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Swords and Ice Magic : Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser Book 6
While Lord of the Rings took the world by storm, Fritz Leiber's fantastic but thoroughly flawed anti-heroes, Nordic Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, adventured and stumbled deep within the caves of Inner Earth as well. They wondered and wandered to the edges of the Outer Sea, across the Land of Nehwon and throughout every nook and cranny of gothic Lankhmar, Nehwon's grandest and most mystically corrupt city. Lankhmar is Leiber's fully realized vivid incarnation of urban decay and civilization's corroding effect on the human psyche. Fafhrd and Mouse are not innocents; their world is no land of honor and righteousness. It is a world of human complexities and violent action, of discovery and mystery, of swords and sorcery. In Swords and Ice Magic, Fafhrd and Gray Mouser discover how the sadness of The Executioner creates a macabre dance from the point of view of the choreographer. Beauties and beasts explain the dual nature of all life's creatures. And trapped in The Shadowland, our dogmatic duo find the duality of swords and needles, maps and territories, girls and demons ... and gods, they learn of the mischievous vanity of the gods. Lost at sea, Gray Mouser becomes a natural philosopher, drifting, captive of the Great Equatorial Current. He wonders about fire and ice, about women and men until they arrive at Rime Isle, a tragic comedy of a place, wandering Gods and restless mortals, a comedy with puppets and puppet-masters.
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January 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Swords and Ice Magic by Fritz Leiber
There was a sky that was always gray.
There was a place that was always far away.
There was a being who was always sad.
Sitting on his dark-cushioned, modest throne in his low, rambling castle in the heart of the Shadowland, Death shook his pale head and pommeled a little his opalescent temples and slightly pursed his lips, which were the color of violet grapes with the silvery bloom still on, above his slender figure armored in chain mail and his black belt, studded with silver skulls tarnished almost as black, from which hung his naked, irresistible sword.
He was a relatively minor death, only the Death of the World of Nehwon, but he had his problems. Tenscore flickering or flaring human lives to have their wicks pinched in the next twenty heartbeats. And although the heartbeats of Death resound like a leaden bell far underground and each has a little of eternity in it, yet they do finally pass. Only nineteen left now. And the Lords of Necessity, who outrank Death, still to be satisfied.
Let's see, thought Death with a vast coolness that yet had a tiny seething in it, one hundred sixty peasants and savages, twenty nomads, ten warriors, two beggars, a whore, a merchant, a priest, an aristocrat, a craftsman, a king, and two heroes. That would keep his books straight.
Within three heartbeats he had chosen one hundred and ninety-six of the tenscore and unleased their banes upon them: chiefly invisible, poisonous creatures within their flesh which suddenly began to multiply into resistless hordes, here a dark and bulky bloodclot set loose with feather touch to glide through a vein and block a vital portal, there a long-eroded artery wall tunneled through at last; sometimes slippery slime oozing purposefully onto the next footrest of a climber, sometimes an adder told where to wriggle and when to strike, or a spider where to lurk.