Going into this audiobook series, I had never played a single Witcher video game, and as I started it before the release of the Netflix show, I was going into the world of The Witcher pretty much blind! My only knowledge of the game was a brief encounter on Twitch when The Valkyries were playing some of the DLC. I also knew The Witcher 3 was always talked about with high praise and always featured on people’s ‘greatest games of all time’ lists. So I was optimistic going into this much-acclaimed fantasy series. My optimism was to be rewarded, as The Witcher Saga is hands down one of the most epic fantasy series that I have ever encountered!
Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, a man whose magic powers and lifelong training have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin.
Yet he is no ordinary killer: he hunts the vile fiends that ravage the land and attack the innocent.
But not everything monstrous-looking is evil; not everything fair is good…and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.
Andrzej Sapkowski, the winner of the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement award, started an international phenomenon with his Witcher series. The Last Wish is the perfect introduction to this one-of-a-kind fantasy world.
The first two audiobooks, “The Last Wish” and “Sword of Destiny” are a collection of anthology stories that help establish the world, characters and lore within The Witcher Saga. As there are a lot of characters, factions, monsters and magical lore to get your head around, the first two audiobooks do a fantastic job at educating the listener as well as entertaining them throughout. If you are thinking of diving into this series, I think it is very important to start with the first two books and not skip them, wanting to get started on the main saga proper. Even armed with the knowledge of the games and Netflix show, these first two books are still vital to the overall experience, even if they only tease at plot-points to come in the main series. They are easily both in my top 3 out of all of the books, so I urge you to go in for the long haul here!
The ending of the second book sets up the main bulk of the series proper. The main series features “Blood of Elves” (Book 1), “Time of Contempt” (Book 2), “Baptism of Fire” (Book 3), “The Tower of the Swallow” (Book 4) and “Lady of the Lake” (Book 5). Armed with the information from the first two anthology books, the transition to the main story is very smooth. With many of the characters and history already well established, this allows for greater focus on the main plot. In the fantasy genre, authors are prone to going off on tangents and focusing too much on fluffing out the journey with overbearing history lessons of their established worlds. Not so in the work of Andrzej Sapkowski, who manages to give plenty of detail, without sacrificing the plot progression.
When it comes to the narration, Peter Kenny is simply sensational! He tells the stories extremely well, and his expansive range of characters are easily recognisable as they flit in-and-out of the different stories. Characters can disappear for a book or two, but when they are reintroduced, you can pick out their character immediately. Some audiobook series change narrator halfway through, and this can be very frustrating. Having the consistency of such an outstanding actor made the stories so much more enjoyable.
So, are there any negative elements to this series? To put it honestly, no! The production, story and narration are all first class! The only thing that springs to mind is the odd pronunciation choice for the character Dandelion. For some reason, Dandelion is only pronounced as ‘Dan-de-lion’ once, in the second book, while the rest of the time he is called ‘Dan-dil-e-en’. It’s only a small thing and to be honest, in the context of the story I actually prefer the choice they made. I just thought it was a little odd that there was that difference in one of the audiobooks.
The Witcher Saga is a must for fans of the games or the Netflix series, helping to supplement these platforms with great characters, fantastic stories and monsters of pure terror! Having the same narrator voice all of the books keeps that consistency when it comes to returning characters and Peter Kenny does a fantastic job throughout the series. A near-perfect series for fans of the fantasy genre!
The Witcher Saga is available now on Audible UK.