser books have an interesting take on women and femininity in that while the heroes very much use and exploit the women that they meet, the women do it right back and are use men for sex, and are just as violent. This is a hard needle to thread This is a slightly disappointing Fafhrd and Gray Mouser collection. The stories here are linked to some degree, but basically the first third is about sex and death and includes a lot of flashbacks to previous women from the books. The Fafhrd and Gray Mouser books have an interesting take on women and femininity in that while the heroes very much use and exploit the women that they meet, the women do it right back and are use men for sex, and are just as violent. This is a hard needle to thread for Leiber and in this book he basically fails to do so, so the whole thing feels somewhat sexist and misogynistic instead of his usual light and breezy violent cynicism. The last two thirds or so have a lot of stuff about sailing about on boats and ice magic. The most interesting of this being the long last story which occupies about half the book. This is quite clever and has a world weariness to it, but somehow I don't think that I will remember much of it a few weeks from now. The whole Fafhrd ad Gray Mouser thing is feeling a bit creeky now and this is perhaps a book too many in the series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Most of the stories were fairly entertaining except one. I think it was Trapped In The Sea Of Stars. It went on and on without any point and if I wasn't so anal about finishing what I've started, I would have skipped reading all of it. I always hope things will improve/get interesting so I plug away. Our heroes are aging and don't seem to either carry/use the swords that made these sword and sorcery stories. If I recall correctly, there is no swashbuckling at all. For me personally, there is too Most of the stories were fairly entertaining except one. I think it was Trapped In The Sea Of Stars. It went on and on without any point and if I wasn't so anal about finishing what I've started, I would have skipped reading all of it. I always hope things will improve/get interesting so I plug away. Our heroes are aging and don't seem to either carry/use the swords that made these sword and sorcery stories. If I recall correctly, there is no swashbuckling at all. For me personally, there is too much time spent at sea. Loki and Odin add some interest as does Khahkht who has ensorcelled the Mingols in an attempt to destroy Rime Isle. Hats off to Mr. Leiber's imagination describing how the Sea-Mongols destroyed Sayend. That was a truly horrific event.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    By the time Swords and Ice Magic hit the shelves in the late 70s the central conceit of the series was already showing its age. An alternative title might be ‘The Jolly Adventures of Two Murdering Rapists’. Of course, Leiber doesn’t describe them as such, but reading between the lines that’s how it comes across. Still, it follows the genre formula fairly well (a formula that Leiber himself more or less established) and is an adequate adventure volume. Though the opening vignettes don’t feel like By the time Swords and Ice Magic hit the shelves in the late 70s the central conceit of the series was already showing its age. An alternative title might be ‘The Jolly Adventures of Two Murdering Rapists’. Of course, Leiber doesn’t describe them as such, but reading between the lines that’s how it comes across. Still, it follows the genre formula fairly well (a formula that Leiber himself more or less established) and is an adequate adventure volume. Though the opening vignettes don’t feel like they go anywhere.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Fails to live up to the potential of the great characters Leiber has created and the almost Lovecraftian tales in which they have found themselves previously. This one barely rises above run-of-the-mill sword and sorcery and feels almost like a Terry Prachett novel without the humor (which is as disappointing as it sounds.) Still, worth a read if you're a fan of the other books. Fails to live up to the potential of the great characters Leiber has created and the almost Lovecraftian tales in which they have found themselves previously. This one barely rises above run-of-the-mill sword and sorcery and feels almost like a Terry Prachett novel without the humor (which is as disappointing as it sounds.) Still, worth a read if you're a fan of the other books.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    This would probably be more like 3.5. This book is melancholy, phantasmagoric, and more than a little thirsty in a somewhat despairing way. Leiber is clearly at his weakest when writing the novella length tales, as that part lacks the pop and vigor of the shorter ones.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Faith Perry

    So far the first story is the best of any of Leiber's tales that I've read since Book 1. So far the first story is the best of any of Leiber's tales that I've read since Book 1.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christian Ovsenik

    Not as good as the previous books

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Another winner. Quite an adventure wrapping up some of the loose threads through the earlier books.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wayne Mcauliffe

    Another good one in the series.Love Rime Island and Loki and Odin turning up.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Larou

    Swords and Ice Magic is the sixth and penultimate volume and differs from the previous ones in having been first published after a seven year hiatus and collecting stories written in the seventies. It is generally considered to mark a decline in quality for the series, and indeed the volume is not off to a good start. It begins with a series of vignettes, similar to those Leiber used in earlier volumes to embed his stories into some kind of coherent continuity by connecting previously published w Swords and Ice Magic is the sixth and penultimate volume and differs from the previous ones in having been first published after a seven year hiatus and collecting stories written in the seventies. It is generally considered to mark a decline in quality for the series, and indeed the volume is not off to a good start. It begins with a series of vignettes, similar to those Leiber used in earlier volumes to embed his stories into some kind of coherent continuity by connecting previously published works. The earlier vignettes weren’t exactly successful for the most part, and the ones in Swords and Ice Magic, having not even that bridging purpose, seem entirely pointless. They also continue a tendency that was already observable in Swords of Lankhmar, namely of Fafhrd’s and the Grey Mouser’s adventures becoming increasingly over-the-top to the point where, in this volume, they cross the border into the outright silly. Now, I don’t mind humorous Fantasy, and this series always had an underlying comical strand, but it used to be just that – underlying. But it is very much on the surface in these vignettes, and, at least as far as I’m concerned, not to their benefit. The bulk of the volume, however, consists of the connected novelette “The Frost Monstreme” and novella “Rime Isle” – together, they’re long enough to form a short novel, and indeed its structure (first part mostly taking place on sea, then a longer part on land) is rather reminiscent of Swords of Lankhmar. Different from that novel, though, and in very sharp contrast to the preceding stories in this volume, humor is almost completely absent from “Rime Isle” and its companion story – in fact, they are by a wide margin the grimmest tales in the whole Fafhrd and Grey Mouser series so far. There are reasons for this darker tone: one of them is – as Leiber emphasizes on several occasions in particular during “The Frost Monstreme” – that Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser have left their youth behind them and entered middle age, that their carefree lives are over and they are bearing the burden of responsibility now. Which, as a concept, is very fascinating – usually, you might see Sword & Sorcery gain in power but you never quite get the feeling that they’re actually aging and changing (King Conan would be a case in point here, I think, and most heroes in this genre do not even get that much development). There is also a sense here, which was largely absent in the earlier stories, that the actions of our heroes have consequences, and Fafhrd in particular will have to pay a steep price for his heroism. So everything seems set for “Frost Monstreme / Rime Isle” becoming one of the best stories in the series…. and yet they aren’t. They are good stories, mind you, and definitely an improvement over the vignettes opening this volume, but they come nowhere near earlier highlights of the series like “Bazaar of the Bizarre” or “Lean Times in Lankhmar.” One reason for this is, I think, that the exuberance and sheer fun was just a huge part of what made this series what it is, and while toning that down towards a more realistic and darker attitude might be commendable in principle, it also cuts into what is essential for the enjoyment of this particular series. A grown-up Fafhrd and a responsible Grey Mouser might be more mature and better people, but they are also a lot less fun to hang out with. Another problem is that for heroes, they both have a surprisingly small amount of agency – and that’s even before the big reveal at the end when it turns out that everything that happened was part of an elaborate plot set in motion by a devious mastermind and that everyone was only a pawn in his scheme. Both Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser barely seem to act in those stories, but only ever re-act and generally are markedly more passive than we are used to (which of course might tie into the growing-up motif). Again, this might enhance realism, but at the cost of putting a dampener on the reader’s enjoyment, too. And finally, a smaller and more personal niggle – Leiber is up to his dimension-crossing ways again as he was way back in “Adept’s Gambit”. This time it is two gods from our world crossing over into Lankhmar, and while watching a tired, pedophile Odin and a fiery, manipulative Loki is not completely without appeal, overall it’s mostly irritating.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eldad

    I really wanted to like these books. I first heard about them while I was in high school in the ‘80s, but I was never able to find them in bookstores and I had forgotten about them for a long time. Goodreads & Amazon fixed that for me. I’m writing only one review for all of the books because my overall impression of them remains the same through most of the stories. The books remain oddly stagnant in some respects, and they vary wildly in others. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are almost comically tr I really wanted to like these books. I first heard about them while I was in high school in the ‘80s, but I was never able to find them in bookstores and I had forgotten about them for a long time. Goodreads & Amazon fixed that for me. I’m writing only one review for all of the books because my overall impression of them remains the same through most of the stories. The books remain oddly stagnant in some respects, and they vary wildly in others. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are almost comically trite as characters throughout the stories. They are described frequently as rough and unsavory, but they always seem to “do the right thing” in the end. They pilfer fortunes, yet are consistently penniless. They meet their “one true loves” as youngsters and then spend the rest of their lives pinning their loss; but ‘dallying’ with just about every pretty female they meet. The books tell of them sailing farther than anyone else ever has, making it seem as if they’re nearing the edge of the world, and then they return to their port of origin just a couple of months later. The contradictions in the book are frequent and annoying, and they contribute to a lack of credibility in the stories. Furthermore, they are written in wildly differing styles. Sometimes the books are written as if for a teenager, sometimes they seem to be a treatise on fencing instruction, and sometimes (particularly in the later volumes) they border on pornographic. I’m glad I read them though. They’re an entertaining, light, and a decent set of fantasy novels which are enjoyable enough. On the other hand, I found the Conan and Elric characters to be far more fleshed out and believable; and the writing of David Eddings, Dennis L. McKiernan, and (most of) Stephen R. Donaldson is much, much better.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lee Broderick

    This could be the best Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser book so far. Some of the stories in the first 40% or so of the book see Fritz Leiber experiment with form and structure when compared with his earlier tales - one in particular is perhaps more akin to some of his horror writing than his swords and sorcery yarns, with the heroes toyed with by malicious gods keen to make them suffer psychologically. In this, they have nothing to fight and can merely try to stay sane. For the most part, the stories f This could be the best Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser book so far. Some of the stories in the first 40% or so of the book see Fritz Leiber experiment with form and structure when compared with his earlier tales - one in particular is perhaps more akin to some of his horror writing than his swords and sorcery yarns, with the heroes toyed with by malicious gods keen to make them suffer psychologically. In this, they have nothing to fight and can merely try to stay sane. For the most part, the stories follow on from one another pretty well and, for the first time (including in the tale referenced above) we see several key figures from earlier stories begin to return in a meaningful way. This is a welcome development and one which is carried forward into the final part of the book, consisting of two stories so closely linked as to be one cohesive whole. Here, characters are not only returning but there's marked development in the characters of the protagonists as well. The humanity - and human weakness - of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser have always been a hallmark of Leiber's treatment of the genre but here there is a palpable sense of emotional growth in their characters, no longer the callow youths of Swords and Deviltry or the lusty adventurers of Swords Against Death .

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peter Carrier

    The beginning of the end? While an entertaining story, "Swords and Ice Magic" is thus far the weakest entry in the Fafhrd/Gray Mouser series. The prose lacks that familiar flair and snap; the dialogue contains more informative recitation than lively banter; even the events of the story are somewhat lackluster. This is particularly discouraging in light of how imaginative and pithy the first chapter/short story is. Allow a quote referring to Death, from the first few pages; "[H]e must personally ta The beginning of the end? While an entertaining story, "Swords and Ice Magic" is thus far the weakest entry in the Fafhrd/Gray Mouser series. The prose lacks that familiar flair and snap; the dialogue contains more informative recitation than lively banter; even the events of the story are somewhat lackluster. This is particularly discouraging in light of how imaginative and pithy the first chapter/short story is. Allow a quote referring to Death, from the first few pages; "[H]e must personally take a hand in the business—something he thoroughly detested, since the deus ex machina had always struck him as fiction’s—or life’s—feeblest device." Self-deprecating, sharp, on point, undeniably tongue-in-cheek; in other words, pure Leiber. But tragically, passages with this flavor must be relished at the beginning, for after the first couple chapters/stories... Naught to be writ again. The following statement will no doubt invite enmity, but there are times when it seems that Leiber did not write the bulk of this story; very little of the book contains his earlier voice, tone or distinction. It's a shame this work is not quite up to the standard set by Leiber's own earlier catalogue. Oh, well; not every effort can be a masterpiece, right? "For the gods have very sharp ears for boasts, or for declarations of happiness and self-satisfaction, or for assertions of a firm intention to do this or that, or for statements that this or that must surely happen, or any other words hinting that a man is in the slightest control of his own destiny."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    This is a collection of tales that are told in the Conan the Barbarian style of Sword & Sorcery and are short tales and not 1,000 page epics that are the norm today. The stories are all about the tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Leiber’s most popular creation. The first part of the collection is a collection of short stories that are enjoyable but sometimes sadly too short. My favorite of these was ‘Beauty and the Beasts’ were Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are trying to find some women to bed b This is a collection of tales that are told in the Conan the Barbarian style of Sword & Sorcery and are short tales and not 1,000 page epics that are the norm today. The stories are all about the tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Leiber’s most popular creation. The first part of the collection is a collection of short stories that are enjoyable but sometimes sadly too short. My favorite of these was ‘Beauty and the Beasts’ were Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are trying to find some women to bed but by going back through all their old lovers they get rejected by all, until they find one that allows them to rub her feet and they find out that this was just perfectly fine. This was a humorous tales and a lot of fun. The other first few tales were somewhat forgettable as they were too short and a little too generic. The gem of this collection is ‘Rime Isle’ which is a short novel and closed out the book. It starts with a couple of women who come to The Silver Eel (a tavern) and recruit Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to help them fight a war alongside Rime Isle. It’s not as simple as it seems and it jumps around and keeps you guessing. It also has appearances by Odin and Loki the Norse gods who are not part of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser universe but we get a parallel universe type of thing going on here. This was the longest and most satisfying tale in this collection. All-in-all we get good and bad in this collection but it’s worth it for the tale ‘Rime Isle’.

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