Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are two seminal sword-and-sorcery heroes created by, and loosely modelled upon, Fritz Leiber (1910–1992) and his friend Harry Otto Fischer (1910-1986). They are the protagonists of what are probably Leiber's best-known stories.
One of Leiber's original motives was to have a couple of fantasy heroes closer to true human stature than the likes of Howard's Conan the Barbarian or Burroughs's Tarzan. Fafhrd is a tall (seven feet) northern barbarian; Mouser is a small, mercurial thief, once known as Mouse and a former wizard's apprentice. Both are rogues, existing with a decadent world where to be so is a requirement of survival. They spend a lot of time drinking, feasting, wenching, brawling, stealing, and gambling, and are seldom fussy about to whom they hire their swords. But they are humane and — most of all — relish true adventure.
The tales are for the most part set in the mythical world of Nehwon (although one story takes place on Earth), many of them in and around its greatest city, Lankhmar. It is described as "a world like and unlike our own". Theorists in Nehwon believe that it may be shaped like a bubble, floating in the waters of eternity.
The series includes many outlandish characters. The two who most influence—and, some would say, cause the most trouble for—Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are their sorcerous advisors, Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face. These two lead the two heroes into some of their most interesting and dangerous adventures.
The first story appeared in Unknown in 1939 and the last in The Knight and Knave of Swords in 1988. Leiber wrote all the stories except for 10,000 words of The Lords of Quarmall that were penned by Harry Otto Fischer in 1964. The stories' style and tone vary considerably, but nearly all contain an often dark sense of humour, which ranges from the subtle and character-based to the Pythonesque. The earlier tales owe as much to Clark Ashton Smith as to Robert E. Howard.
Sheelba of the Eyeless Face is one of two wizards in Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The patron warlock of the Gray Mouser, Sheelba is so named due to her perfectly dark hooded face. Along with Fafhrd's patron warlock, Ningauble of the Seven Eyes, Sheelba often sends her hapless minion on ludicrous missions such as to recover the mask of Death or to steal the very stars from the top of the highest mountain.
Sheelba's house is a small hut which strides about the swamps not far from Lankhmar on four posts which bend and scuttle not unlike the legs of a great crab or spider..