A Review of The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski: A Short Story Collection set in the World of The Witcher
Note: The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski is the first published book covering the adventures of the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, but it is a collection of short stories. The first book of the main series is Blood of Elves, and some readers opt to begin with that instead of The Last Wish. However, this review of The Last Wish recommends starting with this book because introduces the world and the characters more effectively.
I picked up The Last Wish around the time the Netflix show was released, but I had to put it down because I had a hard time getting into the story. A favorite author of mine then had a mini-rant about all the things The Witcher show could have done better, so I thought I’d give the book another go, but this time via audiobook. I’m so happy that I did because I found the audiobook to be very immersive and entertaining!
I loved finally getting to know our Witcher, Geralt of Rivia. He seemed to be a man as stern as he was skilled, with a sort of dry wit and humor that makes the stories more fun against the otherwise dark vibe of this world. I’m pretty excited to see how Henry Cavill portrays him in the show. This particular book is an anthology of stories featuring Geralt’s many adventures, slaying beasts, and encountering all sorts of creatures featured in fables and fairytales.
I must say I wasn’t expecting the stories to be fairytale retellings, but I did love the twists Sapkowski wove into those familiar tales! They were all a whole lot darker than the originals, darker even than the Brothers Grimm versions, I’d say.
I’m a little baffled by how this book managed to encompass both light, funny events alongside truly disturbing and horrifying ones. We have a story featuring Geralt and Dandelion’s fishing exploits, but then we’ve also got ones featuring graphically described slaying of vampires. Be warned that this book, and the rest of the books in the series, features a lot of physical and sexual violence and incidences of rape, so it’s not for the faint of heart.
I was also thoroughly amazed at how the action scenes were written! I know this must already have been said by loads of readers, but reading Geralt’s fight scenes felt like I was watching television, but in my head! I also love how strong the fantasy element of this book is, and I’d compare this world to that of Tolkien’s, with loads of magic and creatures of folklore and myths.
I should point out that I’m not a fan of the insta-love between Geralt and Yennefer. I don’t get it at all, but it’s a minor thing compared to how amazing everything else is in this book.
This book is a fantastic introduction to the world of The Witcher, and it certainly leaves readers wanting more.