2.5 out of 5 stars
Maybe I should have started reading where the author started writing.
Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher. Stolen as a child by a cult who practices dangerous magical rituals on their prey, Witchers are those who survive to become meta-humans with enhanced senses, abilities and some magical powers. They spend their lives hunting monsters for money. Specialized bounty hunters, living on their own and tolerated, if not much appreciated, by the world at large.
The Last Wish is the first book on The Witcher’s timeline, but it’s a prequel. Andrzej Sapkowski did a little Star Wars action with his chronology: He started with the core series, five books beginning with Blood of Elves. Then he went back and did Sword of Destiny, a collection of short stories featuring events that take place before Blood of Elves. After that, he went farther back in time to write the first tales of The Witcher: The Last Wish. The most recent book in the series, Season of Storms, features events that take place during The Last Wish. Got all that? Don’t care? Right. All I know is the internet said start here, so I did. It might be more edifying, but I didn’t find The Last Wish to be so special I’d read six more books, play three video games, or make a TV series. Perhaps the good parts come later.
The Last Wish is very dry. The big action pieces and humorous moments are equally stripped of their rhythm by translation from the original Polish, turning them more simple and clunky than must have been originally intended. Still the story is enjoyable, if not particularly engaging. It’s like an A-plot that lost its friends and got published alone. It needs a Paddington Bear-style tag: “If found, please return to Context.”
I picked this up because Henry Cavill is starring in the Netflix series version, out tomorrow. While he’s know to be bit dull himself, I’d watch him watch someone else read this book. And it means he’s perfect to play The Witcher: not a lot going on inside, but who cares! There is sword fighting and (hopefully) shirtless-ness, and I’ve already paid my $9.99. No need to read the rest of the books.
Best part: Dandelion trying to talk Geralt out of everything.
Worst part: Translation. How does Geralt seem to think he has a history with Yennefer, who he’s clearly never met?