“People,” Geralt turned his head, “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.” — Geralt of Rivia
Background Information: I had picked up reading again after a while, so for those of you who don’t necessarily read, The Last Wish is a great book to get yourself back into the habit. This book was originally written in Polish and is translated into English. For me the most important aspect about a story is the character and the stance he or she takes not the setting or circumstance.
The Last Wish is a collection of short stories of varying length revolving around the character Geralt of Rivea, a monster-hunter trained since childhood. Andrzej Sapkowski, the author, mixes in some Slavic mythology and fairy-tales with his own twists. Although not told chronologically, in some of the stories Geralt or a companion of his recounts another story which is then told. This fantasy collection is told in a third-person omniscient point of view this means that the stories are related by a narrator who knows the thoughts and feelings of all the characters. You can imagine it as if there was someone in the scenes that could tap into the thought of the characters as he was telling the story… haha I think I just said the same thing twice.
“‘I shit on justice!’ yelled the mayor, not caring if there were any voters under the window. ‘Look what’s happening there, Krepp! Panic, ruin! You didn’t tell me that you bald idiot!’…” — Neville, mayor of Rinde
That quote made me laugh out loud, anyway, back to the review.
The pacing is faster than a regular novel due to the fact that they are short stories. The scenes build up and resolve quicker. This is both a positive and negative for me depending on the short story. Sometimes when you’re reading a story it’s sad that it comes to a conclusion, well this happens multiple times in this book. It also means you can write in more detail on certain aspects of the short story and/or gloss over other parts without worrying too much about the length. You can also jump through time and places a lot more smoothly which “The Voice of Reason” does to transition the other short stories.
Because I have already played some of the games, I am a bit biased toward some the characters. Geralt is a witcher who follows a certain code. This is apparent in the short story called “The Lesser Evil” which goes deeper into Geralt’s philosophy. The dialogue between Geralt and Stregobor is worth contemplating as is the dialogue between Geralt and Filavandrel.
These stories show not only Geralt’s skill with a blade but also his heart. Not to skim over his fighting ability, actually I wont skim over it, lets talk about his fighting ability. Most of the monsters he faces are either stronger or faster than him, sometimes both; it is his ability to blend his battle tactics, swordsmanship, and magical abilities that allows him to defeat such monsters. But as I was saying, it is said that witchers lose emotion after going through all the trails and mutations they have to endure but in the story “A Grain of Truth” you can glimpse into Geralt’s true character.
I truly enjoyed the different aspects of life this book touches upon including but not limited to: racism, philosophy, love, and livelihood. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to witcher and fantasy fans. Although for someone not familiar with Geralt, I can see why at times one would wonder what is so interesting about him as opposed to someone more expressive such as Dandelion. Then I remember, there’s a reason why Geralt is called the White Wolf.
You can purchase the book here.
Until next time peace and take care