Today, one of 2015’s most anticipated video games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, hits store shelves, and while no doubt as fantastic as the last two games in the series, it is not any of The Witcher video games that I wish to talk about today. The keywords being “video games.”
Instead my dear readers, I will be introducing you to the novel series from which the video games are based, which I feel are tragically overlooked. For those who are unaware, the Witcher games are actually based on a popular and long-running Polish fantasy series by Andrzej Sapkowski, collectively known as you might have guessed as The Witcher Saga. Though only recently that the series had even been published here in the USA, in Europe, especially Eastern Europe, the series has been popular for years.
It was actually on a trip to Poland a few years ago that I first became acquainted with The Witcher Saga novels, picking up an English translation of the short story collection that serves as the seminal instalment of the series, The Last Wish. So today, partly to mark the release of the latest Witcher video game, I would to showcase The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski.
The Last Wish follows Geralt of Rivia, a witcher of some repute as he recounts and remembers some of his recent adventures, with chapters of the framing story, “The Voice of Reason”, in-between them following him as he heals in a monastery and seeks to escape the clutches of a local order of knights. Throughout his adventures and the novel, one thing about Geralt is clear – though the path of a witcher is a lonely one, and nearly always fraught with danger, whether it be the fangs of some fiend, or the machinations of the local authorities, the last place you want to be is in his way.
As those who have played The Witcher games know, Geralt of Rivia makes for a fascinating protagonist. Gifted with great powers, cursed with isolation, and bound by duty to slay foul beasts with silver and steel and a bit of magic, Geralt journeys through dark corners and dank villages to royal courts and everywhere inbetween, and save for the occasional aid of friends like Dandelion the Bard or the sorceress Yennifer, navigates them alone with his wit and keen eyes his best tools to survive. That marks a large part of what makes Geralt such an interesting lead, the way he measures any given situation, knowing when to talk things through and when to draw his sword.