The Last Wish (Andrzej Sapkowski)

The Last Wish is the first short story collection/novel in the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I read the English translation by Danusia Stok.
Finished on: 3.2.2020

After a mission that injured him, Geralt the Witcher has sought refuge in the temple of Melitele where the head priestess Nenneke takes care of him. While there, Geralt remembers other missions he had and gets a visit from the poet Dandelion, his closest friend. But the local prince doesn’t want Geralt to stay and puts pressure on him and Nenneke to make sure that he leaves town.

I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about reading The Witcher novels because it seemed like such dude-bro fantasy to me – and I mostly avoid that subgenre. But I was very pleasantly surprised by this first book in the series. It’s a very good read.

I was not entirely wrong about assuming that this was dude-bro-ish. I mean, pretty much every female character that shows up has her breasts mentioned and it starts with a sex scene that is pretty uncomfortable to read as the woman is repeatedly referred to as a “girl” and doesn’t say a word. At least it’s her initiative, so at least the consent on her part isn’t questionable, though less of a sneak sex attack would probably have been nice in terms of consent for Geralt. But he doesn’t seem to mind.

Apart from that though, I really enjoyed reading this novel or short story collection, depending how you look at it: There’s a framing narrative that is basically its own short story that is interrupted with various flashbacks that could each stand on their own more or less as well. But they do make a nice whole to me, so I choose to read it as a novel.

I was very taken with Geralt who is not only interesting and hot, but also hits one of my nerves: I just love those guys who are just so stiff with honor and their own rules. And Sapkowski manages to create situations for him where he has to keep thinking about his rules and see how they apply to the conundrums he is faced with, keeping it extra engaging.

I really enjoyed how he draws on all kinds of (European) fairy tales to tell his stories – from Rumpelstiltskin to Snow White to trolls under bridges. That, too, hits a nerve with me – I just love fairy tale reinterpretations.

I really didn’t expect it, but I’m sold on the books now – and I just have to figure out how much I want to read before jumping into the show. Looking forward to that even more now, too.

Summarizing: Really good.

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