April 6th, 2016

Macbeth the Usurper

Swords and Ice Magic

Swords and Ice Magic (1977) marks the sixth collection of Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories. I found this book to contain two halves: the confusing first half, and the Rime Island set of stories, which beyond my own belief, I found engaging and sincere.

I do not overstate just how storyless some of these stories were, and how inane. I found them so utterly lacking that I expected to give this collection two stars, with prejudice.

Then there was the second half, the stories about Rime Island, the stories where Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser were a little older and a little wiser. In these stories, Leiber took took out his tongue so fully planted in his cheek, and instead told a more sincere story. The women were real, the men weren't the center of the world, everyone gets a little scarred, and the story almost has something resembling an ending. Almost. Somehow, the man almost (keyword almost) wrote a story without confusion, where all motivations were plain, and nobody existed as a physical manifestation of jest.

Shame it took him so long to get this far. I blame the editor for his last book, who used a baseball bat to beat some story sense into him. It obviously worked. The days of slipshod story writing was over, and even veterans like Leiber had to step up to a more challenging market.