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The Last Wish (GOLLANCZ S.F.) [Hardcover]

Andrzej Sapkowski
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
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Book Description

7 Jun 2007 GOLLANCZ S.F.

Geralt is a witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no ordinary murderer: his targets are the multifarious monsters and vile fiends that ravage the land and attack the innocent. He roams the country seeking assignments, but gradually comes to realise that while some of his quarry are unremittingly vile, vicious grotesques, others are the victims of sin, evil or simple naïvety.

One reviewer said: 'This book is a sheer delight. It is beautifully written, full of vitality and endlessly inventive: its format, with half a dozen episodes and intervening rest periods for both the hero and the reader, allows for a huge range of characters, scenarios and action. It's thought-provoking without being in the least dogmatic, witty without descending to farce and packed with swordfights without being derivative. The dialogue sparkles; characters morph almost imperceptibly from semi-cliché to completely original; nothing is as it first seems. Sapkowski succeeds in seamlessly welding familiar ideas, unique settings and delicious twists of originality: his Beauty wants to rip the throat out of a sensitive Beast; his Snow White seeks vengeance on all and sundry, his elves are embittered and vindictive. It's easily one of the best things I've read in ages.'

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (7 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575077832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575077836
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 395,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"It's refreshing to see another take on familiar elements. There's a fairy-tale quality to much of THE LAST WISH." (Jonathan Wright SFX)

It is [his] world-weariness, combined with his battle-boned powers that make Geralt such an interesting character. Here's hoping THE LAST WISH is merely the opening chapter in his English language adventures. (EDGE magazine)

Sapkowski's 'The Last Wish' is a great collection of short stories centred around a witcher, Geralt - a rare sorcerous breed who hunts down the monstrous but is feared by the innocent. With a wonderous mix of Eastern European folklore and myth, beautiful princesses, mischievious demons and where all is not as it seems, 'The Last Wish' is a great read - perfect for dipping into or just reading cover to cover, as I did. (WATERSTONES.COM)

I really, really enjoyed this book. Despite the original language being Polish, the translation is quite good and captures much of Sapkowski¿s prose. None of the characters in Sapkowski¿s world are black or white; they are all shades of grey, including Geralt and the monsters. In fact, other humans tend to be greater monsters than the ones Geralt is sworn to track down and destroy. (THE DECKLED EDGE)

The Last Wish is an accomplished retelling of some well-known fairy tales, each transformed almost beyond recognition and given the darkest tinges of horror. This takes the book outside the norms of traditional fantasy writing, while still being anchored in (the more original edges of) sword and sorcery. (DREAMWATCH)

Sapkowski is very good at creating interesting, imaginative characters with unusual levels of depth to them, not least Geralt, whom people are consistently underestimating. The Last Wish is an enjoyable book full of stories both melancholy and comic. (THE WERTZONE)

This beautifully written character-based story from Polish author Adrezej Sapkowski is a refreshing champion in a genre that¿s starting to get a little homogenic. While there is the occasional nod to traditional European fairy tales (Snow White, among others), much of the application of supertext and tropes are from a new point of view. (THE SPECUSPHERE)

"Sapkowski's series has the potential to develop a new audience and appreciation of fantasy and like Mieville and Gaiman, take the old and make it new. This reviewer is certainly looking forward to the next installment of this fresh take on genre fantasy." (FOUNDATION) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A European superstar comes to the UK for the first time!

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At long last... 10 July 2006
Sapkowski has been a bestselling author of fantasy literature in most of Europe, but for some reason it took over 15 years for the 'English-speaking world' to notice him. Well, better late then never :)

I will admit I am not the greatest fan of fantasy: too often I have found the books to be simple clones of Tolkien work, and with writers paying no attention to how their fantasy civilizations would deal with such problems as trade or agriculture. Sapkowski's fantasy is one of my favorite exceptions: with lots of subtle references to the history of our world, we witness a an epic struggle between civilizations, where nobody cares about heroes or legends, but 'realpolitik' or economics are the real forces driving the changes. The series raises many concepts not common to fantasy: the issue of colonization, of history being written by the victors, of racial and ethnic hatred, of scientific (magical) ethics... Although to be completely honest I will add that most of the 'serious' stuff becomes really visible in the novels, and the stories, such as those to be found in 'Last Wish', are much lighter, some even humorous - although they all set the stage for the epic drama to come later.

Last but not least I should stress that although Sapkowski's world is harsh to 'would-be heroes', and Geralt has long ago shed any illusions that he can be one, he is quite intelligent and an extremely skilled and able fighter, so when push comes to shove, he will often end up victorious. I personally prefer such a main character to anti-heroes like Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, run-of-the-mills Conans or 'normal person caught in the middle'.

All in all, it's one of the best fantasy books I have read.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A short comment from a Polish reader 5 April 2006
By DeWolf
Quite obviously, I haven't been able to read the book in its English version, as it's to be published in a year (and I wonder how on earth the preceding writer came across it - maybe he/she is the translator?), but I've been a fan of Sapkowski's for years, and I'm truly happy to see that the book is finally being translated into language No. 1 (take it as flattery, ladies & gents ;-)). His writings have become extremely popular in their Czech, Russian and Spanish versions, which is no wonder. The world created is as consistent as that conceived by Tolkien; yet, the books are less tedious (with all my respect to J.R.R.T). The plot is at least as attractive as that of Harry Potter, yet more mature, and definitely addressed to an adult audience. The books are compelling, but at the same time "demanding": Sapkowski hides numerous allusions and references to the contemporary world, both on a historical and phylosophical level, and plays with the reader, making up names that are often riddles, again anchored in the present.
The author has - maybe not turning it completely upside down - taken some gilt off fantasy worlds; oddly enough, many fairy-tale characters like elves, dwarfs etc. turn out to be more human than usually presented in this type of literarure, which does not at all deprive them of their magic aura. This, however, does bring in a new value to fantasy as a genre. (as one Spanish critic put it: "un soplo de aire fresco" - for those interested, here's the link in Spanish:
To sum up - I am impatiently waiting for the book to appear; for those who will like it, I've got very good news: the short stories are only the top of the iceberg, as A.S. has written A SAGA in five volumes. And THAT is truly a feast for book-lovers (well, fantasy lovers at least ;-))
Best to @ll - DeWolf
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful old-world fantasy 27 April 2008
By Seneska
I, as I am want to do, read both the Wikipedia page and Amazon reviews of this before I started it. I have to say Wikipedia's use of Tolkien-esque for every fantasy book published is wearing thin. This is nothing like Tolkien. The only similarities are the presence of dwarves and elves, neither of which are copied adjective for adjective. Indeed the world created is a place of every imaginable mythical creature, and any reader with half an ounce of imagination would not help but be enthralled by the wide variety of characters portrayed here. I found this book most refreshing after my last few attempts at modern fantasy, all of which fell far short of the world on offer here.

It is worth noting that this is a collection of short stories, so each chapter does not necessarily follow chronologically one after the last. All in all, most recommended.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Andrzej Sapkowski is apparently the biggest fantasy author in his native Poland, best-known for his character Geralt, a 'witcher' who tracks down and eliminates monsters for cash. Although his books have been translated into several other European languages, The Last Wish marks his debut in English, with a translation by Danusia Stok.

The Last Wish (published in Poland in 1993) is the second book featuring Geralt, following on from Sword of Destiny (1992) which has not been published in English yet. Presumably this is because the first two Geralt books are stand-alone volumes that do not require knowledge of the others. There is an additional Witcher story in Something Ends, Something Begins (2000). There is also a five-novel sequence featuring Geralt entitled The Blood of the Elves (1994-99), which Gollancz will be publishing in English translation from August 2008 onwards.

Enough of the publishing context, what of the book? The Last Wish is a mosaic novel consisting of several short stories linked by a framing sequence. After Geralt is injured in battle, he recuperates in a temple and has flashbacks to recent events in his life. The stories themselves vary in tone but the quality is pretty consistent. There's an undercurrent of whimsical humour in the stories that is very reminiscent of Jack Vance. Like Vance, Sapkowski successfully creates a world where his characters feel totally at home. This world is a mix of the traditional D&D landscape of elves, dwarves and evil wizards, and of fairy tales. In this manner the stories' tone and atmosphere is very similar to that of Vance's superb Lyonesse Trilogy, although Sapkowski is not as continuously and unrelentingly funny as Vance; he also lacks Vance's gift for intricate wordplay.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
adult version of fairy tales was a refreshing and clever read
Published 6 days ago by D Lacey
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating
I loved how realistically the witcher's world is portrayed. Sans the strigas, the trolls, and the other fantastic monsters, it is a world that might well have existed. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Folio
5.0 out of 5 stars From the game to the books
I brought this from having played the second game and wanted to enjoy it more and the books. Great book, interesting and entertaining short stories. Very well written. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Solomon Phillips
4.0 out of 5 stars the Witcher games are some of the best games I have ever played so...
the Witcher games are some of the best games I have ever played so this might just be me being a fan of the univers but I really liked the book
Published 1 month ago by david
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I haven't read it yet, anyway, I don't do reviews
Published 1 month ago by J. B. Hansen
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic.
The first book in Geralt of Rivia's epic saga is a fantastic introduction to The Witcher universe. A series of short stories that combine to create a very entertaining read.
Published 1 month ago by Carlos Nascimento
3.0 out of 5 stars Best Mutant Ever!
A very enjoyable read. As a huge fan of the videogames and the fantasy genre I could not afford to miss Sapkowski's work. This is the first book I've read of his. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joao Cardeira Jorge
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, must read.
Excellent book, great atmosphere, mature, dark and gritty with well written characters and interesting stories.
Published 1 month ago by A.H.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great fantasy...well worth the read...:)
Published 1 month ago by K S Wilkie
5.0 out of 5 stars spellbinding
The end of the book appeared a great number of pages before I was ready for it to appear !!
Published 2 months ago by Terry Reader
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