Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Welcome to Nehwon

This month, we turn to the world of Nehwon, to the city of Lankhmar, and the adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The second volume of their tales, Swords Against Death, collects ten short stories of the barbarian and wizard-thief, including the first five from John Campbell's Unknown magazine. (Fear not, while John Campbell did try to foster a fantasy revolution to match the one he created in science fiction, he felt that Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser fit the tone of the venerable Weird Tales better than Unknown).

The tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser have been called  archetypal adventures for Dungeons & Dragons, and it is no surprise that they are featured in the legendary Appendix N, a listing of fantasies that inspired the game. They also share a similar origin to Dungeons & Dragons, as both Lankhmar and Dungeons & Dragons evolved from wargames.  Fritz Leiber had created the world and the game with the help of his friend Harry Fischer in 1937. A revised version of this game would be published 40 years later by TSR, following in the wake of the original publication of D&D. Gamemakers have returned to the setting regularly since then.

While I recommend leaping into the world of Lankhmar with the pulp introduction to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, "The Jewels of the Forest", those who wish to read the origin stories of Fafhrd, the Gray Mouser, and their partnership should read Swords and Deviltry. Check out JimFear138's review of that audiobook posted below.  (For those who would rather read the transcript, here's a link to his blog post.)


  1. Swords Against Death is a valid starting point for a look at Nehwon and its heroes. I realize that Sword against Deviltry is the chronological start, but with Swords Against Death, you get a look at their world as Lieber first saw it. I think the stories published in the 60's/70's have a different feel to them. Read them all, make your own choice as to which you like best.

  2. I couldn't find the publishing date on these stories anywhere in the Kindle version that I have. When I went to look it up on the internet, the first result is the Cirsova blog, and then I wound up spending 20 minutes reading backposts there and forgot what I had originally logged on to check. Doh!

    So, forget it, I'm just going to read and let Leiber's imagination wash over me in the order the editor chose. Gotta trust that he made the right calls, since I haven't read these in over 20 years.