Toonzone Sci-Fi/Fantasy Reading Group Book 3: Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser in "Swords and Deviltry" Ta

Discussion in 'The Entertainment Board' started by wonderfly, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    Swords and Deviltry
    Written by Fritz Leiber


    [​IMG]

    "Oh, is there anyone in the wide world that has aught but ice water in his or her veins?"-Fafhrd​

    "One of the great works of fantasy in this century" - Publishers Weekly

    FIRST STORY: "The Snow Women"

    Welcome to the Week 1 of reading "The Snow Women", the first story in the "Swords and Deviltry" anthology. We will only be reading one short story from this anthology at a time, inbetween reading our regular full-length novels. As "The Snow Women" is a story slightly over 100 pages in length, discussion will be confined for this first week to the first 50 pages. The last half of the short story should not be discussed until next week.

    Comments?!
     
  2. Gatomon41

    Gatomon41 Call To Rebellion

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    The collection I borrowed from the Libarary is a omnibus of the first two collections, so it has "Swords and Deviltry" :D

    I better get started!
     
  3. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    Very well, I'll start. :)

    I just finished the scene with Fafhrd spying on the play. That seems to be the halfway point for the story, or close to halfway. I'm a few pages beyond that now, and the plot certainly picks up after the play ends, but I'll keep my comments to the opening half of the story.

    In a nutshell, this is basically the "Conan in his youth in Cimmeria" story that Robert E Howard never bothered to write. Except Fafhrd is probably much more calm in his demeanor than Conan probably ever was in his youth. Fafhrd is aware that there is a world outside of his homeland, and very somber about his tribe's position in it.

    To continue the Conan comparison, we were always told by Howard (and by other writers that followed) that Conan was intrigued by the riches and wonders of the world outside of Cimmeria. It strikes me that while that may be partially what motivates Fafhrd's interest in the outside world, I think it's more to do with his displeasure in his current surroundings. The superstitions between the men and women of the tribe, the petty rivalries between tribesmen, all of this comes across as a prison to Fafhrd. Even with getting his girlfriend Mara pregnant, though he expresses delight, Fafhrd appears to hope that Mara will come with him and leave this tribe. This all looks like a recipe for disaster. I look forward to finishing the second half! :anime:
     
  4. the greenman

    the greenman Active Member

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    I wish I could say I was as enthused. I'm past the part where they were crashing the play, but I just can't get into this story. Mainly because I have no frame of reference and there isn't really a story being told that I can see. I will finish this story through, hoping things pick up, but right now this doesn't hold my attention.
     
  5. Aquadementia

    Aquadementia That's a lot of Mulaney!

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    This is the cover from the book I'm reading. The artist might have thought Fafhrd needed more cowbell.
    [​IMG]

    The thing is, I expect things won't really take off until both the main characters get together and start gelling.

    What we get is an introduction to Fafhrd and his world of wonton women, dangerous men, a hint of magic and the difficulty of finding your way with so many bad influences.

    I'm having trouble thinking what his voice should sound like since he's a skald.

    It's not completely serious. There's a lot of Snow trees, and Snow this and Snow that.
    The women camouflaged in white to attack their cheating men is somewhat comical. The magic seems almost superstitious but that might be on a slow build too, as it seems to be following people and gathering its' power.

    He doesn't seem to have any qualms about taking up with other women though.

    He's eager to get out from under the thumb of his mother the snow witches. With the wide world calling for him to explore, I think he's the type to be happy leaving a trail of pregnant women in his wake.

    Fafhrd is clearly a manly man who will do much walking with women, as well as partaking of large tankards of ale and honoring the warriors code.
     
  6. Angilasman

    Angilasman New Member

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    I love Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The second and third books are the best - but they're actually the first two books. The "first" book, Swords and Deviltry, is a prequel written about two decades after the series started showing the origins of the two characters and then their first adventure. I'd advise reading the second book first, getting into all the cool adventures and interactions between the characters, and then going back and reading Swords and Deviltry.
     
  7. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    Well, I did ask if people wanted to read the whole anthology or "skip straight to the main event" with "Ill Met In Lankhmar". :) It's a new fantasy world for me as well (probably for all of us) and we're kind of being dropped in mid-stream with this story. I'm still trying to picture what the different races look like - is a "Mingol" supposed to look like a "Mongol"? But the confusion is to be expected when all of these stories were written out of order, featuring different points in the characters' lives (and that's perhaps why the anthology puts the stories IN order chronologically).

    Ouch. See, that cover's just not doing it for me. Covers to fantasy books in the last decade or so have turned to that style of look, I much more prefer the Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo style of fantasy covers that were prominent in the 70's and 80's.

    I think it's very much written to point out the absurdity of tribal life. I've read that Leiber's style of writing for Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser often involves the characters having a whimsical yet fatalistic outlook on life. I'm wondering if these will be borderline "black humor" style of stories when all is said and done.

    EDIT: I see Angilasman posted while I was creating my post. Good to see another "Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser" fan on the forums!
     
  8. Darklordavaitor

    Darklordavaitor Moderator

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    I picked up a copy of The Three of Swords at my local library. Before I start up the first story, are we going to read all of the books in the series or just Swords and Deviltry for now?
     
  9. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    Non-spoiler post!

    "Swords and Deviltry" Week 2!

    Welcome to the 2nd week of discussion for the story "The Snow Women". Discussion can now be expanded to cover the entire "Snow Women" short story! All discussion of the events in the other stories inside the "Sword and Deviltry" anthology book are spoilers and should not be discussed yet!

    That's not been decided yet. The only thing we've agreed to is to read "Swords and Deviltry" (the first book), as a sampling of the "Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser" series. We're dividing the short stories in this book up between reading full-length novels for the Reading Group (next full novel is "Ender's Game", discussion for it will start up in 2 to 3 weeks). We'll need to revisit the topic of reading the next novels in the "Fafhred and Gray Mouser" series later on, but it is a possibility.

    Anyway, what are you guys' thoughts on the story so far?!?
     
  10. Darklordavaitor

    Darklordavaitor Moderator

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    Fafhrd is a great character. Loving it so far.
     
  11. Gatomon41

    Gatomon41 Call To Rebellion

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    Reading the preface, the world of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser is the typical Swords and Sorcery: A past time or world, telling of ancient heroes and their epic adventures.
     
  12. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    A highly disappointing ending to a story that started off with potential. And not the best way to introduce us to the characters. I now agree with Angilasman, it would've perhaps been better to read stories set later in the character's lives (maybe in the 2nd or 3rd book), not just go chronologically with their first "adventure".

    The comparisons to Conan can end - Conan is grim, brooding and fatalist at times, but never suicidal. 1st offense: Fafhrd's entertaining the idea of jumping off the cliff just because life is crappy, that didn't sit well with me. 2nd offense: He did NOTHING to help aid Vellix when he was up against Hringorl. He basically let Vellix die. 3rd and final offense: He left behind his fiance and their unborn baby.

    Conan does things that are selfish and opportunistic at times, but he also has a streak of nobility. I've yet to see that exhibited in Fafhrd's behavior. And yes, Conan probably left lots of little "Conan Jr." babies scattered throughout the land over the years, but those were one night stands from his many years of womanizing. But every time Conan was depicted in a serious relationship with a lover, he was commited to her. But then the lover would conveniently die, leaving Conan to move on in his adventures.

    I thought Fafhrd's lover Mara was going to be set up to die at the hands of Hringorl, and Vellix would die by tragedy, not by indecision on Fafhrd's part. Or maybe that Vellix would turn out to be a villain after all, and die a villain's death, thus giving the story a perfect opportunity for Fafhrd and Vlana to join forces. But maybe that's the thing - perfect opportunities (and noble, "blameless" deaths) are a work of fairy tales, and this was closer to real life. Doesn't mean I have to like it though.

    The one good thing I take from this ending is that Fafhrd felt cold and distant on the last page of the story as he left his homeland, with Vlana by his side. He had expected to feel triumphant and excited, but apparently that emotion wasn't there. So that's good at least - he is quickly coming to realize that fleeing your problems will not lead to happiness.

    Quick side note: I got tired of the Snow Women's powers: I'm still not convinced that was anything more than all in Fafhrd's head. But maybe that warrants some faint praise: it was written in such a way that it was ambigious enough that just maybe they DID have magical powers after all...

    I got to thinking on this more, and this story and all of the rest of the contents of "Swords and Deviltry" were written in the 60's ("Snow Women" and "Ill Met" were both published in 1970 - but written in the late 60's). Compare that to all of the Conan the Barbarian tales - written in the 1930's. There's a generational gap here - Conan was Pulp Fiction, with all of the grandiose flair which that entails. "Fafhrd and the Gary Mouser" is 1960's Counterculture, written for a generation growing disatisfied with the American dream. Well, I know which of the two I prefer...

    And yes, even though I disliked this tale, I'll be happy to read the next story. Maybe the Gray Mouser starts off as a better character.
     
  13. Aquadementia

    Aquadementia That's a lot of Mulaney!

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    I've read the second chapter and all I'll say now is I liked it much better.
    Since I already have the first 3 books of the series, I'm willing to go atleast that far if anyone else wants to.

    This first chapter was not that great.
    I know Fritz can do better then that.

    I thought it got more exciting at the end.
    It was interesting to know he will run from a fight if it's a stupid fight.
    Being haunted by his dad was ok. It shows how his mother was psychologically torturing him by putting the tent over his grave.

    He never really seemed to be that loyal to his girlfriend. He was halfhearted in wanting her to come along, at best. The problem is she was born and raised a snow woman, and she's learned man torturing snow woman ways.

    Using rockets in his sled jump was pretty goofy. The cover on my book reminds me a bit of Will Ferrel, and that scene could easily be from in a Will Ferrel movie.

    I didn't realize the order the books were written.
    Makes me want to keep going to get to the good stuff.

    I kind of was going back and forth wondering if the women were just trying to trick their men into thinking they had powers just to keep them in line.
    At the end I thought they really did have something. Still, it's biggest use seems to be to keep men in their place.

    I never read Conan, but I like most of the older stuff to.
    This story is more cheeky.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2012
  14. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    Non-Spoiler Post!

    SECOND STORY: "The Unholy Grail"

    Welcome to discussion for the second story in the "Swords and Deviltry" anthology! "The Unholy Grail" is a very short story, so we will not be breaking the discussion up into chapters; instead, you can now go ahead with discussing the entire story!

    Comments?!

    Also, as a reminder, you can now begin reading the last story in the "Swords and Deviltry" anthology, titled "Ill Met by Lankhmar"! Discussion for it will begin one week from today!
     
  15. Gatomon41

    Gatomon41 Call To Rebellion

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    Well, I managed to get things settled with reality to get re3ading this book (at last)!
     
  16. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    Well, I finished up "The Unholy Grail" a couple nights ago. I have to say, it was better than "The Snow Women", but the abrupt ending was a let down, it needed just a few more details (maybe an epilogue) to bring it to a proper close. And I'm not sure where this "Grail" supposedly is, in the story...but hey, I guess it was a metaphor.

    The plot is simple enough: Local evil Duke kills peaceful wizard, wizard's apprentice vows revenge, the Duke's daughter loves the wizard's apprentice, but is fearful of her father, wizard apprentice eventually kills the Duke and rides off into the sunset with the love interest.

    The intricacy comes in the plot details. The Duke's tyranny stems out of his disfunctional relationship with his deceased wife. Mouse's embracing of the dark side knowing full well it would displease his former master (a bit too Vader-ish, perhaps). And Ivrian, with her living her total life in fear, it felt like she was the true star of the story, or so it felt to me.

    The problem is, what you hope for in a story like this is for the person living in fear to find courage by the climax of the book. Instead, Mouse uses her to be his instrument to cast one final spell, killing the Duke. And I suppose it was a type of courage she displayed (as she couldn't have known Mouse was going to channel a spell through her body): she was granting what she thought was Mouse's final wish, showing up in her mother's outfit and staring coldly at Mouse by her father's side. That's what Mouse said he wanted.

    But in the aftermath of the Duke's death, I really think the scene could've used some words spoken between Mouse and Ivrian: "Hey, you jerk, you used me to cast dark magic!", something like that...and they leave together, so I guess she still loves Mouse...but I'm left wondering if it's more love or fear that keeps her at his side.

    The most memorable line of dialogue came when Ivrian confronted Mouse at the cave as he was casting a dark incantation. She admitted to him that she feared what had become of him, but went on to say that she feared everything. That was the highlight of the story, two young lovers being honest with each other.

    The story just needed a better ending, that's all. I've brought Conan up before, but I will say this: even though she was written as a cowardly weakling, Ivrian's behavoir was written better than many of the "damsel in distress" women that populate some of the Conan stories. So this story has that going for it at least.

    Still, I look forward to reading "Ill Met" next! :)
     
  17. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    Non-Spoiler Post!

    THIRD STORY: "Ill Met In Lankhmar"


    Welcome to the Week 1 of reading "Ill Met In Lankhmar", the third and final story in the "Swords and Deviltry" anthology, and the "Hugo" award winning novelette! As "Ill Met In Lankhmar" is a story just under 100 pages in length, discussion will be confined for this first week to the first 50 pages. The last half of the short story should not be discussed until next week.

    Comments?!
     
  18. Aquadementia

    Aquadementia That's a lot of Mulaney!

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    Part two was much better.

    The magic becomes substantial and more interesting.

    Both stories mostly served to tell what was the kick in the pants needed to get them out the door that start these two on their road to adventure.
    Fafhrd could have made piece with his situation and the upright thing to do would have been to stay and be a good father and husband. But he was just too horny for adventure.

    Mouser had much more reason to get moving.
    If this story ended abruptly I guess it's because their story continues in part three.

    She was always a tool. The Duke used her as a tool to kill the wizard, capture Mouse and Mouse used her as a tool to get his revenge. I think the book uses her as a tool for Mouse to feel betrayed.

    Mouse didn't really give himself over to the darkside. With his mentor gone he wasn't so restricted to his lily white path and took the risk of using a little black magic as his only means of getting justice and doing away with a cruel man. He's only grey to deal with a moral ambiguous world. He had some real hatred to work thorough but lacks the drive to stay on either path.
    Unlike Irvian's mother, who delighted in wickedness or Glavas Rho who could was fine spending his days observing bees. Neither path is going to be much fun for most people.

    She's kind of gotten to know him over the years and can't think he's all bad. Not when compared to her parents who really were all bad. Plus she must have some guilt in being used to such ends. But mostly she's been beaten down all her life and he's the only thing left of the one good thing she had going.
     
  19. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    Well, I'll just say that I was left much more interested in what Ivrian's fate is going to be over Vlana's, after finishing "The Snow Women".

    So I'm about 40 to 45 pages into "Ill Met", at the halfway point, I believe. I'm glad that we decided to read the earlier stories first, and not just go straight to "Ill Met", as I would've been a little lost. This really does feel like a continuation of the plot of the earlier two stories, so it's a little more than just a standalone tale of the two heroes first adventure together.

    I just finished the part where Mouser and Fafhrd were talked into going to scout out the thieves guild. That was unexpected: the due was heading back from the bar to tell Vlana not to pursue vengeance recklessly, only to be talked into being reckless themselves. And you can tell that earlier in the evening, both Ivrian and Vlana feared the men getting drunk, but Ivrian's own drunken state is what pushed them over the edge.

    Most of interest to me: I had expected the Mouser and Ivrian to be the couple whose relationship was more dysfunctional, but it appears that Fafhrd and Vlana's relationship has already proven to be disasterous. Vlana appears to be borderline psychotic, while Fafhrd's come to regret agreeing to join her in what he now realizes is a suicide pact. Just goes to show, if you're going to die for a "worthy" cause, you better believe in that cause. I'm not sure that Vlana understands what her hatred is leading towards. Fafhrd does, but being called a coward was the last straw.

    The stage has been set for the last half of this story, and while I'm pretty confident I know what's about to unfold, I'm interested to see what twists the 2nd half of the story has to offer.
     
  20. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    Non-spoiler post!

    "Swords and Deviltry" Conclusion!

    Welcome to the 2nd week of discussion for the story "Ill Met In Lankhmar". Discussion can now be expanded to cover the entire "Ill Met" short story. The entire "Swords and Deviltry" novel can now be discussed!
     

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