Movies I’d Like to See – The Fantasy Series

Seems that these days, all the fantasy movies and series are based on Tolkien or similar epics, or some YA stories about wizard schools. They can be fine, but they get repetitive after a while.

As it happens, there’s a bunch of fantasy stories that, as far as I know, have never been adapted to a video medium. They deal with the adventures of two, well, “rogues” is what most would call them, but they aren’t anti-heroes or ne’er-do-wells or anything like that. They are just two great friends who travel their world looking for adventure and enough money to buy a round of drinks at the nearest tavern, and perhaps invite one or two of the ladies there up to their room. They are adult men, after all.

I’m referring to Fritz Leiber’s “Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser” stories.

First appearing in 1939, Leiber penned their tales up into the 1980s. Fafhrd (pronounced FAF-erd) is a very tall (nearly seven feet) “northern barbarian”; the Grey Mouser (no other name is known) is significantly shorter. The milieu is Late Iron Age or Early Medieval. Non-humans are rare, if they ever appear. Instead of the “zap them with a wand” or “blast them with a bolt of fire” type of magic, it’s more the wizard in his lair casting a complex incantation to affect things at a distance.

What really sets the tales apart is that they are set in a “real” world. None of the isolated castles or segregated little villages that we’re used to; instead there’s a thriving realm of kingdoms and city states with an interconnected economy:

Nehwon’s known realms crowd about the Inner Sea: northward the green-forested fierce Land of the Eight Cities, eastward the steppe-dwelling Mingol horsemen and the desert where caravans creep from the rich Eastern Lands and the River Tilth. But southward, linked to the desert only by the Sinking Land and further warded by the Great Dike and the Mountains of Hunger, are the rich grain fields and walled cities of Lankhmar, eldest and chiefest of Nehwon’s lands. Dominating the Land of Lankhmar and crouching at the silty mouth of the River Hlal in a secure corner between the grain fields, the Great Salt Marsh, and the Inner Sea is the massive-walled and mazy-alleyed metropolis of Lankhmar, thick with thieves and shaven priests, lean-framed magicians and fat-bellied merchants—Lankhmar the Imperishable, the City of the Black Toga.

– “Induction”

Real places, inhabited by real people, going about their business:

Some distance in that direction, in fact just short of the Gold Street intersection, Cash was bridged by an enclosed second story passageway connecting the two buildings which made up the premises of the famous stone-masons and sculptors Rokkermas and Slaarg. The firm’s buildings themselves were fronted by very shallow porticos supported by unnecessarily large pillars of varied shape and decoration, advertisements more than structural members.

– “Ill Met in Lankhmar”

None of these villages of tiny huts ruled over by a cruel and distant overlord that fill up the usual “Sword and Sorcery” films.

The duo have appeared in comic books, and there’s even a role-playing game set in the Lankhmar milieu. Plenty of good background material to draw from for any potential screenwriter.

About the only real difficulty I can see is that the two leads are markedly different in height – and you’re not likely to get two willing actors who will match that.


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