The Last Wish is technically the first book in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I say technically because it’s a collection of short stories as opposed to the beginning of a larger overarching story that starts later in the series.
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You’ve likely heard of The Witcher as a name, either from the hugely successful video game series or the almost as hugely successful TV Series on Netflix. Both have thrown The Witcher into the same fantasy-mainstream hat as the likes of Game of Thrones and Lord of Rings. You’ll be pleased to hear, as book-lovers, that these are based on a book series which is also utterly fantastic.
Plot – 5/5
The Last Wish, as I stated before, is a set of short stories based on the character Geralt the Witcher. The stories pick up with Geralt as he takes on different quests from a diverse selection of people to essentially go and tackle a mythical monster that said person or people need dealing with. Each and every single one of these shorter tales is utterly fascinating. None of them are as simple as “I don’t like this monster” – Geralt kills said monster. All of them have some twist that makes each and every story so utterly compelling.
I’m usually not a fan of shorter stories as, especially in fantasy settings, I feel they just lack the depth you need to feel immersed. However, Sapkowski gives you just enough information and also cleverly doesn’t dish out too much to keep you interested. What I mean by this is you know where Geralt is and why he does what he does, but Sapkwoski doesn’t introduce too many complications that leave any of the stories feeling unfinished.
What also happens throughout these shorter stories is you manage to learn more about the world that Geralt inhabits with the small amount of information given in each story. I adored each story and I think Sapkowski executed them perfectly.
Characters – 5/5
In the same way that Sapkowski executes short stories almost to perfection here, he introduces and then forgets about characters almost impeccably too. He gives you enough dialogue, description and background of each character for you to care about them without, again, giving too much detail to make you feel like it’s too much. Some of the characters are funny, some are intelligent, some of them are simply kind and others are utterly cruel. Almost all of them are compelling.
Geralt himself is fascinating – he’s clearly a dark and brooding character, one who we’re supposed to believe has lived a hard life and coasts across the world not caring for anyone or anything but where the next coin is coming from. However, discussions are had and actions are taken by Geralt that show us he’s a man of morals and a man who does have a heart. Too often authors write the “dark and brooding” character as mysterious and therefore not very deep – that hasn’t happened here!
The Last Wish summary – 5/5
If you couldn’t tell, I loved The Last Wish. It’s considered 0.5 in Thw Witcher selection as there are books that come out later that do consist of one tale and then this overarching story continues on throughout the rest of the series. However, Sapkowski has written these shorter stories perfectly, introducing the character of Geralt to us and introducing so many other fantastic characters that you hope to return later on.
This is up there with one of my favourite books and SPOILER ALERT, the whole Witcher series is one of my all-time favourites. There’s an ongoing discussion as to whether you should just skip to Blood of Elves as this is considered the first full novel in the series. To everybody, I would say NO. Read the two books that contain short novels first. Start with The Last Wish, you won’t regret it!
- Pick up your copy of The Last Wish here.