In the last week I've read The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski. This is the first book of the series that inspired The Witcher games.
I enjoyed the well thought-out world of the second game (Assassings of Kings), so I reckoned the source books would be a nice read too. However, it has been a while since I read fantasy, and the last one was A Song of Ice and Fire...
The book contains a frame story interleaved with six smaller short stories. These stories offer an interesting background on Geralt (the witcher) & some important characters and monsters in the universe. There are a lot of references to classic fairy tales, I've probably only spotted half of them.
The seperate stories make it relatively varied, interesting and entertaining.
Geralt is a monster slayer by profession, righteous and friendly, but hardened by relentless training and physical mutations since birth. Sometimes he is convincingly portrayed as this serious character.
But regularly, the book takes a weird jump. The characters can flip from being cold blooded killers to teddy bears in a matter of a sentence. For example, in the story A Question of Price, Geralt is killing guards on one moment, and crying at the happy ending of a love story on the other.
This makes it all seem a litte "unrealistic". Not in the sense of a poorly designed fantasy world, but because of the implausibility of the characters and situations. I felt that A Song of Ice and Fire, Tolkiens' books or The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) and even Ranger's Apprentice when I was younger are more sensible in this regard.
That doesn't make it bad. Just an entertaining, light read with an identity crisis every now and then.
I'm reading the first full book (Blood of Elves) as well, and it's better. Well, at least it doesn't have this weird flipping.
Cover image depicting a scene from the story A Grain of Truth © by Afternoon63 on DeviantArt.