“People 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“
The Last Wish by Andrsej Sapkowski is the first book in the Witcher series in hich we follow Geralt of Riveria, a monster hunter who has been trained to hunt and kill monsters. It is split up into a collection of 7 short stories where Geralt travels from city to city looking for contracts to kill monsters. Along the way he meets a range of individuals each with their own story and place in the world.
Firstly, considering it’s been translated from Polish to English I thought that the writing was great and flowed very well. This made it easier to read. I loved the dark and grim atmosphere throughout the book which really gave me the chills. The dialogue is also very rich and does well in balancing humour and the darker elements.
The witcher world has so much depth and is full of twists that keep you hooked. I enjoyed the use of Slavic mythology which made me want to learn more about it. Each short story also gives us some background as to how Geralt became a Witcher and the literal torture he was put through to transform into a Witcher. You’d think people would be in awe because of his skills but on the contrary, he’s looked upon as an outsider as are many other “unique” individuals.
What I did love about Geralt’s character is that it’s not all about slicing and dicing even though that element of the story is fantastic. Talking is one of Gerlat’s key traits and rather than resorting to violence as a first resort, he genuinely tries to understand the “why” of the actions some people haven taken to reach the point at which they are. For example, in one story Geralt must deal with a monster called Nivellen and rather than straight up killing him, Geralt learns of how he became a monster and essentially tries to help him.
The author does a fantastic job in bringing the old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” into the mix when it comes to the characters. Even though Nivellen is a monster, he has a heart of gold and is more humane than most humans. On the other hand characters who don’t appear to be evil on the outside have the blackest hearts.
Along the way, Geralt meets a range of complex characters, but I’d say my favourite was definitely when Geralt is joined by Dandelion. Dandelion is a well renowned poet and womaniser who is Geralt’s best friend. The humour and banter between them both was hilarious and I love how they bounced off each other. Although, I did find him irretating at times as many things could’ve been avoided if it wasn’t for him being a nincompoop.
Geralt shook his wet trousers. told you not to use force when you pull. You screwed up, my friend. You make as good a fisherman as a goat’s arse makes a trumpet.
Geralt also crosses paths with Yennefer for the first time a cunning sorceress who Geralt has a very complicated relationship with. Yennefer was a great character and I really loved her confidence and power. Seeing her bend someone as headstrong as Geralt to her will was really funny but shows how powerful she is.
So yeah this is a fun intro into the Witcher world. I’m really excited to read continue the series and also for the tv show! If you enjoyed the games then I definitely recommend you read the books! I also think anyone who loves fantasy will love the novel ☺️