Audiobook Review: The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Published by Hachette Audio on May 5, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Collections & Anthologies, Epic, Action & Adventure
Length: 10 hours 17 minutes
Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin. And a cold-blooded killer.His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good. . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth. The international hit that inspired the video game: The Witcher.
The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski surprised me, not only in the fresh, yet familiar style, but also in that it is actually a collection of short stories, all with a common character of Geralt. The Voice of Reason is the opening and framework story, as Geralt recounts past events in the form of the other short stories. As each short story concludes, we return to The Voice of Reason which will proceed a bit and segue to the next story. Another aspect I didn’t expect was how these stories are like fairy tales. Dark and twisted (the best kind) of fairy tales. I actually enjoyed how many of the elements of the story were told in a more conversational style. It strips the story down to just the important elements, quickly getting to the meat of the story and the core of the characters. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy some good, elaborate world building and descriptive prose, but I found this to be a refreshing change of pace.
In some of short stories I could recognize elements of modern, well known fairy tales, such as Beauty and the Beast. Others, I was not as quick to identify with something specific, but they still all held that style to them. There is also a very good chance they could be using elements from fairy tales and folklore that I am unfamiliar with. And trust me, these are not Disney fairy tales. They are dark and bloody. And Geralt lives through them on his own. I can tell you, being a Witcher does not have much appeal as he seemed to just travel from one life threatening disaster to another, but of course along the way, there are lessons in love, trust, patience and price. And honestly, I think there’s a lesson to never make deals unless you know the exact price. I would not trust anyone in this world. But, untrustworthy and deceptive/deceitful characters make for great reading!
I also want to mention that I am impressed with the translation. I’ve read some books you could tell were not originally written in English, which I think is a sign the translation was not done well. This one seems to be (at least by my in-expert opinion) rather seamless. At no point of reading this would I have guessed this was a translation, which I think is the best compliment you can pay it.
The narration overall was very good, though I have to confess to cringing a bit in response to a couple of the non-human characters. Especially characters that bleat. But that was minor, and these characters had relatively little parts and did not deter my desire to listen to the audiobook. The story was easy to follow while listening and the
The simpler style of story is reminiscent of older fantasies I have read. And I don’t mean simple as in there is no complexity to the story, because there definitely is. I mean simple as in there is no more information than is needed. You may get the names of plants, and some descriptions, you certainly get some great tension and suspense at all the appropriate times, but there are no meals that are detailed over 5 pages. It was simply to the point, detailing conversations, battles and anything else of importance. There were many elements in this book that quite surprised and delighted me. From the creatures Geralt had to fight, which ranged from familiar to new and unexpected (at least for me). Overall, definitely recommend if you are looking for something a bit different, particularly if you are a fan of dark fairy tales.