This book collects two novellas, one short story and about a page long Induction. The Induction gives a short overview of the world of Nehwon and the main characters and also a fine taste of Leiber’s complicated writing style. The first novella, the Snow Women, tells the story of how the tall and strong young Fafhrd of the Northern Snow clan defies his mother, the Queen of Witches, his pregnant girlfriend, and icy sorcery to escape to civilization with the lovely actress Vlana. The short story, the Unholy Grail, tells about the apprentice wizard Mouse who avenges the death of his master and rescues his girl from the clutches of a cruel baron who happens to be her father and in the process the Mouse become the Gray Mouser. In the last novella, Ill met in Lankhmar, the intrepid pair becomes fast friends and are suckered into defying the mighty Thieves Guild of Lankhmar while they are drunk out of their minds.

All of the stories have a humorous overtone even though they are definitely not comedies. The Unholy Grail is the most serious one of the bunch and deals with black magic and all other sorts of villainy. Leiber’s writing style is surprisingly complex: he uses lots of imbedded clauses, very long sentences, older words (well, sometimes he can’t really help it), and word forms such as “massive-walled” and “mazy-alleyed”.

Fafhrd, who is supposed to be a barbarian and is, indeed, called that a couple of times by the narrative voice, is the one of the pair who likes to read and values civilization above all things. Yet sometimes he displays superstitions. The Gray Mouser is a swordsman and a hedge wizard although he rarely uses his magical skills. He’s also described as dark skinned, no matter how he’s drawn on most covers.

Together they get into and out of lots of scrapes and usually their enemies are magical in nature – whether or not they are actually human or not.