The Last Wish is a short story collection and the first book in Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series. The Witcher is probably a familiar name to those who are a part of the video game community. The Witcher games are well-renowned for having excellent narratives and beautiful regions to explore. The most recent release, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, won the 2015 Game of the Year Award. Now, this may come as a surprise to some, but The Witcher books are not spin-offs of the games; rather, the games are sequels to the books. The novels provide a lot of valuable context for the character interactions that take place in the game. They are also excellent stories in their own right.

In particular, The Last Wish details some of the early adventures of Geralt of Rivia, the titular Witcher, who wanders the countryside in search of work as a monster-killer-for-hire. These tales introduce the world of The Witcher, a fascinating blend of European folklore, and some of the important recurring characters, like Yennefer and Dandelion. As a stand-alone title, The Last Wish provides an interesting examination of how appearances and perspective warp one’s perception of evil. (“The Lesser Evil” is a stand-out in this regard) The only reason why I’m hesitant to recommend this book is that the description of women can get quite lurid. Female characters often get whole paragraphs of detailed descriptions of their bodies while the male characters usually only get a few words. The flow of scenes is also often interrupted to give special attention to women’s body parts even in situations that definitely don’t warrant it, like tense fight scenes. Despite that, there are plenty of powerful women in the book who don’t hesitate to take actions that ruin Geralt’s image as a hardened warrior. Whether that makes up for the distasteful descriptions is up to each individual, so if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing, you should probably skip this book. If you want to learn more about the characters from the games, however, I think this series is worth a shot.

6/10 – Would be higher without the obnoxious narration.

Review by: Athena T.

Athena is a rising senior volunteering at the North Hollywood Branch. She likes reading, programming, and playing video games.

—Emily Appleton, Young Adult Librarian, North Hollywood Branch