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Contents Copyright by Bruce Durham unless noted otherwise
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The Sunken Land - The chance discovery of a mysterious key in the vast Outer Sea leads Fafhrd to a ship occupied by silent warriors searching for the lost land of Simorgya, rumored to be the home of mighty magicians. This is one of Leiber's best tales, mixing equal amounts of action, mystery and horror.

The Seven Black Priests - Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser journey across mountains known as the Bones of the Old Ones, beyond the Outer Sea, where they spy a green hill isolated among the Cold Wastes. From the mysteriously shaped rocks they recover a diamond. On the return journey they fend off the guardians of the hill, called The Seven Black Priests. However, that's the least of their problems. Though the story begins slowly, it picks up when Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser attempt to escape pursuit. The prose is tight, the action quick, and the magic dark and ominous. One of Leiber's better stories.

Claws From the Night - Something is terrorizing the women of Lankhmar, stealing their precious jewellery. At first, Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser take advantage of the situation, until a close call spurs them to investigate a long abandoned tower. In it, they find more than they bargained for. This is easily one of his best stories, though the twist ending can be spotted well in advance.  

The Price of Pain-Ease - Like The Circle Curse and The Bleak Shore, this story reads like a treatment, ultimately lacking excitement or adventure. And like the other two, it has many wasted ideas that could have been explored in more detail. All in all, another weak effort.

Bazaar of the Bizarre - Suddenly appearing on the streets of Lankhmar, the Bazaar was home to countless treasures. But, was everything as it seemed? The Gray Mouser certainly thought so, but Fafhrd and the unlikely combination of Sheelba of the Eyeless Face and Nigauble of the Seven Eyes thought otherwise. Bazaar of the Bizarre is an uneven blend of humor, satire and action, nicely told, but ultimately unsatisfying due to its inherent play for laughs.

As expected, Leiber's writing is masterful, gripping and descriptive. He paints a scene like an artist works a canvas, imbuing his characters with depth, passion, and humor. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stride through Lankhmar's maze of streets facing danger and adversity with determination and stubborn perseverance. Leiber's world of Nehwon is strange and quirky, not for the feint of heart.

Perhaps the best praise afforded to Fritz Leiber is his ability to pack more story-telling power into one of his short narratives than many of today’s fantasy authors can accomplish in a bloated 600-page novel.




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Book Review
Swords Against Death
Fritz Leiber
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