Looking for some weekend reading? In no particular order, here are five fantastic (in both senses of the word) stories well worth seeking out:
"How the lack of money leads to a lack of love, even among sworn comrades." When Fafhrd and Gray Mouser are the sworn comrades in question, what happens next certainly isn't dull. Mouser goes to work for an unusual extortionist, and Fafhrd gets religion! A clever, colorful, and genuinely funny tale. One of Leiber's best tales of the twain--and that's high praise, indeed.
Find it in: Swords Against Death: The Adventures of Fafhrd & Gray Mouser Book 2
"Worms of the Earth" by Robert E. Howard
Bran Mak Morn, last king of the Picts, wants revenge against the hated Roman invaders, and he's willing to bargain with an ancient, inhuman enemy to get it. This is one of Howard's best stories--combining action and horror, in one effective package.
Find it in: Bran Mak Morn: The Last King
This was technically science fiction when it was written, but advancing knowledge of the solar system has rendered Brackett's pulp view quaint. Too bad for us in the real world. Eric John Stark, Brackett's hard-boiled, outlaw hero, is an earth-man raised by primitives on Mercury like an interplanetary Tarzan. Stark is forced to cut a deal with authorities to infiltrate and disrupt a plot by Martian desert tribesmen and criminal elements to ferment a rebellion against the Terran colonial powers. In the process, Stark will uncover a startling secret, surviving from ancient Mars.
Find it in: expanded form as the novel, The Secret of Sinharat.
This story features Kane, Wagner's version of the Biblical first murderer, cursed by a mad god to wander a sword & sorcery pre-history, knowing only violence. Kane's often more of anti-hero--a trait this story well illustrates. A ship's captain falls for a beautiful woman kept by a powerful sorcerer, and at her urging, hatches a dangerous plot to free her. But all is not what it seems. The sorcerer is Kane, and this whole drama of doomed love, manipulation, and death, may have played out before.
Find it in: The Midnight Sun: The Complete Stories of Kane, or Night Winds (both unfortunately out of print--and probably pricey).
In fabled Hyperborea, Ralibar Vooz, high magistrate of Commoriom, is having one seriously bad day. He has magical compulsions, seven in all, laid upon him by a succession of ever more dire supernatural entities. All the while, Smith will "wow" you with his ceaseless invention, ironic humor, and lush prose.
Find it in: The Return of the Sorcerer: The Best of Clark Ashton Smith or here--for free--on the Eldritch Dark website.
Find and enjoy!
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