The last wish (Andrzej Sapkowski, 1993)

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The last wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski (1993, Spanish version by José María Faraldo).

Score: a fresh breeze in the form of folklore low fantasy.

I started this long after I started playing The Witcher III: Wild Hunt but since that game is so awesomely long, I finished The last wish first and here’s the review. I was quite enjoying the game but didn’t consider reading the books it’s based on until I saw some quotes from the wonderful, wonderful Spanish translation.

The last wish is a collection of seven short stories that feature witcher Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter, making a living and roaming the land for adventures. The short stories are, more often than not, inversions, parodies and deconstructions of classical fairytales, such as The beauty and the beast, Snow White and Aladdin. And they’re delicious at that.

See, the original language is Polish, which I’m told is an incredibly rich language. And you can really tell the Spanish translator made an effort to keep the spirit and the richness of vocabulary. Especially the register changes, which are awesome. Mr. Faraldo made every effort to give different characters from different social classes in different situations different registers, including using Old Spanish when required as well as contemporary cusswords, for absolutely hilarious results. I’d never thought I’d read the word “soplamocos” in a book, honestly. Just as a curiosity, I wonder why Jaskier wasn’t adapted as “Diente de León”, like it was adapted as “Dandelion” in English.

I expected a lot of things from this book, but none of them were laughing out loud. It’s got the silliest and most down-to-earth dialogues, and that’s been very rare to find, in my experience, along with great gallows humour. It can be hilarious at times, but also bear in mind that it is exceptionally dark and cynical as well, as part of both being a deconstruction and drinking directly from the original, undisneyfied version of the fairytales. If you’re already playing The Witcher games you will definitely be in the mood, but it took a while for me to get in that gritty mindset after months of playing Destiny.

In any case, you can tell these are the very early chapters of the saga and some things will be  modified and almost retconned, but it’s still really fun to find out things like why Geralt is called the Butcher of Blaviken, what the fuck is a child of destiny or how he met Yennefer of Vengerberg. Let’s see how it evolves and how much the games drift from it.

It will be worth your while. And this comes from someone who doesn’t particularly like medieval fantasy.

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