- Written by: Andrzej Sapkowski
- Page Count: 288
- Short Stories: 7
The Last Wish, though originally published after ‘Sword of Destiny’, is the first chronological novel of the now famous saga of books that tell the story of ‘The Witcher’. This novel however isn’t really part of the main saga, and along with Sword of Destiny, actually precedes the main Witcher story arc that begins in ‘Blood of Elves’, with a collection of short stories that introduce you to the characters within the story, such as the protagonist Geralt of Rivia, the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg, the sassy old priestess Nenneke, as well as introducing us to some of the worlds many forms of monsters, not all of which are as they seem, as these stories see Geralt fight monsters, talk with monsters, save monsters, and even sit down for lunch with monsters, as well as learning a new meaning to the word ‘monster’ through the harsh truth about humanity itself.
I want to make one thing very clear here before I really begin my review, and that is that I am not a strong reader when it comes to novels. I have read very few novels in my time and those I have read, often take me weeks, if not months to power my way through them. I’m not ashamed of this, nor should I be, but it’s also not something I often tell people, and luckily I know enough about most stories I’d like to read, in order to hold up at least a decent conversation with those who have read it and wish to discuss. So when I tell you that when I started this book, I was completely drawn in and didn’t want to put it down, and that I myself was able to finish reading the entire 288 pages (which may not seem like a lot when compared to some published works out there today) in just three days, then that should prove to you just how great this book is.
One thing I instantly noticed and adored about this book is that, with the exception of some of the fantastical names of people, creatures and places, it was very easy to read and understand. There were no big words in there that I struggled with, and there was no long drawn out explanations of things with all the fantasy jargon thrown in to give you every little detail about the world, and the scene, but instead the stories were kept flowing with simple terminology, and quick paces that kept you in peak concentration with every line read and every page turned. It’s truly a phenomenal book, and if it weren’t for it’s gruesome and raunchy content, I would say it could be read by a younger audience as they evolve their reading skills into the longer more narrative driven books, which I myself, never truly achieved at the same time as others.
The characters are all interesting, each with their own visionary style described quickly to give you a perfect picture, without dragging you away from the point of their introduction for too long. You could truly imagine the beautiful Yennefer, or the grizzled yet charming Geralt, or the stout bushy haired dwarf Dennis. The characters all stood out from one another with each word and each bit of dialogue. This book has everything from the get go, mixing tense action, with humorous wit, brilliant thought provoking quotes and a real sense of the world we were pulled into by the words on the page.
Each story in this collection converge into an overall chronological plot that spans across an unknown amount of time in Geralt’s life but each short story entry holds its own weight as you read through each page. Some of the stories are split into multiple chapters that span across the entire book whilst others hold only a few pages but all of them create an overall impression of adventure, excitement, and action through the words you read on each page, that leaves you simply begging for more!
Though I haven’t played much of the video games, and already knew they differed somewhat from the books, you can tell from these stories that Geralt is a brilliant character who’s not always as serious in his role as he seems in the games. In the games he has some wit to him, making snide remarks and acting a little overconfident, but in the book, that shines through brighter than ever, as we get to see not just his wit but his true intelligence as well when faced with situations such as a duel in which he isn’t allowed to damage his opponent, for fear of hanging or further bloodshed, so his intellect plays through and though I will not spoil it here as this scenario is in fact in the final chapters of the book, Geralt is able to figure a way out of the situation in a brilliant and somewhat hilarious manor that only Geralt can do.
With the Netflix series coming soon, now is a great time to get into the novels, and from what I’ve seen in the trailer, this book has been a part of the shows influences, and so it should be, with quotes such as the one above, which isn’t just a badass quote by the protagonist, but it’s a quote that pretty much defines his character as a whole, as he struggles with who he is. The books aren’t just a way of learning the story, they’re a great way of gaining a deeper understanding of the characters, such as what they feel, what they think, what they desire. It will certainly help give you a much more interesting approach when the time comes to watch the series.
If you haven’t read any of the books in this series yet, and want to get some idea of the characters and world before the new Netflix series starts on 20th December 2019, and perhaps you had seen that Blood of Elves was the first book, then I would recommend putting that aside for a moment, and reading this before hand, as it perfectly introduces you to pretty much the best of what you need to know about Geralt, the monsters he faces and the situations he often finds himself in, from bar fights, to duels, to monster hunting, and his many quarrels with the women in his life.
You can buy a copy of The Last Wish on Amazon right here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Wish-Andrzej-Sapkowski/dp/0575082445/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=The+Witcher+Books&qid=1573947121&sr=8-1