Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"The Last Wish" by Andrzej Sapkowski

"The Last Wish"
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: Gollancz

Andrzej Sapkowski is a Polish writer who comes for the first time in English with the translation of his book, “The Last Wish”.

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. And a witcher is a hunter. Geralt hunts monsters for a living. He is a trained fighter and a sorcerer and he travels the world in search of the monsters. But sometimes not everything and everyone he meets is what it seems to be.

Andrzej Sapkowski’s “The Last Wish” is a collection of seven short stories. Actually one of these stories is written in episodes throughout the book and interpolated between the other six short stories. These stories (“The Voice of Reason”, “The Witcher”, “A Grain of Truth”, “The Lesser Evil”, “A Question of Price”, “The Edge of the World” and “The Last Wish”) although are not connected to each other build the character and the story of Geralt. The stories also outline the world inhabited by Geralt, a pretty dark and grim world and populated by a long list of monsters. It is not a developed world, but it is an interesting one. I cannot pick a story which I liked more, because I liked each one of them for their unique situation.

The first thing that made me love Andrzej Sapkowski’s book was the humor. The author brings in his stories myths, legends and fairy tales, including Polish and Eastern European ones, giving them a new interpretation and outcome, usually parodying them. I not only once found myself laughing from all my heart of the new interpretation given by the author. I also liked how Andrzej Sapkowski ridicules some aspects of our world and made me think even more of them. I entertained myself with author’s ironies to political aspect, plastic surgeries, inflation and insurances, to name a few. The author also manages to bring me a little closer to the story with the help of these aspects.

Geralt is not the strongest character I have encountered through my readings, I even think that he suffers a bit here. Still, I liked the character and his story. What attracted me the most to Geralt is that he is not the perfect hero and he has his defects. I also liked a lot his sarcasm and irony. When Geralt met Dandilion on some of the stories his relationship with the troubadour brought forth some amusing dialogues.

I believe that “The Last Wish” is a great asset of fantasy literature and Andrzej Sapkowski a strong voice of this genre.


Anonymous said...

that`s a nice cover... maybe ain`t this writer that the game witcher was inspirated? i wonder, or maybe it`s just a coincidence...

ediFanoB said...

I read the German edition of the book. I also liked the humor. I also played th PC-game THE WITCHER.

Sapkowski wrote more books about Geralt but unfortunately most of them are not avaiable in English or in German.

SciFiGuy said...

kyodnb mentioned it already but the first thing I thought was "nice cover". Not a big short story reader though.

Adam Whitehead said...

The Last Wish was first published way back in 1992 and was followed up by a second collection (The Sword of Destiny) and a five-novel sequence. For some reason Gollancz skipped The Sword of Destiny and moved straight onto the novels for their English translations. Blood of Elves was published in August and Time of Disdain will be published in summer 2009.

The computer game The Witcher was inspired by the books and takes place after the last novel ends. There will be a console-oriented companion game, White Wolf, published next year I believe.

Mihai A. said...

Kyo, as Adam said the game is based on the books of Andrzej Sapkowski.

Michael, I should get soon to "Blood of Elves" too. And let's hope that Sapkowski's works will be translated in full :)

SciFiGuy, indeed is a very nice cover. Especially since I have a very weak spot for wolves ;)

Adam, thank you for the coverage on Sapkowski. And let's hope that "The Sword of Destiny" will be translated very soon :)

Barbara Martin said...

Nice cover, and as I like short stories this one is going on my TBR list. Thanks, Dark Wolf, for a good post.

Mihai A. said...

Thank you, Barbara :) I hope you'll like it.

Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to read this book for months now and have yet got around to it. The time may be ripe.

Good review thanks for reminding me about this book.

Mihai A. said...

Harrison, thank you very much. I hope you'll enjoy it :)

Anonymous said...

Read "voice of reasons" at the end
after you read all six stories

If you want to another Sapkowski novel in english chcek this ,because there is also official translation of "Maladie"(The malady) one of the best novel of Sapkowski

Mihai A. said...

Thank you very much for the link. It is much appreciated :)
I am looking forward to other works of Andrzej Sapkowski.

KISIEL said...

Im polish, blood of elves is a first of five "toms" of witcher saga, the real witcher story start ov there! last wish and sword of destiny took place before saga and those books are a loose collection of short stories about witcher. There is also movie that i wish neve comes out(very poor, disaster) and game wich dissapoint me generally(game is a difrent story than saga). If there'll be a full translation of saga for U I wish U meny Happy moments whit the book, cose U'll becomes richer internally .

Mihai A. said...

Kisiel, thank you very much for all the infortmation. There is quite a debate about the order in which Andrzej Sapkowski's novels should be published. I am glad to see that they come in a proper order.
I know many movie adaptation that are more than bad, but I tend to ignore them. I played the game too and I liked it quite a bit. Although I tend to like Sapkowski's works more :)