Book Review: The Last Wish (Introducing The Witcher), by Andrzej Sapkowski

I’ve watched The Witcher TV series first, and since my wife wanted to watch it again ahead of season 2 it was high time to read the books.

What to Expect

Six short stories / novelettes introducing us to the world of the Witcher, glued together with interludes that make for a seventh. We get glimpses into Geralt’s character, his companions, his world.

The TV series is based (loosely, like most adaptations) on both these short stories and the start of the saga (Blood of Elves, book 3). If you found it a bit confusing, the books will certainly help give you more depth and background into the stories, which will make the TV series more entertaining.

What I liked

I loved the premise, and how even from the start Sapkowski establishes both Geralt’s dangerous-brooding-loner character, and yet his humanity – which is often deeper than that of the ‘normal’ people who reject him as a mutant. While his character is taciturn and not immediately relatable, he grows on you quite rapidly.

The world-building is excellent, with complex magic system (the witcher has access to some, but the mages seem to employ a more diverse; definitely something I’d like to see explored in more depth later), and interesting monsters based on Eastern European folklore (although others, from Celtic to Greek, as mentioned as well).

What to be aware of

This is a collection of shorts, so don’t expect an epic. While the prose is good and plot moves at a good clip, the build-up to resolution is also quick. Don’t expect to find the series – not only have they modified the stories significantly, but they also made it more dramatic than the books.

Felix’s Review

Felix took these stories as a clear benefit for the advancement of civilisation. While his world contains plenty of monsters, the legions bring not only baths and taxes but also the pax – the peace that comes with Egretia’s protection from both warring neighbours and rampaging critters. There are also significantly less monsters inside cities (the incident with the salamander in the sewers notwithstanding).

Other than that, Felix was quite supportive of Geralt and his chosen profession. He’d like to have a quiet word over wine, exchanging professional notes and keeping in contact because it always helps to have a solid comrade at your back when facing the supernatural.

Summary

Highly recommended original fantasy, especially if you’re in the mood for shorter works.


Like my reviews, but wondering who that Felix fellow is? He’s my protagonist, an occult detective from a world based on ancient Rome. He likes to read as much as I do – especially the juxtaposition of history, mystery, and fantasy – and is certainly not afraid to voice his opinion. You can meet him on the free short stories page!

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