The best-selling novel which inspired the cult videogame “The Witcher” claims the cover. I am not familiar with the videogame, the “novel” seems more a collection of stories with the same central character, than a novel. The central character is Geralt, a witcher, a term new to me (and it would seem to my spellchecker) , a witcher isn’t a male witch but rather akin to a bounty hunter of monsters. Geralt and his ilk have been rather too successful and there are few monsters left in the lands he traipses. He has a vast back catalogue of killed monsters: A manticore, wyvern, fogler, aeschna, ilyocoris, chimera, leshy, vampire, ghoul, graveir, were-wolf, giant scorpion, striga, black annis, kikimora, vypper… so many I’ve killed. In the first chapter he is up against a striga…also new to me…apparently a striga (Polish: strzyga) is a woman transformed into a monster by a curse. She is filled with hatred towards all living beings, devouring them without a second thought.
Geralt seems to me like the Clint Eastwood bounty hunter character in many a spaghetti western, speaking little, handy with his weapons and not much liked by those he helps. Geralt’s weapons are a pair of swords, one iron and the other silver and a handy knowledge of magic. He also has a wolf medallion from his guild , which twitches when monsters, magic or curses are in the vicinity.
Some humour arrives in the form of Dandilion, a troubadour poet and friend of Geralt and a satiric tongue.
There are fragments of fairytales in the book, a damsel losing a slipper sought by a prince, a djinn in a bottle and a woman who lives with seven gnomes. The seven gnomes were a robber band from Mahakam. Shrike was no Snow White, she and her band robbed merchants, until one day when the gnomes argued amongst themselves so fervently none of them made it out alive.
For those of us who only delve occasionally into the fantasy genre, there is too little humour, too many strange names of both monsters and characters and a plot that flows unevenly.
My rating 3 out of 5