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”
October is the only month of the year that I go out of my way to find dark stories and scare myself with horror films. This year, I’m re-reading Angela Carter’s collection The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories for the first time since college.
The stories retell fairytales with a Gothic tone and feminist twist. It completely revitalizes the old stories, no matter how many times you’ve heard them. Stories like “The Bloody Chamber,” derived from Bluebeard, have all the slow build and poetic intensity of old-fashioned horror. But instead of seeing weak women wailing, Carter surprises by having women save the day instead of men. Though the women in the stories are often trapped in some way — by a murderous husband in one, by a gambling father in another — they are strong enough to seek their freedom. Of course, this doesn’t always ensure a happy ending.
Not to repeat all the analysis my class did in college, I’ll just say that this is a magical collection. The stories transport readers to dark mansions and snowy woods with haunting histories. All of that, along with the gorgeous prose, make it one of the few assigned college reads that I ended up adoring. I highly recommend it for the Halloween season!