Geralt is a hunter.
Like a lot of people over the last 2 years, I have spent many an hour traversing the vast, varied and beautiful landscapes in Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. After having finally finished the game (I know, games take me ages to play as I only really play about 3 hours a week, if that), I decided it was time to read the books. I am aware I have done this in the wrong order, but I don’t care 🙂
The Witcher books are not tie-in novels as you usually find with game/novel releases, the first Witcher book The Last Wish was first published in 1993 while the first game came out in 2007. It was in 2008 the books were first available in English.
This review covers the first two books, The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny. As they are each a collection of short stories I felt it was appropriate to combine the two. Each short story follows Geralt of Rivia meeting new and old friends, and going on jobs – Geralt is something called a Witcher, “something more” than a man he uses his mutant abilities to kill monsters that prey on innocent humans, for a price of course.
Both books read like adult fairy tales, this is echoed in the influence of traditional fairy tale plots that Sapkowski has evolved to illustrate the nature of the people, monsters and beasts that populate the world. Some of the monsters and beasts in his world differ greatly to traditional archetype we usually read about/see, they have humour, emotion and sad back stories to tell.
In these books I was introduced to some characters I had already met in the game, instead of taking away from the story – as I knew how their relationship would end up – I think this added to the tale as I was given an insight to their early relationship, which has obviously helped to form the one I have seen in the game.
Typically of the fantasy genre as a whole the world surrounding Geralt is beautifully described and some of the histories, myths and beliefs of the society are hinted at throughout each perfectly written short. A few potential future story lines are hinted at in some of the shorts by Sapkowski’s ability to create a functioning world as a back drop to the larger story. While Geralt himself says he does not get involved in politics, it is clear from the shorts that his actions will have far reaching consequences – but I guess I’ll have to read the others to find out more. Ohh if I must.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the first two installed of The Witcher novels and have get the third book – the first full novel – Blood of Elves waiting patiently to be read. I am already recommended both of these books to four people who I know have played and enjoyed the game. So far only one has taken my advice – but they really enjoyed it.
Also, brilliant timing for a review as Netflix announced today they are doing a tv show inspired by the Witcher novels – I AM SO EXCITED!
Favourite quotes and passages from The Last Wish:
The silver links scattered like rain in all directions, ringing against the stone.
It had taken a long time, he though, before this dance on an abyss, this mad, macabre ballet of a fight, had achieved the desired affect
– the witcher felt and understood the very nature, the essence, of this quiet, piercing song which flowed through the veins in a wave of nauseous, overpowering menace.
…piercing his ears and brain with thorns of pain
“People,” Geralt turned his head, “like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves…”
Favourite quotes and passages from Sword of Destiny:
He looked up at the dark blue sky above the black, serrated saw blade of the mountain peaks.
Looking at them with its large, golden eyes, the creature unfurled its broad, golden, bat-like wings and remained motionless, demanding to be admired.
Even things which begin beautifully lead swiftly to boredom and dreariness, to that human ritual, that wearisome rhythm called life.
She was present in those objects. She was present in the fragrance.
No, Brokilon was alive. Insects buzzed, lizards rustled the grass underfoot, iridescent beetles scuttled, thousands of spiders tugged webs glistening with drops of water, woodpeckers thumped tree trunks with sharp series of raps and jays screeched.
A hawk was circling, describing a calm circle on outspread wings. The single moving point in a landscape transfixed in the searing heat.