Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Swords Of Lankhmar!


Swords of Lankhmar is the one full-blown Fafhrd and Gray Mouser novel. It's the only one in the canon and it's rather a cobblied together affair in its own right. It is one of the oldest tales in the canon, originally beginning its existence as "The Tale of the Grain Ships" in 1936 but never seeing publication. It was later revised as "Scylla's Daughter".


The Swords of Lankhmar (novel 1968-first part published as Scylla’s Daughter (novella 1961 Fantastic)

"Scylla's Daughter" is the first half of the story which would become Swords from Lankhmar. It concerns itself with a small flotilla of ships carrying grain from Lankhmar to a neighboring territory. Aboard the ship are some bizarre representatives of that land but no less strange is the enormous sea serpent which accosts the ships. It's a serpent with a rider who hails from a far distant land and speaks German. After these events our heroes return to Lankhmar and discover that a whole subculture of rats (with human looking and quite attractive representatives) have invaded the city which leads to the Mouser getting small and investigating at rat size, but it turns out only some bizarre godlike cats can save the day.


It's a strange strange tale which unravels at a rather leisurely and frankly uneven pace. The first half and the second half of the story are not all that cohesive save for the repetition of key characters. I wish I liked the novel better than I do, but despite being filled with some delightful and bizarre scenes it fails to deliver on a complete story which feels up to true novel length in narration or theme.

One thing which will become an increasing part of the Fafhrd and Mouser tales going forward is a real sense of continuity, a memory for what has gone before. To this point Leiber had sort of forced the tales into a framework of such continuity, but at this point with new material being produced all the time, that sense will only grow stronger.


More to come next week.

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