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Geralt of Rivia has finally made it into my life.

I, like many, was using Netflix as a substitute for human companionship during quarantine, and I found "The Witcher" at the suggestion of a friend of mine. (Yes, I committed the librarian sacrilege of watching the TV show before reading the book.) I had heard of "The Witcher" video game series for years but had never played any of them, and didn't expect to. But, under lockdown, I caved and ended up watching the whole series inside of a week.

To my surprise, I greatly enjoyed it, and I began looking around to fill the Geralt-shaped hole in my life. So I checked out "The Last Wish" from the library.

"The Last Wish" is a series of short stories that introduces Geralt of Rivia and the world he occupies. (The original Witcher series was written by Andrzej Sapkowski in Polish and translated, with great success, into numerous languages and is popular worldwide.)

Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, a magic user known for specializing in killing monsters. As children, they are trained to be merciless killers and undergo extreme experimentation at the hands of their keepers, who use different elixirs and physical endurance techniques to test their young charges. Those who survive become Witchers, who travel the world, collecting money for their extermination services.

Geralt, known as The White Wolf, is one of these, and his skills lead him into a series of life-or-death adventures that are strange, even for a monster hunter. And he knows, maybe better than anyone, that not all monsters appear monstrous.

Just as I enjoyed the television series, I really enjoyed these short stories as well. All these stories take place before Book One in the series (titled "Sword of Destiny"), but it was recommended by several people that you start with "The Last Wish" to get an idea of the fantasy world and the people in it, and after having read it, I agree.

Many of the stories are pretty close to scenes in the television series, and I actually appreciated (gasp!) having watched the series before reading the book. It made the reading experience much more enjoyable and the scenes easy to picture in my mind.

If you enjoyed "The Witcher" series on Netflix, you'll love the book that started it all.

Megan Mehmert is a programming associate at the Missouri River Regional Library.

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