I love reading a lot of different books, particularly indie books, but I also love having a series going at the same time. Recently I read the Dark Tower, but now I’m on The Witcher series (of which this is the second book, unofficially), and they’re great.
When I say it’s unofficially the second, that’s because the series kind of start with the third book. They’re all in the same universe, with the same characters, but the two first books are collections of short stories. The end of this one ties directly into the third book, which I’ve barely begun, which starts of the series properly as the first novel.
Published in 1992, you can kind of tell that this is an older kind of fantasy. It’s as if you can tell that books written by authors in recent years, try very hard to give you that immersive, complete, perfectly-built-world instantly, whereas in this you’re following just a handful of characters on a much smaller scale. I’m sure it expands as soon as I get into the novels, but so far, I don’t know much about the universe, the world, or the kingdoms, and lots of things go unexplained. I like that. You have to pay attention to what’s being said, particularly between the lines, and figure out how people know each other and why their paths might have crossed before.
The Witcher series centers around Geralt of Rivia, who is a witcher. Witcher’s are monster hunters, highly skilled soliders who are mutated with concoctions and magic to be able to slay foul creatures where ever they may roam, for a price. Geralt is by no means a chosen one, or a very special person, other than being one of the few who survived his training. There’s not very many witchers, but there are a few. The Witcher series has also been made into a video game series, the third of which has been very successful in the last few years. I’m playing it these days and I love reading the story as I do.
You might have gauged from the author’s name that he’s Polish, and you can certainly tell from his writing that he’s inspired by medieval Europe. It’s a very different kind of fantasy, with a lot of folklore, and it has this fairy tale feel to it. That’s not to say that it there isn’t plenty of murdering and slaughtering going on, in addition to other vile acts, as well plenty of sexy times. Geralt do like the womenfolk, and they tend to like him too.
What I like about Geralt, is that he isn’t some whiny, ‘I-hate-being-the-witcher’ brat. He’s good at what he does, he knows it, and he enjoys it (mostly). At the same time, he’s got morals. There’s a difference between monsters and other fantastical creatures, and he doesn’t just kill anything for gold. He’s just trying to live his life, and goes on some incredible adventures while doing it.
The Witcher universe is vast, and incredibly well put together, and I can’t wait to uncover more of it. If you’re looking for a strong, high-quality, different kind of fantasy, give it a go. And if you don’t particularly like short stories, maybe skip right to the third book, ‘Blood of Elves’. I’ll review it soon enough.