5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Elric, Drizzt and Geralt
, June 9, 2009
This review is from: The Last Wish: Introducing The Witcher (Mass Market Paperback)
The Last Wish is a great fantasy book and Sapkowski really deserves more praise and exposure in the English-speaking (-reading) world.
This is a book of short stories linked together by another "flashback" short story. I dislike short story books, usually, but this one feels more like a novel because all the stories are about the same character, Geralt, The Witcher. Geralt is a warrior/sorceror in the same vein as Elric and Drizzt. He fights monsters and helps people, but is widely mistrusted by the "common people" he encounters. He is just one of many very interesting characters invented by Sapkowski, who seems to excel at characterisation and dialogue more than anything else.
The stories are action-packed and take place in a world which is part medieval Europe and part Grimm's Fairytale. If you like the idea of Evil Alice in Wonderland and other dark twists on children's stories then that is the sort of thing you will encounter here, since Sapkowski's world often portrays the "true" meaning behind fairytales, where princesses are locked in towers for good reasons and heroic rescuing princes often get their throats clawed out.
I can offer some minor criticism, but most of it can be aimed at many fantasy authors and not just Sapkowski. I dislike the "comedy rogue" characters that fantasy authors often feel the need to pair with the serious warrior types. Dandilion the Bard manages to walk the fine line between amusing and annoying - just - and I am glad he is only featured in a couple of stories. I also dislike the standard fantasy female-interest like Yennefer the Sorceress, who is basically a smug spoiled b-word but everyone makes allowances for her because she looks good. The fact that Geralt falls for most of her tricks is almost out of character for him and his fascination with her is hard to believe. Most of the great (male) fantasy authors have similar characters in their classic novels. I am mostly disappointed because I was expecting Sapkowski to break the mold.
I would stongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Drizzt, Elric, Conan, Fafhrd and Grey Mouser - any of those fantasy tales where the fantasy world is what it is, good and evil are not absolutes, rulers are not all that noble, and there are no Dark Lords with ideas of world domination. Sapkowski is up there with the best authors of that set and his stories are original and engaging. The translation is good and I would never have known it was a translation had I not read so. I have to say that I feel that Sapkowksi in his original language must be very good indeed.
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