This list is actually getting longer instead of shorter because I constantly forget that I wanted to write reviews for these. Hopefully I get around to do them someday not too far in the future. And if you want to, you can bug me about them still being late. That usually motivates me quite a lot. ;)
Overlord at Fantasy Faction shared the news that the deal for the translation of the rest of The Witcher series has come through.
The short story collection The Sword of Destiny will come out this May, and the two remaining books of the novel series The Swallow’s Tower and The Lady of the Lake in 2016 and 2017. The English translations seem to have a rather weird history, with a rather irregular schedule to put it mildly.
The Sword of Destiny (Pol. 1992/Engl. 2015)
The Last Wish (pol. 1993/Engl. 2007
Blood of the Elves (Pol. 1994/Engl. 2009)
Times of Contempt (Pol. 1995/Engl. 2013)
Baptism of Fire (Pol. 1996/Engl. 2014)
The Swallow’s Tower (Pol. 1997/Engl. 2016)
The Lady of the Lake (Pol. 1998/Engl. 2017)
Without any guarantee that the translations would ever be finished, I certainly wouldn’t have bothered with starting a five book series at all. Fortunately, I can also read the German translations, which had been completed four years ago. I don’t have the slightest clue why the English version was taking the longest. Even the Spanish, French, and Lithuanian translations had been finished years ago.
I reviewed The Last Wish last month, which I consider an excelent book and probably the best pick to get into the series. To me, it’s the best example of modern (post-80s) Sword & Sorcery and reaches even up to Conan in quality. I can’t recommend it enough.
I’ve been reading a lot of Sword & Sorcery books recently, both classic and (relatively) new, and I now got around to finish The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski.
Spoiler for the end of this review: Oh boy, am I happy!
The Last Wish was released in Polish in 1993 and contains stories written both before and after the release of Miecz Przeznaczenia (no English translation) the previous year. The stories also take place earlier, which makes The Last Wish both the second and also first book in the series, depending on how you want to count it. The book consists of seven stories of Geralt of Rivia, a professional monster hunter from an old but fading orders of warriors who have acquired special powers through magic and alchemy. Six of the stories are conventional narratives with a beginning, middle, and end in the correct order, while with the seventh Sapkowski did something rather unconventional and quite clever. The Voice of Reason is about as long as all the other stories in the books, but split into seven different parts, between which the other six stories are inserted as flashbacks. It’s not like Geralt sitting down and telling another character a tale from his past, but instead we cut to those other stories so that Sapkowski can give us the necessary background info we need to understand the context of the next scene in The Voice of Reason. May sound strange, but in practice it flows very smoothly and works perfectly well.
Even though the book is kind of an anthology, I am not going to go into detail about each story individually, as they are all by the same author about the same character and they do form a single coherent, if very loosely connected work. In my previous Sword & Sorcery reviews there were always two things that really had me disappointed in a story: Lack of evocative descriptions and lack of thrilling action. While the former is mostly a personal preference, action, passion, and thrill is what I consider the most fundamental essence of Sword & Sorcery. You can change and experiment with all the common archetypes and conventions, but if there is no passion and fury, a story will always just be Heroic Fantasy. The Witcher has all the hallmarks of a Sword & Sorcery hero: An outsider who uses descisive action for selfish gains. And at least in the first two books, the tales of Geralt use the classic short story format as well. (The other six books don’t.) So I gave The Last Wish a try, hoping to find something for my Sword & Sorcery craving. And does it deliver?
I frequently see people complaining that they can’t get their novels to proper length and that their ideas don’t provide enough material for 200,000 words. Then why try to make them into novels in the first place? It’s not the only option fantasy writers have to chose their format. In the Sword & Sorcery genre, stories tend to be much shorter, instead you simply get more of them.
As references, here are the works of some of the great Sword & Sorcery writers and their lengths.
A new trailer for Witcher 3 has been released a few hours ago.
If you remember a bit about the kinds of games I’ve been describing in previous articles, it won’t come as any kind of surprise that I love the Witcher games. This trailer looks really good, though it’s also a strong reminder why I usually don’t watch trailers or read previous for games I am interested in. This one does give away some details of the story, that would have quite surprised me if I’d be playing the game for the first time without knowing anything about it. It’s nothing major and thinking about it, it was mostly just me being dense that I hadn’t seen them coming since the moment I finished Witcher 2. It does, however, do it’s job of making me really excited about seeing how everything will actually turn out in the final game.