Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser

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Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are two seminal sword-and-sorcery heroes appearing in stories written by Fritz Leiber (1910–1992). They are the protagonists of what are probably Leiber's best-known stories.

Fafhrd is a tall (seven feet) northern barbarian; Mouser is a small, mercurial thief, once known as Mouse and a former wizard's apprentice. Both are rogues, existing within a decadent world where to be so is a requirement of survival. They spend a lot of time drinking, feasting, wenching, brawling, stealing, and gambling, and are seldom fussy about who hires their swords. But they are humane and—most of all—relish true adventure.

The characters were loosely modelled upon Leiber himself and his friend Harry Otto Fischer (1910–1986). Fischer initially created them in a letter to Leiber in September 1934, naming at the same time their home city of Lankhmar. In 1936, Leiber finished the first Fafhrd and Gray Mouser novella, Adept's Gambit, and began work on a second, The Tale of the Grain Ships. At the same time, Fischer was writing the beginning of The Lords of Quarmall. Adept's Gambit would not see publication until 1947, while The Lords of Quarmall would be finished by Leiber and published in 1964 and The Tale of the Grain Ships would become the prototype for "Scylla's Daughter" (1961) and, later, the novel The Swords of Lankhmar (1968). One of Leiber's motives in was to have a couple of fantasy heroes closer to true human stature than the likes of Howard's Conan the Barbarian or Burroughs's Tarzan.[1]

Contents

Setting

The tales are for the most part set in the fictional world of Nehwon (although one story takes place on Earth), many of them in and around its greatest city, Lankhmar. It is described as "a world like and unlike our own". Theorists in Nehwon believe that it may be shaped like a bubble, floating in the waters of eternity.

Technology in Nehwon varies between the Iron Age and the medieval. Leiber wrote of Lankhmarts: "They may be likened to the Romans or be thought of as, if I may use such a term, southern medievals." About his Eastern Lands, he wrote "think of Saracens, Arabs, Parthians, Assyrians even. They ride the camel and elephant, and use the bow extensively." [2]

The series includes many bizarre and outlandish characters. The two who most influence—and, some would say, cause the most trouble for—Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are their sorcerous advisors, Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face. These two lead the two heroes into some of their most interesting and dangerous adventures.

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