‘The Last Wish’ is a collection of short stories about Geralt of Rivia, a monster slayer known as a witcher. The stories are tied together by an overarching story, ‘The Voice of Reason’, which give structure and direction to the whole selection of stories.

I first read ‘The Last Wish’ many years ago, after finishing the first Witcher game. Since then I’ve read most of the witcher saga, and the other set of short stories ‘Sword of Destiny’, but ‘The Last Wish’ still stands as my favourite.

Image result for the last wish

Out of all of the Witcher novels, this one is my favourite. The stories are focused and direct, they work well on their own and as part of the larger story. They’re exciting and tense, and you don’t need to know anything else about the story or characters to enjoy them. The stories in this collection are all quite short, but in very few words Sapkowski sets the scene and builds up atmosphere and tension.

The stories all have fairy tale themes, with the traditional version being turned on its head and having a darker undertone. The world of the witcher is violent, unfair and magical. Very few decisions are  easy for Geralt. There’s always more to the stories than Geralt killing things (in an unrelated note, one of my favourite scenes from the series is from the ‘Blood of Elves’ when Geralt tries to explain his neutrality to Ciri).

The first story follows Geralt as he slays the striga plaguing Wyzim (if you’ve played the game you’ll recognize this fight as the opening sequence). Here we are introduced to Geralt for the first time. The story runs for about 50 pages. The fight scenes are exciting, tense and brutal. The set-up to the story, is just as intriguing, covering the politics in the city and King Foltest’s relationship with his sister, which started the whole problem with the striga in the first place. Unlike in the games, monster slaying has real risks for Geralt, and he rarely escapes unscathed.

For anyone familiar with the Witcher, in this collection of stories you also meet Dandilion, Yennefer and Calanthe, the Lioness of Cintra. The translation appears quite good, but if you read the rest of the series you’ll notice a few names change, for example, Wyzim, and Yennefer’s hometown – it goes from Vergerberg to Vengerburg.

This book has remained one of my favourites, even after reading the others in the series. The stories are short and fast-paced, and in few words Sapkowski builds up an intriguing, dangerous world. You don’t need to read any of the other books to enjoy this collection. I’d highly recommend it to any fans of the series, and anyone who enjoys fantasy, or dark twists on fairytales.