Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jan 052015
 

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin.

And a cold-blooded killer.

His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world.

But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good. . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

When I discussed my most anticipated games of 2015, I brought up the Witcher series, a series I hope to charge through before the third game comes out in May.

Rather than start with The Witcher, I decided to go to the beginning–the book series by Andrzej Sapkowski that inspired the games.

Not all of them have been translated into English (although some have fan translations), but the first has. The Last Wish is a collection of short stories, with chapters of a longer story are interspersed in between. These stories all focus on Geralt of Rivia, and introduce some other notable characters–particularly Dandilion (Dandelion? apparently it’s been translated both ways) and Yennefer.

And the line in the summary about fairy tales is no accident. The Last Wish feels as though it’s set in a dark fairy tale universe (kind of like Fables, I guess). One story has direct ties to Beauty & the Beast. Another contains hints of Snow White. These and many others are twisted and warped, yet they still retain their mythical qualities. Overall, it gives The Last Wish a strange tone I didn’t expect from a Witcher story.

Not that I really knew what to expect. The majority of my time in the Witcher universe so far has been spent with The Witcher Adventure Game, which, while fun, isn’t exactly heavy on lore or story.

Other than that, I enjoyed about an hour of The Witcher, then quit to save it for when I finish the books. So I went into The Last Wish without a lot of expectations… but fairy tales still were a surprise.

The sense of humor was another surprise. People talk about the Witcher series being dark and grim, but these stories had some lighthearted moments–mostly from Dandilion, but Geralt can be quite the Deadpan Snarker.

“I’m to fight the duel because, if I refuse, I’ll be hanged. If I fight, I’m to allow my opponent to injure me because if I wound him, I’ll be put to the rack. What charming alternatives. Maybe I should save you the bother? I’ll thump my head against the pine tree and render myself helpless.”

Hints of fairy tales, occasional humor, intriguing moral points (is there truly such a thing as a “lesser evil”?), and interesting stories made The Last Wish an enjoyable read. The combat scenes were also fun to read, which makes me think I should look to them for inspiration. If you want to check out its style, the first story is included with The Witcher on GOG. (If you got a copy of the game elsewhere, you can redeem it at GOG to get all the bonus goodies like the story.)

Anyway, I liked The Last Wish and recommend it if you like The Witcher, fantasy, or twisted spins on fairy tales. From here on out, we’ll be more in traditional dark fantasy territory territory.

I think.

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