I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
SWORDS IN THE MIST, book three in the Lankhmar series, thrusts our indentured sword-swinging servants into the question of hate, its power and its purpose. You see, it happens to be lean times in Lankhmar, illuminating that link between money and love. Luckily, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser don't always believe in love. When Lankhmar gets too gritty, our travelers take to their other, less harsh mistress, the Sea. But the Sea can play tricks on men, and so can the Sea King. He can break a man or worse yet, curse him. But when he's away it's all play for the formidable swordsmen and the Triple Goddess...and two luscious sea queens. But luck may not always be there as they discover on the way to Ningauble, their wizard employer. After a long journey in defense of their control over their own fates, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser find themselves pawns in a life and death chess game, all of Lankhmar being the pieces. How many pawns will be left on the board before someone wins?
This third book in the series was slightly less enjoyable for me than the first two--but I still found it easy to read and inviting to return to after setting it down to attend to life. I think that's because of Leiber's writing--the man had a vocabulary and wasn't afraid to use it. Plus he takes well-worn story lines and give them his own spin.
It also doesn't hurt that Fafhrd and the Mouser are good-hearted rogues. Despite a parting of the ways between them in this volume, it becomes obvious that they are still, in fact, a team. They may live on the wrong side of the law, but their loyalties to friends, employers, and each other hold solid.
Beautiful writing always wins my heart.