Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Last Wish - Andrzej Sapkowski

The Last Wish is an interesting collection of stories translated from its original Polish in an accomplished manner. The fairytales deal with Geralt, who is a witcher. We are given hints as to how and why witchers are created, and it's an intriguing premise that I hope is explored more fully in later books by this author.

Geralt is an entertaining character - a brusque individual who goes about his business with the minimum of fuss and maximum violence. In the course of his travels we also meet other fascinating people - including Yennefer, a powerful sorceress who manages to ensnare Geralt, and Dandilion, a rather flamboyant troubadour. Having said that, all of the characters suffer from being only minimally developed in this introduction to Sapkowski's world.

By far the most interesting part of this book are the monsters, sprites, djinns and elves. All of them take their inspiration from folklore, history and fairytales, lending the book a traditional and familiar flavour. I do like how Sapkowski explores the theme of appearances being deceiving. Some of the very prettiest creatures here act in a nightmarish fashion, while a couple of those gruesome in appearance are revealed to have good souls.

I am giving this a slightly above average rating for this aspect, but overall it was no more than a competently-written set of short stories linked by the character of Geralt. I would have liked to see a little more resolution of some of the stories, but I do look forward to reading more by this author.

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