Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser share with such other successful series characters as Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, and Star Trek's Mr. Spock the appeal of the exotic personality rendered familiar. Neither is particularly deep, but Leiber has gradually given each of them enough quirks and peculiarities to make them considerably more complex than the simplistic barbarian heroes who dominate most sword and sorcery fiction, Robert E. Howard's Conan, for example, or John Jakes's Brak the Barbarian. In the early stories the two characters were little more than likable rogues, good-natured carousers, and sturdy adventurers but, like many long-running series characters, Fafhrd and the Mouser have subtly evolved over the years, becoming more world weary and cynical, perhaps reflecting Leiber's own life experience.
It is perhaps interesting to note that a number of the girlfriends who accompany Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser on their adventures are not entirely human. (Two of them are even transparent — their bones are visible through their skin.) Although Leiber is himself a feminist, the inability of men to understand women, the essential alienation of the two sexes, is a common theme in his work and has led him to any number of portrayals of woman as either literal or symbolic alien, among them the short stories "Coming Attraction" (1951), and "A Deskful of Girls," as well as the novel Conjure Wife (1953).
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