The Last Wish (book)
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Cover of the U.S. edition
|Original title||Ostatnie życzenie|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Followed by||Sword of Destiny|
The Last Wish (Polish: Ostatnie życzenie) is the first (in its fictional chronology; published second in original Polish) of the two collections of short stories (the other being Sword of Destiny) preceding the main Witcher Saga, written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The first Polish edition was published in 1993 and the first English edition was first published in 2007. The book has also been translated into several other languages.
The collection contains six short stories interspersed with a continuing frame story: Geralt of Rivia, after having been injured in battle, rests in a temple. During that time he has flashbacks to recent events in his life, with each flashback forming a short.
"The Voice of Reason"
Głos rozsądku - frame story
In Ellander's religious Temple of Melitele, a wounded Geralt is awakened from his slumber by Iola, a mute servant of Melitele. The two make love, and fall asleep together, with Geralt dreaming of his fight with a striga, the powerful monster who wounded him, in Wyzim ("The Witcher").
In the morning, priestess Nenneke awakens them, and insists Geralt take part in a trance with Iola, which would show them Geralt's future. Geralt refuses ("A Grain of Truth").
Two knights of the Order of the White Rose, Count Falwick and Sir Tailles, arrive. They are ordered by the prince of Ellander to chase Geralt out of town. Geralt promises to leave in three days. Insulted, Tailles challenges Geralt to a duel, and the knights promise to return ("The Lesser Evil"). Later Geralt tells Iola his history as a witcher and destiny ("A Question of Price").
Dandelion, a poet and Geralt's friend, soon arrives. They discuss how the witcher profession is losing profitability in modern times ("The Edge of the World"). After, Geralt talks to Nenneke about Yennefer, wishing to give some of his payment from defeating the striga to her. He recounts how he met Yennefer at Nenneke's request ("The Last Wish").
Finally, Geralt and Dandelion leave the temple, but are stopped by Falwick and Tailles and a company of soldiers. They are accompanied by Dennis Cranmer, the dwarf captain of the prince's guard. The knights outline an unwinnable situation to Geralt, in which he must accept Tailles' earlier challenge but not harm Tailles, or else he'll be killed. Geralt accepts, but avoids punishment by causing Tailles to injure himself. Dennis accepts the loophole and permits Geralt to leave, sincerely hoping to meet Geralt again in the future.
Before Geralt leaves, he accidentally touches Iola's hand, inducing the trance. Geralt, Iola, and Nenneke see a bloody and violent vision of Geralt's future. Geralt dismisses the vision, claiming to have seen it before, and says goodbye to Nenneke.
Geralt meets with the king of Vizima, Foltest, to cure the king's daughter of a curse that transformed her into a monstrous striga, who now terrorizes the town, for a valuable reward. Foltest insists Geralt not harm his daughter-turned-striga, but soon allows Geralt to kill the striga if Geralt decides that that the striga cannot be cured back to her human form.
Geralt spends the night at the old palace, which houses the striga. Lord Ostrit, a magnate from Novigrad, arrives and tries to bribe Geralt into running away. Ostrit wants to use the striga situation as proof of Foltest's inability to rule, convincing the inhabitants to support Novigrad's rule of Vizima over Foltest's. Geralt refuses and knocks Ostrit out to use him as bait for the striga.
Geralt fights with the striga and soon overcomes her, despite the striga's resistance to silver, which normally easily defeats monsters. In the morning, Geralt incorrectly believes the striga has returned to a human, and is severely wounded before the striga finally becomes a young girl again. Geralt binds his wounds and faints, having earned his reward.
"A Grain of Truth"
While traveling through a forest, Geralt comes across corpses with strange wounds. One corpse has a blue rose pinned to its dress.
Tracing the path the corpses came from, the witcher arrives at a seemingly deserted mansion. Before entering the premises, he notices a woman in the forest line watching him. She runs away once Geralt notices.
Geralt approaches the house and its owner, a large bear-like beast named Nivellan, attempts to scare him away to no avail. Nivellan allows Geralt to enter the house, which supernaturally obeys Nivellan's every command. Nivellan discusses how, at one point, he was a human who raped a priestess of a religious temple, who cursed him to be a beast until certain conditions were fulfilled, but Nivellan could not remember what those conditions were. Returning to the mansion, his family home, he attempted to entertain relationships with daughters of merchants to help cure his curse, but none seemed to help.
Before departing, Geralt warns Nivellen that his newest relationship, named Vereena, may actually be a monster. Nivellen insists that he and Vereena are truly in love and is now hesitant to break his curse. Geralt notices his horse acting strangely, but dismisses it and leaves.
Along the road, Geralt realizes why his horse acted strangely and returns to the mansion. He is greeted by Vereena, who Geralt identifies as a bruxa, a vampire-like monster with telepathic abilities. A fight ensues. The bruxa overwhelms Geralt, but Nivellan joins the fray and impales the monster on a pole. The bruxa confesses her love for Nivellan telepathically just before Geralt finally kills her. The confession breaks Nivellan's curse and he returns to normal.
"The Lesser Evil"
On the eve of a market festival, Geralt rides into the town of Blaviken with a monster carcass in tow. He seeks out Caldemeyn, the town's alderman, to try to get a reward for killing the monster. Caldemeyn refuses, but one of his guards mentions that the town wizard might find value in it.
They head to the wizard's tower, who is uninterested in the carcass but wants to meet Geralt nonetheless, alone. Geralt steps into the tower and discovers the wizard is Stregobor, a mage he has met previously. Stregobor explains why he is in hiding and why he wished to meet with Geralt: a young, supposedly cursed women wants to assassinate him and Stregobor wants Geralt's protection. Geralt refuses in disbelief and leaves.
Meanwhile, the described assassin, named Renfri, has entered Blaviken along with her band of mercenaries. Geralt meets her in a local tavern, and explains to Geralt and Caldemeyn that she bears a letter from a king that she is under his protection, which Caldemeyn confirms. That night, when Geralt withdraws to his attic room at Caldemeyn's home, he finds Renfri. Renfri explains that Stregobor had previously tried to kill her for no reason other than a superstition, and encourages the witcher to kill Stregobor instead. Geralt, again, refuses, and pleads with Renfri to forgive Stregobor to prove the superstition wrong. Renfri refuses but implies she will leave town peacefully before spending the night with Geralt.
In the morning, on the day of the market festival, Geralt realizes that Renfri lied, and won't be leaving town, but will in fact massacre the people of Blaviken to draw Stregobor out of his tower. Geralt races to the marketplace and finds Renfri's mercenaries. Although they show no immediate indication of causing harm in the market, Geralt attacks and swiftly kills each mercenary. After, Renfri arrives, but is also defeated by the witcher.
After the fight, Stregobor approaches the witcher, intent on performing an autopsy on Renfri's body to prove that the curse had affected her. Geralt refuses to let him touch her body. Stregobor leaves, and the townsfolk, believing Geralt had just murdered a group of innocent men during the festival, begin hurling rocks at the witcher. Geralt protects himself with magic until Caldemeyn tells the villagers to stop, but demands Geralt leave Blaviken and never return. Geralt's actions have now earned him the nickname "the Butcher of Blaviken."
"A Question of Price"
The story begins with Geralt being clean-shaven, washed and nicely clothed by the servants and castellan of the royal family's castle in Cintra. Cintra's crown-princess, Pavetta, has turned fifteen years old and as is the custom, contenders for her hand have turned up in their dozens.
Geralt, who is officially invited to the party as the honourable Lord Ravix of Fourhorn, sits next to Queen Calanthe, yet has not been told what is the reason of his invitation. During dinner, he has a long discussion with the queen as to how she sees witchers, what she thinks is their profession, and if she invited him for the right reasons.
Suddenly an uninvited guest enters the room: a helmed spiked knight who introduces himself as the Urcheon of Erlenwald. Granted to speak by the queen, he tells that he has come to collect the promised reward for saving King Roegner's life; by the Law of Surprise, princess Pavetta has belonged to him from the day of her birth.
Although Queen Calanthe admits that what he says is true, she does not have the intention of giving her daughter away to a stranger. Barons and Lords alike cause a considerable raucous discussing if the Queen's actions would be noble and just if she were to de-legitimate Urcheon's claim to her daughter, with one knight in particular bringing up the issue of royal promises are what kingdoms are built upon. Geralt, the voice of reason, brings up that to fully comply with the Law of Surprise, Pavetta would need to agree to leave with Urcheon as well. Just then, the toll of midnight strikes, and the knight, who previously claimed he could not remove his helm until midnight, was forced to remove his helm by Calanthe. To everyone's shock, Urcheon's visage was that of a beast, furry, with whiskers, and snout like a mountain cat. The other suitors in the room, which include Crach an Craite, in an uproar, seriously consider engaging Urcheon. Regardless, the Queen now asks Princess Pavetta if she chooses to leave with the knight, and she answers yes. The queen collapses in her chair and a fight breaks out, with the guards, ordered by the Queen, and knights attacking Urcheon. Geralt and the uncle of Crach an Craite, who secretly loves Queen Calanthe, defend the creature called Urcheon.
Just then, Pavetta gets on top of a chair and lets out "pure, primordial Force." A force that Geralt and the druid Mousesack have already felt for some time, explodes from princess Pavetta as she sees her lover being attacked. As the guests fought, the princess' power grew and became very dangerous to everyone, the castle might even come down. When Pavetta is distracted by Coodcoodak, Geralt broke through the magic and got Pavetta back to her senses. As Pavetta approaches Urcheon, his visage starts transforming back to that of a man, and he answers now to the name of "Duny."
When the ruckus had calmed down, Duny and Pavetta explain the situation. They had been seeing each other for over a year now, and had fallen in love. Having calmed down, queen Calanthe agreed with their love, and their forthcoming marriage. Eist Tuirseach, who came that night for the hand of princess Pavetta, ended up accepting the proposal to marry Queen Calanthe. Thanking Geralt for saving his life earlier, Duny offered him whatever he asked for. Geralt asked for "that which you already have but do not know", breaking the news to everyone, including Duny and Pavetta, that the princess was pregnant. He asked that their child was to be raised as a witcher.
"The Edge of the World"
The story opens with Geralt and Dandelion having stopped in Upper Posada to look for work. After spending a good deal of time trying to find out if there are any paying jobs to be had, the witcher concludes that the tales of the locals are nothing more than superstition and constitute no real work for a witcher. The pair decide to move on, heading towards the "edge of the known world".
As they approach Lower Posada, Dandelion notices a horse-drawn cart seemingly trying to overtake them. Nettly, a local farmer, catches up with them, saying there is indeed work for a witcher and that he too thought the folk in Upper Posada were talking utter nonsense. He suggests they continue on their way and discuss things in relative comfort.
Once in the village, the local elder, Dhun, tells of a 'deovel' whose mischief has become a problem, but under no circumstances should the creature be killed. Despite Dandelion's claims that there are no devils, Geralt agrees to take a look and see what he can do.
Out in the fields, amidst the hemp and hops, Geralt and Dandelion find the 'deovel'. Dandelion and the bleating 'devil' exchange a few words which only serve to provoke the latter; he takes aim and starts throwing iron balls at the witcher and his friend with a fair degree of accuracy, and they flee.
Back in the village, Geralt confronts Dhun and Nettly, and meets the community's old wise woman and Lille. After some discussion, an ancient book is brought forth, and the old woman 'reads' appointed entries from it. This way, the witcher and the bard learn that the devil is, in fact, a sylvan. The villagers had tried using the book's suggestions for ousting the beast—a suggestion which apparently left it well armed with iron balls. The old woman and Lille leave, taking the book with them; Geralt converses with the men some more.
The following day, back in the fields, Geralt tries to draw out the sylvan and speak. The devil refuses but suggests that if the witcher wants to play games, his game. Geralt is in no mood for games, but suggests one: "don't do unto others what you would not have them do to you". This essentially leads to a tussle in the hemp from which the sylvan narrowly escapes. Geralt hears a horse and assumes that Dandelion has come to his aid on horseback. But there's a twist in the story. The witcher is actually knocked down, and knocked out, by the unidentified rider.
He stirs to find himself face down on the ground, bound, with the sounds of people talking in the Elder Speech not far away. He recognizes one of the voices as belonging to the 'devil', and soon learns that his name is Torque. The other speaker is an elf, Galarr. Next to the witcher, Dandelion is similarly bound.
Their captors, Aen Seidhe elves, notice their captives have awakened, and a bitter she-elf named Toruviel approaches them, aggressively. She makes some rather disparaging remarks about human musical abilities and breaks Dandelion's lute. She then proceeds to torment Geralt. The witcher, despite being bound, manages to knock her off her feet and pin her down. He then headbutts her, breaking her nose, and the other elves draw blades. They are stopped by the arrival on horseback of an elder elf named Filavandrel. The relief doesn't last long, though, for the bard and the witcher are tied to a pine tree with belts. Geralt and Torque both try to talk some sense into the elves, but to no avail. The elves tell Torque to get out of the way and aim their bows.
Fortunately, at this point the legendary Queen of the Fields makes a spectacular entrance. The elves halt, lower their weapons, and kneel before her. Filavandrel pleads with her, but while she doesn't say a word, she seems to be communicating with him telepathically. Meanwhile, Torque cuts Geralt and Dandelion, who had fainted, free. When Torque asks Geralt what to do with the poet, Geralt suggests a few quick slaps about the face, which Torque happily obliges.
After a moment, the elves get up, silent, saddle their horses and start to leave. Filavandrel bids Geralt farewell, Toruviel gives Dandelion a new lute, and they part ways. Filavandrel tells Geralt that he has reconsidered and hopes that the witcher will not let him down when they inevitably meet on the fields of battle. Geralt assures him that he'll do his best.
The story ends with the witcher, the bard and the sylvan around a campfire, wondering where to go next, reading the villagers' book.
"The Last Wish"
One morning, while trying to catch fish for breakfast, Dandelion and Geralt instead haul up an ancient, sealed amphora. Dandelion, ignoring Geralt's warnings, tries to open the vase. During a struggle between the two, the vase falls to the ground and a large cloud of red mist escapes — a genie. Geralt dives for cover, but Dandelion feels he knows exactly what is happening and held his ground, beginning to recite his list of three wishes. The genie does not fulfill even the first one of the bard's wishes (that his rival die of apoplexy), opting instead to strangle the bard.
Geralt rushes to his friend's rescue, and after a seemingly fruitless fight, decides to use some folk knowledge he had always considered to be nonsense. The Witcher seizes the ampora seal which has fallen to the ground and shouts out an exorcism. The genie releases the bard and disappears across the river, but Dandelion is far from well. It seems his throat and larynx have been seriously affected by the genie and he needs help desperately.
After a day's ride, they arrive at the gates of Rinde, but are told that no one may pass through the gates between dusk and dawn without a letter of safe conduct from the king or proof of nobility. The guard offers them the gatehouse until morning, pointing out that Dandelion will fare better there than out of doors. Having no other option, the Witcher agrees.
Waiting for the dawn to break, Geralt makes the acquaintance of two elves Chireadan and his cousin, Errdil and a half-elf knight, Vratimir. They inform him that there are heavy duties and penalties for spellcasting within the city, and the mages are boycotting Rinde in return. There is one though, who continues to work her magic within the city limits and generally flouts the law: the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg, residing in the sanctuary provided by the Novigradian merchant-ambassabor, Beau Berrant.
When dawn breaks, Geralt enters the city to find the sorceress. Arriving at Berrant's home, he is greeted by Cerberus, the doorman of sorts. After a fruitless discussion, Geralt decides that perhaps gold might open the door, and knocks the oaf unconscious with his money purse. Once inside, he drags Cerberus into an open room where one of the female staff is happily snoring. The Witcher then proceeds to the basement where he meets a very inebriated Berrant. The ambassador, it seems, is on a mission to get apple juice for his guest and asks Geralt for help. Geralt fetches the juice only to find Beau unconscious.
Noticing a staircase nearby, the Witcher climbs up to what turns out to be Yennefer's bedchamber. The sorceress, partly surprised by Geralt's appearance, appreciates his offering of juice—though she does not appreciate Geralt's sarcasm in response to her questions. The sorceress summarily fires a bolt of lighting at Geralt, who absorbs the attack with Quen. Afterwards, Geralt is able to convince Yennefer to help Dandelion, right after a bath. While Yennefer takes a bath, Geralt is amazed by her beauty, but also realises that it is probably a spell, as most girls who become sorceresses are ugly or malformed by nature. He puts these thoughts aside, and decides to just enjoy her beauty, as they talk over Dandelion's condition. Once dressed, Yennefer opens a portal and the two set out for the tavern where Dandelion is laid up.
Back at Errdil's inn, Chireadan and Geralt sit downstairs waiting to hear about the bard's condition and chatting a little about Yennefer over a cup of herb tea. Chireadan tells Geralt in no uncertain terms that Yennefer, while beautiful, is not to be trusted.
After a while, Yennefer summons Geralt upstairs; Dandelion is happily, safely asleep, and there is only the question of price to be discussed. Geralt first wants to take Dandelion to safety, and offers a price to guarantee his return. Yennefer wants her price right away though and reveals that she has in fact trapped Geralt in the room. The Witcher is completely paralyzed. After a rather fruitless argument, Geralt passes out and the next thing he knows, he's sharing a cell with "honest thieves", an innocent old man, and Chireadan.
The elf tells Geralt the reason for their presence there; under the influence of Yennefer's spell, Geralt went rampaging through the town, punishing anyone who had ever insulted Yennefer. The local apothecary Laurelnose was actually publicly spanked by the Witcher for his "crimes". As the two men reflect on their situation, their musings are interrupted by the entrance of three guards. One of them starts taunting Geralt while his friends hold the Witcher still, then proceeds to repeatedly punch Geralt in the stomach. Seeking to get out with the least injuries possible, Geralt tries to goad the man into rendering him unconscious. He expresses the wish that the guard simply burst, and to everyone's surprise, the man does so.
Later, the Witcher and the elf are brought before the town's mayor, Neville and the priest, Krepp. The mayor is not happy with the situation but before he can reach a verdict, Dandelion suddenly drops into the room from a magical portal which suddenly appears on the wall. The bard shouts with a fully restored voice that he wishes everyone present to believe that the Witcher is innocent. He was instructed to do this by Yennefer, who sent him through this portal, and wanted to clear Geralt's name.
Dandelion has hardly had time to explain himself when a roaring commotion is heard outside, loud enough to be heard over the current thunderstorm. Rushing to the window, the group sees that Yennefer has lured the genie to the town, and is trying to capture it to gain its amazing powers. The genie is much stronger than expected though, and despite Yennefer's spells binding it to Errdil's inn, the genie is destroying the town.
Geralt ushers everyone else to safety and asks Krepp to stabilise the trace of the portal Dandelion just fell through. After a few protests, the priest obliges and the portal reappears. Geralt jumps through, intent on saving the sorceress. Yennefer does not want to be saved though, she is not done trapping her genie and resists Geralt's help, even opening a portal to get rid of him. While he falls into the portal, however, the witcher grabs Yennefer, and the sorceress is dragged into the portal with him. When they exit the portal, they land in a formal banquet and the two have not been invited. Yennefer immediately shakes off Geralt and goes back through the portal, with Geralt following her close behind.
Outside, the people gathered are watching in terror as the genie continues to rampage through the city. After a scuffle between Yennefer and Geralt, with waning powers, the sorceress traps him. The Witcher tries to talk some sense into her head, but she will not listen.
Then, Geralt realises that the genie was fulfilling his wishes, since he was the one holding the seal last. His first wish was the incantation he used on the genie and his second was the wish for the guard to burst, and thus the genie is still awaiting Geralt's third wish. Because the genie still has to fulfill his master's wish, he is not yet freed, and is not able to be captured by Yennefer. While rethinking his possible last wish, he also realises what Yennefer looked like before she became a sorceress - she was a hunchback. Then, he decided upon his last wish.
The next moment, the genie tears free, the inn collapses and silence descends upon the village. Under the rubble of the inn, Yennefer finds herself in Geralt's arms, close and intimate. Just moments later, Yennefer and Geralt begin to make love in the remains of what was the beginning of a stormy relationship.
Several short stories from The Last Wish have been adapted for television and video games.
- Elements of "The Voice of Reason" were used for The Hexer episodes "Human – First Meeting Crossroads" and "The Temple of Melitele".
- "The Witcher" was adapted for the opening cinematic of The Witcher video game and for The Hexer episode "Crossroads".
- "The Lesser Evil" was adapted in The Hexer episode of the same name as well as elements used in the episodes "Dandelion" and "Human-First Meeting".
- "A Question of Price" was adapted in The Hexer episode "Calanthe".
- "The Edge of the World" was adapted in The Hexer episode "The Valley of Flowers".
- Bulgarian: Последното желание (ИнфоДАР, 2008)
- Czech: Zaklínač I - Poslední přání (Leonardo, 1999)
- Dutch: De Laatste Wens - Dutch Media Uitgevers, 2010 (ISBN 9789049500368)
- English: The Last Wish, translated by Danusia Stok
- Estonian: Viimane Soov, translated by Aarne Puu (Tiritamm, 2011, ISBN 978-9985-55-282-7)
- Finnish: Viimeinen Toivomus (WSOY, 2010, ISBN 9510365696, translated by Tapani Kärkkäinen)
- French: Le Dernier Vœu (2003)
- German: Der letzte Wunsch
- Greek: Η τελευταία ευχή - The Witcher: Μια περιπέτεια του γητευτή (Σελήνη, 2013, ISBN 9786185049119)
- Hungarian: Vaják I - Az utolsó kivánság (PlayON, 2011, ISBN 978-963-08-1080-7)
- Portuguese: O Último Desejo
- Romanian: Ultima dorință, translated by Mihaela Fiscutean (Nemira, 2015, ISBN 978-606-579-970-7)
- Russian: Последнее желание (AST, 1996, ISBN 5-7921-0081-0)
- Spanish: El último deseo, translated by Jose María Faraldo (Bibliópolis fantástica, 2002)
- Italian: Il Guardiano degli Innocenti (Casa Editrice Nord, 2010)
- Serbian: Poslednja želja (IPS Media, 2009, ISBN 978-86-7274-300-5)
- Slovak: Zaklínač I - Posledné želanie, Plus, 2015 (ISBN 978-80-259-0441-1, translated by Karol Chmel)
- Traditional Chinese: "獵魔士 - 最後的願望", translated by 林蔚昀 (蓋亞文化, 2011, ISBN 978-986-6157-49-3)
- Turkish: Son Dilek (Pegasus, 2017, ISBN 978-605-299-018-6, translated by Regaip Minareci from German)
- Swedish: Den Sista Önskningen
- Korean: 위처 이성의 목소리 (제우미디어, 2011, ISBN 978-89-5952-239-2)
- Simplified Chinese: "猎魔人 - 白狼崛起", translated by 小龙 (重庆出版社, 2015, ISBN 9787229089559)
A Polish language audio book based on The Last Wish and The Sword of Destiny was released in 2011 by Fonopolis and audioteka.pl. The Last Wish, lasting about 12 hours, was voiced by 52 actors, including Krzysztof Banaszyk as Geralt, Anna Dereszowska as Yennefer, Sławomir Pacek as Dandelion, and Krzysztof Gosztyła as narrator.
Reception and significance
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In 2011, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk gave U.S. President Barack Obama diplomatic presents, as is custom, on his visit to Poland. One of these was a signed copy of The Last Wish. The English edition was placed on the New York Times Bestseller in June 2015, coinciding with the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt video game.
- "SuperNOWA - Andrzej Sapkowski".
- "The Last Wish Cover Reveal... of sorts!". February 9, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
- "Obama's foreign gifts: $7,750 golf bag, $40,000 photo, iPod shuffle". April 26, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
- "THE LAST WISH is a New York Times Bestseller! - Orbit Books". 8 June 2015.
- The Last Wish title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Review by SFF World
- Review by Fantasy Book Critic
- Review by OF Blog of the Fallen
- Review by The Wertzone
- (in Polish) Review of the English edition by Asthner i Falka, Biblioteka Światów
- (in Polish) Review of the Polish edition by Michał BAZYL Krupko, Biblioteka Światów