REVIEW: The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Last Wish is the first chapter in the epic Witcher series, opening Geralt’s tale with a brutal and fun bang. Book 1 of the Witcher introduces the slavic high-fantasy land teeming with faerie tales. It also includes one of the most iconic main characters in the genre.

“There’s a grain of truth in every fairy tale.”

Geralt: Job description – total legend, kills monsters for cash, casts a few spells, drinks some potions, looks cool whilst doing it. Geralt is by profession a Witcher, an outcast of society unless people are desperate for someone to rid them of an unpleasant creature, wyvern, werewolf. In that case he is their first port of call. The Last Wish features a series of short stories. For those who have played the video games, I did not find the original portrayal of Geralt to be as collected, witty and intelligent as the game highlights. I enjoyed his character throughout though, liking the different Geralt.

The cast of characters behind Geralt was particularly enjoyable, and through the format of short stories, Geralt was able to in a lot fo different places with a lot of different friends and enemies. Classics such as Dandelion, Yennefer and Foltest appear and give the stories their individual depths. Also I loved finding out how Geralt became to be called the the Butcher of Blaviken.

“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.”

I really enjoyed how Andrej Sapkowski took on common tropes and old fairy tales and gave them a new lease of life. It was refreshing and a lot of fun to read stories such as Beauty and the Beast in a medieval-inspired setting. This range of short stories allowed Sapkowski to experiment with issues that Geralt seemingly tackles throughout such as racism and xenophobia. Sapkowski decided to not tackle sexism however, and this book is ripe with derogatory scenes regarding women.

The dialogue and writing style seems very alien, I would guess in part to the translation, in part perhaps to his style. It is stuttery and very simple, and at times cringy. There is a lack of character development from Geralt, no overall plot or motivation for him. However, I couldn’t help but still enjoy the book. It is unique and fun, has enough variety in each story to keep the pages turning, and especially if you enjoyed the games like I did, it is fantastic to read more about the world and lore, especially in time for the Netflix adaptation!

“But if I’m to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

3.75/5 – A fun and enjoyable introduction into the world of the Witcher. I expected more, but wasn’t too disappointed. Playing the games definitely added to this experience, and I am definitely going to carry on through this series. IGNI!

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Edward Gwynne

Ed is a medieval re-enactor, spending his weekends hitting people with various shaped weapons. Ed is also a primary school teacher and spends the weekdays telling children not to hit people with various shaped weapons. He has been influenced by his brilliant dad to spend as much time reading fantasy and historical-fiction. Huzzah!