Book Review: The Last Wish
I have to admit that I only picked up this book because I tried playing the Witcher video game and liked it, and the game is based on the story of this book’s main character, Geralt. I’m glad I did so, though, because I found this book to be an enjoyable read.
This book compiles seven short stories about the witcher Geralt de Rivia, written by Polish author Andrej Sapkowski. As a witcher with preternatural strength and abilities, Geralt takes on jobs such as slaying monsters or breaking curses cast on innocent princesses. The short stories revolve around these missions and jobs that he takes on, without any real connection between them other than the in-between chapters (all called “The Voice of Reason”), which attempt to tie everything together.
To put it simply: I could not put this book down. The thrill and excitement of Geralt’s adventures kept me speeding right through the pages, and the often humorous and witty dialogues kept me entertained. The monsters that Geralt encounters are drawn from fairy tales, ranging from an eloquent beast-man who scares off humans who dare to pluck roses from his garden (Beauty and the Beast), to a fair, black-haired young girl whose jealous and suspicious stepmother orders to have killed (Snow White). Being a sucker for fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, that in itself would have been enough for my shamelessly biased self to give this book a huge thumbs-up. Unfortunately, one should not be shamelessly biased when doing a book review, so I’ll have to admit that the book doeshave its flaws.
I honestly would have been happy without the “Voice of Reason” chapters, though they do provide a lot of insight into Geralt’s character. I believe that this book could have worked as a stand-alone short story compilation, though in that case, we probably would have ended up with a collection of short stories instead of the full-blown Witcher Saga. The Voice of Reason chapter involving Geralt narrating his life in first person was particularly awkward, given that the rest of the book is written in third person.
The overuse of pirouettes in combat made my eyebrows wiggle a couple of times, but that’s probably just because I have a hard time picturing a muscular man like Geralt twirling around like a ballerina. …okay, I’ve seen the pirouettes in the video game, but it doesn’t make it any less awkward.
I don’t know how much of this book’s story and writing was dumbed-down or enhanced through the Polish-to-English translation process, but I still found The Last Wish to be engaging and well-written overall. It left me craving for more tales about Geralt de Rivia, and hoping that the rest of the Witcher Saga will be translated for those of us who can’t read Polish. That said, I wound up picking up the second book, The Blood of Elves, as soon as I could… but I ended up terribly disappointed by it. I’ll leave it at that for now, and save my comments about the second book for another review.
El Santos is a marketing & advertising professional by day and gamer/bookworm/tarot reader by night. She’s prone to sudden fits of fangirling over her varied interests: video games, fiction, art, folkore, anime, and tarot. She currently lives with her husband and 2 rescue cats.