Several years ago, I had a student come up to me to ask if I would read one of The Witcher because he had played the games and really liked them and thought I’d like the books. I never got around to reading the books until my state ordered us all to shelter-in-place. I went to my local bookstore to stock up and saw a display of The Witcher series. It’s come back around in pop culture thanks to the Netflix series. I figured with time on my hands it was a good time to dive into the series.
“The Last Wish” is good introduction to the The Witcher, Geralt of Rivia. It’s a compilation of short stories that were originally submitted to a Polish publishing that ultimately led to the launch of the The Witcher franchise. I’m a big fan of fantasy, especially high fantasy and this checks off all the boxes. There’s a complex figure, a world to explore and imagine, and fantastical beasts that Geralt slays. What’s interesting about The Witcher is that it draws a lot from Slavic mythology, which I am not familiar with. I’ve looked up a lot of the creatures, e.g. stiga, and expanded my mythological world. Several of the stories were nods to very well-known fairy tales, and it was fun to figure out where these versions were going to go.
What’s difficult with this collection of stories is that they start out so strong and peter out towards the end. The editor did a great job at arranging them because I was HOOKED from the beginning so by the time I reached the end, my enjoyment of the character propelled me through less interesting stories.
If you’re interested in the series but want to read the books first, I would recommend this. They read quickly and there’s something there for everyone.