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The Knight And Knave Of Swords (1988)

The Knight and Knave of Swords (1988)
3.9 of 5 Votes: 3
068808530X (ISBN13: 9780688085308)
william morrow & company
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The Knight And Knave Of Swords (1988)
The Knight And Knave Of Swords (1988)

About book: an extra star for the overall enjoyment I got from this pair of amoral scoundrels. but ...Other reviewers pointed out that the last book in the series compares unfavorably with what went on before. I felt the decline in quality already in the previous book ( Swords and Ice MAgic ) but as a completist and as a fan of the Twain, I decided to give it a try anyway. Most of the dissapointment might come from the fact that I expected the adventurers to go out in a blaze of glory, something like the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or like The Wild Bunch. Instead of drawing their steel (not one duel in earnest in the whole book), the heroes rely on luck and deux-et-machina interventions to get them out of some tame magical perils. Leiber went for the subversion of the genre, and imagined his heroes settled down with their women on an island beyond the edge of the world (Rime Isle) , far from Lankhmar and devious patron wizards. I might have accepted this, if the quality of the prose had retained some of the sparkle and inventiveness of earlier books, but the thrill is mostly gone. Another letdown is the replacement of the lighthearted sexual innuendo in relating the bedroom conquests of the duo with some extremely explicit and slightly cringeworthy BDSM fantasies.Without further ado, here's what can be found in this last collection:1 - Sea Magic: Fafhrd in in Salthaven, recuperating (see end of book six) , when he is caught up in an effort by a sea enchantress to steal the town's gold relics. A boat chase and a confrontation in the middle of the ocean close this opening short tale that makes the transition from events in Swords and Ice Magic.2 - The Mer She: the corresponding mirror story following the Mouser's adventure as a merchant and sea captain, falling under the spell of the same sea witch, here taking the form of a teenage seductress with silvery hair and deep green eyes. A lucky escape, due mostly to paranoid suspicion and an eye for safety, something I found out of character for the Mouser.3 - The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars : Probably the best set in the novel, has Ningauble and Sheelba plot to bring back to Lankhmar the two rogues who are still lingering on Rime Isle. The title refers to the enchantments put on the duo by their patron gods in order to force them to abandon their comfortable refuge and come back to the capital city. Complications arise when higher deities decide that they don't want the heroes back in Lankhmar, so death stalks our friends once more. Again no swords are drawn and the escape is based on luck and a little help from the friends on the Isle.4 - The Mouser Goes Bellow : opens with an unnecessary recap of events from the last two books and with a rant about the public who will not let the heroes enjoy their rest: 'both knew well how cruelly and unreasonably demanding audiences can be' . The last story covers about 3/4 of the novel, and feels padded, with the same actions narrated twice from different points of view, plenty of references to events from earlier adventures, unrelated scenes shoehorned in from other publications (The Rat lady and her servants), and a general lack of direction and logic in the development of the plot. Made me think this type of adventure works better in a shorter form, more concentrated and faster paced that a full length novel.Recommended for dedicated fans of the series and for completists like me.

The seventh and final volume in Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series, containing stories from the late seventies and eighties. This one was a bit different than the previous for me, insofar as it is the only volume I had never read before, as it had not been released (or indeed, written) yet the last time I read through the series. Knight and Knave of Swords is generally considered the series’ low point, and with very good reason – while Swords and Ice Magic was rather mediocre, this one is outright bad, and if it wasn’t for my stubbornly insisting on reading the series in its entirety I probably would not have finished it.The volume’s basic structure is similar to Swords and Ice Magic – it starts off with some shorter stories (not quite vignettes this time, though, even though there is not really that much more happening) and then ends with what one might consider as either a long novella or a short novel. Noteworthy about Knight and Knave of Swords is that it is the longest volume in this series – it is not quite a doorstopper but it has a significantly higher page count than any of the previous books. And this turns out to be not a good thing at all – where Leiber’s storytelling used to be lean and slink, propelled by action and humor, here its most characteristic feature is a huge amount of bloat, the stories’ narrative momentum getting lost in lacklustre descriptions of pointless detail – Knight and Knave of Swords reads like a re-imagining of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser as done by Robert Jordan.The three introductory stories are bad enough in that respect, but things take an even worse turn in the concluding novella “The Mouser Goes Below”. All the colour and wit, all the elegance and ironic touches that made this series so special seem to have been drained from Leiber’s prose, leaving a dry, dull husk that is all the more painful to read for those extremely rare moments when there is a brief sparkle of its former brilliance (like when it turns out that the Fafhrd’s child is actually closer in character to the Grey Mouser and vice versa). But those moments are so few and far between as to be almost non-existent, and the rest of the novella resembles nothing more than one of the pointless vignettes from Swords and Ice Magic – blown up to over 200 pages. Our supposed protagonists are even more passive than in the previous volume’s “Frost Monstreme / Rime Isle”, they are just being pushed around like pawns and this time there is not even any real purpose behind it, the whole novella reads like one long exercise in utter futility.Even though after reading Swords and Ice Magic I did not go with any high expectations into this volume, Knight and Knave of Swords still managed to be a huge disappointment and I cannot imagine even the most diehard fan of the series deriving any enjoyment from this volume. Even the attempts at fan service (Fafhrd’s daughter and the Grey Mouser’s son) fall woefully flat and the whole thing is a dreary mess that leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. I had to thumb through some of the early volumes to get rid of it and to remind myself that this used to be a wonderful series. Knight and Knave of Swords is emphatically going to get skipped in any further re-readings of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser I might be undertaking.
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Some media is difficult to consume, when we know it will be our last taste. This is how I felt watching the last episode of The Wire, the last Morse mystery, and now reading this book. It's why I put off reading the last Dark Tower novel. Reading The Knight and Knave of Swords I was filled with melancholy. I'm certain I first discovered Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser when I was 10 or 11 years old, and while scouring used book stores happy to grab any of the paperbacks collecting their adventures. These stories filled with adventure, humor, magic, not-overly powerful gods, and sexy women were a great pleaure to read. For D&D players, not enough credit can be given to Leiber, who came up with a dozen of the concepts incorporated into the RPG.I've always thought Leiber had the best story titles, Ill Met in Lankhmar being my favorite.And so I'd put off reading this book for more than 10 years. I finally added it as a briefcase read. The book includes two short stories and a novella. I'd call one of the short stories, a gem. Fafhrd is cursed to look up and obsess with stars, while the Mouser is cursed to look down obsessing with trivialities like the shapes and colors of pebbles and sticks. Their obsessive curses prevent them from taking note of assassins sent from Lankhmar hired to settle old scores.The other short and the novella were not as good. Not bad, but not particularly good either. The heroes are too passive, riding out circumstances with essentially no power to influence events.The cover of the book is A-1.
Commodore Tiberius Q. Handsome
Fritz Leiber invented the term "sword and sorcery", and he was the finest author the genre has ever had. In fact he was, in my opinion, the finest author of fantasy period. I rank him above Tolkien, Howard and Moorcock, never mind Martin or Jordan. I've read him described as a "master prose stylist", and the description is apt indeed. Fritz Leiber was, simply, a terrific, extremely talented writer with a true love of language and a prodigious, playful, incredibly unique style. The odd, absurd, weird, and terrifying, he was a maestro of storytelling, a humorist, and a weaver of weird tales and action-packed adventures. He was the best, period, and anyone with any interest at all in fantasy who neglects Leiber is cheating himself.
The thrill is gone. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser were right up there with Conan and Elric of Melnibone as my fave fantasy heroes and tales. I picked this up at a used bookstore to get a jolt from the past instead I received a dull thud. The tale was overly drawn out (you dig and you dig and you dig) and sluggish to read lacking the vitality and bravado of the earlier gems. My bones felt as heavy as these two heroes in their retirement years when i finished. The day the author cut off Fafhrd's hand was a sign to me he no longer wanted to write about these two knaves. Maybe they should have stayed down for the count.
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