The Last Wish (The Witcher #0.5) by Andrzej Sapkowski - Book Review

Write on: Sat, 05 Sep 2020 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 3459

I've watched The Witcher TV series first, and since my wife wanted to watch it again ahead of season 2 it was high time to read the books.

*** What to Expect

Six short stories / novelettes introducing us to the world of the Witcher, glued together with interludes that make for a seventh. We get glimpses into Geralt's character, his companions, his world. 

The TV series is based (loosely, like most adaptations) on both these short stories and the start of the saga (Blood of Elves, book 3). If you found it a bit confusing, the books will certainly help give you more depth and background into the stories, which will make the TV series more entertaining.

*** What I liked

I loved the premise, and how even from the start Sapkowski establishes both Geralt's dangerous-brooding-loner character, and yet his humanity - which is often deeper than that of the 'normal' people who reject him as a mutant. While his character is taciturn and not immediately relatable, he grows on you quite rapidly.

The world-building is excellent, with complex magic system (the witcher has access to some, but the mages seem to employ a more diverse; definitely something I'd like to see explored in more depth later), and interesting monsters based on Eastern European folklore (although others, from Celtic to Greek, as mentioned as well).

*** What to be aware of

This is a collection of shorts, so don't expect an epic. While the prose is good and plot moves at a good clip, the build-up to resolution is also quick. Don't expect to find the series - not only have they modified the stories significantly, but they also made it more dramatic than the books.

*** Felix's Review

Felix took these stories as a clear benefit for the advancement of civilisation. While his world contains plenty of monsters, the legions bring not only baths and taxes but also the pax - the peace that comes with Egretia's protection from both warring neighbours and rampaging critters. There are also significantly less monsters inside cities (the incident with the salamander in the sewers notwithstanding).

Other than that, Felix was quite supportive of Geralt and his chosen profession. He'd like to have a quiet word over wine, exchanging professional notes and keeping in contact because it always helps to have a solid comrade at your back when facing the supernatural.

*** Summary

Highly recommended original fantasy, especially if you're in the mood for shorter works.



Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr