Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ill Met in Lankhmar

After picking up and reviewing Through Ningauble's Cave, the first DCC sourcebook for Lankhmar, I decided that I really needed to actually read some of Fritz Leiber's tales, and as I owned Ill Met in Lankhmar, I did. And it was good stuff!

Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar series established the sword-swinging, maiden-rescuing, chivalrous, high adventure that has been the mainstay of the fantasy genre ever since. White Wolf presents the entire seven-novelette Lankhmar series in four volumes.The two greatest heroes ever are back, proving why Fritz Leiber is a literary legend. Join Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser as they take you on unforgettable adventures. Includes Swords and Deviltry and Swords Against Death.

Now it's been over a year since I actually finished reading this volume, but what really sticks with me are the characters of Fafhrd, the Grey Mouser, and Lankhmar. All three are amazingly familiar to me, in large part because they are such archetypes that have been copied and tweaked over the decades since Leiber coined the term "Sword and Sorcery." Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are vibrant characters full of skill, luck, and flaws, and astonishingly human. They make stupid choices, keep secrets, and have each others' backs all while adventuring their was in and around Lankhmar itself.

And speaking of Lankhmar itself, what a city! Sprawling, congested, twisting streets barely concealing the crime and corruption that infests it. It's either insanely decadent and crushingly poor, depending on what section of the city you're in. The streets are evocatively (and usually aptly) named, and the locations are straight out of a D&D game. One story, The Bazaar of the Bizarre features a marketplace that feels like it was inspired by the poem Goblin Market and served as the template for the troll market in Hellboy 2!

At the same time, because this is one of the cornerstones of modern fantasy, it sometimes feels overly familiar. Yet reading the original prose is most definitely worth it. Of course what brings me back to it now is the fact that Goodman Games is running a kickstarter for the big release of the Lankhmar box set for DCC. Might be worth checking out if you're a fan of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser!

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