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Author Topic: The Last Wish - Week 1  (Read 4128 times)

Offline Arry

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The Last Wish - Week 1
« on: July 05, 2015, 12:02:45 AM »
This discussion goes until (but does not include) The section titled 'Lesser Evil'


I'm not entirely sure what I expected with this one, but am quite enjoying what I am getting. So far, I am impressed with the translation. I've read some things you could tell were translated, which I think is a sign the translation was not done well. This one seems to be (at least by my in-expert opinion). The nature of the story also seems more in line with the older fantasies I have read the current day. Not sure I can give a good example why.

The creepy inbred baby monster was really good! I enjoyed the almost gossipy nature of the conversation that gave us the back story of the incestuous relationship that landed Adda pregnant. And then the action as the Witcher tried to break the spell on her was also quite good.

And, I did not expect a vampire! Not sure why, but, well, I just didn't. But after the string and a vampire, and Nivellan (who was friendly enough, but cursed to be a beast), I will not be surprised by any sort of creatures now.

So far, it is keeping me entertained and curious. Hopefully that continues for week 2 :)

What are others thinking?
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Re: The Last Wish - Week 1
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2015, 12:48:18 AM »
I was saying elsewhere on the Forum that I like how this world reveals itself as being more detailed than it appears at first, not just a fairytale setting. And how there's very little backstory of the world except as revealed in action and discussion. (There's a section in Week 2 that violates this in an odd way, but later for that.) As Arry says, you learn backstory about people, but it never feels like a slog.

As @Yora would say, Geralt fits the tough, taciturn S&S barabarian in so many ways. But then there's that critical difference that while he is ready with his sword but would always prefer to avoid having to use it.

It's interesting to me that the in the first story we get no hint of fairytales that I can think of.  In the second, we get echoes of Beauty and the Beast. Beyond week 2, fairytale gets more pronounced.

I'm liking this much more than Last Call, which I have to admit I haven't yet finished.
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Offline Yora

Re: The Last Wish - Week 1
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2015, 04:39:47 PM »
Thanks for alerting me to this thread.  :D

Geralt has something very Howardian about him. Not necessarily with Conan, but certainly with Kull and Bran Mak Morn. In The Witcher, he shows himself to be willing to accept considerable risk to help, but he's also pragmatic and doesn't make any promises. He needs the money and he wants the money, but that's not the one and only reason why he takes on these jobs. He's not above violence when he needs it, but it's not his first solution of choice, even if it would be easiest and also safest.

If anyone is interested, there's a short animated movie of The Witcher.
Spoiler for Hiden:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGKEUVWrALA[/youtube]

It was used as the intro for the videogame made in 2007. (Which other than this movie is a completely different story from the books.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2015, 04:49:33 PM by Yora »
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Offline AzWingsFan

Re: The Last Wish - Week 1
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2015, 08:39:52 AM »
I like the fact that the world just seems to open up through the story. You dont get the feeling that the author is trying to info dump about the world, its just opening up through the story. Then your mind takes over and expands the world to fit all these people, creatures, societies. It has an old school feel to it, but also feels modern to me in the writing.
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Offline Yora

Re: The Last Wish - Week 1
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2015, 09:53:57 PM »
When does a Week start? Always on Sunday?

I think there are two reason why the exposition is so sparse. For one thing, The Last Wish is a short story collection and the stories are very strongly inspired by the old Sword & Sorcery series that had their height the 70s. These always used very little exposition and left most of the world deliberately blank.

The other one is that Sapkowski* is doing a very good job of using a setting that has very few elements that are really new or unusual. He's simply doing 14th century Poland with 1980s sensibilities and monsters. We all know a highly simplified version of medieval Europe and we all know 20th century customs and values. Providing us with the necessary informations about the monsters is very easy because Geralt is one of the few people who know monster lore and needs to explain the true facts to his customers anyway.

And I think it works so well here because The Witcher, A Grain of Truth, and The Voice of Reason all have a significant deconstructive element to them. In The Witcher you expect to get this stone hearted killer who butchers monsters for hard cash, but it turns out he is actually willing to go through considerable trouble to help the people affected by monsters and dark curses and takes the time and patience to explain to the relatives the limits of what he might be able to do and what long term effects they might have to deal with. And A Grain of Truth goes even further and instead of a bloodthirsty cannibal we actually get a nice and friendly neighborhood werewolf. Keeping the setting simple and close to the archetypes actually works in his favor, as it becomes a lot easier for the reader to recognize when expectations are supposed to subverted. In a setting that is too unusual and fantastic, you can never tell if something that is happening is supposed to be that way or if this was something extraordinary that goes against the rules.

*In case you wondered: It's pronounced "Anjay", or close to that. ;)
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Offline Arry

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Re: The Last Wish - Week 1
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2015, 01:16:31 AM »
When does a Week start? Always on Sunday?
I generally try to post half way through the week, aiming for posting on the 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th. However, weekends are often easier, so I may push it a little bit one way or the other if it works better for my schedule. :)

Quote
*In case you wondered: It's pronounced "Anjay", or close to that. ;)

I was curious! Thanks!
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Online JMack

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Re: The Last Wish - Week 1
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2015, 02:00:02 AM »
When does a Week start? Always on Sunday?
I generally try to post half way through the week, aiming for posting on the 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th. However, weekends are often easier, so I may push it a little bit one way or the other if it works better for my schedule. :)

Quote
*In case you wondered: It's pronounced "Anjay", or close to that. ;)

I was curious! Thanks!
A first-counsin-once-removed married a Pole, Andrjez.
We always heard it as Awnzhay.
Sort of between an A and the O in "on".
Then the "n" is like a French, with the back of the throat, rather than "nn" with the tip of the tongue pressed against the inside of the upper mouth.
And the "jay" with a soft "j" like the French again, as in "Jacques".

Just helping out!  :D
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Offline Overlord

Re: The Last Wish - Week 1
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2015, 11:01:19 AM »
Gollancz have just released the first short story collection that gives you more of an origin story and that exposition you may or may not be wishing for :-)
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Offline Victoria Hooper

Re: The Last Wish - Week 1
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2015, 06:00:43 PM »
Really enjoying this! I've caught up with week 2 so going to put some thoughts here and then jump straight to the week 2 thread with some more thoughts.  :)

It's been a long time since I've read a collection of short stories that are all linked and about the same character. It's fun and it works very well here. The story with the Striga was a good one to begin with as it sets up nicely what Geralt does and what he's about. Loved the second story with its fun little twists and turns, and the way the author develops and brings across his characters in brilliant. We don't know much about Geralt yet, but I'm already getting a sense of what kind of person he is, and I think more of it will come out later. I like how the framing story is being used to link all the other stories, and also provides a good look at how Geralt acts during quiet, recovery time.

I couldn't start this book until late this month but have already raced through most of it! Very compelling read.  :)

And now some thoughts on the book in relation to the games, for anyone who's interested. As someone who played the games first, it's quite fun to see that the short stories follow the pattern of monster-hunting quests in the game almost exactly. Or rather, the game follows the pattern of the stories!
1) Geralt is hired for a job or he comes across something weird.
2) He talks to as many people involved as possible, asking a lot of questions to find out exactly what he's dealing with.
3) He investigates further, examining areas/bodies/whatever.
4) He figures out what he's dealing with and prepares.
5) Fight.
1-4 tends to make up the bulk of each quest in the game, with one fight at the end, which is quite unusual for a video game to be honest, and one of the things I love about it so much. This set up is perfect for a roleplay game - I wouldn't have been sure how well it would work in a book, but actually it works brilliantly. The stories don't feel unbalanced by having all the action at the end because the author paces things so well and gives such interesting character interaction as Geralt investigates. You can really see just how much the game owes to the books here, not just the worldbuilding but the style of storytelling too. 

(Sorry if I misspelled anything - I'm listening to the audiobook so not entirely sure how things are spelled. I'm also pretty sure the narrator is pronouncing Dandelion wrong.)