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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Sword of Sorcery 1 - Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser begin

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are, apparently, really well known and important characters in the history of fantasy literature. For me, they are two characters who may as well have debuted in the pages of Wonder Woman in 1972, and then got launched in their own series in the pages of Sword of Sorcery, which began with a Feb/March 1973 issue.

Ok, fine, I do admit that the Denny O'Neil/Howard Chaykin story does credit that the characters were created by Fritz Lieber, and that the story in this issue is based on his tale "The Prince of Pain Ease." Thank to Wikipedia I learned that these stories are really quite old, and laid the format for fantasy novels, which I guess is why they feel kind of formulaic. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser steal from nobles and thieves, they drink and whore, and seem to have no allegiance to any besides themselves.

They break into a noble's palace at the top of the story, but a mysterious unicorn comes to take them to safety.

They get brought to two rival wizards, both of whom want the shield of Death. Each one requests that one of the duo bring it to them.

So the story is designed to pit the friends against each other, and they do fight for a bit, though their hearts don't seem to be in it. But then the prince whose place they broke into shows up, also wanting the mask.

Death shows up finally and kills the prince, which lets the Mouser steal the mask while Death is distracted. The pair head off, and Mouer gives half the mask to Fafhrd to give to his wizard.

It's Chaykin's art that makes this impressive.

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