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!

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)

Publisher: Orion
Page Count
: 279

I can make this very easy for all of you! I love fairy tales, I love Leigh Bardugo, I love the Grishaverse and I love books with beautiful illustrations all lead to me adoring and falling in love with The Language of Thorns. There was no way around it and I honestly never really doubted it to begin with. However, I know that makes for a really poor review, so I am shortly going to review each of the stories.

Disclaimer: It is not strictly necessary to have read any of the Grishaverse books beforehand, although I suspect the tales will be more fun that way.

Ayama and the Thorn Wood

Rating: 5/5 stars

“You know how the stories go. Interesting things only happen to pretty girls, you will be home by sunset.”

Well, wrong! This one was my absolute favorite and I think it had a lot to do with the message of the story. It was like a mix between Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast but with the complete opposite moral – you don’t have to be beautiful or handsome to go on adventures, to be brave and strong and most of all to be appreciated. It gave me such a sweet taste of how Leigh Bardugo would continue to deconstruct these tales we all know so well and make them her own, a lot darker and in quite a few cases way better.

The Too-Clever Fox

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

“A lesser creature might have closed his eyes and prayed for nothing more than a quick death. But if Koja had words, then he had hope.”

I liked the idea of having a fox (by the name of Koja) as the hero of the story. His wit and fast thinking got him out of every situation until it didn’t. For this one I saw the twist coming, but I still appreciated how the story ended quite a bit.

Little teaser for this one: Koja is supposedly Kaz Brekker’s (Six of Crows) favorite, so if that is no reason to check it out then I don’t know.

The Witch of Duva

Rating: 3/5 stars

“Fly away now, little bird,” she said. “Some things are better left unseen.”

The closest fairy tale to compare it to would probably be Hansel and Gretel, however, I just want to point out that Leigh Bardugo goes far beyond all the traditional tales’ constraints. I don’t exactly know what it was about this one, but it definitely fell among the most disturbing ones for me and they are all … peculiar in that way. One thing is for sure, nothing is as it seems here!

Little Knife

Rating: 4/5 stars

“She never worried when her beauty faded, for in her reflection she always saw a free woman.”

While Little Knife has a lot of classic fairy tale elements, such as impossible tasks and suitors battling for the hand of the most beautiful woman in town, it still has such a positively refreshing message about female independence and women’s identity. I liked how Little Knife reinforced the idea that it is not necessary for every single being to end up in a romantic relationship in the end.

The Soldier Prince

Rating: 4/5 stars

“My life began with wanting something for myself.”

The vague resemblance to the nutcracker definitely peaked my interest for this story. Yet, instead of the transformative power of love being the main focus it is rather about finding your own wants and human desires; that need to live for yourself instead of the people around you. I enjoyed this little journey of self-discovery that very much reminded me of artificial intelligence becoming conscious. It also had one of the most eerie endings out of all the six.

When Water Sang Fire

Rating: 5/5 stars

“A thousand desperate wishes have been spoken on these shores, and in the end they are all the same: Make me someone new.”

Let’s face it, this was basically the very dark yet still incredibly beautiful original take on the origin story of Ursula from the Little Mermaid. I loved every single word of it!


So, those were my thoughts on the Language of Thorns! As a final statement, I just really want to praise Sara Kipin’s illustrations that beautifully unfold as you continue with each story. They made the tales truly special and assured that 5-star-rating in the end.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! The most beautiful addition to the Grishaverse possible!

Have you read The Language of Thorns or other books set in the Grishaverse? What are your thoughts?