The Last Wish: Beginnings of a Witcher

Alright! Going back to the beginning! I know what I’m doing, I swear!

The Last Wish is a very interesting take on the typical fantasy fare. Rather than just telling one long, multi-book spanning story, like we’ll get with The Blood of Elves onward, it is a collection of smaller, complete stories. At the same time, however, it smartly throws in plenty of hints at events to come, making it clear that there was a vision behind everything here. It’s a clever satire on fairy tales while still telling its own, albeit a bit more dark and realistic.

This book follows Geralt of Rivia, a legendary Witcher, through his various adventures. He clashes with monsters, struggles to lift various curses, gets roped into morally complex political situations, and does whatever he needs to to get his coin and maintain his moral code. In between each of these stories, we follow him through his healing process in a holy temple run by an old friend, who insists that they need to take a peek at Geralt’s dark destiny. A fate that the White Wolf is already well aware of.

There is a huge variety between each of these stories! Rather than going with the lazy option of referring to a template, that being ‘Geralt goes to a place and kills a monster’, there is a little more creativity to it! There is plenty of Geralt fighting monsters stories, so you have no shortage of action. Even then, most of his stories are about trying to prevent violence!

Each story is almost entirely independent from the others, excluding ‘The Voice of Reason’, which is broken into segments in-between the others. Each one introduces a new setting, new characters, and a new problem for Geralt to tackle. And each of them is a ton of fun!

While each story varies in length, they are all generally solid in the pacing department. Some of them drag in parts, such as Geralt and Yeneffer’s final battle in ‘The Last Wish’ that lasts way too long, but none of them overstay their welcome. They each are quick to establish the setting and characters, then just as quick to get the plot moving. One or two hours of reading later, we get a short intermission with ‘The Voice of Reason’ (which is just as perfectly paced, but it’s broke up across numerous shorter chapters). Rinse and repeat until the final chapter and the book ends.

If you asked me which story I’d pick as my favorite, I’d look at you and ask why you must hurt me so. Every one of these stories are interesting, unique, and memorable! Better yet, a fair few of them are interesting twists on classic fairy tales! ‘A Grain of Truth’ is a satire on Beauty and the Beast (although the conclusion is a bit more gruesome), ‘A Question of Price’ a twist on Cinderella (with some added hints of foreshadowing for events to come), so on and so forth. They’re each interesting, engaging, and fun to read!

The characters within these stories are just as great! I’ve already gushed about Geralt and Yeneffer before, so I’ll leave them alone. Even with those two off the table, I’m spoiled for choices! Dandelion is a perfect contrast to Geralt, which makes each of their shared scenes a delight to read! Nenneke is fantastic, being a strong mother-like figure to Geralt that drives the story along naturally and brilliantly! The cast is huge, diverse, and incredibly interesting!

Again, the setting is also incredible! Even if you separate yourself from what you already know about it (such as the show or the games), the world-building in this book is still incredible! Each setting is vibrant, insanely well detailed, and beg to be explored further! I know I mention it every time I talk about this series, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t deserve to be talked about!

This book was a delight to read! Each story on its own would make for a satisfying fantasy book! But when you put them all together? You have one of the easiest recommendations I’ve ever given! This has quickly become one of my favorite recent reads!

Yes, I am biased. No, I don’t care. But for the sake of variety, I’ll leave The Witcher alone for a while.

As much as I don’t want to do that.

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