Story on The Melting Potcast

This week’s episode of The Melting Potcast features a story written by me!


If you haven’t heard of the Potcast, it’s a fun podcast that features audio fiction, interviews, writing panels, madlibs, and a host of other cool stuff.  I’m excited to be on one of their episodes (and they did a great job recording the story.  It was so great to listen to!).


Check it out here:

Witcher Wednesdays – The Last Wish Part 6

Welcome to Witcher Wednesdays, where I read and comment on The Witcher series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski. Today I’m covering the next two stories in The Last Wish , through page 311 in this edition.

This post CONTAINS SPOILERS so don’t read it until you’re caught up with the book. Ready? Let’s go!


The Voice of Reason 6

Geralt talks with Nenneke about his lost love, Yennifer. Geralt tries to give Nenneke money to give to Yen, but Nenneke refuses it and tells Geralt he’s an idiot.


This is a short, worldbuilding interlude designed to introduce Yen. Geralt wants to give Yen the money she needs to have an operation that will restore her ability to have children. Though, clearly she isn’t interested in having Geralt’s children, because he is also sterile. Maybe that’s why they broke up?


The Last Wish

Geralt and Dandilion are fishing and Dandilion reels in an old jar instead of a fish. Dandilion decides that a djinn is inside the jar and opens it to get his three wishes. The djinn appears and knocks Dandilion unconscious. Geralt manages to scare it off by screaming an exorcism at it (that later turns out to be not an exorcism at all) and carries a wounded Dandilion to the nearest town.

The town is closed for the night, but the guards let Geralt and Dandilion take shelter in the nearby guardhouse. Everyone introduces themselves to each other. The guards are Chireadan, Errdil, and Vratimir. The guards tell Geralt that his best chance of saving Dandilion, whose throat has been injured and Geralt is afraid may never sing again, is to hire a sorceress taking shelter in the town, Yennefer. Despite the fact that sorceresses are not allowed in the town, Yen has managed to make a good living.

Geralt gets into the house Yen is staying in by knocking a guard unconscious and then is instructed by a very hungover master of the house to bring Yen some apple juice. Geralt does, and finds Yen naked in her bed upstairs. Geralt asks her to heal Dandilion. Yen agrees to help, but wants to take a bath first. She insists Geralt bathe with her and then makes herself invisible so that he can’t see her naked. Geralt, of course, spends the whole time watching soap bubbles show him the outline of Yen’s body.

After the bath, they go to the guardhouse, and Yen locks herself in with Dandilion for an hour. Geralt and Chireadan talk, revealing that Chireadan has a crush on Yen and that all sorceresses are born with some sort of physical deformity, which they later cover with magic. Yen calls Geralt upstairs. When he enters Dandilion’s room, he finds himself trapped in a spell Yen has wrought on the floor. Yen says she has healed Dandilion and that he will sing again. Yen reveals that she wants to use Dandilion as bait to draw the djinn to her. Geralt refuses to help. Yen kisses Geralt, casting a spell on him, and gives him orders. Geralt begins to carry them out and then the chapter ends.


I take it back. I do like Dandilion. He’s Geralt’s comparably weak, foolish friend that needs to be rescued, which is as good a way as any to give a very powerful character a weakness. Also, the more I think back on the other stories, the more I think that Geralt needs someone like Dandilion to travel with him. If he gets too lonely he tends to start acting less than human.

There’s a lot of relationship drama in this story, which I love. It’s obvious that Geralt has a huge crush on Yen and it’s fun to watch him try to convince himself that he doesn’t find her attractive. You can also tell that Yen has been hurt by men in the past, possibly when she was younger. She definitely keeps them at arm’s length. As for her mind-controling Geralt, I expected something like that. Geralt is the kind of person who wouldn’t date someone he didn’t see as an equal, and the same goes for Yen. I can very much see them needing to prove their worth to each other. I can also see why their relationship didn’t last.


Next Week

For next week, I’m reading the rest of The Last Wish and the final frame story entry, The Voice of Reason 7. I expect the knight that challenged Geralt to a duel oh so many pages ago will make an appearance (and if he doesn’t, I’m going to be sad). That’s through the end of the book! See you next Wednesday!

Books I Liked – Some Girls Bite

Welcome to Books I Liked, a series of blog posts in which I talk about the best of what I’ve been reading.

Some Girls Bite Cover

Ah, urban fantasy, how I love thee.  I may stray to other genres, sometimes for long periods of time, but you know I’ll always be back for you.  Especially when I can fall in love with a new series.

Well, new to me.  Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series has been going strong for years now, with a total of twelve on store shelves right now.  I’m not a stranger to Chicago, and I love series that are set in the city.  Merit is a strong female lead character and her love interest (or one of them, anyway), Ethan, is your typical romance novel lead whose character runs deeper.  Being head of his vampire clan, Ethan has to make decisions for the greater good, not his own personal desires, and Neill does a good job of showing him to be willing to make those decisions.

All in all, this is a fun romp through urban fantasy Chicago, and I couldn’t put it down.   In fact, I’m halfway through the second one now.

Find out more about Some Girls Bite and the other books in the series here.

Witcher Wednesdays – The Last Wish Part 5

Welcome to Witcher Wednesdays, where I read and comment on The Witcher series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski. Today I’m covering the next two stories in The Last Wish , through page 265 in this edition.

This post CONTAINS SPOILERS so don’t read it until you’re caught up with the book. Ready? Let’s go!


The Voice of Reason 5

Geralt’s friend Dandilion comes to visit him in the temple. The two reminisce and discuss the fact that it seems there are less monsters in the world now than there once was. They then start to talk about the time they traveled to the edge of civilization, leading us into the next short story.


I get the feeling I’m not going to like Dandilion. Could be wrong. I’m wondering why Geralt is friends with him. That would be an interesting story. Still, he’s pretty obviously the comic relief, so I better get used to him being around.


The Edge of the World

Dandilion and Geralt have stopped at an inn at the Edge of the World, which is really the edge of civilization. The townspeople tell Geralt of a number of monsters in the area, but Geralt tells Dandilion that none of them are real. They leave and are stopped by a man on a cart who has a real witcher job for Geralt. Geralt and Dandilion ride with him back to his village where he tells Geralt that a devil lives in the field nearby and is bothering the townsfolk. Dandilion protests, saying that devil’s aren’t real, but Geralt agrees to look into it. The two go to the field where the devil lives, to find a creature that is half man, half goat. The devil throws iron balls at Dandilion and Geralt, who flee back to the town.

Back in the village, Geralt and Dandilion are introduced to a girl named Lille, the village’s wise woman (in training) who seems to have the gift of prophecy. They show Geralt an old book that contains somewhat accurate information about monsters and witchers. Lille leaves and the villagers reveal that she is the reason why their crops grow so well and that she has forbidden them to kill the devil, or any other creature, for that matter. This is why they’ve hired Geralt to run him off peacefully.

Geralt and Dandilion return to where the devil lives and Geralt manages to subdue him. However, a rider on a horse appears and knocks Geralt unconscious. When he comes to, he and Dandilion are tied up in a forest. The devil is talking with a group of elves, telling them that they must not kill Geralt and Dandilion. It is revealed the the devil has been bringing the elves seeds they can use to plant crops. The elves have been driven out of the fertile land and are on the brink of extinction.

The leader of the elves appears and says he must execute Geralt and Dandilion in order to protect their secret. He and Geralt argue back and forth for a bit, with Geralt saying that the elves must learn to live with humans and the lead elf refusing. Just as Geralt and Dandilion are about to be killed, Lille appears. It is revealed that she is not just a wise woman but the Queen of the Fields. Lille and the elves communicate silently for a while and then the elves withdraw. The story ends with Geralt, Dandilion, and the devil continuing to travel together.


The meat of this story lies in the confrontation with the elves. There’s a lot of good conflict here. The elves aren’t necessarily bad, per se, but they’ve been pushed into doing bad things. The elder feels that if he doesn’t kill Geralt, his own people will starve. When he does leave at the Queen’s request, it is with resignation, to his own death and the death of everyone he loves. At the same time, the humans are living in abundance because the Queen, who the elves recognize as either a deity or a great power, has chosen to favor them. I’d like to see more of the elves in future stories (and I’d be very surprised if I didn’t).

There’s a parallel between Geralt and the elves.  Both have been marginalized by society, and both have to struggled to survive.  The difference is that Geralt accepts his lot in life and works with it whereas the elves fight against it.  The ending might seem to imply that Geralt has the right of it, but his conversation with the elves reveals, to me at least, that both sides have merit.

Elves aside, I like the opening scene of this story. If one of the themes of the Witcher series can be summed up as ‘there is a grain of truth to all fairy tales’, this opening scene reminds us that the grain of truth doesn’t necessarily mean a monster. A ghost story could be a drunk person wandering around town at night. And, as Geralt points out, it’s easier to believe a monster is attacking women than it is to believe that your neighbor is beating his wife.

One last note. I’m starting to like Dandilion more. He’s good comic relief. I really, really like the part where they’re about to be executed and Dandilion says, “Geralt, I can hear music.” To which Geralt responds, “Yeah, that happens. Death is scary, blah blah blah.” He’s just so blasé about the whole thing, I couldn’t help but laugh.


Next Week

For next week, I’m reading The Voice of Reason 6 and the first half of The Last Wish. This story is long, so we’re going to split into two halves, through the end of part 5. That’s through page 311 in the mass market paperback edition of the book. See you next Wednesday!

Witcher Wednesdays – The Last Wish Part 4

Welcome to Witcher Wednesdays, where I read and comment on The Witcher series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski. Today I’m covering the next two stories in The Last Wish , through page 201 in this edition.

This post CONTAINS SPOILERS so don’t read it until you’re caught up with the book. Ready? Let’s go!


The Voice of Reason 4

This frame story entry is a first person monologue where Geralt talks to Iona (who has taken a vow of silence). In it, he speaks about what happened in Blaviken and how he was raised to be a Witcher. He ends by mentioning that he will never go back to Cintra.


This is the most we have heard Geralt talk uninterrupted so far, and it’s nice to hear him talk about himself in his own words. We learn that Geralt has mixed feelings about his job as a Witcher. He was trained to eliminate monsters in exchange for money, and not to get involved in what is right and what is wrong, but finds himself drawn to trying to do the right thing, even though he is never rewarded for doing so. There’s also a lot of information on where Witchers come from. All in all, this is a nice piece that puts us deep in Geralt’s point of view while providing lots of worldbuilding information.


A Question of Price

Geralt has been summoned to Queen Calanthe of Cintra’s palace. He has been told she has a job for him but has not been told what the job is. Geralt asks the castellan, who tells him there is a monster in the castle but nothing further. Geralt is seated next to the Queen at dinner, and introduced as a noble from a far off province. It is revealed that the Queen’s daughter, Pavetta, is looking for a husband and the various men at the table are vying for her hand.

Geralt reveals to the Queen that he has already guessed at what she wants him to do. The Queen wants Pavetta to marry a nobleman from Skellige to cement her alliance with that country. The man from Skellige, Crach an Craite is accompanied by an older knight, Eist Tuirseach, who the Queen has been involved with in the past. Geralt says the Queen wants him to kill any rivals for Pavetta’s affections but he refuses, saying that he is a killer of monsters, not men. The Queen says that Geralt will do what she asks. It is just a question of price.

A knight appears, dressed in armor and a helmet that covers his face. He introduces himself as Urcheon and refuses to remove his helmet on the grounds that his vows prevent him from revealing his face before midnight. Urcheon says that he saved Pavetta’s father’s life before she was born and that as a reward the late King promised his daughter’s hand to Urcheon. He refers to Pavetta as a child of destiny, because the King promised her to Urcheon before he knew she’d been conceived. This, the Law of Surprise, is how Witchers are taken from their parents as children. The Queen refuses to give him Pavetta’s hand and debate among the nobles ensues.

The clock strikes midnight and Urcheon removes his helmet to reveal a monster’s face. He has been cursed and believes that Pavetta’s love has saved him. The Queen decides to allow Pavetta to choose if she will go with Urcheon or not. Pavetta chooses to be with Urcheon.

Several of the nobles attack Urcheon. Pavetta responds by unleashing a large wave of magic that knocks everyone over, sends objects flying, and threatens to tear the house down. Geralt and a one of the men present, Mousesack, manage to break Pavetta out of her attack. It is revealed that Pavetta and Urcheon have been seeing each other for nearly a year. The Queen decides to allow them to marry and that she will marry Eist Tuirseach in order to secure an alliance with Skellige. The Queen asks what payment Geralt wants and Geralt invokes the law of surprise, at which point it is revealed that Pavetta is preganant.


This is an interesting story. At first, it seems like it will be another exploration into Geralt’s morality, as the Queen and Geralt go back and forth as to whether or not he is willing to kill a human being. Then it turns into more of a discussion of destiny. Geralt is a child of destiny, and so are Pavetta and her unborn child. In the previous frame story, Geralt talks about how fate swirls around him in circles, and this story supports that.

I don’t have too much else to say about this story. It was okay, but didn’t grab me as much as the others have. On to the next one!


Next Week

For next week, I’m reading The Voice of Reason 5 and The Edge of the World. That’s through page 265 in the mass market paperback edition of the book. See you next Wednesday!

Witcher Wednesdays – The Last Wish Part 3

Welcome to Witcher Wednesdays, where I read and comment on The Witcher series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski. Today I’m covering the next two stories in The Last Wish , through page 144 in this edition.

This post CONTAINS SPOILERS so don’t read it until you’re caught up with the book. Ready? Let’s go!


The Voice of Reason 3

Frame story time! While Geralt is at the temple, a group of guards claiming to represent Prince Hereward, demand that the Witcher leave at once. Nenneke, being the priestess in charge of the temple, doesn’t like them throwing their weight around and tells them that Geralt will stay as long as he likes. Geralt, however, agrees to leave in three days. The knights are not happy with this and a verbal spat ensues, ending with one of the knights challenging Geralt to a duel.


Things are heating up at the Temple. This is an interesting view of Geralt’s character. He’s willing to leave to avoid a fight, but when the knights threaten Nenneke, he won’t stand for that. Odd that he’s willing to defend another but not himself. It’s probably part of the whole being a Witcher thing. Geralt is used to being run out of town.

Nenneke is really interesting here. She clearly doesn’t recognize the Prince’s authority, and that goes double about what goes on at her temple. You could argue that the duel is largely her fault, and I’m wondering if it was an accident or part of an overarching plan of hers. Time will tell.


The Lesser Evil

In the previous edition of the frame story, one of the knights refers to Geralt as the Butcher of Blaviken, and this story starts out with Geralt entering the town of Blaviken. Hmmm…

Geralt enters the town having just killed a kikimora nearby and tries to get a reward from the alderman, a friend of his named Caldemeyn. Caldemeyn tells Geralt there is no reward but suggests he might be able to sell the monster’s body to the local wizard, Irion (we later learn that his real name is Stregabor). Geralt goes to the tower and talks with Stregabor. The two know each other and don’t like each other, mainly because Stregabor was part of a group of wizards who hunted down and killed women born at a certain time of year who they thought were cursed. Geralt did not believe in the curse and thought that Stregabor’s actions resulted in a lot of innocent bloodshed.

Stregabor asks for Geralt’s help. One of the cursed women, Shrike, escaped Stregabor’s attempts to kill her and is now coming to get her revenge. Stregabor doesn’t think he will survive without the Witcher’s help. He paints a picture of Shrike as a cold, heartless killer who tortures and murders for pleasure. Geralt tells Stregabor he won’t help and leaves, but later tracks down Shrike and her men at the local inn in an attempt to prevent bloodshed. Shrike presents Geralt and Caldemeyn with a letter from the king that grants her safe passage, effectively preventing Caldemeyn from doing anything to stop her.

Geralt returns to his room after dinner to find Shrike waiting for him. She tells Geralt her side of the story, that Stregabor and the other wizards hunted her because she threatened another woman’s sucession to the crown and has spent her life since running from murders and rapists, killing to protect herself. She tells Geralt that if he or any of the town guards try to stop her, she will kill them. At one point, Geralt seems to use his Witcher medallion to hypnotize her into saying more than she would want to. Afterward, the two have sex.

The next morning, Geralt realizes that Shrike plans to hold the town market hostage and kill the townspeople one by one until Stregabor comes out of his tower. Geralt runs to the market and kills all six of Shrike’s men. Shrike arrives and says that she had given up on that plan anyway, because Stregabor is too much of a coward to come out of his tower, even if it means innocent lives will be lost. She and Geralt fight, and he kills her. Caldemeyn arrives at the market, furious, and tells Geralt to leave Blaviken and never return.


There’s a lot going on here. Let’s start with the concept of “a lesser evil.”

The world of The Witcher is not a happy fantasy world with clear delineations between good and bad or right and wrong. It’s a more realistic world, where everything is a shade of gray, and some grays are darker than others. You could probably file this under the more modern genre of ‘grimdark’, but it feels more sword and sorcery to me. The point is that each person that Geralt meets has a different idea of what the lesser evil is. For Stregabor, it’s to kill Shrike. For Shrike, it’s for Geralt to let her get her revenge on Stregabor. For Caldemeyn, it’s to stand by and do nothing so that his family is safe from the king’s wrath. The lesser evil that Geralt chooses is to kill Shrike and her men to protect the townspeople in the market.

It’s interesting to note that at the beginning of the story, Geralt tells Stregabor that there is no such thing as a lesser evil. Evil is evil, whether lesser or greater. But, by the end of the story, Geralt himself is trying to rationalize his actions by calling them the lesser evil. The question seems to be, did Geralt make the right decision? And the answer I find is that there is no right decision. Any answer ended in bloodshed. The men Geralt killed were thieves and murderers, but Shrike is more of a victim that a monster herself. Ultimately, the price is paid by Geralt himself. He feels genuine guilt and remorse over Shrike’s death and loses a friend and safe haven when Caldemeyn kicks him out of town.

What’s interesting is just how much Geralt has changed since Blaviken. We can assume that all of the other stories, except the frame story, take place before The Witcher, because Geralt heads to the temple to heal from wounds he suffered in that story. If you recall, the first story in the collection starts with Geralt killing several men who harass him at a tower. Men who are not necessarily bad people, just drunk and in the mood for a fight. Yet, Geralt kills them without a second thought. In Blaviken however, Geralt is a killer of monsters, not men, and he agonizes over Shrike’s death. It will be interesting to find out if Blaviken is the incident that changes him from monster slayer to simple killer, or if there will be other incidents that lead him down that path. And, once he’s gone down that path, is there any way for him to go back?


Next Week

For next week, I’m reading The Voice of Reason 4 and A Question of Price. That’s through page 201 in the mass market paperback edition of the book. See you next Wednesday!

Witcher Wednesdays – The Last Wish Part 2

Welcome to Witcher Wednesdays, where I read and comment on The Witcher series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski. Today I’m covering the third and fourth stories in The Last Wish , through page 88 in this edition.

This post CONTAINS SPOILERS so don’t read it until you’re caught up with the book. Ready? Let’s go!


The Voice of Reason 2

We’re back to the frame story. Geralt wakes up in a healing temple, where he went to heal his neck after it was so badly injured in the fight with the striga. The girl he was having sex with in part 1, Iola, is revealed to be one of the priestesses of the temple, and she’s promptly shooed by Nenneke, another priestess who seems to know Geralt. She chides him for letting himself get so badly hurt and then later tries to convince him to enter a religious trance where Iola can peer into the “power and fate” surrounding Geralt.


I’m liking these frame story entries. They’re short and provide a breather between stories while revealing more about Geralt (in this entry, for example, we learn that he is a nature worshiper rather than a follower of a specific organized religion). It’s also nice to see that Nenneke doesn’t care if Iola sleeps with Geralt. The relationship between sex and religion in fantasy novels tends to be either the ‘Christianity inspired no sex until you’re married and celibate priests’ variety or the ‘we have strange orgies to worship our Gods’ variety. It’s nice to see a sex positive religion that is okay with extramarital sex without it being part of their doctrine.


A Grain of Truth

Geralt is traveling in the woods with his horse, Roach, when he discovers two bodies, a man and a woman. The woman has an oddly colored, blue rose pinned to her coat. Geralt determines they were killed by some sort of monster and decides to investigate. He discovers a house with a tower, surrounded by a fence. Geralt feels that someone is watching him and he turns to see a girl with black hair and a long, white dress who flees at the sight of him.

Geralt approaches the gate to the house and it opens by itself. Inside he finds a rose bush with flowers that are the same dark blue as the rose that was pinned to the dead woman’s coat. A man with the head of a bear appears and invites Geralt into the house for food and drink. The man, Nivellan, has control over the house – he can make shutters open and close, and have food prepared for him.

Nivellan tells Geralt his story. He was a part of a group of thieves. One day, they broke into a temple and attacked a priestess, who cursed Nivellan to have a bear’s head. Since then, Nivellan has been struggling to reverse the curse. He pays men lots of money to let their daughters live with him for a year. While the girls live with him, he seduces them in hopes that true love’s kiss will break the curse. It never has, and Nivellan has come to terms with his curse, even turning away men who bring their daughters, like the pair that Geralt found in the woods earlier.

Convinced that Nivellan isn’t a monster (he can touch the Witcher’s silver medallion without being harmed), Geralt takes his leave. As he rides away, however, he begins to suspect that the girl who ran from him earlier is Nivellan’s new lover, and not entirely human. Geralt returns to the house and identifies the girl as a bruxa, a type of vampire.

Geralt and the bruxa fight, but Geralt is driven back by the bruxa’s cries. Nivellan comes to Geralt’s rescues and kills the bruxa before she can kill Geralt. When the bruxa dies, Nivellan’s head becomes human again. Geralt remarks that the only thing that could remove that kind of curse is blood – and true love.


This is a neat story, with a twist that I kicked myself for not picking up on sooner. What we have here is a version of Beauty and the Beast, retold in the Witcher universe. Nivellan is the beast and his many female companions take the place of Belle, with the bruxa being his ultimate true love. The rose bush is a reference to the rose that numbered the beast’s remaining days. The title, A Grain of Truth indicates that this may be the true story that Beauty and the Beast was based off of.

This is a fitting retelling of an old fairy tale, and it is grounded firmly in the Witcher universe. One of the dangers in retelling a classic story in a new setting is to cleave too close to the original that you aren’t true to the setting. The brutal laws of The Witcher universe are in full effect here. The one who can save the beast is not a harmless beauty, but someone just as dangerous as himself, and a simple kiss won’t do. No, the curse was laid on Nivellan for a terrible crime and only blood will pay for it.

This reminds me of how the original Grimm fairy tales were, dark and dangerous. It’s also nice to see that Geralt is competent but not all-powerful. He isn’t properly prepared to face the bruxa, and she very nearly kills him because of it. This also makes his foes even more terrifying. Geralt has trained since birth and has become super human due to being fed magic herbs from childhood (this is better explained in the games, or perhaps later in the books?), and yet a battle could turn in an instant and leave him dead. That’s really important. If we’re ever too certain of Geralt’s survival, it’ll kill a book like this in an instant.


Next Week

For next week, I’m reading The Voice of Reason 3 and The Lesser Evil. That’s through page 144 in the mass market paperback edition of the book. See you next Wednesday!

Witcher Wednesdays – The Last Wish Part 1

Welcome to Witcher Wednesdays, where I read and comment on The Witcher series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski. Today I’m covering the first two stories in The Last Wish , through page 41 in this edition.

This post CONTAINS SPOILERS so don’t read it until you’re caught up with the book. Ready? Let’s go!


The Voice of Reason 1

This is a short, page and a half story to introduce the frame story that stitches the various short stories in this collection together. And it’s a sex scene. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another book that starts out with a sex scene, though I’m sure they exist. Any other book and I would roll my eyes at this chapter, but for The Witcher it seems appropriate. This is old fashioned sword and sorcery, with healthy dash of sex and violence, so I’m cool with this scene. Besides, it’s well done — titillating while still being tasteful.

The Witcher

This is where the book really begins. Geralt arrives Wyzim and is accosted by a group of men at the local inn. He kills them and is escorted by the town guard to meet the town’s castellan, who talks to Geralt about a monster that haunts the old palace, called a striga. The striga is rumored to be the King’s daughter, who died at birth and became a monster. The king wants someone who will break the curse on his daughter rather than kill her, but the castellan tells Geralt this is a fool’s errand and offers to pay him part of the reward offered by the king to just kill the striga and be done with it.

Geralt tells the king he will try to break the curse. To do this, he has to spend the night in the old palace with the monster and survive. At daybreak, she’ll turn back into a human. Later that night, while waiting for the striga to appear, Osrit, one of the king’s advisors, shows up and tries to pay Geralt to leave without killing the striga. He has been using the monster to sow malcontent among the peasantry in hopes of seizing the throne for himself. Geralt knocks Osrit unconscious and then feeds him to the striga to keep her away from him for part of the night.

Once the striga is done devouring Osrit, she comes after Geralt. A really cool fight scene follows, which ends with Geralt surviving the night and breaking the curse, but he has a really bad neck wound to show for it. He wakes up a few days later in the care of the king, wounded, but alive.


This is a nice introduction to the series, and sets up Geralt’s character well. He is a brutal killer, as we see in the beginning when he kills two men in the inn (the castellan suggests that Geralt did this on purpose to expedite his meeting with the king), but at the same time he’s not heartless. He’s willing to try to break the curse on the princess, though he’s willing to kill her if it comes down to it. It’s nice to see that from the get go, Geralt is a complex character rather than a stock fantasy warrior.

The combat was well done. I could follow along easily, but didn’t get bored with a blow by blow. The way Geralt defeated the striga at the end was interesting and something I didn’t see coming. It’s a nice way to handle magic. Enough is explained that you know what happened but there’s still an air of mystery about it. The only thing I found weird is that he bit the princess’s neck at the end to make her snap out of striga mode and I’m not sure if that was just desperation or if biting the neck of that kind of creature has a specific effect. I suspect the former.

Finally, a brief note on the translation. I don’t speak or read Polish, but I do have an MA in Translation Studies, and so I can often tell if a work is translated and I can comment on how polished the English version is. I like this translation so far. It feels a little stiff, but that also gives the story that 90s fantasy feel that, being fantasy written in the 90s, it should have. I would be interested in knowing some of the specific Polish terminology that’s being used, as some of the words sound created (‘witcher’, ‘castellan’, etc).


Next Week

For next week, I’m reading The Voice of Reason 2 and A Grain of Truth. That’s through page 88 in the mass market paperback edition of the book. See you next Wednesday!

Witcher Series Read Along

The Witcher video games are based on a series of Polish language books by Andrzej Sapkowski, almost all of which have been translated into English at this point.  The books follow Witcher Geralt of Rivia as he plies his trade of monster hunting in a fun sword and sorcery series.

Wanna read it with me?

Here’s how it works.  I’m going to read a chapter or two (depending on length) a week and write a blog entry about it.  You can read along with me by following my blog (and feel free to join the conversation on Twitter!).  I won’t be reading ahead, so if there’s a surprise twist, you’ll read it at the same time I do.  If you’re a fantasy fan, you’ll get to read a fun novel series with commentary.  If you’re a writer, you’ll get an idea of what it’s like for someone to read your novel through the first time, and see how they react to confusion, plot twists, and good and bad moments.

Here’s the reading order I’m going with:

The Last Wish (short story collection)
Sword of Destiny (short story collection)
Blood of Elves
Time of Contempt
Baptism of Fire
The Swallow’s Tower
Lady of the Lake (English version due in 2017)

There’s also Season of Storms, but that doesn’t have an English release date yet.

The Last Wish is a short story collection with a frame story entry in between each short story that ties them all together.  I’ll be reading them in chunks of 1 frame story (The Voice of Reason 1-7) and 1 short story, so for next Wednesday, I’ll be reading The Voice of Reason 1 and The Witcher.  That’s through page 41 in this edition.

Happy reading and see you on Wednesday!

Publishing Updates

It’s been a busy 2016!  I have two things out in the world that you can purchase (and, in doing so, support me and my art going forward).

  • First, I compiled the Franco parody poetry into a book, and added some extra poetry that hasn’t been published online.  It’s $2.99 on Amazon, or you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.  Check out Directing Herbert West: A Book of Poetry Without James Franco here.
  • Second, I have an article out in the newly launched ONDER Magazine.  Onder Librum is a new publishing venture by none other than Ed Greenwood (creator of the Forgotten Realms) and I’m excited to work with them.  Expect more Onder stuff from me in the future.

That’s all for now.  More announcements to come, so stay tuned!