Full disclosure? I’m a bandwagon reader on this one. I played the Witcher 2 for XBox 360 and was completely immersed in the story. After beating it (the first time around) and watching the credits roll, I saw that it was based on a series of novels.
The hell you say!
One Kindle download later, here I am. I’m going to tell you that I loved this book, and yes, I’ll admit that my love of the game may have influenced me. Let me explain my take on the story, then you can make up your own mind about whether or not it’s for you.
The novel is structured as a series of short stories that progressively weave together. I love this style when it’s done well, and Andrzej handles it deftly. In a marketplace where publishers seem to believe that readers are too stupid to understand a tale that isn’t strictly linear in nature, it’s nice to see some deviation. There is a definite logic to the structure of these smaller stories, though. The depth to which each story brings you into Geralt’s world increases with subsequent tale.
In regard to the world, it’s a sword-and-horse fantasy land with some fun twists. The dynamic between the humans and non-humans, the Witcher and the monsters, is very well thought out and executed skillfully. There’s enough of our own myth and legend to make a connection, while it deviates to a degree that provides some surprises. I never found myself feeling like I was reading a text book or on the receiving end of an info-dump. Quite the opposite, in fact. The novel left me wanting to experience more.
Where I think Andrzej may lose some U.S. readers is in his choice of point of view. Classic, third-person omniscient storytelling is just fine by me. Many readers of genre fiction, especially older genre fiction, recognize the style and connect well with it. However, in recent years this has fallen out of fashion with our publishers and readers. Most stories these days will be told in deep-third or first-person. For readers who are attached to that style of story-telling, third person may seem too clinical, or *gasp* boring.
The dialogue is very heavy, and fills a good amount of page space. However, since I liked the dialogue for the most part this wasn’t an issue. Action sequences are fast paced and well-written. Among my favorites was the encounter with the Sylvan midway through the book.
Thematically, the story has a lot to say about people, our society, and how we conduct ourselves in regard to each other and nature. It wasn’t just a good story, it was a good story with a purpose.