This is a collection of short stories following Geralt, our Witcher, on his adventures before the events of Blood of Elves.
The stories have a few dark fairytale elements, A Grain of Truth reminded me of Beauty and the Beast. A vile highwayman was cursed and lived alone as a beast in his mansion, he gained some magical abilities and could summon food from the kitchens without having to lift a finger. One day a merchant stumbled upon the beast and traded his daughter for a year with the beast in exchange for money and jewels. Soon other men found out about the arrangement and the beast was hardly alone. Geralt came across the beast when he found bodies in a wood nearby, it turns out there was something far more dangerous living in the house.
“There was something strange in Renfri’s voice…something associated with the red reflection of fire on blades, the wailing of people being murdered, the whinnying of horses and the smell of blood.”
In The Lesser Evil, Geralt finds an old acquaintance, a wizard who has become obsessed with an old myth that says any women born on the day of an eclipse has been sent by the devil to kill. For years some mad wizards have been hunting down these women and keeping them in towers (Rapunzel vibes). There’s also mention of a queen asking their mirror to predict the future and bring about the downfall of her stepdaughter. I think this was my favourite story.
“I know my fate whirls about me like water in a weir. It’s hard on my heels, following my tracks, but I never look back.”
Geralt’s moral compass is better than everyone around him, he was made to kill but he doesn’t enjoy it. He kills monsters if he has to and for money. If he can he will try to reverse spells and save as many people as he can. But people are scared of him, they shun him. He still has humour and his horse Roach though!
“People like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves.”
Queen Calanthe is so cool, I want to be her. She refuses to marry again after her husband dies because she doesn’t want to give up her power, fight the Patriarchy!!
“So I, a poor witcher, am to face down a destiny which is stronger than the royal will. A witcher fighting destiny! What irony!”
Yennefer is only in The Last Wish and she comes across as very fierce and forceful, her relationship with Geralt is important, they are bound together but they’re both low-key messes so it’s no wonder they fight a lot. Dandilion is also in this story as well as The Edge of the World. He makes me laugh, I love his and Geralt’s relationship, they both get on each other’s nerves but still care about each other.
I’m very excited to read Sword of Destiny which is another set of short stories, then it’ll be the main series!