Title: The Last Wish.
Series: The Witcher #0.5.
Writer(s): Andrzej Sapkowski.
Translator(s): Danusia Stok.
Release Date: December 14th, 2021.
Original Release Date: January 31st, 1993.
My Overall Rating:
Sharp teeth, blood-red eyes, abnormal sizes, screeching cries. Monsters come in all shapes and forms. Their presence brings the vulnerable to seek safety, protect themselves and their loved ones at all costs, and avoid danger as much as humanly possible. However, the strong and the wise remain the only source of comfort, praying for their protection and treating them as divine entities. But even in a world with terrifying creatures, monsters can also be found among humans and they can be far more unforgiving and horrid in their way of life. Fortunately, there’s always enough will and resilience in some to fight for what’s right and just in the world. Collected in a stunning illustrated hardcover, the first volume in Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher franchise presents a gruesome and magical grim world with brio.
What is The Last Wish about? This collection introduces readers to the world of Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, a man for hire with magical powers and unparalleled wisdom roaming the world to rid its monsters. Each story introduces new characters quintessential to his own destiny and the tumultuous journey he’s condemned to confront, from the powerful sorceress Yennefer to the silly bard Dandelion. Being a man of principle with a strong moral compass, his decisions always put others before himself as he faces off some of the vilest creatures that plague the world, doing only what must be done without resorting to excess. Unfortunately, such beliefs can be far more dangerous than he could ever expect but sometimes fate has plenty of surprises for the wisest of us.
“People like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves.”— Andrzej Sapkowski
This collection of short stories is framed and interlaced by seven chapters called The Voice of Reason, offering a prelude to each story and always set after said stories. These tales send the Witcher on a quest where he’s hired to take care of a monster causing trouble to local civilians in various towns. They offer a succinct yet informative insight into the world’s customs, traditions, and beliefs, while also hinting at the Witcher’s past. From Geralt’s knowledge of the do’s and do-not to his elaborate magic powers to gain combat advantage, these journeys also offer a glimpse into the vast and diverse world in which he finds his purpose, sometimes even wondering if he’ll ever become trivial to a world constantly evolving and adapting to its monsters. Despite the length of these tales, the characterization is also fantastic and descriptive, with the banter, especially between Geralt and Dandelion, being memorable and delightful.
The structure of these tales also makes for an addictive foray into the motley of creatures and evil forces that torment the innocent. Once Geralt gets into the action, the writing makes for a very vivid and immersive experience, thoroughly entertaining from start to end. Even more intriguing is the overarching theme of destiny and purpose, offering readers the opportunity to reflect upon the Witcher’s life as a revered yet hated figure, as well as the concept of choice and the power over one’s fate. Although more of an introduction to the Witcher’s world than anything else, the foundation is splendidly set with key characters and relationships, while teasing the tumultuous future that is to come as difficult decisions multiply exponentially.
The Last Wish is an outstanding introduction to the Witcher’s expansive world while pondering questions of destiny, evil, and choice.