The Last Wish

When The Witcher was released as a PC video game in the fall of 2007, it immediately garnered a cult-like following. Players all over the globe were thrilled to make their way into a new and magical world as Geralt, the Witcher from Rivia.

And even for someone like me, who doesn't have a modern enough computer to play the game, just by hearing about the title from reviews and direct word of mouth, I found myself becoming drawn into the tale as well.

Luckily, for gamers and fantasy fans alike, The Witcher as a game was inspired by a novel that following its North American release, anyone can now pick up and read. That novel is The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski.

North American book cover

Geralt of Rivia is a seemingly merciless sorcerer destined to travel the different lands of Vizima while hunting down, killing, capturing or otherwise removing the threat of various monsters from the land. A mercenary for hire, Geralt spends his free time exploring off the beaten path while indulging his lust for women that he can add to his list of lovers.

Excerpt from The Witcher

With murder as a true specialty and monogamy a sizeable fear, it's no wonder that Geralt has developed a long list of foes along the way, and as such, he often finds himself using his heightened senses to watch over both shoulders for not only his next mark, but for someone who just may be out for revenge.

Where most novels tell their story through one continuous plotline with multiple highs and lows, an eventual climax and ending, in The Last Wish, the story of the Witcher is told through a grouping of short stories.

In order to make the layout of the novel a bit easier to understand, think about the tale as you would a television series, where each short story here represents an episode in the series. Each short story contains different plotlines with new characters, along with a few recurring individuals. Likewise, each story contains some sort of a challenge or risk that must be undertaken before the story's end.

Throughout them all, however, no matter how short or long each story may be (ranging from a simple conversation over two or three pages to a full on 50+ page stretch), they all contain character development in terms of Geralt himself, with the readers coming to understand this religiously skeptical, morally and ethically challenged Witcher who only desires to find a place for himself in the world of Vizima.

Where some of the stories are completely original (like the challenge of the young princess turned deadly Striga on Geralt's life, a reference which also serves as the game's opening sequence), there are also a few references here to characters from classic fairytales like Snow White. Contrary to other stories, instead of being portrayed as the damsel in distress finding sanctuary with seven dwarves, a girl named Renfri, with a similar past, is instead added to the list of challengers that Geralt must eventually face to survive.

Being that violence is a large theme throughout the entire story, it's not surprising that a sizeable amount of cursing comes along with it. That being said, this book is definitely not one for the little ones.

Excerpt from The Voice of Reason 4

However, it's not as if the cursing and violence take anything away from the story either. In fact, the fights here are highly detailed and described in such a way as to be made all the more believable by the addition of some more colorful language.

Throughout The Last Wish, readers can observe both the good and bad stretches within Geralt's life, as he is accompanied at times by his troubadour friend Dandelion, and forever haunted by the thought of the one woman who got away. Being that I am not a hardcore reader, for me to be as entertained by a tale as I have been with this one is definitely saying something.

For hardcore readers of the fantasy genre, there are obviously a lot of options on the market today, but it is my humble recommendation that this is one that should definitely not be missed.

Special thanks to Alex Lencicki and Orbit for providing a copy of this title.