Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oh, Thank Goodness!

Yesterday I finished "The Second Book of Lankhmar", by Fritz Leiber. I had been reading it basically since we got back from honeymoon, and while it was very good in places, I really didn't enjoy the whole.

"The Second Book of Lankhmar" was a compilation of three earlier books, the excellent "The Swords of Lankhmar", "Swords and Ice Magic", and "The Knight and Knave of Swords". These latter two were themselves compilations of short stories and novellas, of distinctly mixed quality.

For the most part, this was just a case of being a series that had gone on too long, and beyond the author's ability to sustain it. However, it was also true that as the series went on, the author really started indulging in... a different kind of fantasy.

Indeed, there were sections of the very last story that were really quite pornographic. (And by that, I don't mean "includes a sex scene", I mean "includes a sex scene that serves no purpose in the plot beyond having a sex scene" - "A Game of Thrones" contains material that is far worse in content, but which is essential to the plot, and so I find it less objectionable. This was just inappropriate... and it was poorly written pornography, to boot.)

Unfortunately, by the time I got to that point I was more than 400 pages into a 694-page book - I wasn't going to be beaten by it!

Anyway, I've now finished, and moved on to something that is (hopefully) a lot better - Bernard Cornwell's latest paperback.

As for Leiber - I recommend reading some of his stories. But don't be tricked into reading all of them, or even all of either of the two "Books" - read some reviews first, and pick out a subset to read from there. He's worth reading... but only in part.

#20: "The Second Book of Lankhmar", by Fritz Leiber

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