Fantasy, Literature

Bi-Weekly Book Club: The Last Wish (Part Three)

Welcome back to Book Club!

If you’ve never been to book club before, start here! This time we’ve read chapter three, four, and five of The Last Wish. These chapters showed some more of the frame story (“The Voice of Reason”) as well as the short stories “The Lesser Evil,” “A Question of Price,” and “The Edge of the World.” There’s a lot to discuss with these stories so I’ll hop right in. Like last time, I’ll put the questions here first so they’re all together:

  • What was your favorite passage in this section?
  • How did the themes develop further?
  • Where do you think the frame story (The Voice of Reason) is heading?
  • What character are you most interested in?

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What was your favorite passage in this section?

We’ll start off with an easy one: favorite passage!

I like this one for a bit of a silly reason: it makes me laugh. Still, it’s important to enjoy reading, what’s the point if you don’t?

How did he eat the apple so fast?

He’s talking consistently between picking the apple and throwing away the core. Did he scarf it down in the three lines Geralt had? Was he taking bites between his own sentences, incessantly talking, mouth full of apple? (Though that actually does sound in character).

Apples take a long time to eat! Especially down to the core! They’re crunchy and there’s a lot of flesh on that thing!

The truth of the matter is probably that it’s just an effect of the style, which didn’t feel the need to tell us when and how exactly he ate the apple. That’s fair enough, but the end result is that it feels like he inhaled it between words, and it brings a smile to my face. Like I said, silly.

I’d also like to give an honorable mention to the phrase “arsenal of smiles.”

The framing of her expressions as a weapon is something I absolutely love, and it serves well to convey just how skilled she is at manipulating situations and people to her advantage.

How did the themes develop further?

Destiny and Choice: There’s a few things I could discuss here, but I’m just going to focus on one: was Geralt a Child Surprise??? Did I miss that in the Netflix series??? Regardless, it’s clear that he was a child of destiny, and it really does track then that he’d be so adamant about not returning to Cintra, having (unintentionally or otherwise) forced a destiny upon the child there.

Choice vs Not Choosing: Child Surprise or not, Geralt wasn’t exactly given a choice about being a witcher. It makes sense that he would hold choice in such high regard, refusing to choose when he doesn’t like the options. Still, as Nenneke said, a lack of faith holds no power. Standing back and refusing to participate doesn’t grant control, it only allows True Evil to happen while you watch. In “The Lesser Evil,” Geralt is eventually forced into action because of this realization, and his options are all the more bleak for having not made a choice earlier.

War: We finally get to see a glimpse of what role war plays in The Last Wish in “The Edge of the World.” We see its aftermath in the elves, who have lost their home, their food source, and their dignity to imperialism.

What Makes a Monster: We see a discussion over what is or isn’t a monster in just about every story. Renfri. Duny. The “devil.” The elves. Geralt himself.

One of my favorite statements on it, though, comes from “The Edge of the World.”

So, we have “monsters” who are really just people, people who are really monsters, and monsters created by people so they can come to terms with their own monstrosity. It’s all evils and lesser evils and True Evils that cannot be allowed to continue, and it’s all very nuanced and confusing. Which is exactly how it should be. I’m honestly impressed with this book’s take on morality so far.

Where do you think the frame story, “The Voice of Reason,” is heading?

I do think that by the end, Geralt will have to come to terms with the fact that he has a destiny, and more importantly, he’ll have to find something to believe in. Right now, he has no faith in anything in particular, and he makes up his own code as it conveniences him. A lot of this will come down to what happens in the trance with Iola, if there even gets to be a trance.

I am very… concerned about what a group of hateful, angry, and scared soldiers will do to a temple that has hurt their pride, though I am sure Nenneke is more than capable of defending her home and those under her care. Which brings me to:

What character are you most interested in?

Nenneke.

Nenneke is my hero. The temple of Melitele is her domain and she protects it ferociously. She takes in and teaches young women to be oracles and midwives and healers. She’s experienced and knowledgeable enough as a healer that Geralt trusts her implicitly to re-treat his already almost-healed wound. She’s short and fat and swift and graceful and skilled. I’m twenty-four years old and Nenneke is who I want to be when I grow up. Oh. the things I wouldn’t do for a book that dives more deeply into Nenneke’s backstory and her day-to-day running of the temple. I could read an entire novel on it.

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Thank you for reading! As always, the questions are just to spark discussion, feel free to interact with them in any way and any amount you wish. See you next time when we discuss the final two chapters of The Last Wish, which will have us reading the namesake story “The Last Wish” and the conclusion to “The Voice of Reason.”

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