The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher #0.5 Book Review)

Publisher: Gollancz
Page Count
: 280

It is a well known fact on this blog that I very much like the Netflix adaptation of the Witcher (it made a surprise entry into my favourite shows of 2019 list, because I couldn’t stop watching it upon its release). However, before that, I never played the games and honestly didn’t even know that the books existed. The Last Wish was originally published in 1993 (my birth year, or as I like to call it, the best vintage) and just completely escaped my notice until now. Upon closer inspection, it turned out that The Last Wish wasn’t a Witcher novel but a Witcher anthology instead, with everyone recommending to read it first. That truly explains a lot about this book!

Much like the show, you have to be prepared to not really know when things are happening and what their connection is. Reading The Last Wish, I felt like the show had done a great job, as I could clearly identify the contents of episodes 1 to 5 (not necessarily in that order) within the pages. Some character names were changed (why is Dandilion called Jaskier on the show?) and some might not have appeared yet (or will never appear at all?), but I think I had a grand advantage having watched the show before reading the book. I was prepared for the jumbled up timelines, for the messy tasks Geralt has to perform and for the characters that slowly crept into his heart.

I was especially surprised by the nonchalant mention of several well known fairy tales (such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, etc.), because they weren’t just tales within that universe, they actually happened there (even though in an even more sinister way than most remember it). Some got their own chapter, others were just mentioned in passing, but the inspiration was very clear behind the use of those characters/tales. That really made me think that Geralt was always just a village away from all the nighttime stories I knew so well from my childhood. A strange thought, a bit of a funny one too, but also a befitting one for it helps build a familiarity with an utterly different world.

“Evil is evil, Stregobor,” said the witcher seriously as he got up. “Lesser, greater, middling, it’s all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I’m not a pious hermit. I haven’t done only good in my life. But if I’m to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

So, if you pick up The Last Wish, you will find a series of tales introducing Geralt to you. He will show his true character and keep you guessing at what kind of massive mess he has gotten himself into. It ends on such note, that you will want to know more about the (in this version not THAT stoic) witcher and the trials that await him. It’s exactly what was promised on the cover! However, you should not expect a traditional story with beginning, middle and end. There are hints at something that spans greater for sure, but it’s just really not what The Last Wish is.

I am definitely intrigued and would pick up further novels. My only problem for now is that I am an absolute cover snob and this is the only one Netflix has released with the TV show cover and I would like matching ones. There are about eight or nine books in total though, so I feel like the show still has a lot of material to draw from and will hopefully release the other books with the tie-in covers as well!

Never not proud of this drawing I made. Geralt, my foul-mouthed hero.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of the show (or games too, I suppose)!

Have you read any of the Witcher books? Have you played the game? Loved the show? Let’s chat!

20 thoughts on “The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher #0.5 Book Review)

  1. I adore your drawing of Geralt! I began watching The Witcher recently but put it on hold so I could read the source material, as books almost always give a richer narrative than a tv series or movie can. These linked short stories helped me understand the series better. I was most anticipating Geralt meeting Yennefer and was not disappointed in their story The Last Wish but was also rewarded with some backstory for Princess Cirilla in A Question of Price.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I feel like I might have been a bit lost without my previous knowledge of the show, just because it jumps around so much. But I am glad you enjoyed the experience the other way round. I mean, it has to work, considering that the books predate the show by several decades haha

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review and lovely drawing of Geralt. I think the name Dandelion is a literal translation of ‘Jaskier’ in the Polish original books, and they decided to keep the original name I the show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, both for the compliment and the explanation of the name. It didn’t even occur to me that Jaskier is the Polish version, but I prefer it so much more to Dandilion. I don’t even understand why it was necessary to translate that to English in the first place haha

      Liked by 1 person

    • Someone pointed that out and it never even occured to me before that? haha I prefer Jaskier and don’t understand why it was ever even translated to begin with? That’s like all the folks who thought it was necessary to translate Jon Snow to Jon Schnee and King’s Landing to Königsmond for Game of Thrones … silly in my eyes haha
      Oh, you are quite ahead on the books! I hope to get there one day, provided Netflix delivers some new covers.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this book, and will probably download the next one next month or in April. Yeah, seeing those fairy tales subverted for this story was a lot of fun. Great to work or work out to (or build an exercise bike to).
    Also, I’d tell you why Dandelion is called Jaskier, but someone up there already beat me to it.

    Like

  4. That is an amazing drawing btw!!

    I have this book in my shelf but I have not yet picked it up. I liked the show a lot, never played the games, so I might want to read the book at some point too.. because you make it sound cool. Who knows though, since I have not read a lot this year and Netflix seems like my favourite pass time atm. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much!!

      Yeah, I enjoyed the book but I also wouldn’t call it a necessary read. If you enjoyed the show and you already have it at home, it might be something to keep at the back of your mind the next time you want to pick up something to read 😉 but I totally get spending all your time on Netflix! I really have just read more this month, because I can’t really use my laptop that much during the day, because my parents are working from home now and need the bandwith more than me haha

      Like

  5. Dandilion? Really? That made me chuckle. That’s such a random name and I’m used to Jaskier now haha. I might read the book, but I won’t make it a necessity. At least with the anthology, you can kind of hop in and out when you feel like it. That drawing. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was told that he is still called Jaskier in the original Polish version and that every other country just decided to tranlsate the name. For what reason? I DO NOT KNOW?? It’s not even the correct translation, as Jaskier means more something along the lines of buttercup.
      I don’t think the book is a necessity either, but I’ll let you know once I read the other books if it’s necessary to start the book series that way.

      Liked by 1 person

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