Literature: The Last Wish

The first book in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski, originally in Polish but translated to English after the game became popular.

It consists of six short stories framed by a seventh narration. While not an immediate part of "The Witcher Saga" (which spans books three through seven), it introduces most of its protagonists (Geralt, Yennifer, Dandelion) and foreshadows Ciri's origin story.

  • "The Voice of Reason": The Framing Device. While Geralt recuperates from injuries sustained during "The Witcher" at the Temple of Melitele, Head Priestess Nenneke makes him recount some of his adventures.
  • "The Witcher": A deconstruction of Save the Princess plots, where Geralt is hired by King Foltest of Temeria to break the curse on his daughter.
  • "A Grain of Truth": A gleeful deconstruction of "Beauty and the Beast". Investigating corpses he found by the side of a road, Geralt encounters a man transformed into a beast.
  • "The Lesser Evil": An In Name Only deconstruction of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". Geralt is contacted by a wizard to protect him from bandits led by a former princess.
  • "A Question of Price": A critical look at the fairy tales like "Rumpelstiltskin", where a supernatural being asks for "what you don't expect to find back home". Sets up one of the key plotlines of the rest of the series with foreshadowing of Ciri's origin story.
  • "The Edge of the World": A deconstruction of Our Elves Are Better, among other things.
  • "The Last Wish": A deconstruction of "Aladdin". Geralt and Dandelion encounter a djinn, and Geralt meets Yennefer of Vengerberg, his Love Interest for most of the series.

As you may have noticed, the book is mainly a Deconstructor Fleet of classical Fairy Tales.

Tropes found in the book:

  • Anachronic Order: "The Voice of Reason" is set immediately after the "The Witcher", which is chronologically the last adventure Geralt recalls. The rest seem to follow each other, though.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Eist Tuiseach to Queen Calanthe in "A Question of Price" after the latter is thrown against the wall by Princess Pavetta's runaway magical gift.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: King Foltest of Temeria infamously impregnated his sister Princess Adda, and due to a curse placed on them by a more appropriate suitor the daughter is born as a striga. The battle between Geralt and the striga was later used for the opening cinematic of CD Projekt RED's video game.
  • The Butcher: Geralt is named "The Butcher of Blaviken" in "The Lesser Evil". The truth is more complicated: He killed seven bandits in a Curb-Stomp Battle to stop them from massacring the town to draw out its town wizard, against whom the leader Renfri had a (probably justified) grudge.
  • Covers Always Lie: The American printing of the book by Orbit (shown above) features Geralt fighting a dragon. At no point in any of the vignettes does such a scene take place.
  • Establishing Character Moment: "The Witcher" really hammers in what being a witcher is all about, what methods they use, and what Crapsack World they operate in. The events in this short story were so iconic, the developers of the video game adaptation put them into the opening cutscene, even though it had only tangential connection to the main plot.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: "The Witcher" short story again. Witchers are said to be novelty thing, not relic of the past. Visimir is called king of Novigrad. Magic closer resembles traditional folklore, not Magic A Is Magic A. The most notable difference is social position of the sorcerers - they are travelling pariahs not unlike witchers.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Averted with Princess Adda II in "The Witcher", who was the result of an incestuous affair between the King and his sister Adda I and spends the first fourteen years of her life as a striga, and again in "Lesser Evil", which features a sociopathic leader of a warband, who happens to be a princess by birth. Played straight in "A Question of Price", where Princess Pavetta of Cintra is a Living MacGuffin and a latent mage.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale
  • Living MacGuffin: Princess Pavetta of Cintra has various nobles vying for her hand, though the dowager Queen Calanthe wants her to marry into the royal family of Skellige for political reasons. Then the monstrous Urcheon arrives to claim her hand in accordance with an oath given by Calanthe's dead husband. After Geralt and a druid stop the nobles from killing each other and Pavetta's latent magical gift from destroying the castle, Pavetta marries Urcheon, whose curse has been lifted by true love and now uses his birth name Duny, and Calanthe marries Eist Tuiseach, the king of Skellige who had confessed his love for her when she got injured in the middle of this craziness.
  • Nonindicative Title: More like deliberately misleading (both in original Polish and English translation). "The Last Wish" refers not to a Last Request but to the last remaining (out of three) wish a genie owed to Geralt.
  • The Power of Love: True love is noted by Geralt in "A Grain of Truth" to have great magical power after he is forced to kill the bruxa, who is genuinely in love with a human cursed into monstrous form, and whose love and blood lifts the curse. True love also lifts Urcheon/Duny's curse.
  • Old Man Marrying A Child: Pavetta is going to pick her husband on her 16th birthday and in the end decides on Duny. Since he saved her fathers life in battle around the same time she was born he has to be at least twice her age, probably even older than that. Oh, and she's already pregnant.
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time:
    • This is one of the arguments Geralt supports his disbelief in Renfri being some kind of bloodthirsty mutant with - the Black Sun prophecy speaks of "sixty women in crowns of gold, which will fill the rivers with blood". It's obviously not a proper prophecy: as Geralt points out, it doesn't rhyme.
    • The Ithlinne Prophecy on the other hand does rhyme, at least in original Elven...
  • Riddle for the Ages: Just what exactly Geralt wished for with his last wish?
    • You can figure it out: Geralt wished he and Yennefer have a child. That fits "binding their destinies" trick so the genie can't kill Yennefer once set free, and explains the appearance of Ciri in their lives.
  • Slashed Throat: In "The Witcher" Geralt only just survives having his neck ripped open by the still-partially-a-striga Princess Adda. He got lucky: The claw swipe in question missed the really important bits, and he got medical attention quickly. He still spent a few months in a temple-cum-hospital.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Hiring Geralt to kill the boyfriend of a latent sorceress Pavetta might have been a bad idea.
  • Unreliable Expositor: In "The Lesser Evil" Geralt doesn't really believe either Renfri or the wizard. The princess claims she was driven to evil by the abuse suffered at various hands (and caused by the bloody wizard meddling, thank you very much), he says, with conviction, Renfri is a mutant who was born Ax-Crazy.
  • Yandere: The Bruxa in "A Grain of Truth", who is in love with and violently protective of a human cursed into monstrous form.