The Last Wish is the first set of short stories chronicling the adventures of Geralt, a monster slayer for hire. Although this book was published second, in terms of chronology it is the first book in the series, with stories detailing the origins of how Geralt became tied to several key characters, namely his main love interest Yennefer as well as the destined child, Ciri. To preface, I also have never played any of The Witcher games but I’m mildly familiar with the characters from watching other people play them. That being said, with this book being my first experience with The Withcer I am HOOKED.
I found myself blazing through the stories, usually at least one a night and I had a hard time putting the book down! The stories were filled to the brim with action and Sapkowski did a phenomenal job balancing serious plot points and discussions with some lighthearted humor. My absolute favorite story out of the entire collection was the titular story, The Last Wish, and I am utterly in love with Yennefer. She is my dream girl fantasy heroine partially because she breaks many character stereotypes. I of course admired Geralt as well, the Witchers are interesting and he’s a thoughtful hero, I greatly enjoyed the love story between him and Yen. Really I ended up liking most of the main cast of characters, especially Dandelion, who provided some much needed comic relief with his antics.
“It’s an invention, a fairy tale devoid of any sense, like all the legends in which good spirits and fortune tellers fulfill wishes. Stories like that are made up by poor simpletons, who can’t even dream of fulfilling their wishes and desires themselves. I’m pleased you’re not one of them, Geralt of Rivia. It makes you closer in spirit to me. If I want something, I don’t dream of it—I act. And I always get what I want.”
One of my other favorite aspects of Sapkowski’s stories was the clever retelling of classic fairy tales. I absolutely adored the way that Beauty and the Beast was reimagined in a way that was really refreshing amidst all the other variations of the original story. There were also many other references to lesser known fairy tales, such as The Princess in the Chest and Hans My Hedgehog. The tales are blended seamlessly into Geralt’s adventures and they were truly magical.
I think the only issue I had personally as a reader was that at times during the action scenes, with the very detailed descriptions of combat, I tended to zone out and struggled to follow along. It’s probably just a me thing, but the writing otherwise was top notch. This book has sold me on The Witcher series and I’ve recommended it to several friends, especially the ones that are fans of the video games, and strongly recommend it to fans of fantasy books in general. It’s definitely a bit different from the usual high fantasy, but I found it to be a real treat.
Title: The Last Wish
Series: The Witcher
Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
Publication Date: December 14, 2008
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.