Perhaps I let myself be influenced by all the positive hype surrounding this book, but Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish fell decidedly short of my expectations. With the buzz this novel generated in 2007, I was expecting something along the lines, quality-wise, of Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself or Brian Ruckley's Winterbirth.
Unfortunaterly, The Last Wish is more akin to a YA sword and sorcery title. Nothing wrong with that, of course, provided that's what you are looking for. Clearly, this was not what I signed up to read. . .
The Last Wish is not a novel per se. It's a collection of short stories. I was aware of that particular fact, yet I believed that there would nevertheless be an overall story arc linking those stories. To my dismay, there wasn't. Relying on short fiction means that Sapkowski can keep a good pace throughout the book. Still, it does feel like the author is all over the place and cannot impose a coherent structure to these various storylines.
Sapkowski created a blend of traditional fairytales and miscellaneous RPG elements. The results are a YA-flavored fantasy "lite" book which should appeal to the R. A. Salvatore crowd.
Andrzej Sapkowski came up with an intriguing character in the Witcher, Geralt de Rivia. The problem is that the author only offers us a few quick glimpses at the depth of this character. There's a lot more to the Witcher than meets the eye, but Sapkowski chooses not to reveal a whole lot. Trouble is, the supporting cast is more or less on the lame side. Hence, a majority of the secondary characters leave much to be desired. Allowing the reader to discover more about the Witcher would have made for a much better reading experience.
Another weird facet regarding The Last Wish is the fact that the author relies mostly on the dialogues in order to tell his tale. At times, the book almost reads like a movie script. That wouldn't be much of a problem, if not for the fact that the dialogues, for the most part, could have been taken out of a Xena: Warrior Princess episode.
All in all, Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish showed a lot of potential. I for one wishes to learn more about Geralt de Rivia. I will read the forthcoming sequel, The Blood of Elves, hoping that the author will up his game a few notches. Otherwise, there's no way I can go through more of this, just to, hopefully, one day learn more about the Witcher.
In the end, The Last Wish is a light read which will likely appeal to a younger crowd. A couple of crude jokes, juvenile humor, and a panoply of one-liners; don't expect a thought-provoking novel. Don't believe the hype and expect a simple, entertaining read, and you'll probably enjoy this book more than I did. . .
Although the main protagonist is interesting, as a whole The Last Wish doesn't rise above most media tie-in fiction out there.
The final verdict: 6.75/10