The Last Wish (英語) ペーパーバック – 2008/2/14
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Geralt is a witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no ordinary murderer: his targets are the multifarious monsters and vile fiends that ravage the land and attack the innocent. He roams the country seeking assignments, but gradually comes to realise that while some of his quarry are unremittingly vile, vicious grotesques, others are the victims of sin, evil or simple naivety. One reviewer said: 'This book is a sheer delight. It is beautifully written, full of vitality and endlessly inventive: its format, with half a dozen episodes and intervening rest periods for both the hero and the reader, allows for a huge range of characters, scenarios and action. It's thought-provoking without being in the least dogmatic, witty without descending to farce and packed with sword fights without being derivative. The dialogue sparkles; characters morph almost imperceptibly from semi-cliche to completely original; nothing is as it first seems. Sapkowski succeeds in seamlessly welding familiar ideas, unique settings and delicious twists of originality: his Beauty wants to rip the throat out of a sensitive Beast; his Snow White seeks vengeance on all and sundry, his elves are embittered and vindictive. It's easily one of the best things I've read in ages.'
Andrzej Sapkowski was born in 1948 in Poland. He studied economy and business, but the success of his fantasy cycle about the sorcerer Geralt of Rivia turned him into a bestselling writer and he is now one of Poland's most famous and successful authors, selling more in his own country than Stephen King or Michael Crichton.
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"The Last Wish" is a collection of 7 short stories revolving around the exploits of Geralt, the Witcher, a man (well, a former boy) imbued with a small amount of magic, trained and physically altered since childhood for one sole purpose: to hunt monsters.
There is a main line of narrative that holds the stories together in a most convincing way. Multi-layered, very funny at times, even scary at others, this book and its main character question the nature of monsters, be they mythical or humans themselves, while taking on destiny.
Just a couple of notes. The translation is fine, but this is still the only book of the Witcher saga currently in English (as of Feb., 2008). This book is referenced constantly in the video game The Witcher, released for the PC in 2007.
• The Last Wish and most of the series were published in the 1990’s
• They spawned from Poland, not the United States or United Kingdom
• Inspired the Witcher game series a decade later (2007-ongoing)
• More to come, the author and series continue
Andrzej Sapkowski’s Geralt of Rivia is a “Witcher,” a superhuman trained to defeat monsters. After hundreds of years killing creatures, there are fewer threats and witchers. Actually there is less hunting monsters than Geralt sleuthing mysterious altercations. Sapkowski’s stories have conflicts that are not lone-Witcher-in-the-wild vs. monster conflict; they are more humans/vs strange forces in which Geralt referees (and usually kills). His investigative methods are a bit rougher than Sherlock Holmes. Each story was as if Conan was dumped into the Grimm's Fairy tales. But all is not grim. Lots of humor present is reminiscent of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series. Humans tend to persecute or shun the weird witchers; sustaining future witchers is addressed as the seeds of an apprenticeship are sown.
Geralt has dialogue with antagonists often. Lengthy interrogations are common. This approach allows for funny banter, philosophizing, and entertaining information-dumps. This makes for a fast, entertaining read. Sapkowski stands out as a leading non-English writer. No map, table of contents (TOC), or glossary were featured in the paperback translation. I provide the TOC below. The structure reveals the over-arching narrative of “the Voice of Reason” which attempts to connect all the others. This works pretty well, but is not always smooth. This was designed as an introduction to the series. I was impressed enough to order the Sword of Destiny when I was only half way through. It is not until the third book does a dedicated novel emerge. The series and the games continue to this day with books 7 and 8 awaiting English translation (as of 2016).
The Last Wish Table of Contents
1- Voice of Reason #1
2- The Witcher
3 - Voice of Reason #2
4- A Grain of Truth
5- Voice of Reason #3
6-The Lesser Evil
7-Voice of Reason #4
8-A Question of Price
9-Voice of Reason #5
10-The Edge of The World
11- Voice of Reason #6
12- The Last Wish
11- Voice of Reason #7
Andrzej Sapkowski Blood of Elves saga:
1. The Last Wish; Short Stories 1992 , translated from Polish to English 2007 when the first Witcher Video Game was released
2. Sword of Destiny Short Storeis 1992 translated 2015
3. Blood of Elves 1994 [novels begin] translated 2014
4. The Time of Contempt 1995 translated 2015
5. Baptism of Fire 1996 translated 2016
6. The Tower of Swallows 1997 translated 2016
7. Lady of the Lake (1999…being translated for a 2017 release in US)
8. Season of Storms (Sezon burz) written 2013, set between the short stories in the first book in the series, The Last Wish. English edition TBD
2007 Witcher PC
2011 Witcher 2 (Assassins of Kings) PC, Xbox, Mac OS
2015 Witcher 3 (Wild Hunt), PC, PS4, Xbox
I bought this book after playing the wither 3 on ps4. I love the entire story and lore that accompanied the witches universe.
As immersed as I felt while playing the game, the book took me to the next level and I now want to buy the entire series of books.
I am a fan of Andrzej Sapowski's books and you will be too. It also looks really cool on my coffee table when I have guests over.
The Geralt of the books is much more cerebral than most monster hunters in modern fiction (more so than in the games, even), preferring to cure them of their curses or appeal to their senses of reason, when able, rather than just slashing them down. Most of the "monsters" he actually ends up slaying in the book are humans, which come off as being the biggest monsters of all (there's a particular story in this collection where that, in fact, seems to be the overriding lesson).
The stories are excellently written, with some nice takes on old fairy tales. I don't know if it's because these stories are originally from Eastern Europe, or just skill of the author, or what, but this was the first fantasy novel (or, rather, collection of fantasy short stories) I've read in a long time where I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I didn't know quite where things were going until they got there. Sapkowski doesn't stick to the same tropes we westerners are used to, or if he does, he uses them in unexpected ways. His monsters have just as much personality as his protagonists, and often have many of the same motivations. In the few stories that have outright villains, those villains are shown having understandable reasons for being... antagonistic. I hesitate to use the word "evil", because the author does an excellent job of showing that "evil" is, in many cases, a difference of perspective.
So, if you're a fan of good fantasy, I would definitely suggest picking this up, even if you've not played the games and don't plan to. I don't think you'll be disappointed with what you find in the world of The Witcher. I myself plan to do much more exploration of that world.