Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review: The Last Wish

The Last Wish By Andrzej Sapkowski
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Release Date: May 1st 2008 (originally 1992)
Format: Kindle Book
My Rating: ★★1/2

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Geralt de 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.

A collection of short stories introducing de Rivia, to be followed by the first novel in the actual series, The Blood of Elves. Note that, while "The Last Wish" was published after "The Sword of Destiny," the stories contained in "The Last Wish" take place first chronologically, and many of the individual stories were published before "The Sword of Destiny."
I've mentioned a few times on this blog how much I like The Witcher video game series, and how I am very interested in reading the books since the books actually came first. A lot of games especially in the RPG fantasy realm will have game tie-in books, but I find The Witcher so unique that it is a series based off a popular Polish fantasy novel series.  The book series is interesting because it actually started off as a collection of short stories and then there were novels written later. The author is one of those annoying ones that doesn't write the books in chronically order so I keep having to look the order up to figure out which one to read next. The Last Wish is supposed to be the first thing you read in the series as it sets up who our protagonist Geralt of Rivia is and introduces you to what the heck a Witcher is.

Since I'm already familiar with Geralt and what a Witcher is, I found this book to be more of a reference on his background. It gives you a lot of insight on who he was before the events of the second game, so you get to see how he gets to be where he is. The book is portrayed as Geralt retelling some of his adventures to his friend Nenneke, who is a priestess trying to heal his wounds from a bad battle with a monster. So you get to see how he destroys different monsters, and the first time he meets his lover the sorceress Yennefer. It's pretty clear that their relationship is pretty toxic, and they are one of those couples who break up and get back together constantly. When he's retelling this to Nenneke they are currently broken up.

What I really liked about this story is that we get a lot of insight on why the Sorceresses are so catty with each other. I don't think it's mentioned in the games, but the it's pretty know that the school of Sorceresses will take in any sort of girls, even those with physical deformities. They will put them through manipulations to get rid of those deformities to make them look beautiful as they will need to use both magic and beauty for their positions as advisors to kings and other politicians. I found this so interesting because the Witchers do the opposite to boys and turn them into mutants, so it is almost as if Witchers and Sorceresses are foils to each other. This also gave insight to why Geralt and Yen's relationship makes sense. Due to Geralt's Witcher Eyes he can see what Yen used to be and he still is interested in her. Geralt sees her for who she really is, and that kind of love just kills me!

I want to also point out that this book is a translation, and it's actually done really well. Translations can be hard some times, and often there can be a few moments where something gets lost or muddled in the the process. For this book I didn't really see any of this, and if I didn't know these books were originally written in Polish I probably wouldn't have known it was a translation.

If you play the games and you want a little more insight on Geralt, I would still suggest this short story collection, but it might just be background information for you. I would suggest this to anyone that likes a fantasy story in a medieval-like setting.

Happy Reads Everyone!