As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was planning on reading the first three collections of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series. Unfortunately, things did not go according to my plan. “The Snow Women” happened. Comedic deconstruction happened. I did read all of Swords Against Death, however.
So, speaking of Swords Against Death, I have to say that I have mixed feelings. I liked the tales in the collection. But all of them seemed to be missing something. It felt like a more thrilling narrative lay just beyond the horizon and Leiber never explored that avenue. Some of the narratives are not like that, “The Seven Black Priests” and “The Bazaar of the Bizarre” come to mind. But others like “The Sunken Land” and “The Price of Pain Ease” seem incomplete.
This got me thinking, what is my problem with Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser? I have to say that it is the same problem I have with Terry Prattchet. I am no fan of comedic deconstruction.
For the sake of this post, I will do a very stupid thing and posit two types of deconstruction. The first type is serious and challenging. It takes standard tropes and challenges them, forcing the reader to look at things in a new and often uncomfortable way. This is China Mieville territory. And then there is the satiric form of deconstruction. In this case, the challenge is presented as an exaggeration. The narrative is made ridiculous. This is what Prattchet excels at. And I dislike it utterly.
So that is my problem with Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. I want more action, more seriousness. Not wittily pretentious dialogue, not ridiculous capers.
This does not mean that I may not return to Nehwon at some point but not right now.