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.
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Page count: The Last Wish – 296 (Romanian Paperback version), 280 (English Paperback version); Sword of Destiny – 352 (Romanian Paperback), 384 (English Paperback version).
See that? That is the whole wave created by this series.
And there is me, riding the wave with all of you: 🏄♀️
Okay, so. Before jumping into the main The Witcher series, I found out that I must read the prequels first, which are a two books of short stories about Geralt of Rivia and his adventures.
I mean, I binge-watched that without realising I haven’t understood important things that had a big role later as the plot unrevealed and I was like “I don’t understand what’s going on and at this point I’m too afraid to ask”. So I started with the short stories. Which are super enjoyable by the way.
If you loved the show, be prepared to love the books even more.
The writing style is really good and the stories give a new perspective to the TV show. Most of the stories in there are actually based on fairy tales, aspect that for me got quite bland in the show. And there are so many legends and tales explored in the books you won’t want them to end!
Geralt of Rivia has a whole different personality in the books. He’s witty and cool and he enjoys sarcasm and hearing stories. He also enjoys talking. Even though I love Henry Cavill so much and I am so happy he portraits Geralt in the TV adaptation, I love book Geralt ten times better!
In The Last Wish there are six stories, all knotted together by The Voice of Reason chapters. Those chapters were, in fact, happening in the present, all of the other stories except for the first one, being only memories of past adventures of the Witcher. The stories are:
- The Witcher (4.5/5⭐)
- A Grain of Truth (5/5⭐)
- The Lesser Evil (5/5⭐)
- A Question of Price (5/5⭐)
- The Edge of the World (4/5⭐)
- The Last Wish (5/5⭐)
Total rating for The Last Wish: 4.75/5 ⭐
“There’s a grain of truth in every fairy tale.”
I don’t know if you knew this from watching the adaptation, but in The Lesser Evil story Renfri was actually a version of Snow White. I literally had no idea. It blew me away. It was so good!
I also want to underline the fact that it would’ve made my life so much better if they would’ve added a special episode for A Grain of Truth story, this one being a reinterpretation of Beauty and the Beast, Nivellen being such a cool version of the Beast and Bruxa such an unexpected Beauty (she was actually a rusalka which reminds me of our Romanian rusalii).
All in all, I really enjoyed this first book. The amount of legends and tales overwhelmed me and I loved everything very much. And what surprised me more is how different the characters are in the book. Geralt, especially, is a favourite of mine, definitely.
In the Sword of Destiny, there is no The Voice of Reason chapters, but the action seems to flow somehow even without them because in this short stories book, there is no, let’s say, “time travelling” between the stories. They happen, thank God, at almost the same time, in a continuous present. Except for the last story that got me a bit confused (I don’t really do good with stories that leap from one time to the other without telling me exactly what the bloody hell they’re about to do).
There are also six stories here:
- The Bounds of Reason (3.5/5 ⭐)
- A Shard of Ice (5/5 ⭐)
- Eternal Flame (4/5 ⭐)
- A Little Sacrifice (4/5 ⭐)
- The Sword of Destiny (5/5 ⭐)
- Something More (5/5 ⭐)
Total rating for Sword of Destiny: 4.41/5 ⭐
“Destiny has many faces. Mine is beautiful on the outside and hideous on the inside.”
Even though it seems like I enjoyed this less than The Last Wish, it is not quite true. There were both entertaining and well-written, but I think there was the fact that for The Last Wish I was more enthusiastic because, you know, it was the first book. I’m in general super ecstatic when it comes to first books, no matter what. It’s the taste of new blood, you know?
In Sword of Destiny the chapters are longer, it seems, and also there is a certain political touch to it, even almost invisible. I tended to get a bit lost sometimes, but got right back when it came to a good old action scene *winks*.
I especially enjoyed A Shard of Ice. The story is based on the H.C. Andersen’s tale The Snow Queen, which is one of my favourite fairy tales ever. So of course I enjoyed Mr Sapkowski’s reinterpretation of it. The same goes for that tiny part in The Sword of Destiny where Frexinet’s story is inspired by The Wild Swans fairy tale.
Dziękuję bardzo, panie Sapkowski, I really needed that. Also, there was a Little Mermaid reinterpretation in A Little Sacrifice that I enjoyed too. This book was hardcore Andersen-inspired, apparently.
Apart from that, I realised that I’m not Yennefer’s biggest fan, it tends to repel me somehow, but I don’t entirely dislike her. She’s just tough to love I guess.
Geralt is still a very enjoyable character, him I really like. His personality and mentality and way of being. He has a very healthy mind, that witcher.
My favourite character though is Jaskier (or Dandelion as it is translated into English). He’s a total ass sometimes and definitely a womaniser but I really like him despite all that. A funny coward, I dare say, that brightens and blesses all the chapters he’s in. Let’s collectively stan him, shall we?
We also get to meet Ciri in this book and hey, that’s what I was waiting for. I also must say that her reunion with Geralt is waaay more different from the one in the TV show and it is ten times better, I’d say.
One more thing before ending this foolishly cropped review – I want to highlight the amount of bad words I’ve encountered while reading these books. They’re truly fantastic in a very offensive way, but I might find ways to use them in everyday conversations without people actually minding, be sure of it. (Important note here – there were about 17 fabulously offensive terms in Sword of Destiny and I lived for every single one of them, my favourite being silly moo like tf is that, sounds cute!).
And, of course, don’t forget to share your thoughts with me about our favourite I-do-not-have-any-emotions-but-my-heart-gives-in-every-time-I-see-a-bit-of-affection witcher. I’d love to hear them!