by Andrzej Sapkowski
Around the World: Poland
How obtained: birthday gift
The Last Wish is a collection of adventures that a witcher (a monster killer) named Geralt remembers, while resting in a temple after an injury. The chapters alternate between his time in the temple, and the stories of his adventures. It took me until about halfway through to realise that this is what was happening- the flashing back and forward- initially I wasn’t sure how the chapters connected together as I was expecting a more usual novel structure.
I quite enjoyed this book- Geralt is an interesting character- he is not quite human as a result of many magic potions used on him to turn him into a Witcher, and has a few helpful mutations as a result. But he has some very human emotional baggage.
The stories borrow from fairy tales, but are never straight forward- it is more like the author is sending a nod to the old stories rather than trying to retell them. For example, there is a man cursed to look like a beast- but only his head. And in fact he used to be quite ugly, and gets on much better with the women now than he ever did before. The only problem is his current love interest is probably some kind of monster or vampire who may love him, or may just want to control him and take over the area…
The one thing I found not so good, was that there were quite a few places where it was a little bit too opaque. I have nothing against writing with a little bit of mystery so the audience has to work a few things out, but there were times where the characters were talking to each other and used terms that were neither explained or guessable (except that it was some kind of monster often), or other spots where just and extra sentence could have really deepened the readers understanding of the characters, the world or the situation and allowed them to engage more fully in the story.