This book is the first book in The Witcher series (it has also been made into a video game, which I’ve never played but now really want to). When I got this book, I thought it was a novel but it turned out to be a series of short shorties, which I usually hate, but in this case I absolutely loved. Andrzej Sapkowski is said to be Poland’s master of fantasy, and he’s created a world in this series which is truly epic.
What it’s about: It’s a series of short stories about Geralt, a witcher, who is basically a ‘not-quite-human’ monster hunter who roams around the countryside killing monsters for money. Witchers, despite providing a very important service, are not particularly well thought of, as people tend to believe them to be thugs completely devoid of any humanity, but Geralt doesn’t really fit that description.
What I thought: I was a bit disappointed when I realised it was short stories rather than an actual novel, but that disappointment faded quickly when I started to fall in love with the world and the characters, and when I realised that a number of the stories were actually fairy tale retellings, I was totally thrilled.
Geralt is a great character to follow. He’s lethal as anything, and really just wants to protect people. He’s also incredibly witty and intelligent. A fair bit of this book focuses around Geralt trying to maintain his humanity in a world that believes he’s a monster, and trying to avoid doing monstrous things humans expect him to. And while many of these stories revolve around Geralt finding creative ways to avoid violence, that’s not always the case, and sometimes he has to make very difficult decisions in order to try to minimise the damage. I do love books with morally grey outcomes where not everything works out perfectly with no consequences at all.
There are also some fantastic side characters, such as Dandilion (yep, that’s his name) who is a travelling bard who takes up with Geralt, and is constantly getting Geralt into trouble. Nenneke, a tough-as-nails priestess, and Calanthe, a queen, who not only demands respect, but totally deserves it.
The only thing I didn’t love in this series was the love interest Yennifer. I honestly don’t know what Geralt saw in her. She’s was a total bitch, nearly killed everyone, and he’s all smitten instantly. But as I know that she’s a major character in the series, I’m sure there will be a bit more development there in later books. We do get a glimpse of what motivates Yennifer, and I’m excited to see how that develops.
The writing is also extremely dialogue-heavy, and sometimes felt a bit clunky, but that’s something that I find often happens with translations.
All in all, this collection of short stories totally won me over, and even though I finished this at midnight last night, I’ve already got the next collection of short stories, The Sword of Destiny, queued up on my Kindle, and I hope to get through it soon so I can start the novels.
I rate it 4.5/5 stars
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