I initially bought The Last Wish on my trip to London in 2015, because I’d heard so much about the Witcher games. I started playing the Witcher 3 recently, after I bought it for Christmas, and though the story itself isn’t hard to follow even if you haven’t played the other games (which I haven’t), I was still curious about the back story. So I started reading the Andrzej Sapkowski novels I already owned.
In this short story collection you get introduced to Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, and what it is a Witcher does. In these seven short stories Geralt takes the reader into adventure upon adventure. You learn what being a Witcher entails – not just from a career standpoint – and how people react to Witchers, and other non-humans in the world Sapkowski created.
I have something to confess: I absolutely adore Geralt. Even as a “mutant with no feelings” he managed to make me care about what happens to him from the first time he steps onto the page. His gruff exterior, but his sometimes (dare I say it?) gentle interior, make him an anti-hero worth cheering for. He’s not always right, and he doesn’t always do the right thing, but he’s got morals, he’s got a code and he’s touched by the evil that he sees.
The other characters, like Dandelion the poet, Cintra’s Queen Calanthe, and the sorceress Yennefer all leave their marks on the page, and will make even bigger splashes in future books.
The short story collection really does its job in showing the world, the creatures that live in it, and how magic is accepted by most. Even though the users of magic, and sometimes the people who are either born or created from magic, aren’t always treated fairly, it does feel like a realistic portrayal of how people would react if that was their reality.
The Last Wish got me hooked on Geralt of Rivia and the life he leads, and made me want to quickly devour all the other books as well.