Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin.
And a cold-blooded killer.
His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world.
But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good. . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.
The international hit that inspired the video game: The Witcher. (Goodreads)
The Last Wish is the first book of The Witcher series, more popularly known as a video game with the same title and praised by critiques due to its immersive world, rich characters, dark story, and impressive pornography. The novel is written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and was first released as a series of short stories in the 90s. It was not until 2007 when the novel was translated into English and recently, this February, Orbit Books revealed the cover of the fourth novel, The Tower of Swallows. A good time to be fan and for me, who couldn’t finish a single video game without screaming, it is an opportunity to explore the franchise without raging in front of a screen.
The Last Wish is a collection of six stories detailing the adventures of Geralt, a Witcher. A Witcher is a specially trained person who hunts monsters for money. Throughout the book, we read Geralt’s encounters with several creatures, not all of them entirely monsters. The frame narrative of the book, The Voice of Reason, takes place at the temple of Melitele where Geralt is healing his wounds after his fight with a striga.
The stories are as follows:
The Witcher. The story introduces us to Geralt and his world where not everything is what it seems to be. Geralt is hired to hunt a Striga, rumored to be the king’s cursed daughter and finds himself entangled under the kingdom’s politics. A serious yet fascinating intro for the character and his work.
A Grain of Truth. After discovering a corpse on his way, Geralt decides to investigate and finds himself in an old mansion owned by a beast called Nievellen. The story takes a twist on fairytales, particularly on Beauty and the Beast. With an immersive story and amazing dialogues, the story will certainly keep you hooked and pondering.
The Lesser Evil. Geralt rides into Blaviken to sell a Kikimore carcass and reunites with a friend, Caldemeyn, the town’s alderman. After hearing of a Master Irion, a wizard, staying in the town, Geralt sets to the mage’s tower and discover that the master is an old companion named Stregobor, who is now running away from a monster who wants to kill him. A grim retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a message about morality.
A Question of Price. My favorite. Geralt disguises as a nobleman to attend a banquet under the Queen Calanthe. A story full witty lines and lots and lots of surprises, it was a funny and intriguing read of love, magic, and plain bad-assery.
The Edge of the World. Where Geralt and Dandelion (friend and bard) reminisces their travel at the edge of the world. The edge of the world is apparently a town called Posada, rich in land and harvest. The town is haunted by a deovel who’s been stealing crops and creating mischief all over the town. A tale about coping up with change, The Edge is another thought-provoking read.
“People”—Geralt turned his head—“like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves. When they get blind-drunk, cheat, steal, beat their wives, starve an old woman, when they kill a trapped fox with an axe or riddle the last existing unicorn with arrows, they like to think that the Bane entering cottages at daybreak is more monstrous than they are. They feel better then. They find it easier to live.”
The Last Wish. And we come upon the title of the book. While fishing (and trying not to scratch each other’s throats at the same time), Geralt and Dandelion find a vase and accidentally lets out a Djinni, who proceeds to strangle the bard. They seek help from the sorceress Yennefer, who seems to have plans to take the Djinni for herself.
Overall, The Last Wish was a pleasant diversion from long reads. It subverts fantasy elements and fairytales, delivering something familiar yet different at the same time. I like how diverse the cast could be, from humans to elves to vampires and devils and not all of them are what they seem to be. While most short story collections could get dull in the long run, The Last Wish was consistently fresh and entertaining, full of twists to keep you grinning with Sapkowski’s playful attempt on the genre and its tropes.
The Verdict: Four out of Five Hunny Pots
✓ A diverse cast of characters
✓ Subverts fantasy and fairytale elements and its tropes
✓ Thought-provoking messages about morality, change and human nature
✓ No dull moments. Like, really.
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About the Author:
Andrzej Sapkowski, born June 21, 1948 in Łódź, is a Polish fantasy writer. Sapkowski studied economics, and before turning to writing, he had worked as a senior sales representative for a foreign trade company. His first short story, The Witcher (Wiedźmin), was published in Fantastyka, Poland’s leading fantasy literary magazine, in 1986 and was enormously successful both with readers and critics. Sapkowski has created a cycle of tales based on the world of The Witcher, comprising three collections of short stories and five novels. This cycle and his many other works have made him one of the best-known fantasy authors in Poland in the 1990s. Website