Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Listen, I know how it is. Most of us don't know what to start reading until the books have become optioned by a major Hollywood producer or network.
I was aware of The Witcher video game series, because I've used that fantastic soundtrack for ambient music.
When I first saw that Netflix was producing a Witcher series, I assumed that it was based on the those games.
I generally have a policy against watching movies and T.V. shows based on games. Even just knowing that there's an Angry Birds movie keeps me up at night.
But the hype was already building, so I looked into it, and found out that The Witcher games are based on a novel series! Redeemed!
The Witcher Saga is a Polish book series written by Andrzej Sapkowski. I don't read a lot of modern foreign novels, but I'm always looking for new ways to expand my horizons.
I've only read the first two books of The Witcher Saga, but I'm pretty much hooked. The author uses a lot of techniques that I don't see very often, such as cramming an entire scene and its background into a singular character's inner monologue, or condensing a crowded conversation into just one character's lines and responses to other characters. He does a great job of creating perspective-based scenes, which he delivers from inside each individual character's head.
For fans of the new Netflix series, I highly recommend reading these books. I watched the first season, and I couldn't imagine how anyone might follow that scattered plot without having read The Last Wish beforehand. Netflix did a pretty good job, especially with the casting, but the book will really tie the story together and give you the background that you're missing.
The Last Wish is a collection of episodic short stories that introduce all of the main characters (focusing, of course, on Geralt of Rivia) and tying together into a narrative of kingdoms (Queendoms?) on the brink of war.
But it also gradually and expertly introduces the world of Witchers, who are itinerant hunters-for-hire who can rid your town of the monsters that plague your citizens. Mysteriously trained in both combat and arcane arts, these Witchers are the fascinating center of these stories.
The author gives us a protagonist, Geralt, who is easy to admire, both for his strength and for his personal code and philosophy. We then meet his love interest, his plucky sidekick, and his ward. Each unique character brings balance and intrigue to the narrative.
If you like fantasy epics with developed worlds full of unique magic and legendary monsters, The Last Wish should be at the top of your reading pile.
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