Monday, 15 August 2016

Sword of Destiny - Andrzej Sapkowski


Geralt of Rivia is a witcher, a man mutated by magic and potions who is as feared by the common folk as much as he is the monsters he hunts. For he is a hunter of great renown, a master swordsman who battles evil in all of its forms. Shunned aside from a small circle of friends, he is forced to take coin for his livelihood and spends much of his life alone, wandering far in search of contracts suited to his skills.

The Good
When I first heard that this was the book that inspired the hit Witcher games, I knew it was going to be good. Those games are epic on consoles and the book gives more of the same. It's full of lore about different beasts and monsters, with Geralt using his preternatural abilities and magic potions to give him a much needed edge over creatures that are vastly stronger and superior in guile and speed.

The short stories of this anthology don't disappoint and are both exciting in their combat and meaningful in their explanation of morality. Simply being a monster doesn't make something evil and men can be every bit as dark despite being part of the human race; it is up to Geralt to decide on what premise he will take a contact.

The Bad
I think the main issues with the book come from its translation. Sapkowski wrote the original version in Polish and I have a feeling that it is a lot better than the English version, if you can read the language. Simply put, the English translation isn't that great. It's not grammatically incorrect to be fair, rather everything has been translated literally. The result of is is incredibly cheesy fantasy dialogue and words the Western World doesn't really use in speech, like 'comrade.' There's nothing wrong with this in the original version since they're the culturally appropriate words, but the translator should have made a bit of effort to use some creative license with his work to make the book seem more relatable. This isn't the only problem as well and the translator hasn't considered the fact that English has far more words in its vocabulary than other languages do, particularly adjectives. This gives authors a chance to really describe subtle differences in movements, colours etc and Sword of Destiny was very bland to read, with brief, unpadded text - again, a bit of creative licence from the translator could have easily remedied this!

Final Thoughts
Overall, Sword of Destiny is a good, exciting read that puts a slightly different spin on 'monster hunting' than many other books do. It's main problem comes from the translation in my opinion, which although can't be faulted from a technical point of view, leaves a lot to be wanted from the prose and is responsible for the book's low rating.

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