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The Last Wish (Gollancz S.F.) [Paperback]

Andrzej Sapkowski
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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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 naivety. 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-cliche 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.'

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; paperback / softback edition (7 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575077824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575077829
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 15.1 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 493,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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 )

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At long last... 10 July 2006
Format:Paperback
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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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A short comment from a Polish reader 5 April 2006
By DeWolf
Format:Paperback
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: tinyurl.com/l7ony).
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
Format:Paperback
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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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And it only gets better... 2 Oct 2007
Format:Paperback
I must admit that I know Andrzej Sapkowski's books so to say "first hand", being Polish and all. And, believe me, Geralt's saga only gets better with every novel. It is an absolutely beautiful mixture of action, mythologies, humour, psychology, magic, feelings, cultural references and quotes, sharp observation and unique talent. Andrzej Sapkowski uses words in a wonderful manner and he is probably most eloquent person I have ever met (and I had a chance to meet him personaly during a SF convention).
I am not sure about the translation; it is very difficult for me to judge how much it reflects the original fluency and eloquency. When I re-red the book in English it sounded strange, but maybe it was just because I already knew it almost by heart in Polish. I really hope that the translation encompasses the richness of the original. But, translation aside...
The Witcher is fantasy as it has been never written before, very fresh and captivating. Geralt's world is so far from usual cliches, or, rather, uses the cliches only to mock them. In a sense, it is a very modern world, with modern problems and ideas, populated by rich, full-booded characters. The story is far from obvious and there is a good measure of humour which makes "larger than life" heroes much more humane. Ach, well, I could go on and on in my poor English... Let me just say that again: It gets even better. First two novels are composed of short stories published over a period of time in Fantastyka magazine. Those stories were compiled together, glued, so to say, to form a novel. But when the main plot of all seven novels really kicks in... well, see for yourselves, it is just great!!!
I cannot express how happy I am for Andrzej Sapkowski to finally reach the English speaking readers. And how happy I am for English speaking readers by the way:) And I just hope that The Witcher the game will be as good as the novel.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very mature fantasy book with an Eastern European twist
Andrzej Sapkowski is probably the most prolific fantasy writer to have come from Eastern Europe and while translations into English took a while and the quality of the early ones... Read more
Published 22 days ago by AK
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, shame the plot was all over the place
I liked the character geralt but the book didnt tend to focus to heavily on what a witcher actually did more about the interaction between who was paying him. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Frankthetank1983
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Good
Played the First Witcher game and went into this with high expectations.

Glad to say i was not dissapointed, book reads as several short stories that are like subversive... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Antony Foster
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in new print!
I bought The Last Wish and Blood of Elves when I saw they had been reprinted with the same style of cover as the new(ly translated) Time of Contempt. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Darkness40k
1.0 out of 5 stars Translation issues.
I'm slightly baffled by all the high star reviews, but glancing through them they mostly seem to be from Polish speakers, who presumably read these books in their original Polish,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by S. Field
5.0 out of 5 stars Step into a new world
I really enjoyed this collection of stories. And to think they are 20 years old. A very unique alternative world, with a very special atmosphere. Read more
Published 2 months ago by rmoeva
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, easy reading but lacking a little depth
Polish Fairytale fantasy - from the other reviews I expected a bit more from this book. Enjoyable, easy reading but lacking a little depth. Read more
Published 2 months ago by AsD
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Excellent translation of an excellent story, I would recommend to any lover of fantasy or a lover of the witcher games.
Published 3 months ago by Zoey Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars The last wish
Simply amazing. Fantastic. I can't wait to read the rest of the books. The characters, descriptions, locations everything is brilliant
Published 3 months ago by A. Crowther
4.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre translation
Translation is not perfect, all the little nuances are lost, still a great story but English readers are missing out on what I think is the best polish fantasy... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Pawel Grzonkowski
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