I had been wanting to play the latest installment of the Witcher franchise for quite some time. When Witcher III: The Wild Hunt came out, it looked awesome. The graphics seemed beautiful, the world appeared vibrant and even knowing hardly anything about the series at all, I still wanted to play it. I hadn’t played either of the first two games, since they were on PC and I’m a PS girl. I forced myself not to buy it, because I knew, after reading raves and reviews, that once I was sucked in, it would be hard to get back out. I caved roughly a month ago and, for those who have played it, I’ve recently reached Skellige and I’ve finally learned how to dodge properly and win more than one game of gwent in a row.
Somewhere, amidst this process of trying to become a proper witcher, I learned this game was based off of a book series.
The Last Wish is one of the novels that follows the story of Geralt of Rivia, a witcher. It is written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and while it was published after Sword of Destiny, The Last Wish comes first chronologically (lucky for me, as that’s the one I read). Also lucky for me, there are quite a few books in the series, all originally published in Polish and now with English translations, the latest–Pani Jeziora, originally published in 1999–coming out as Lady of the Lake in 2017. I got a copy of The Last Wish from the library as soon as I realized there were books to read and knew I was going to read it next, after I finished The Stand.
And if you read my previous blog post, we know how long that took.
So, I finish The Stand around Sunday-Monday this week and started The Last Wish on Tuesday. It was due back at the library today by 5p.m. and couldn’t be renewed–some other lucky soul had put a request on it and had been waiting patiently for it for three weeks; 18 of those days with the book sitting neglected, in line, on my bedside table, three of those days with me reading it in large chunks, feeling the pressure of the deadline always as I started reading, worrying if I was going to finish in time.
Yet, paragraphs later, the worries of the deadline vanished and instead, my worries transferred somewhere else, following the dangerous path of a man who hunts monsters for coin as a career and is hated for it. It was so easy to slip into this world and these characters, becoming fascinated by the monsters Geralt slayed or the situations he got in–most of them due to the infamous bard Dandelion, whose friendship with Geralt I absolutely adore, as it is as funny as it is unconventional, in their world. The pace was very fast, which made it hard to put down once I started reading it (also, I think this is the first fantasy book I’ve read under 400 pages in a very, very long time). I also really loved how the chapters were set up, with one “set”–labeled as the Voice of Reason–following the present day storyline, which was constantly interrupted by chapters of past stories, providing backstory and information in a fun, engaging way. It was dialogue-heavy, yet the dialogue was always interesting and never felt like it dragged on.
This book was unique for me because I came in knowing a lot more than you usually do in a book. Instead of feeling suspense when Yennefer of Vederberg was introduced, I had the giddiness associated with meeting an old friend. It wasn’t a feeling of, “Who’s that?” but instead a sigh, “Oh, there she is.” Each time a “new” character was introduced, I felt that sigh, that familiarity, provided from the game, which provided a unique twist. It did make me wonder how the reading would have changed if I came in knowing nothing. I think, if I read it coldly, I would have been left wanting more backstory, more worldbuilding. Like I mentioned, it was very dialogue heavy and though the bones were set up to where I understood what was going on, all the gaps that were there, I filled in with the knowledge I amassed playing the game–and some of those gaps, perhaps, shouldn’t have been filled yet, but I think I would have been left more wanting than I am left feeling satisfied, at the moment. I’ll never know. Regardless, it has been fun and I’m excited to continue reading the series, as I feel it will help me catch up on all the information I’m missing, having not played the first two Witcher games. The two genres definitely complement one another and if you’re into gaming, I definitely recommend it.
Eventually, through both reading the books and playing the game, I’ll get the whole story. Until then, I’m content with reading about Geralt and growing more attached to him (but, I mean, how could you not–look at him!) in the books, while trying frantically to fight as well as he should in the games (and usually, failing; the nekkers, man, there are just so many). If you like playful banter, fun relationships, amazing creatures and a solid mixture of traveling, fighting, political scheming and lovemaking, I think you’re in for a treat with The Last Wish.