Swords Against Wizardry

Fritz Leiber


In the annals of heroic fantasy we can debate which series comes in for the lofty rating of second all the way down to ninety-nine and we would still be talking about worthy books. (There have been an awful lot written.) As a matter of fact, instead of trying to enumerate them which ultimately leads to discussions of Elric versus Corum (which is really fiery young Moorcock who would change the world versus the most complete British fantasist of our lifetime). Or we can make everyone happy and just say that 2-99 are a tie following the clear winner, which is of course, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.
      Can we really be at Book Four already? Half-way through the series which Centipede Press is releasing as what will no doubt be the definitive eight-volume set comprising not only all of the stories by Fritz Leiber (and his friend Harry Fischer), but also the brilliant epilogue to the series, Swords Against the Shadowland by Robin Wayne Bailey.
      As may be expected from Centipede Press, these are archival editions, lavishly illustrated and featuring guest introductions from some of the top writers in the field. Book four, Swords Against Wizardry, has a new introduction by John Pelan and stunning color and black & white artwork by Jim & Ruth Keegan.
      Fafhrd and the Mouser are not innocents; their world is no land of honor and righteousness. It is a world of human complexities and violent action, of discovery and mystery, of swords and sorcery. With Swords Against Wizardry, the story unfolds behind the curtain in the Witch’s Tent. Fafhrd and Gray Mouser are there to consult a sorceress who holds the secret to their escape, but when would they ever need to escape? Would they need this knowledge when they journey to Stardock? Where is there to escape up there? No doubt the icy seduction of “the cruel one,” with her greed for both gore and graciousness, could offer them several ways out. Their luck has been good so far; one way out should work. Their luck continues as thieves. They are the best thieves in Lankhmar until better positions arise: the Lords of Quarmall. Gray Mouser and Fafhrd steal a kingdom within a hill and declare themselves lords.

The fourth book in the series, Swords Against Wizardry, includes “In the Witch’s Tent,” “Stardock,” “The Two Best Thieves in Lankhmar,” and “The Lords of Quarmall.” In addition, there is a lengthy biographical piece, “Fafhrd & Me” by Fritz Leiber, three other short essays by Fritz Leiber, plus Leiber’s obituaries of the Fischers, two essays by Harry O. Fischer (including the rare “The Original Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser,” another essay by Franklin C. MacKnight (“The Formative Years of Fafhrd and the Mouser”) and an interview with Fritz Leiber by Darrell Schweitzer from the First World Fantasy Convention, Providence, Rhode Island, on November 1, 1975! Holy smoke!
      This book features an introduction by John Pelan and artwork by Jim & Ruth Keegan. It is signed by both of them and also has a family-approved facsimile signature by Fritz Leiber. It features four color interior illustrations, a full-color frontispiece, full color wraparound dustjacket, several black & white interior illustrations, and custom illustrated endpapers. The book includes all of the stories that make up Swords Against Wizardry along with the bonus material mentioned above.

edition information

  • Signed edition is limited to 300 copies, each signed by John Pelan and Jim & Ruth Keegan.
  • Bound in full black cloth, blind stamping on front board.
  • Illustrations hand-tipped into the book.
  • Introduction by John Pelan.
  • Gorgeous dustjacket on Mohawk Superfine.
  • Head and tail bands, ribbon marker.
  • Published January 2020.
  • ISBN 978-1-61347-178-4.
  • Book size 6 × 9 inches.
  • Number of pages: 328.