It is now 48 years since the first collection of stories featuring the heroic pair Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser appeared in book form. Fritz Lieber and his friend Harry Otto Fischer created the characters in 1934 and they first appeared in print in 1939 in the magazine Unknown.
Lieber and Fischer created the characters to try to give a more "real" heroes than Conan the Barbarian and Tarzan. Lieber wrote almost all of the stories and, starting in the mid-1960s, organized the many disparate stories published by that time and filled in the gaps in the storyline.
The first collection includes the most highly acclaimed story of the entire series, "Ill Met in Lankhmar", which won both the Hugo (1971) and Nebula (1970) awards. The stories, individually and in their collected form had a significant influence on the creators of the game Dungeons & Dragons. Some of the characters are actually included in some of the guide books for the game.
Lieber is one of the great writers of the fantasy genre and his characters Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser and many aspects of Lankhmar and the world Nehwon are seen in books and stories and characters scores of years removed. There are seven collections in book form but my favorite, for the aforementioned story which tells of the first meeting of the two heroes, is Swords and Deviltry.
Pawn of Prophecy is the first of a ten-volume epic fantasy first published in 1982. The set is broken into two five-volume groups The Belgariad and The Mallorean. It is high fantasy and quite literally designed around the concept of a Game of Destiny.
It does have many concepts of classic fantasy - a protagonist who does not know his destiny, swords, shapechangers, magic, gods, prophecy, and destiny. It does have multi-faceted characters as well like Kheldar who presents as a merchant but who is a spy, a prince, and a thief all wrapped into one.
Eddings paints a rich world with political intrigue, religion, and interaction between gods, humans, and magic. It lacks the language that Tolkien provides to his trilogy - no elvish or orcish - but in other aspects the world is perhaps even fuller.
Pawn of Prophecy is the coming of age story of Garion and introduces the full pantheon, including the evil antithesis Torak, and the varied "fellowship" that will carry through, with additions and subtractions, the next nine volumes in the battle between good (who sometimes have rifts to overcome) and evil.
David Eddings did have Tolkien in mind when he wrote the series; he was consciously trying to add elements to the classic epic fantasy of Tolkien. One sees this in the world of Aloria. One sees this in the story of Torak. And one sees it in the interplay of the characters and the religions.
This book has over 77,000 ratings on Goodreads with an average of 4.16. The other books of the series are also highly rated, all between 4.1 and 4.2. It is available on Biblio for as little as $3.94 including shipping.
For a variety of reasons I was only able to read Pan. This was truly unfortunate because K. R. Thompson has done a superb job spinning the prequels to Barrie's children's classic. We are brought into the world through Tinkerbell's eyes and see the roots of Peter's character as well as some background on Neverland in an extremely well-written and seamlessly integrated way with the original. Why does Peter Pan flit between depression and manic joy? What is the origin of the lost boys? Ever wonder about the crocodile? And then there's Captain Hook and the merpeople. Thompson brings the backstory to life. Five stars! Highly recommended! Read on!
Pan is available on Amazon and wherever fine books are sold. Look for the other titles in the series while you're there!
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)