A few years ago, when getting into The Witcher series of video games, I decided to pick up the books too. The games are based on a series of short story collections and novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, and the books provide tons more backstory that the games just throw at you to figure out (not in a bad way). Back then, I read two books: The Last Wish, which is a short story collection that introduces the main character as a lone wolf type, and Blood of Elves, the first of a handful of novels about the witcher.
A couple of months ago I heard that Netflix is going to adapt the books into a new show, which got me on a Witcher kick. I would totally pick up the video games (again!), but I have too much other gaming on my plate right now. So I decided to go back to the books, starting the series over again and continuing on to (hopefully) read all the novels this time.
The best part of this re-exploration of the books? I discovered that I missed one last time! And it’s my favorite so far: a series of short stories called Sword of Destiny, which actually comes between The Last Wish and Blood of Elves.
Here are a few reasons Sword of Destiny is such a memorable read, and why I recommend it most for fans of the games!
Continue reading “Sword of Destiny”: The Best Background Book for the Witcher Games
At its heart, The Last Wish is a series of monster stories. The first book in Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher series (which CD Projekt RED’s video games are based on), it’s not so much a novel as a line-up of short stories that depict Geralt of Rivia taking on monster-hunting contracts. It feels like reading dark fairy tales, similar to The Bloody Chamber, and the reason is that the monsters aren’t all crazed animals or mythical beasts — they are usually regular men, women, and children who have been cursed.
I read the book a few years ago, when I first got into The Witcher video game series. After hearing that the series is going to be made into a Netflix show, I got onto a Witcher kick and decided to re-read The Last Wish and then continue with the novels that follow. I purchased the audiobook, which is excellent, although I think I prefer reading rather than listening to this series due to the depth of the conversations and world-building. This is a book full of details you don’t want to miss.
Continue reading Getting to Know the Witcher in “The Last Wish”
This past month I finally read a Neil Gaiman novel. I’ve been wanting to read his work forever, as he’s a sort of mythic figure in nerd culture for his comic books, his work on Doctor Who, and his fantastical stories and books. I know a lot of people who are huge fans, so hearing that his novel American Gods was being made into a Starz TV series, I settled in to explore what might be the most famous work from Gaiman.
American Gods poses a fascinating idea: What if pagan gods were trying to survive in modern-day America? Immigrants would bring their beliefs from their original countries to the United States, and the gods would survive through people’s belief — however long that lasts.
So what if the goddess Bilquis (the Queen of Sheba) — a divine being who eats men alive as they worship her during lovemaking — lived in the United States today? And how would the ancient Egyptian gods fare, if they made their livings as modern undertakers? The idea that their enemies would be today’s media and technology — the things we American are currently obsessed with — manifests into exactly those kinds of new gods, like Media and the Technical Boy. So a war is brewing between the old gods and the new.
Continue reading Reading “American Gods”: The Longest Road Trip Ever