Review; Swords Against Wizardry By Fritz Leiber

Bryan Dyke

Image result for swords against wizardry

2/5 stars

This is an incomplete review because I quit with about 50 pages left. I just couldn’t do it. Not a fan of this book, and the overall issues with structure and writing style will probably discourage me from undertaking any more Fritz Leiber.

For starters, this is a short length volume of a couple hundred pages. The thing languished in my bag, however, for weeks on end, and each session was an ordeal. “Stardock” is a decent yarn, albeit a bit of a miss near the end.

Leiber is considered a godfather of the genre, even going so far as to coin the term “Sword and Sorcery” , though Robert E Howard is almost universally seen as the strongest entity from that class. For reference, I am a huge Howard fan, warts and all, but Leiber’s style is a far cry from that swarthy Texan, and what he does here just doesn’t work for me.

I’m sure some will find a quality in the writing. I see mostly good reviews of this book, which is great….different strokes, I guess. For me, the prose dips and dives and dances, yet often meanders into a confused mud puddle of hogwash. Truthfully, I can’t tell what the hell is going on half the time nor where the story is going. (and not in a good way) I found myself spacing out and thinking of other books I’d like to read or something even more exciting…like taxes, for that matter.

Let me get this straight; I really wanted to like this. Leiber was pals with Lovecraft (who I love) and came from that whole Lin Carter (who I’m mixed on) Moorcock conflagration which I thought was a fun era.

I think Fafhrd and the Mouser are a killer concept for fiction and have great potential. Admittedly, the comedy and jokes do, at times, line up and there are some ribald moments of enjoyment here. Again, wanted so bad to enjoy this. (did not)

Yet sometimes, even what works gets defeated by other factors in the book. Take for example “Stardock”, which ends with the heroes “banging” some invisible maidens and scoring a pouch of invisible gems….it’s a killer ending and one that did well enough for the tale, invisible gems…hehe. Leiber, however, stretches it out in the next story, which although isn’t terrible…waters down a good idea.

Lords of Quarmall was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. It’s long, lousy and frivolous, and the usual back and forth between Mouser and old Fafs is absent, thus a bore. In the end, I had to tap out on ol’ Fritz, all the while being confused that I could, at long last, not like some stuff from this era (Heck I even like John Jake’s Brak).

Not my cup of tea overall…very sad to say.


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