Monday, 16 April 2018

Review: The Last Wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski

Like many people, I really enjoyed The Witcher 3, and when a fellow of sound judgement suggested giving The Last Wish (the first, I think, Witcher book, the body of which the games are based upon) it seemed like a good idea.

The Last Wish is a collection of short stories interspersed with a continuous mini-storyline of Geralt recovering from a particularly grim wound. Violence is fairly high, there’s a helping of strong language, and sex is minimal and painted in a hazy watercolour rather than the explicit detail some others prefer (personally, I think the hazy approach is better).

The short stories are often around 50-60 pages in length, covering a particular monster contract or similar. As with the game, there’s an element of complex morality woven into what might otherwise be straightforward plots, which both elevates the story above the average and helps to deepen both the character of Geralt himself and the world in which he fights.

Writing style is a little difficult to comment on neutrally because I have a lot of Witcher imagery from the game to fill in any blanks there might be. I found the writing easy to read, and also moreish, often reading rather more than I’d expected. There’s no pat on the head and slab of explanatory text, instead, knowledge about Witcher skills (for example) is conveyed through actions more than words.

It’s a charming mix of old school European fairytale and modern day grim cynicism.

The translation from the original Polish is perfectly good with only occasional slips (a U in ‘evaporate’, and one apostrophe was back to front, though I suspect that was someone else’s minor mistake).

All in all, very enjoyable and I intend to read more of this series in the future. I’d give it four out of five.


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