Book Review: The Last Wish

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After playing through the second (but not first or third) Witcher games, I was interested in the world the game was built in. It was incredibly immersive and well-designed, and felt like it had a real solid bedrock. Imagine my surprise to learn it was based on a series of books, the first of which is The Last Wish. Apparently this series, all written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, has quite a following in Poland, Russia, and the nearby area — and several (if not all) have been translated to English.

I would never have guessed, reading this book, that a translation had taken place. The translation was masterful. There is no other way to put it. There were no obvious translation errors, nothing you wouldn’t see in any book.

Now, one thing I didn’t realize going in: this is a collection of short stories, though quite well interwoven and connected. Several of them are clearly takes on famous fairy tales, but with the unique twist that the character Geralt brings to each scenario. And all are set in the invented realms of the book, though perhaps I’m missing out on the fact they’re meant to be medieval Poland.

The book is engaging, and develops Geralt quite well. It also throws light on some of the people from the second game, and the areas. But mostly Geralt gets the character development since he is a part of every step of the stories. He’s the agent of change, and in some cases, chaos.

It is also exciting, and you never know what Geralt is going to do in order to handle a particular situation. Sapkowski references magic and Geralt’s skills, but he does not beat one over the head with the details. There’s never a clear understanding of what is possible — which works out quite well among the characters, even, as even several experienced in (or around) magic often doubt the possibility of Geralt’s ideas.

All in all, it was a great read, and I was sad to see it over — but there are several more full length novels and at least one other short story collection. I will certainly be picking them up, and I’d recommend any fantasy fan do the same — doubly so if you enjoy the Witcher games.