You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lean Times in Lankhmar

Lean Times in Lankhmar is the second in Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar series. Fafhrd, the lean Northerner, and the Gray Mouser, the nimble Lankhmar native, have several more adventures in and around the city. They also take a magical trip to the ancient Mediterranean.

The second story is called "Lean Times in Lankhmar", and the two adventurers have settled on other pursuits while waiting for more exciting work. The Gray Mouser becomes a hired hand in the employ of an extortionist, and Fafhrd finds a priest to a new god who's not yet well known and becomes an acolyte. The story rambles for a bit, to where the reader wonders what will become of the two friends. Fafhrd's priest comes to the attention of the Mouser's employer, and the two find themselves at odds. With a little luck they manage to find a way out of a tight bind, but end up sneaking out of the city for a while.

After an adventure under the ocean, the two find themselves walking through a deep passageway looking for Fafhrd's sorcerer patron Ningauble. Here Leiber uses a narrative trick where the two adventurers have their memories altered and end up in ancient Tyre, setting up an older story that he had written. I was dubious about this story at first, but it quickly consumed me. "Adept's Gambit" is about the adventure of the two as they try to solve the riddle of a curse they are under which makes any woman they kiss turn into an animal (except mysteriously for the Mouser's current girlfriend). Ningauble gives them advice and they travel with another mysterious woman (whom they don't date try to kiss) to find a necromancer who offers them magical power in exchange for obedience. The Gray Mouser manages to kill him, but then they must travel to an ancient fortress that houses his true power. The whole story is fascinating and filled with suspense and a good dose of dread, almost like a Stephen King story.

The second half of the book is taken up by two novellas, split by the short story "The Two Best Thieves in Lankhmar", a nice ironic fun romp. The first novella is "Stardock", which follows the two as they climb a high mountain in search of a stash of jewels promised in a discovered piece of paper. A good bit of this is slow going as the author goes into great detail about the climb and the troubles they face. When they get near they top they are pleased to discover treasure of a different kind, and a dire threat.

The final story is "The Lord of Quarmall", about two feuding princes in an underground kingdom, each of whom has hired one of the two adventurers as a champion against the other. There is a good dose of sorcery in this story, as well as damsels who may or may not be in distress, and more plot twists. The story is a little different than others in the book but in many ways is closer to some of my favorites in the first book. I enjoy the themes where the characters identities are hidden, and they must discover each other and figure out a way out of the mess.

Overall these stories were a pretty good following to the first volume. They are fun and exciting, and mixing the familiar and the new at the same time. Having the two friends separate and have to face each other is an interesting twist. I look forward to reading the next volume soon. A-


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