mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Old Ghoulish. (4)

Lankhmar Book One: Swords And Deviltry by Fritz Leiber.

Stretched out on the rack,
malice flowing like lightning
from his eyes to hers.

The circuit of hate
complete, flows into the Duke;
black magic strikes dead.

Well, I finally got around to reading these! Fritz Leiber is one of those names you see associated with the history of the great game of Dungeons & Dragons, & modern fantasy in general. I have meant to read him for a bit, & so I finally bit the bullet & did so. Like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Michael Moorcock, M.A.R. Barker & the like, Leiber is the genuine article. He's in the annals of legend for good reason. Now, this isn't my first exposure to Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser-- I'd previously read the comics by Mike Mignola, but it was my first dip into the primary text. Fafhrd & Gray Mouser are...well, "scoundrel" & "rogue" give a certain impression which comes close but...well, they area little bit more "murderers." Han Solo is a scoundrel, & while he shot first, he never murdered any tweens, which puts his heart of gold one up on these two. They are adventurers-- & if you've ever stepped back from the DnD table & noticed what a bunch of amoral psychopaths adventurers are, then you know what I mean-- remember the sociopathic, gold-hungry adventurers from Perdido Street Station? This is the origin story, & I'm charmed by it. Fafhrd is the prince of a barbarian tribe, destined to be chief, but he chucks it all & decides to move to the big city. It isn't quite that simple-- there is a lavish snow & sorcery tale behind it-- but there it is. Gray Mouser-- Mouse, then-- is a wizard's apprentice who gives in to black magic, to the lure of the sword & revenge. & then...well, he moves to the metropolis. Lankhmar! As much a character as the two gentlemen. The closing tale is their meeting, their first heist, the death of their beloveds, & revenge. Yes, it is a textbook fridging, & yes, the women are sad harridans or simpering dolls-- it is a shame-- but that is where the genre was in the seventies. I'm less condemning of it in older pulps than I am in modern works, where they really ought to know better. I'll say this-- I plan on reading the next one as soon as possible.
Tags: books, haiku, lankhmar, leiber
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