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The Witcher #0.5

The Last Wish

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Librarian's Note: Alternate cover edition of ASIN B0043M6712

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.

292 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 31, 1993

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About the author

Andrzej Sapkowski

166 books15k followers
Andrzej Sapkowski, born June 21, 1948 in Łódź, is a Polish fantasy writer. Sapkowski studied economics, and before turning to writing, he had worked as a senior sales representative for a foreign trade company. His first short story, The Witcher (Wiedźmin), was published in Fantastyka, Poland's leading fantasy literary magazine, in 1986 and was enormously successful both with readers and critics. Sapkowski has created a cycle of tales based on the world of The Witcher, comprising three collections of short stories and five novels. This cycle and his many other works have made him one of the best-known fantasy authors in Poland in the 1990s.

The main character of The Witcher (alternative translation: The Hexer) is Geralt, a mutant assassin who has been trained since childhood to hunt down and destroy monsters. Geralt exists in an ambiguous moral universe, yet manages to maintain his own coherent code of ethics. At the same time cynical and noble, Geralt has been compared to Raymond Chandler's signature character Philip Marlowe. The world in which these adventures take place is heavily influenced by Slavic mythology.

Sapkowski has won five Zajdel Awards, including three for short stories "Mniejsze zło" (Lesser Evil) (1990), "Miecz przeznaczenia" (Sword of Destiny) (1992) and "W leju po bombie" (In a Bomb Crater) (1993), and two for the novels "Krew elfów" (Blood of Elves) (1994) and "Narrenturm" (2002). He also won the Spanish Ignotus Award, best anthology, for The Last Wish in 2003, and for "Muzykanci" (The Musicians), best foreign short story, same year.

In 1997, Sapkowski won the prestigious Polityka's Passport award, which is awarded annually to artists who have strong prospects for international success.

In 2001, a Television Series based on the Witcher cycle was released in Poland and internationally, entitled Wiedźmin (The Hexer). A film by the same title was compiled from excerpts of the television series but both have been critical and box office failures.

Sapkowski's books have been translated into Czech, Russian, Lithuanian, German, Spanish, French, Ukrainian, and Portuguese. An English translation of The Last Wish short story collection was published by Gollancz in 2007.

The Polish game publisher, CD Projekt, created a role-playing PC game based on this universe, called The Witcher, which was released in October 2007. There is also a mobile version of the game which has been created by Breakpoint Games and is being published by Hands-On Mobile in Western Europe,Latin America and Asia Pacific.

The English translation of Sapkowski's novel Blood of Elves won the David Gemmell Legends Award in 2009.

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Profile Image for Markus.
469 reviews1,509 followers
January 9, 2020
“People” - Geralt turned his head - “like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves.”

I have loved this series for many years now. When I read it, it was arguably the least famous one among my favourite fantasy series. The Witcher Saga by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski is still something of a diamond in the rough, with its own very particular sense of raw beauty. This is not something I’d recommend to just about anyone, but I would call it absodamnlutely amazing without a moment of hesitation.

While it is not a part of the main saga per se, The Last Wish is definitely my favourite Witcher book. It’s a collection of tales about a man hunting monsters for money. And it's amazingly good. It is also definitely the place to start reading Witcher stories for those looking for a gateway into this wonderful world.

Like a lot of other people, I was introduced to the world of Andrzej Sapkowski through the video games The Witcher and The Witcher II: Assassins of Kings. These are easily some of the best fantasy RPG's ever made (I would certainly recommend them to all the gamers here), and they made me want to know more about this fascinating world. And as much as love the books, I will continue to insist that the more recent third game in the series, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is the single greatest contribution to the Witcher universe, let alone the greatest fantasy RPG of our time.

Do not make the mistake of thinking these are mere tie-in novels, however. Whether you come from the games or from the Netflix adaptation, keep in mind that this is the source material, and where the original ideas are found. The adaptations in other media were based on the books, not the other way around, and should be viewed that way. And not only that, but the games are sequels to the books, and thus the books should by all means be read first. That does not mean you cannot enjoy them if you’ve already played the games, but to fully experience this wonderful saga in the best way possible, reading the books first is the way to go.

Sapkowski introduces the reader to a beautiful combination of Slavic mythology, a distinct eastern European setting, and classical high fantasy. That makes for a different read from a lot of other works within the genre, while at the same time keeping all the mandatory aspects of epic fantasy (magic, elves, kings...). The writing is almost lyrical, but in a relaxed manner, and the English translation is good. But the characters and the setting are what really makes this a great novel. Geralt of Rivia is the most interesting and fascinating protagonist in the fantasy genre, bar none, and the world in which he lives is in many ways different from all others. His one true love, Yennefer of Vengerberg, is one of my favourite fantasy characters of all time.

The creativity when it comes to the setting is brilliant. The whole concept of Witchers, human mutants bred and trained to slay monsters, is extraordinarily fascinating. And the monsters themselves no less so. You have well-known monstrosities like vampires and werewolves, legendary creatures like chimeras and manticores, and the most interesting of them all, the deadly striga. Most of the world is built on the foundations of fairytales and mythology, mainly Eastern European, but Sapkowski forges it into something truly astounding.

The narrative is also really well constructed. The book opens up with a frame story set in a Temple of Melitere, where Geralt is recovering from his injuries. From there, he tells stories of his greatest exploits, every now and then going back to the present for a short interlude. While each story is modelled on a classic fairytale, they always add something unique and distinctly flavourful.

This is, as mentioned earlier, a collection of short stories about the witcher Geralt riding around the countryside, talking to people, killing the occasional monster, and riding on. Sometimes he accepts a contract from a peasant, sometimes from a king. All that matters is the reward. If what you're looking for while reading fantasy is just an epic story of wars and politics and intrigue, you could probably just skip this and continue on to the Witcher Saga itself, starting with Blood of Elves. But you would really miss something.

I loved this book both for its simplicity and for its beautiful descriptions, and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, especially those who would like to try something a little different.

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Witcher reviews:
#1 The Last Wish
#2 Sword of Destiny
#3 Blood of Elves
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
525 reviews56.6k followers
December 22, 2022
This is exactly the kind of fantasy book I have no more interest in reading.

We like to say that some books you can tell they’ve been written by a man, well this is one of them. (DNFed at p.165).

I’m tired of ignoring misogyny in popular books or excusing them because they're "old" (1993). This book isn’t even good. So far everything I’ve read was in the TV show (except for this one chapter where he’s talking at a woman. At her because she made a vow of silence…) so you’re not missing out by not reading it.

I don’t want to read books where we get the description of the “small pointed breasts” of a 14yo girl (p.30). Especially if a priestess of the goddess of childbirth, marriage and fertility will make a rape joke because the main character almost got killed by said child (p.34-35). There’s also a 17yo described as pretty well developed (p.88). Also, what’s the obsession with virgins (p.151)?

I get that the author was trying to show that Geralt was a morally gray character but you know that chapter where he talks at a woman? He’s retelling the story of the first monster he killed. A man. A man who was trying to rape a 13yo child. He was told not to get involved in this kind of thing but he decided to save her but she didn’t react the way he wanted. She "threw up, became hysterical and fainted" instead of praising him and sobbing with gratitude so now he "very rarely interferes in such matters". (p.115-116) I don’t find it amusing, I don’t find it interesting.

I’m sure I’ll get comments defending it all by mentioning it’s a sexist world and that I'm too sensitive but that’s not the point. I don’t want to read books with relentless sexism. My review is to let others know that if you don’t want to read a book where women’s asses are pinched in a Temple just because (p.158) and where joking about knocking up a woman before leaving town amuses the main character (p.163)… skip it.

It’s not worth the hype and I’m utterly uninterested in giving books like this my time, money and attention.

*It made it to my worst books of 2022: https://youtu.be/yaBImu6ejEM
Profile Image for Aaron.
29 reviews51 followers
May 18, 2012
Think about a fantasy book. Think about your favorite fantasy book. Chances are, it included elves or maybe dwarves. It probably had knights or something like them. It was, most likely, heavily influenced by Tolkien, or his successors, and it was probably based, at least in part, on a certain Anglo-saxon, or maybe French, sort of medieval culture. And if you read fantasy, there's probably 15 or so more like it on your bookshelf or your e-reader of choice.

So here's my recommendation: put down Lord of the Rings. You've already read it. Put aside that new George R. R. Martin. It'll give him a chance to write a little further ahead, and you'll get a chance to read it again before the next one comes out. Set aside your Jordan, your Eddings or even your Pratchett. Do it, just for a little while. Just for the 2 days or so that it will take you to devour a series of short stories that have a totally different flavor. The stories of Geralt, the Witcher, professional monster hunter, sorcerer, swordsman and mutant. And you should do it for the same reason that you shouldn't have the exact same food at every meal. These short stories will leave you wanting so much more, and by the time you put it down, your last wish will be for the rest of the series to finally be translated from Polish to English so you can find out what happens next.
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 74 books50.5k followers
July 18, 2022
So, this is a collection of short stories loosely threaded around a stay by our point-of-view character, the eponymous witcher, at a temple while recuperating from his latest fight.

The stories are mostly (all?) retellings of / inspired by well known fairy stories, like Beauty and the Beast. They share a slightly fairy tale vibe too. It's a world where destiny is a real force and unlikely promises about first born children etc made to strangers carry their own weight both magically and in popular opinion.

The witcher himself is a fairly opaque character. We get tantalising hints about his origins and training, but he seems to be a mature man at the height of his powers, and there's not much by way of personal growth going on here.

We find him to be a rather stern fellow set to the slaying of monsters for money but bound about by a rather unclear professional and ethical code.

The society described is a rather misogynistic one, and the witcher is certainly not swimming against the tide in this regard.

In the Beauty and the Beast story our Beast was cursed by a priestess he happened to be raping (she then kills herself). The witcher commiserates with the Beast, who is portrayed as a jolly and quite good natured fellow, and ends up freeing him from the curse with the added bonus that his new human form is much better looking than his old one.

The world's take on female magic-users is also … interesting:

"so only daughters with no chance of finding a husband became sorceresses"

"the result was pseudo-pretty women with the angry and cold eyes of ugly girls"

All this aside, I actually enjoyed the book a lot. The stories have a refreshingly different feel to them, partly due to the fairy tale vibe and I guess because the author draws on his eastern European heritage to colour in his backgrounds.

Additionally, there's lots of imagination on show, the writing has a strong voice, and the witcher is an entertaining character.

I think this is only the second translated fantasy book I've read (the first being The Neverending Story). I was never bored, and whilst I'm not rushing to read the rest of the series, I am certainly not ruling it out. I look forward to giving the upcoming TV show a try.

Oh - I should have mentioned insta-love. There's that too. Also elves. And dwarves. And a whole bunch of interesting monsters, though mostly mentioned rather than battled.




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Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,379 reviews11.7k followers
January 28, 2021
I had tried reading this book before, but DNFed it almost immediately, because it opened with this gem:

He did not move, did not stir. The girl flitted closer, threw off her mantle and slowly, hesitantly, rested her knee on the edge of the large bed. He observed her through lowered lashes, still not betraying his wakefulness. The girl carefully climbed onto the bedclothes, and onto him, wrapping her thighs around him. Leaning forward on straining arms, she brushed his face with hair which smelled of chamomile. Determined, and as if impatient, she leaned over and touched his eyelids, cheeks, lips with the tips of her breasts...

You get the gist.

I knew right away it would be a story with this hero going around killing things and every woman throwing herself at him in passion. And now that I’ve finished this book, I can attest - It totally is! Why did I read this then? Well, the Netflix adaptation came out, and then I couldn't understand why Geralt killed a certain female character in episode one and wanted to see if the book would help me out...

Waste of time.

This is a load of dated, retrograde, men-centered, male-gazey nonsense with dubious logic and no understanding of morality or human nature. The book is a collection of not very good short stories that to some degree utilize famous fairy tales, but not effectively. There is a reimagining of "Beauty and the Beast" with a rapist Beast who for some reason we are supposed to have empathy towards and whom Geralt is eager to help remove the curse (why? how did this Beast redeem himself? by having sex with women sold to him by their parents?) Or "Snow White,” in which Snow White is implied to have had sex with all the dwarves and been a prostitute, after being raped by the Hunter. Of course, Geralt inexplicably takes the side opposite Snow White's (I am still scratching my head over this one.) Some boring elf thing and a jinn thing. And pardon me, but did Yennefer actually consent to what was happening in that last story? Does Sapkowski know what "consent" is?

All of this is just underwhelming. Sapkowski mostly has no idea what he is talking about, especially when women are involved. He is wrong on basically every subject he cares to bring up - women, rape, desire, fertility, disability. Whatever serious thing he tries to write about, he is always out of his depth.

There is something that did keep me reading the book. I think it’s the world building potential. Hopefully the show builds on it. I am not very far into it, but so far they’ve managed to smooth some edges, and entwine story lines more effectively, and the Witcher himself is less of an asshole and more of a moody-broody type I personally prefer. Although I am not exactly wild about Yennefer’s transformation story line.

We’ll see how it goes.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,588 reviews153k followers
Want to read
January 18, 2020
When you really want to read the series...

But the library has a 6 month wait.

And the digital library has a 8 month wait.

And your instincts scream that pretty hardcover editions are coming out soon (thanks to Netflix revival).

Oh, what is a girl to do??
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,148 reviews97.7k followers
April 8, 2017
Last summer I became completely obsessed with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, where I took screenshots like this:

(Add me on Steam!)

And once I was finished with the DLC I knew I had to finally read the books to fill the void I now carry in my heart.

This book was translated from Polish to English. It contains seven short stories, and introduces our main protagonist in both games and books, Geralt.

“People”—Geralt turned his head—“like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves.”

The events in these seven stories take place before Sword of Destiny, which is another short story collection, and before Blood of Elves, the first actual full length novel in this series.

Just like the video-games, The Witcher world is so magical, whimsical, full of twists, and it never disappoints. Two of these stories are so very important in understanding why Geralt feels the way he does about two very predominant characters that are talked about in much greater detail later in this world. And seeing Geralt and Yen's origin story gave me all the feels (sorry Triss fans, but gtfo.)

I'm going to break down each story with my personal feelings and beliefs. There will be SPOILERS ahead! So, please be cautious while reading, if you have not read this short story collection and do not wish to be spoiled on the events that lead up to the main story and video-games!

“In order to become a witcher, you have to be born in the shadow of destiny, and very few are born like that. That's why there are so few of us. We're growing old, dying, without anyone to pass our knowledge, our gifts, on to. We lack successors. And this world is full of Evil which waits for the day none of us are left.”

1.) The Voice of Reason
This story starts out in true Witcher fashion: with Geralt having sexy time with a random girl! We are also introduced to Geralt's notorious sidekick, Dandelion the Bard. Geralt starts to speak up about how hard it is to be a witcher and make a living off of it. When upon leaving, a man approaches Geralt and pretty much forces Geralt to fight without being able to touch his opponent. Geralt quickly proves how smart and cunning he truly is, and why he makes this series so addictive to read and learn about.

2.) The Witcher
Geralt goes to a new town, where a king has gotten his sister pregnant seven years ago. Sadly, the sister and the child died in birth, but the child is now awake, and seems to be a werewolf, and is causing chaos in the town. Geralt is sent to kill her, but someone gives him a tip that if he prevents the werewolf from going back to its coffin for three days, she will turn into an ordinary girl. He is also bribed to run away, but Geralt, being the outstanding and honorable man he is, uses the briber as bait instead! Geralt is able to hide in the girls coffin for three nights, and she turns into the regular girl on the third morning!

3.) A Grain of Truth
The imagery of this story really is a tier above what fantasy normally gives us nowadays. Geralt is traveling once again, and finds two bodies that appear to have come from an abandoned mansion. Upon further inspection, a cursed man named Nivellen owns the house. He was cursed by a priest to become a beast, but the house obeys his every wish. Traveling merchants even come from all around and trade their daughters to him for a period of time for currency. Nivellen has tried everything, and the curse is never broken! But when his newest girl, who ends up not being all of what she seems and who was responsible of the two bodies Geralt originally found, starts a fight with Geralt, Nivellen is forced to help him, and the curse is broken. Yes, this is legitimately a wrapped version of Beauty and the Beast.

4.) The Lesser Evil
Again in a new city, Geralt killed a monster and is looking for compensation. He goes to see a mage that he knew from before, and he asks Geralt to kill "a monster" for him. The monster ends up being a young girl, and when Geralt talks to her he realizes she is seeking vengeance for what the mage did to her. After her and Geralt "get to know each other", she promises to back down because nothing good will come of it. Geralt awakens in the morning and realizes that she lied. He knows where she will be, so he meets her and ends up having to fight her. He wins, and she must die, but Geralt faces the question of what is truly evil, and refuses to let the mage to take her body.

“Only Evil and Greater Evil exist and beyond them, in the shadows, lurks True Evil. True Evil, Geralt, is something you can barely imagine, even if you believe nothing can still surprise you. And sometimes True Evil seizes you by the throat and demands that you choose between it and another, slightly lesser, Evil.”

5.) A Question of Price
This story completely blew my mind, and probably has the biggest life changing event for Geralt in it. Again, Geralt is traveling and meets with Queen Calanthe, and she tells him what she truly thinks of witchers. During the party where this meeting is taking place, a knight comes and demands Queen Calanthe's daughter, the princess, which he has earned. Sadly, this knight is also cursed, but Geralt is able to lift the curse. The knight is then able to marry the princess, but Geralt knows they have been seeing each other for some time, because the princess is pregnant. They ask Geralt what he would like for payment, and he gives a very veiled response, and says that he will be back in six years time to see if he is lucky. Knowing what I know from the games, this story was oh so special to my heart.

6.) The Edge of the World
Geralt and Dandelion have stopped and are looking for work. A local tells them about a devil who is up to no good. Side note, I listened to this on audio book and the devil's voice made me want to murder someone. Good Lord, please, never do this if you are a voice actor. Anyway, the devil, named Torque, likes to play games and Geralt and Dandelion end up being captured. When they awaken, they find themselves among elves, still tied up, and hear all about how the elves want revenge on humans. The Queen of the Fields comes and saves them, and tells Geralt that he is destined for greatness and that they will meet again.

7.) The Last Wish
Be still, my heart - this chapter was everything I never knew I wanted in my life. Again, Geralt and Dandelion are together and decided to fish up breakfast. Dandelion ends up fishing up a djinn, or genie, in a magical vase. It ends up hurting Dandelion, and Geralt says what he thinks is an exorcism to make it stop. Dandelion takes a turn for the worst, and Geralt knows he has to act fast. He rushes Dandelion to a town, where he is informed that his best chance at survival will be a sorceress named Yennefer. Yes, this is their origin story, and it ends up being everything I ever wished it to be. Yennefer is able to heal Dandelion, but she has an alternative motive; she wants to harness the genie's power for herself. She also demands payment from Geralt, which she receives by possessing him to publicly punish men who have wronged her. He wakes up in jail, where he tells a mean guard to blow up, in which he does. Geralt doesn't have any time to think about this, because Yennefer comes to town with the genie, which is destroying everything. Geralt is able to save the townsfolk, but while trying to save Yennefer herself, she refuses, and it looks like she would rather die trying to take the genie's powers. Geralt then realizes the reason Yennefer couldn't possess the power was because the genie is viewing Geralt as its master, and he has accidentally made two of his three wishes. Yennefer urges Geralt to make a third and final wish so she can try, but Geralt knows that the genie will kill her once the request leaves his lips. Geralt then makes his last wish, which none of us know what it truly is, only that it binds him and Yennefer together forever.

We knew Geralt fell in love with Yennefer as soon as he laid eyes upon her. There are so many theories of what he wished for, but I do not think we will ever get a confirmation. He could have wished for Yen to love him, but that is so un-Geralt, I can't believe he would ever do that. He could have wished for them to have a baby, and since witchers are sterile that could be why Ciri comes into their lives, and would have still protected Yennefer from the genie. Hell, it could seriously be as simple and binding their lives together forever, which is why, throughout the games, it feels like the go through the same things together, even when they are not physically together. We will never know, but I sort of think that's beautiful all in itself.

“Love and blood. They both possess a mighty power. Wizards and learned men have been racking their brains over this for years...”

This world, these characters, these adventures, all of it is truly above all the expectations I set before reading any fantasy novel. This is something special, that I can't form the perfect combinations for words to be able to praise this enough. Please, give this world a try, whether it be the games or the novels, because this kind of perfection is beyond words.

Oh, and this book totally ends with Geralt and Yen having crazy "oh my God, we are alive still" sex, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Also, Dandelion is such an innocent little cinnamon roll, I can't deal.

“During his life, the witcher had met thieves who looked like town councilors, councilors who looked like beggars, harlots who looked like princesses, princesses who looked like calving cows and kings who looked like thieves.”

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Profile Image for jessica.
2,476 reviews29.6k followers
July 24, 2020
i accidentally watched the entire first season of ‘the witcher’ on netflix friday night and now i have a new obsession???

i wish i had decided to wait to watch the show until after i read this, because i think i would have gotten so much more out of it, but im in that early obsessive stage where i dont really care. i just want everything having to do with this world and these characters. ive never played a video game in my life, but i think i may start… or maybe i will stay in my lane and just continue the series. lol. i cant get enough of geralt. or his bromance with dandelion.

what a wonderful prologue of great things to come for this series.

individual story ratings:
- the voice of reason [***] this is okay. not really necessary, but a decent narrative to tie all the stories together.

- the witcher [****] a great introduction to geralt and the world of the witcher. very thrilling hunt and story.

- a grain of truth [****] i enjoyed this, probably because its new and not included in the netflix adaptation. i love the beauty and the beast vibes.

- the lesser evil [****] OMG THE BUTCHER OF BLAVIKEN!

- a question of price [*****] i LOVE this because it basically provides the reason for everything. i love a good origin story.

- the edge of the word [***] probably my least favourite story. dandelion is a delight, but overall the story is a little boring.

- the last wish [*****] geralt and yennefer are my OTP.

4 stars
Profile Image for  Teodora .
278 reviews1,528 followers
November 9, 2022
See this?
🌊🌊🌊
This is the whole wave created by this series.
And there is me, riding the wave with all of you: 🏄‍♀️

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺

In The Last Wish there are six stories, all knotted together by The Voice of Reason chapters. Those chapters were, in fact, happening in the present, all of the other stories except for the first one, being only memories of past adventures of the Witcher. The stories are:
1. The Witcher (4.5/5⭐)
2. A Grain of Truth (5/5⭐)
3. The Lesser Evil (5/5⭐)
4. A Question of Price (5/5⭐)
5. The Edge of the World (4/5⭐)
6. The Last Wish (5/5⭐)
___
Total rating: 4.75/5 ⭐


“There's a grain of truth in every fairy tale.”

I don’t know if you knew this from watching the adaptation, but in The Lesser Evil story Renfri was actually a version of Snow White. I literally had no idea. It blew me away. It was so good!

I also want to underline the fact that it would’ve made my life so much better if they would’ve added a special episode for A Grain of Truth story, this one being a reinterpretation of Beauty and the Beast , Nivellen being such a cool version of the Beast and Bruxa such an unexpected Beauty (she was actually a rusalka which reminds me of our Romanian rusalii).

All in all, I really enjoyed this first book. The number of legends and tales overwhelmed me and I loved everything very much. And what surprised me more is how different the characters are in the book. Geralt, especially, is a favourite of mine, definitely.

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(Book-styled)
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,065 reviews38.1k followers
August 22, 2021
I have to give you a secret! My admiration for the Witcher based on video games! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not video game fan! If I would have been, I could have never written a word or read any books! But my ugly singer neighbor’s kid (can you imagine to listen the worst covers of least likable boy bands’ song every day! I can because I have this maniac living next door) escape from his father’s encore times and hides himself at my living room with his PS4. So I started to rent my place to him in exchange of his mother’s delicious pastries! (I know I’m shameless human being) and I started to accompany with him during the games, having so much fun.

Then I searched the origin of the books and I found out they were published in Polish on 1993 at the first time. I am four lingual but Polish is not one of them. But then I realized the first English translation was on 2007. I always have doubts to read translations because sometimes books lose their enchant, soul, essence and I feel like we just get the leftovers after the big feast is served! But that’s my opinion! I still went blind and directly dive into this book because Netflix series were so confusing! (I am not talking about script or direction! I am talking about HENRY CAVILL’S EARTH SHATTERING BATH SCENE! After I saw it, I kept looking at the scene without blinking for 5 hours and my husband took me to the ER and banned me to watch the series after drooling over the images of… yes I think you got the picture clearly!!!)


I have both negative and positive feelings about this book! Firstly, instead of reading 7 different stories which are eventually connected with each other, I preferred to read an intact novel. Happily I realized the book perfectly reflected the video games’ same world building which also made me think were they based on video games or video games came after them! Of course I know the answer, I’m just teasing but they were reflected each other perfectly. Of course this is simple, pure not so depictive world building ( maybe we lost some parts of it during the translation or this book was written nearly 3 decades ago and maybe the author could have worked a different fantasy world if he could have written it now!)

I mostly enjoyed to character building! Geralt the sorcerer , an extremely skilled fighter, killer, slayer of monsters is traveler, running between journeys, sometimes he is welcomed with open arms and sometimes he runs away to save his ass as fast as he could.
Moving between different stories slowed down my pace and exhausted me a little but you got used to it as soon as losing yourself in the mythological universe ( From Celtic to Tolkien’s universe and some ancient Greek taste and maybe Grimm Brothers’ bloody nightmarish fairy tales!)

So I went back and forth between three and four stars, moving like Foucault pendulum and I stopped on 3.5 rounded to 4 stars!

Overall: this was fun, mediocre paced, interesting, action packed, high octane, entertaining and promising beginning. I need more fuel to feed myself! Now I’m banned to binge watch the series on Netflix, this is better reason to dive into more novels.
Profile Image for Gavin.
849 reviews384 followers
May 1, 2019
This is a series that has been on my to-read list for years as it is well loved by the vast majority of my Goodreads friends. I decided to finally make a start to it since the Netflix TV adaptation is due later in 2019. Reading book series before watching the TV adaptations worked out fantastic for me with Game of Thrones and Altered Carbon. Sadly, The Last Wish was a bit of a flop. I still think Netflix might get an OK TV series out of this but only if the use the concept as a basic template because the plots, worldbuilding, and the characters in this book were lacking anything deep or original.

I must admit to being a bit wary going into The Last Wish as I knew in advance it was a collection of short stories focusing on the adventures of the Witcher, Geralt. Generally I prefer serial to episodic as a story format. My feeling is the former offers the chance to tell a deeper more compelling story. Surprisingly I ended up having a bunch of issues with the book but the short story format was not one of them. I felt like Andrzej Sapkowski did a good job of giving the various short stories a coherent structure. It started with a short story of Geralt battling a monster and then recovering from his injuries in a temple. While he was recovering he reminisced about other times in his life. The result was we got a bunch of short stories that got broken up by brief flashbacks into the "present" of the story. I felt that really worked!

The stories in this collection follow the adventures of Geralt, a Witcher, as he travels the land taking jobs as a sort of monster slaying mercenary. The Witcher moniker is more than just a title though as Geralt has some magical ability of his own as well as a few (as yet unexplained) mutations that make him a bit more than human. The premise was OK in theory but the story itself fell flat as pretty much everything about it was lacking.

The worldbuilding was OK but never quite managed to be anything special or particularly interesting. The fantasy setting here was pretty generic of any fantasy series that use fairytales as the building blocks. Some of the creatures and stories were mildly interesting but there was absolutely nothing here that was in any way original. I've read this all before and often in a lot slicker fashion in a bunch of other books and series over the years. The Witchers had potential but the truth is we learned very little about them in this collection.

The characters were also a massive problem. Geralt was bland and completely throwaway. Each short story could have featured a different Witcher or random lead character and it would not have hurt this book in the slightest. Geralt had little in the way of personality and I never had any reason to get emotionally invested in his character in the early to middle parts of the book. By the end he was still bland but by then I actively disliked him. There were only two support characters of note in Dandilion and Yennifer. Both characters sucked and I hated them from the get go. Both were awful people so it was impossible to invest in them as characters I was supposed to be rooting for. It was impossible to invest in Dandilion after he tried to use two wishes to . Yennifer was almost as bad.

One thing I never noticed in any of the reviews I read for The Last Wish was the disturbing nature of the main characters and a few of the stories. I was expecting some old school misogyny and flat characterisation given that this is basically a no brain, action based, monster squashing anthology and we definitely got both those things with this one but I was caught out by some of the more disturbing elements of the story. Geralt was basically a fantasy version of James Bond. So this story had a lot of the same issues as Bond in the way that the female characters were just sex objects for Geralt to leer at or fuck his way through. That was mildly annoying but fairly standard stuff for anyone who has read any old school fantasy. More disturbing was the fact that the very first short story started with Geralt leering at a sexualized 14 year old girl! On top of that we had the . I'm honestly not sure what Sapkowski was aiming for with this stuff, maybe it was a shitty attempt at humour? If so it fell flat and the fact that Sapkowski never sold any of this stuff as a problem disturbed me. How are we meant to root for characters who are worse than most villains I've come across? You may think that is not a problem as morally grey characters are all the rage nowadays but it actually is a problem in this story as these guys are being sold to the reader as characters we are supposed to like and root for. I ended with the feeling that Sapkowski and I had a very different view of morality mostly due to the fact that he was trying to sell me Jamie Lannister like he was Clark Kent. It was bizarre! Then there was the cringe-inducing fact that all woman sorcerers were bitter ugly woman who used magic to enhance their beauty at the cost of their reproductive organs shrivelling away to nothing. That was creepy and fucked up!

All in all I was really disappointed by this one as my pre-read expectations had been pretty high due to all the hype and love this series enjoys. Perhaps I struggled with this more as I have never played any of the computer games so came with no inbuilt positive inclinations or nostalgia? I ended up a bit sad all I got was a fairly generic throwaway fantasy book that was hindered all the more by the inclusion of a few more disturbing elements.

I'm not sure if I'll press on with this series or not. Normally I'd just pull this plug at this point but I've definitely read worse over the years and that Netflix TV adaptation is still looming along with the claim (from all and sundry) that the series really gets better when the series arc kicks in on the third book.

Rating: 2.5 stars. It was on course for an average 3 star rating until the horror short story that was "The Last Wish" arrived at the end.

Audio Note: I felt like Peter Kenny did an adequate job with the audio but that he never managed to really breathe any life into the story.
Profile Image for carol..
1,501 reviews7,546 followers
February 7, 2017
I'm not one for "as seen in the movie..." or tie-in type books, so I was initially dubious about reading The Last Wish until I learned it was the inspiration for the video game. The Last Wish reads like an adult fairy-tale; not because of graphic sex or violence, but because of the melancholy and cynicism that permeate the characters. It follows the story of Geralt, a man who has become 'something more' than a man through training as a witcher. Witchers are a specialized guild, "itinerant killers of basilisks; traveling slayers of dragons and vodniks" who generally work for money killing those outlandish beasts that prey on humans. Geralt is very much the last of his kind, the drifter, riding into towns to collect a bounty, occasionally welcomed, occasionally chased.

Writing felt somewhat basic. It has that same streamlined style; basic composition, limited world-building, a focus on plot and external conflict. Though it could have been told as a straight sequence of stories in Geralt's career, Sapkowski has linked them together with Geralt telling one as background on how a particular conflict began, or how he met a certain person. Thus it slowly builds a picture of Geralt, mosaic-style. Fairy tale lore forms the basis of some of the conflicts, but the fairy-tales are interpreted in unusual ways. There's bits about towers and girls, beasts and beauties, a woman and some dwarves, and so on, that make their way into the stories.

I could absolutely visualize how this book was turned into a video game, though I haven't played it. While it may have been written first, I'd be surprised if it took much work to translate it into a game. I imagine the game might be even more interesting, allowing for fleshing out of the monsters and world. If there was a clear weakness for me, it would have been the world-building. In the first story, for instance, one of the local headman complains about all the foul things there are preying on humanity. In a later story, there are hints that these foul things are fewer and fewer, and are receding from the current age. There isn't really enough background to understand the claims or build a world-view; one has to just take these statements as context for this particular tale.

I also would have enjoyed greater detail on the 'monsters.' In general, detail was limited to the particular one in conflict with Geralt at that time, but Sapkowski is in the habit of dropping far more creature names without explanation: "All sorts of filth has sprung up. Mahakam, in the mountains, is teeming with bogeymen... it's kobolds and spriggans wherever you spit, werewolves or some other vermin. Fairies and rusalkas snatch children from villages..." These are all incidental, but do serve to confuse a bit more, as I recognize names from a large assortment of ethnic traditions. If Seanan McGuire had written this, there would be loads of detail about the 'monsters.'

At any rate, it's fun. It doesn't all center on killing monsters. Woven in are conflicts with sorcerers, a fair amount of problem-solving to everyone's satisfaction, and sometimes problem-solving to everyone's dissatisfaction. It's diverting, but easily finished without being filling, kind of like Chex-mix. A notch up from potato chips, a tad spicy, and a little bit of difference from story to story.

A solid three and a half stars.
Profile Image for Adina.
777 reviews2,944 followers
January 28, 2022
Review in Romana

Audiobook narat de Ionut Grama

Ultima Dorinta a fost primul audiobook pe care l-am ascultat in romana si mi-a placut chiar mult. De curand s-a lansat o aplicatie de audiobooks numita Echo si am zis sa o incerc. Nici nu stiam cat de mult aveam nevoie de acest produs. Daca va place sa auziti cartile give it a go. O scurta observatie, nu am nici o treaba cu ei, nu e reclama, doar scriu ca exista.

Bun, sa ne intoarcem la carte. Nu prea citesc carti in romana, din acest motiv am avut emotii cand am inceput sa ascult. Cartea este tradusa intr-un limbaj destul de neaos, sa zic asa, in anumite cazuri folosind accente si regionalisme. Habar nu am cum a fost scrisa in original. Daca la inceput am fost un pic circumspecta, pana la urma mi s-a parut ca stilul se potriveste de minune cu povestile si cu personajele. Ionut Grama mi s-a parut ca da viata personajelor si m-a facut dependenta de vocea lui pentru a continua povestea. Atat de mult ca le-am scris celor de la Echo sa ii intreb cand apare continuarea. Din pacate am de asteptat pana in Ianuarie desi vroiam sa citesc primele doua volume pana apare sezonul 2 din serial. Asta e, am incercat sa ascult un sample in engleza dar nu merge.

In caz ca mai e vreun fan Fantasy care inca nu stie, primele doua volume sunt o serie de povesti care relateaza aventurile lui Geralt din Rivia, un vanator de monstrii. In timp ce se reface ls un templu dupa o batalie, Superman (I mean Geralt) isi aduce aminte de mai mult episoade cheie din trecutul lui. Tonul scrierii este si amuzant, si filozofic, aventurile si vorbele cu talc nu lipsesc.

Am citit mai mult reviewuri care ar spune ca romanul este sexist. Mda, este un pic, dar cumva nu m-a deranjat prea tare. Merita citit oricum, mi s-a parut special.

A few words in English: I watched the Tv series before reading the book. Although most of the stories in the novel are present in the series, I still enjoyed reading the book. It was funny, interesting writing and translation.
Profile Image for Petrik.
654 reviews39.7k followers
March 26, 2022
Review copy was provided by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

It somehow felt like I was reading Geralt doing his side quests in the game.

Similar to millions of gamers—now readers—around the world, I heard about The Witcher book series through the video games adaptation. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt remains one of the best open-world role-playing games I’ve played, and even though it has been years since I finished the game, I still think about my 100+ hours of adventure with the game. More than six years have passed since I first finished The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and I’ve wanted to know more about the characters, magic, and world I felt invested in. It’s not until The Last Wish Illustrated Edition published by Orbit Books and Gollancz came out a few months ago that I finally took the plunge to start reading the series. As someone who loves the game a LOT, and considering that this is a different medium of storytelling compared to the books, I honestly don’t expect the books (this time) would be able to live up to the satisfaction and escapism I got from playing the games. I’m not saying the books can’t achieve that; from my experience, books (original material) are often superior to their adaptations. But compared to Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I don’t think the books can match the quality of storytelling and experience from playing the game. However, the video games adaptation is supposedly a continuation of the books series. And I fully expect I would love reading the books, too. If not, why even bother reading, right? I will be reviewing The Last Wish based on my thoughts on the overall book instead of a specific review for each short story. And at the end, I will also be giving my thoughts on the illustrated edition and whether you should buy it or not.

Picture: The Last Wish by Navar



The Last Wish is—chronologically—the first set of short stories in The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski, but publication wise, The Last Wish was published after Sword of Destiny. It has frequently been mentioned, The Last Wish worked so well as an introduction to the characters and world of The Witcher Saga, and as far as a reading-guide goes, I think The Last Wish indeed worked nicely as—technically—the first book of the series. There are seven short stories in The Last Wish, and one of the short stories, titled The Voice of Reason, takes place in the present timeframe. Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher. After being injured in battle, he's resting in a temple during the present timeframe. He's recounting some of the recent events he encountered, and these flashbacks are told in a short story format, but there's one exception. The present timeframe is a short story/novella interspersed throughout the novel. I read Hyperion by Dan Simmons last month, and the relatively unconventional format of The Last Wish reminded me of that.

“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.”


If you know my reading taste, then you'll probably know that I'm not a fan of short stories in fantasy. I tend to find them underwhelming due to their short length. The Last Wish, and probably Sword of Destiny, have this working against their favor. Or at least that's what I thought, but that's certainly not the case. I've watched the two seasons available so far in the TV series adaptation of The Witcher, this means I knew the events in this collection of short stories already. That's why it's so surprising to me that I still found myself intrigued by the narrative. Other than The Edge of the World, which was underwhelming, I enjoyed every other short story here. My thoughts on the characters are, undoubtedly, influenced by my feelings on the characters of the games. I don't think I can change this no matter how hard I try. I read this collection of short stories, my thoughts and imagination treat the narrative as a prequel to the video games. Whether they're actually canon or not, at this moment, they are canon in my head. And because of this, I am slightly more receptive and biased towards the characters and the world. Even if we only get to see glimpses and an introduction to them here, it felt like I was reading the origin story of The Witcher video games characters I came to love. A Grain of Truth, The Lesser Evil, and A Question of Price, were my favorite short stories in The Last Wish.

“Evil is evil, Stregobor,” said the witcher seriously as he got up. “Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I’m not a pious hermit. I haven't done only good in my life. But if I’m to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”


I didn't have much of an issue reading The Last Wish. Themes of morality and ambiguous characters' actions were discussed well in a relatively short novel. That being said, as I mentioned earlier, having watched the TV series already definitely decreased my satisfaction. Only alternate reality Petrik could confirm this, but I would've enjoyed The Last Wish more if I hadn't watched the TV series adaptation. Also, this has been talked about many times, but prose-wise, some sentences here and there felt a bit awkward. I personally didn't mind them too much. Plus, I heard from many sources that this issue is caused due to the quality of translation rather than Sapkowki's prose. Other than these, I think this is a solid collection of short stories. It somehow felt like I was watching Geralt doing side quests in the game. I had a great time reading it, and I look forward to reading Sword of Destiny next month.

“They weren't lying. They firmly believed it all. Which doesn't change the facts.”


Now, I will review the illustrated edition. Published by Orbit Books in US and Gollancz in the UK, I am more than fortunate enough to receive both US and UK editions of the book to make a comparison. But as far as the comparison between the two goes, the illustrated edition looks almost exactly the same. The new cover art by Tommy Arnold looks gorgeous, and the stunning hardcover edition featured a special naked hardcover appearance with a quote from the book. Both editions have a slight difference in the design of the naked hardcover, and the color on the cover art looks different as well; the US edition is red, the UK edition is maroon. Also, the US edition has a thinner paper than the UK edition, but the US edition is floppier than the UK edition.

Picture: The Last Wish Illustrated Edition by Tommy Arnold Plus the Naked Hardcover




That's pretty much where the differences between the two ended. In addition to the beautiful red and black hardcover, the illustrated edition also featured beautiful endpapers, AND the main course of it all, eight exquisite interior illustrations by a range of award-winning artists. The artists involved in this edition (in order of appearances for their work) are Tommy Arnold, Kiri Østergaard Leonard, Bruce Brenneise, Jeremy Wilson, Jen Bartel, Allen Williams, Martina Fačková, and Winona Nelson. I think every artist did a spectacular job for the story they got to do, but my favorites will have to be Tommy Arnold's art on The Grain of Truth, Bruce Brenneise's art on The Lesser Evil, and Martina Fačková's art on The Last Wish.


Picture: The Last Wish by Martina Fackova



The artworks I shared should provide enough reasonings on whether you should buy this edition or not. I personally say yes, absolutely. I'm a huge fan of illustrated editions. Great interior artworks could enhance the quality of the narrative, and this is definitely one of those cases. It must've been difficult for Lauren Panepinto to choose the artists for this collection of short stories. But I think Panepinto succeeded at picking the right artists. For instance, I can't get enough of Brenneise's art on The Lesser Evil. If you've read or watched the short story, pay attention to the artwork again. This is after The Butcher of Blaviken scene, and the color and depiction displayed the weight of guilt and blood spilled caused in choosing The Lesser Evil. It is brilliant, really.

Picture: The Lesser Evil by Bruce Brenneise



Overall, yes. If you're a fan of The Witcher, this is worth putting into your collection. If you haven't started reading the series, this is a beautiful edition to begin your adventure. The illustrated edition is handled by Lauren Panepinto from Orbit Books, and I sincerely wish there will be more illustrated editions for the rest of the series. I personally think the illustrated edition, for its price, is so worth it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the sales for the illustrated edition will result in an announcement for Sword of Destiny illustrated edition soon.

You can order this book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel

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Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
398 reviews2,164 followers
June 7, 2017
Fantasy isn't really my thing, but this was enjoyable enough. It's nice to read some non-English fantasy, especially since this didn't seem to be as influenced by the usual Tolkien style stories as most English written epic fantasy. A few of the stories were casually misogynistic, but there were also some really good ones in here as well. The second half is much, much better than the first.


The Voice of Reason: 3/5
Kind of an interstitial story, broken up into chapters between each other story. A clever way to tie it all together into a more cohesive novel, comprised of several mostly unconnected stories.

The Witcher: 3/5
I enjoyed the world built here, and the concept of a striga being born of a curse, etc. Sort of a tragic story, but seems to be a good introduction to the Witcher. Little girl monster idea seems a little played out, but whatever.

A Grain of Truth: 2/5
Sort of like a twisted Grimm fairy tale. The casual misogynistic tone that this one took was pretty bothersome, and Geralt’s “code” isn’t really making sense to me yet. It seems to just be whatever the plot needs it to be. He takes pity on a man who is turned into a monster by the priestess that he raped, and then saves him from his new girlfriend who (TA-DA!) turns out to be a monster who is just using him for protection. So far there's a theme of women being evil.

The Lesser Evil: 1/5
The “monster” that Geralt has to kill in this one is literally just a woman trying to exact revenge on a wizard who conspired against her, ruined her life and is responsible for her having to sell herself for food. The wizard happens to be Geralt’s sort of friend? The wizard is also a real piece of shit, Geralt refuses to go up against him, and instead tries to convince the woman to forgive this wizard - because of this illusive “code” that he follows. Of course, that’s not happening, so he has to kill her (after he has sex with her of course). Oh, but he feels really bad about it later so...

A Question of Price: 4/5
This one was really fun, and dealt with some cool cultural aspects and social conventions of the world that exists here. It gave some interesting background info on Geralt, and feels like it’s setting up a return for some of these characters.

The Edge of the World: 3/5
Halfway through it played out a lot differently than I thought it would. Built up some cool mythology of the world, still kind of a plain story though. The innocent looking girl didn’t end up being a monster. Wait, is this the same author as the other stories?

The Last Wish: 4/5
Best story of the collection, most definitely the best written story as well. Every character felt real, and 3 dimensional. Yennefer is pretty bad ass, maybe this author isn't always a misogynist?
Profile Image for Ronda.
849 reviews118 followers
January 11, 2022
So, probably like a few others, I decided to read this book because the series left me with questions! I didn't watch the full first series because of my confusion.

The book is well written and as depicted it is an introduction to The Witcher, a good one at that, and to be fair, the series (the bit I watched) wasn't actually that far off.

I'm not sure I'll pick up book 1, it's not my kind of story but if you did watch the series I can imagine these books would definitely appeal to you 😊
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,845 reviews16.3k followers
December 10, 2019
The Last Wish, first published in Polish in 1993 and later in an English edition in 2007 by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, is a cool and different approach to high fantasy, distinct from Tolkien inspired adventures.

More akin to urban fantasy, Sapkowski’s The Witcher (Wiedźmin), was published in Fantastyka, Poland's leading fantasy literary magazine and the protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, is closer to Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden than to Aragorn.

A witcher is kind of a cross between a sorcerer and a fighter with special training allowing him to fight and kill monsters.

Sapkowski crafts together a series of connected shorter works with a framing story as Geralt recalls past adventures. There are various references to central European / Grimm’s fairy tales fantasy that further separates this work from most other high fantasy works.

Good fun.

description
December 30, 2021

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THE LAST WISH is a series of intertwined short stories, many of which are interesting and creative retellings of European fairytales (such as telling the story of Cindrella with a striga!). Nine times out of ten, I would urge people to read the book before watching the film or the television show, but in this instance, I would actually recommend the opposite. The world of Geralt of Rivia is a complex one with many characters and details, and watching the show first really helps you imagine it more clearly, as well as giving you more of an emotional stake.



I loved the television show when I watched it. It was everything I had hoped Game of Thrones would be, and wasn't. There's an incredibly diverse cast, many of the women characters are strong and interesting, and Geralt of Rivia is a surprisingly compassionate and noble hero who is completely kick-butt but not at the cost of his humanity (although he might disagree). I fell in love with the world from the first episode and it doesn't hurt that Henry Cavill and Anya Chalotra are total babes.



Reading the book was an interesting experience because it was really interesting to see what changed in the show and what was removed. You're thrown into the action right from the beginning with a striga (vampire-like creature) and it never slows from there-- fight scenes, emotional conflict, court intrigue, magic. The book has everything! The arc with Renfri destroyed me inside just as it did in the show, and the trick Yennefer plays on Geralt for ogling her made me cackle just as it did in the show. But the chapter about Nivellen and his enchanted house (Beauty and the Beast?) didn't seem to be included, which is a shame, as I thought that was a really dark and interesting chapter. So Gothic.



THE LAST WISH is one of those books that will appeal to most people who love fantasy but will appeal more and gain more depth if you have a rich background in folklore and history. I grew up with tons of books of fairytales from a number of cultures, including Eastern Europe (so, things like The Shoemaker's Apron and The Glass Mountain) and the Middle East, some of which are referenced here. Like Sapkowski casually references Ifrits (spelled afreets here), which are Islamic fire demons!



I would honestly recommend this book to anyone who liked the epic fantasy world of Game of Thrones but felt let down by the characters and the representation. I loved Yennefer, who was allowed to be strong and complex but wasn't villified in the book. I loved the friendship between Geralt and Dandelion (renamed Jaskier in the show), and the easy camaraderie between them. I loved the morality in this world and how richly it explored the concepts of good and evil, the thin line between them, and what it means to be noble, right, and human, even if we don't see ourselves that way.



This is such a deep book and I loved it so much. I can't wait for the second season (and the second book). Seriously, I've been let down by so many fantasy novels, it feels good to see one become so popular that I actually really enjoyed.



4.5 stars
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
670 reviews1,025 followers
April 4, 2020
“You protect us not only from the evil lurking in the darkness, but also from that which lies within ourselves.”

3.5 ⭐️

I’m glad I watched the series before picking up this book. I loved the characters, the imagination and the wit. But they are short stories and there are a lot of different characters so it would have been easy to get lost if I didn’t already know who was who and what was what.

I love Geralt and the bard Dandilion, the different monsters he fights (which sometimes bore similarities to fairytales).

Overall I enjoyed this one and I will pick up the next one when I can.

**************

So I’ve just seen they’re making a Netflix show out of this series. I can’t believe I’d never heard of it before, this sounds awesome!
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,365 reviews9,428 followers
July 9, 2017
Hmmmm, I listened to this on audio instead of reading my paperback and the sound was really low so I didn't catch all of it. I know! I'm going to have dad pick me up some proper headphones for the tablet. If I order some they will be wrong and blow things up!



I enjoyed the stories of Geralt and I really, really, really want to play the game! But I was told it was only for PS4 and I have PS3 =( That sucks, really, really, really sucks! I don't know if or when I could ever get a PS4 so I shall wait.

I also think I could be in love with Geralt, don't judge me! I fall in love with lots of them in my books, so there.

Anyhoo, I'm going to read the rest of them and not try the audio from Overdrive just in case. It's great for re-reads but I don't know. The narrator for this book was Peter Kenny and he did an awesome job!

PS ~ Does anyone know when the Netflix show is coming out? < --- well, that was a duh moment, I could just google it.

Fin!
March 29, 2021
I tried to make this short. I really did. I failed. I really did.

One thing before we begin this thing: I had never heard of this book/series/author until my Canadian Nemesis (aka Evgeny the Sometimes Wise One) read it/it/him. And given that a) The Sometimes Wise One's book taste is not entirely despicable and that b) The Sometimes Wise One seemed inclined to think I might not entirely not enjoy this book were I to read it, I decided to be bold and audacious and adventurous and stuff. Now let's put this fantastically fascinating paragraph through my Wondrous Summarizing Anti-BS Machine (WSABSM™) and see what we get: "Evgeny liked it, he said I might too, so I gave it a try." Much more concise and to the point, I agree, but completely lacking in style and flourish. In other words, it sucks.

Another thing before we begin this thing: I had no idea a super excellent awesome popular video game was based on this series. I have to admit I'm sorta out of the loop when it comes to gaming. I mean, the last time I played a video game, it was Pac-Man. On my Atari 2600. Because I'm cool like that.



Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I haven't even started non-reviewing this book and you're already exhausted. I'll do my best to cut the crap henceforth, but you really should work on your endurance, my Lovely Arthropods, it would make my life much easier. In advance, I thank thee.

So. This little book here. It's actually a collection of short stories. Well not really, no. Well yes, but not exactly. Which makes it super uber cool and fresh and stuff. It's like this: at the beginning of the book, my new boyfriend, Geralt, is convalescing in a temple after one too many I Am a Badass Witcher Sessions (IAaBWS™). And while he's resting and recuperating and stuff, he recounts some of his Gloriously Magnificent Adventures (GMA™). And it just so happens that his GMA™ are based on a most wondrous mix of mythology and fairytales. Which is pretty sensational, if you ask me. Especially since this world is exquisitely dark and delectably slaughterish and scrumptiously bloody and stuff. These ain't no cutesy fairytales, my Tiny Decapods! Silly Disney stuff, begone! Snow White Renfri the Impaler is in the house! And she is ever so slightly pissed off! And it is a beautiful thing to behold indeed!



Now. About the newest addition to my High Security Harem, aka my boyfriend Geralt: Geralt is a super hot mutant whose mission in life is to kill monsters and weird creatures and other evil stuff of the sort. Geralt kicks serious ass. Geralt displays a Delicious Sense of Snark (DSoS™). And Geralt is totally hot. I mean, they call him the Butcher of Blaviken. Rings a bell? No? Are you sure? Sigh. As clueless as ever. How about the Butcher of Merida? Sounds familiar? Ha! I knew I wasn't the only one who had a soft spot for butchers around here! So. Butcher of Blaviken = Butcher of Merida = TOTALLY HOT. QED and stuff.

Having so brilliantly demonstrated that Geralt was hot and that Geralt was mine, I shall now tell you about the monsters and weird creatures and other evil stuff my Geralt hunts so competently. And I would like to take a moment to commend Mr Sapkowski on his Exceptional Equal Opportunity Mindset (EEOM™). All monstrosities and beasts and freaks and bizarre things get a chance in his world. I'm pretty sure this is the book J.K. Rowling based her research for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on. I mean, check this out: we have basilisks, dragons and vodniks (don't ask). We have strigas and gnomes and manticores and wyverns. And foglers and aeschnas and ilyocorisses and chimeras and leshys and vampires and ghouls and graveirs and werewolves and giant scorpions and black anises and kikimoras and vyppers and water sprites and myriapodans and flying drakes and trolls and djinns and nymphs and driads and mecopterans and griffins and spectres. And amphisboenas, too. For good measure. I'm telling you, people, the San Diego Zoo is a complete joke compared to this world. But hey, at least it's much safer. Maybe.



Okay, almost there {insert sighs of utter relief and complete alleviation here}. There is one last thing I need to talk about here. My former new girlfriend Yennefer *breaks down and cries* Yennefer is slightly awesome. Because Yennefer is devious and Yennefer curses and Yennefer kicks and Yennefer swears and Yennefer punches and bloody hell I am SO in love. But Markus the Selfish says he claimed her before I did. He won't care, won't share and won't let me stash her away in my harem. He is cruel and greedy and has forced me to swear a blood oath as per which I am unwillingly forced to give up all claims to her body and soul. Which sucks BIG TIME, if you ask me. But I shall be strong! I shall be brave! I shall be fearless and shall face adversity heroically! I am nefarious! I shall survive! I shall prevail! And stuff!

» And the moral of this Butchering Monsters is the Most Wondrous Line of Work Ever Crappy Non Review (BMitMWLoWECNR™) is: Geralt is amazing. Geralt is hot. And Geralt is mine. Ha.

» And the other moral of this Butchering Monsters is the Most Wondrous Line of Work Ever Crappy Non Review (BMitMWLoWECNR™) is:



Obviously.

· Book 2: Sword of Destiny ★★★
· Book 3: Blood of Elves ★★★
· Book 4: The Time of Contempt ★★



[Pre-review nonsense]

Bloody. Freaking. Shrimp.

I have a new boyfriend. His name is Geralt. He is a hot mutant of sorts. He hotly hunts weird things. And he is slightly hot. And and, he is slightly MINE.



Oh, and I also have a new girlfriend. Her name is Yennefer. Markus seems to think he claimed her long ago, but he is slightly delusional, so pay him no mind.

► Full Time to Build a New High Security Wing in the Harem, Crustaceans, My New Boyfriend and Girlfriend are Coming to Stay Crappy Non Review (TtBaNWitHCMNBaGaCtSCPR™) to come.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,099 reviews44.1k followers
March 22, 2022
The television show finally brought me over to this series, and in anticipation for the second season I decided to read the first book. I was not disappointed!

This just has so many things going for it. Monsters, squabbling noble families, different races and lots of magic. Beyond that though, what makes it stand out for me is its engagement with fairy tales, myth and its own history. I feel like this world has existed for a long time. I feel like we are just stepping into it. This is a really important element when it comes to fantasy world building because it gives the world depth; it gives it possibilities: it means the plot can go pretty much anywhere because it’s full of stories to be told.

A neutral hero?

“Evil is Evil. Lesser, greater, middling… Makes no difference. The degree is arbitary. The definition’s blurred. If I’m to choose between one evil and another… I’d rather not choose at all.”

I often found that Geralt’s opinion of himself (and opinion of his actions) did not always correspond with what they are. In morality terms, he is often forced to make a hard choice. He is forced to kill people (not just monsters.) And he becomes conflicted and haunted by his past actions. He sees only the deed itself rather than the consequences or the further death he may (or may not have) prevented. And this helped push the plot forward and shape Geralt as a character and a hero because he is a hero (despite what he may think.)

This is told in episodes. It doesn’t quite work like a normal novel and there isn’t much in the way of reference to previous events across sections. I think the links will become much stronger across books, here though they felt loosely connected which is fine because it made the world feel large and Geralt’s deeds quite numerous. This is but a glimpse into his adventures.

For now though, this book is a great introduction to this series. I can quite easily see this becoming one of my favourites in the genre. It is dark and things are never as simple as they seem. One thing is very clear though, even this early on, the most monstrous thing Gerald will ever encounter is man.

Short Story Collections
1. The Last Wish - 4.25 stars
2. The Sword of Destiny - C/R

The Witcher Series
1. The Blood of Elves - 4.0 stars

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Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,208 followers
Want to read
June 24, 2020
watched it, loved it, now reading it
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
514 reviews108 followers
April 22, 2019
Overall pretty fun! There were some generic epic fantasy issues, especially mundane sexism, which was boringly rampant. The dialogue was also pretty uneven, had way too much exposition, and varied wildly in tone, but some of that at least had to be the translator's fault.

But the mythology was great, and it opens up some great mysteries for the series. I particularly liked the references to and retellings of old myths a lot (was there something about an evil Snow White???). The world feels expansive and alive thanks to the glimmers of myth and history we're given.

And obviously Geralt the witcher is a super cool character, roaming the world trying to help people with monster problems but getting involved in local politics and intrigue instead. Great constant shades of gray in every story.

Still, I'm not sure I'll go back for more. Is it worth reading the other books in the series?
Profile Image for Bookwraiths.
698 reviews1,025 followers
December 17, 2016
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

Before picking up The Last Wish, I was briefed by my friends on what to expect, prepared to experience a pulp fiction story similar to Robert E. Howard’s Conan and Michael Moorcock’s Elric, so I was not surprised to find this novel a “frame” tale collecting a series of unrelated short stories. Certainly, I could see that there was an overarching plot right under the surface, but the fascinating thing about this volume was the unique spin on old fairy tales, the compelling introduction to the main character. And so — for the type of book it was — this initial installment of The Witcher series was was a damn fine read.

The protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, is a witcher: A man trained and transformed to hunt and destroy monsters. In his world, monsters — few though they may be — still torment humankind, and to be rid of their threat, nobles and commoners alike are willing to employ witchers to hunt down and destroy these creatures. But though he and his fellow witchers are useful, Geralt’s kind is not loved, but viewed as a necessary evil at best, charlatans at worst. Even worse is the reality that as witchers go about ridding the world of vile threat, they are, in reality, slowly creating a world which does not need or want them in society. This inevitable situation leading Geralt to struggle to find a balance in life, second guessing his decisions and, ultimately, causing him to look for a new place to create a new life.

Obviously, my favorite part of The Last Wish was getting to know the mysterious Geralt; the tidbits of information about his past and his hopes for the future delectable morsels that I savored, even as I was thrilled by his pulse-pounding monster hunting adventures. The horror infused and moody atmosphere of many of his adventures especially compelling.

As for criticisms, I don’t have any important ones. Certainly, the translation from Polish into English did result in a few rough edges and problematic prose here and there, but it wasn’t too distracting. And, no, I personally did not love Dandelion very much (though I realize other readers seem to adore him); his more humorous personality detracting from the moody atmosphere which otherwise prevailed around Geralt at all times. But these were minor issues in the scope of the reading experience.

Overall, The Last Wish was a great introduction to The Witcher series. This book delivering a nice collection of stories which introduced me to this world, entertained me with intriguing adventures, and inspired me to carry on with Andrzej Sapkowski’s well loved fantasy series. Definitely, I want more of the dark, brooding magic of the initial stories in this volume, but I am willing to endure more Dandelion if that is the only way I can see where Geralt’s path takes him.
Profile Image for Hamad.
971 reviews1,285 followers
October 28, 2019
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“There’s a grain of truth in every fairy tale”


★ One reason that made me the reader I am today are fairy tales! I grew up reading them and I like how they usually deliver a full story in the least number of words!

★ Do you know what else I love? I think you do because I am always shouting this but I love mythology! This book is based on Slavic mythology (At least that’s what Google tells me so correct me if I am wrong.) and it is my first time venturing into this world and as usual, I loved it.

★ I read this for 2 main reasons: it is going to be a Netflix show so I needed to get into it before it is too late, The box set had a good price online and I wanted to know if I should get it, the short answer is that I did not and you will understand why at the end of this review.

★ The writing was good. I guess for a series started in last century, it would not be fair to criticize it in today’s standards! The writing was enjoyable although sometimes a bit confusing! The stories are kind of predictable and repetitive! There is a curse an it has to do with love and some random person turns into an animal! At least that’s what I felt. The endings of some of these stories felt a bit cryptic and not direct and I had to actually think a bit about what it meant and then check it online. Maybe part of that is explained by the translation so I can never be 100% sure!

“Nonsense,” said the witcher. “And what’s more, it doesn’t rhyme. All decent predictions rhyme.”


★ The characters were unique and fleshed out but I can not say that I was a big fan of any! The Main characters are all good, Geralt can be a Gary Stu sometimes so some readers may not like that! I had a problem with the other secondary characters in each story because I had troubles getting all those names into my brain and they were not easy names!

★ The world building is cool. I wanted to learn more about this mythology and that’s exactly what I got! I also liked the fact that we are thrown into these stories but it felt familiar and I was quickly a part of that world. I really liked this part of the author’s writing!

★ I need to mention that I am not familiar with this series form the games so I am totally unbiased here! I just saw that it is recommended to start with the 2 short story collections and then the main series. Many readers were saying that those 2 anthologies are the best in the series and although I enjoyed this one and I will read the second one, I heard the main series is more political, less mythological and has a different translator (This one was better?) and that it gets more dense! I was afraid to get into the series and not enjoy it as much as I did here so I refrained from buying the box but will read the first book in the main series and decide what to do from there if it makes sense!

“No. I’ve no time to waste. Winter’s coming.”


You can get more books from Book Depository
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,934 reviews425 followers
September 28, 2018
I used to read pretty much nothing but High Fantasy, with a dash of Dickens here and there, and the occasional other classic, but High Fantasy was where I mostly lived. Deciding that there was more to reading than High Fantasy (which I absolutely and truly believe) I moved away and left it alone for a little while. Magician was really the first book I read that broke the High Fantasy drought, but it wasn't very good and I was disappointed. But it did make me hunger for some fantasy again...

And so we come to The Last Wish. It being one of the 1100+ books on my kindle, I didn't go out of my way to read a blurb or find out what it was about. All I did was find out which book in The Witcher series was the first book and started on it.

It was confusing at first, as very well it should be. The Last Wish is a collection of short stories that are set in the world of the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia and they follow his trials, from battling monsters to falling in love. I went in thinking it was the first book of a series-a general High Fantasy Trilogy that are so prevalent in that genre. That was wrong and it knocked me off my stride. But once you figure that out, you find yourself reading something pretty special.

The writing was pretty good, though how much of that is original author and how much is translation is something I don't wish to get in to. The action was fast, the pacing was good even for short stories. I dislike short stories as a rule but still read them if I don't have a solid reason not to. These short stories are different in that there is one story that runs throughout and the rest act as flashbacks.

The mingling effect of having re-written well-known fairy tales from our own world was really effective and very enjoyable. It was fun to see these stories almost set in a time and place where they actually belong-a world that has actual magic and monster, as opposed to our world where these things are only metaphors. It was fun to see how these tales were mingled, twisted and done and they were done really well, but they weren't really changed in to anything that very different and that let it down a little.

The humour was often times lacking and felt forced most of the time. I enjoy humour in what would be considered as serious books, but it wasn't particularly great here. I'd describe it as generic fantasy humour. I also thought the dialogue was fairly pathetic in most cases and let the stories as a whole down. Whilst I like people to speak normally instead of "thee" and "thou", this went too far and each character was a potty-mouthed arsehole most of the time.

And finally, to keep this short (it's getting longer than I intended it to be) I'd like to re-iterate some things. These stories are probably more of a 4-5 star read for what they are. High Fantasy, sword slashing, myths, magic and Mordor. They're fun and just what Fantasy is perceived to be. But for me, and why they're only 3 star, is that they only conform to the standards of High Fantasy and aren't breaking the mould. There's a minimal effort to create really good female characters. Having one female character who is in charge of her own destiny isn't good enough, particularly considering she's used magic to make herself "beautiful" and ends up being just a Vagina in the end anyway. The other women are mostly naked, whores, or victims, or mysteriously beautiful beings with magic powers but little else. Or old wise women who just sit and be wise. Magic powers and wisdom alone does not make a strong, interesting character. Strong, interesting characters do not need only be the protagonists.

And, similarly, male characters who are solely obsessed with tits and big swords is getting a little old, too.

For me, I need to see more progress made in this area. Sure, that might not be why you read High Fantasy and for you this book will probably be 4, no, 5 stars. But I realised how much I loved High Fantasy, and how much I still love it, and I want to see it change for the better and the only way to do that is by expressing my own opinion only and not letting populism get in the way.



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Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,680 followers
February 19, 2020
UPDATE 2/19/2020: I got a copy of the video game from the library. I have only played it for a couple of hours but it is very good. At this point, I am enjoying it better than I enjoyed the book! :)

Okay . . . so . . . there is a video game (or games) and a TV show. Until everyone started gushing about the TV show, I had never heard of this. I really think perhaps if I had played the game I may have been more into this book. I wanted to check it out so I could try out the TV show, but I am not quite sure how excited I am to watch it anymore.

2.5 to 3 stars – and, from what I gather, that will be an unpopular opinion. I am guessing that perhaps many of my Goodreads friends are gamers?

I usually enjoy short chapters and short stories, but this one felt choppy to me. Little bit of story – DONE! Little bit more – DONE! Some new story – DONE! I never got really comfortable with the characters or any of the plots because the snippets I was getting were not enough to grab me. And, when it did get into a longer conversation, it just felt like incoherent rambling.

Now comes the HOWEVER . . .

I did find bits throughout that I did enjoy. Some plot points and a few of the relationships were interesting. There was a scattering of humorous moments that gave me a chuckle. I liked it enough that I may watch an episode or two and I may check out another book in the series. But I am not rushing out to do so, and I am not confident that I will have a better experience with it in the future. Here’s to hoping that I am wrong!
Profile Image for Knjigoholičarka.
150 reviews8 followers
July 8, 2018
Review iz 2014.:

Iako nemam šta pametno za reći, osećam da moram da napišem nešto o knjizi koju sam pročitala u 24 sata, doduše, nije da sam čitala sve vreme, stigla sam i kupatilo da oribam.

Elem, epska fantastika nije moj fah, moram priznati. Ok, "Hobit" je sladak, i "Gospodara prstenova" sam na jedvite jade izgulila, drugari me za rođendan uvalili u "Točak vremena", a treći drugar, podjednako sadistički nastrojen, u "Pesmu leda i vatre". Gde da strpam Lukjanjenkove knjige o moskovskoj Straži, još uvek ne znam. Urbana epska fantastika? Urbani vampirsko-pandurski roman? Ček, tu je i Zelazny... dammit. Moja tvrdnja pade u vodu poput pijanog ribara.

Anyway... browsam ja tako juče po knjižari i setim se da nisam kupila stvari koje sam trebala da kupim jer sam, gle čuda, zaboravila otići u prodavnicu i same me noge odnele do "Bulevar Books-a". Baš mi se čitalo nešto ZABAVNO. I skontam Vešca na polici. (Naravno, ja sam od onih seljaka koji je prvo čuo za igricu, pa tek onda za knjigu.) Duuugo sam se ja opirala, neeeću da čitam Vešca, to ima sedam knjiga, neeeću i neeeću... i šta da radim? Na polici ostao jedan jedincati primerak prve knjige serijala. Stoji knjiga sama, niko je neće. Pogužvana joj malo korica, pa možda zato. I meni bilo žao, pa odlučim da je udomim.

I tako, nakon što sam sinoćke shvatila da je polufinale SP u fudbalu tek narednog dana i da se vreme neće ubiti samo od sebe, odlučim da se pozabavim novoudomljenim siročetom.

Geralte... tiii... užasni čoveče. Vešče. Belokosi vuče. Whatever. Što bi rekli Mobi Dik iz veselih devedesetih, "Bacio si čiinii čiinii činičini naaa meeeneee!"

Ne znam da li ste primetili, ali kod slovenskih (naročito ruskih) pisaca fantastike, nemoguće je zaobići pomalo melanholičan ton pripovedanja. Uvek se tu nekako tiho prikrade i bar poneko pitanje o smislu života. Pozicije običnog, malog, smrtnog ljudskog bića u odnosu na ovaj veliki svet koji nas okružuje i prirodu. Strepnja za budućnost. Duša. Čovečnost. Šampioni ove inteligentne suptilnosti da od fantastike naprave ozbiljan žanr koji itekako daje povoda za razmišljanje su braća Strugacki. Odjeci njihovih dubokih i dirljivih premišljanja mogu se naći čak i u senzacionalističkom "Metrou 2033" Gluhovskog, kao i u Lukjanjenkovim pričama o Noćnoj straži (doduše u manjoj meri, ipak je to klasičan pandurski roman. Ali ruski pandurski roman. Nešto kao Filip Marlou u borbi protiv vampira, koji kod kuće čita samo Dostojevskog).

Sapkovski, iako ne Rus, već Poljak, takođe poseduje suptilnost i nežnost u pripovedanju, mada se trudi da ne baca previše direktnih aluzija o "velikim temama" čitaocu u lice, već na maltene minimalistički način, kroz dela svojih likova, ostavlja na volju čitaocu hoće li se samo dobrano zabavljati prateći Geraltove avanture, ili će tu i tamo izoštriti uho za poneku kritiku ljudske prirode, budući da je svet o kome Sapkovski priča, odraz našeg sveta, pojačan maštom i obojen mogućnostima koje ona pruža.

Iako tu i tamo ima ponekih manjkavosti (hej, a koja fantastika nema bar neki zdrljan deo?), autor je uspeo da epizodičnošću i neobičnim "tajmlajnom" događaja postigne odličnu dinamiku radnje koja ne umara čitaoca, već pruža predah kada je potreban, ne davi suvišnim detaljima (da Džordane, TEBE GLEDAM!!) i postigne izuzetnu životnost likova koji, iako imaju potencijala za zgodan holivudski kliše, to ne postaju ni u jednom trenutku.

Sjajna stvar je i to što postoji čak i "comic relief" u vidu poslednje Geraltove priče, njegovog sećanja na upoznavanje sa ženom koja je postala jedina ljubav i najveća patnja njegovog života - apsurdno, ali efektno! Takođe, Sapkovski se oslanja na elemente slovenske mitologije i folklora, a uspešno parodira i popularne bajke - tu i tamo bljesne poneka slika koja nas podseti na Snežanu, Pepeljugu, ali taman toliko da izmami osmeh, i da se savršeno uklopi u tok radnje.

Naravno, u svemu ovome treba imati u vidu i da sam se ja uželela ovakvih stvari. Ne može se živeti samo na Džojsu i Šekspiru, a kao nekome ko je oduvek imao bujnu maštu, povremeni izleti u fantastiku mi dođu kao povratak kući.

Mada, da me Geralt čeka kod kuće, češće bih joj se vraćala, ako me razumete ;)
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