Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Larry.

Andrzej Sapkowski II

205 posts in this topic

I'm planning on playing the video game series, after the glowing reviews of Witcher 3. Fans of the games say that reading the books before playing can really enhance your experience.

However, I'm concerned about the quality - especially the notorious English translation.

I'm not looking for everything to be Martin quality of course, but I do want to read something good. I read Feist's "Riftwar" books as a teen and enjoyed them. Not sure if I'd still consider then good if I read them today, as my standards have changed.

There were a couple books - a "Shannara" book and one of the Drizzt books - that I tried reading years ago, and simply couldn't. I stopped both a fraction of the way through because they simply weren't good enough.

Just how does the English translation of the Witcher series stack up to other fantasy novels?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well,

I have just re-read the Blood of Elves because I enjoy the series that much so, honestly, I don't think it's that big of a deal the translation errors. There's some missing humor but the thing about the Witcher books is they have a lot of CHARACTER which really is missing from a lot of other fantasy novels.

The Last Wish and The Sword of Destiny are kind of the odd men out as they're mostly adventure stories about Geralt fighting monsters or getting himself into oddball situations. They're humorous and contain the weird element that every fairy-tale is seemingly true but just sort of random history going on in the background--an element which gets excised in the main novels.

Blood of Elves, however, is one of the few things that I would think can match a SECTION of the Song of Ice and Fire, however. George R.R. Martin wins on sheer volume as well as the depths of the unexepcted but if I were to measure things in GigaFantasy then I'd say George is about 10GF, while Sapkowski gets a good 7GF, and say, most (still entertaining popcorn fantasy is about 1GF).

For example, the majority of the BOE isn't about "stuff" happening but it's Geralt and Ciri wandering around the aftermath of the Nilfgaard war and dealing with the resulting changes to the politics, relationships, and world. I call it, "The Hound and Arya tool around the Riverlands" section. For example, you find people trying to rewrite history of the massive casualties of a recent battle to favor their political point, starvation and losses have reduced many people to bandits, racial relationships have broken down as both sides think the other is better off, and everyone is looking for a scapegoat. It's about the only book I can remember outside of David Webber where the politics play a role on both the top and ground--but unlike Webber, doesn't bore me to tears at times (sorry, David--go back to space battles!)

It also has a strong anti-war theme which somehow manages to sell to me that not only do fantasy Dwarves exist but that they exist in a complicated socio-economic relationship with humans.

From, The Blood of Elves.

"Let them call me a traitor and a coward. Because I, Yarpen Zigrin, coward, traitor and renegade, state that we should not kill each other. I state that we ought to live. Live in such a way that we don’t, later, have to ask anyone for forgiveness. The heroic Elirena… She had to ask. Forgive me, she begged, forgive me. To hell with that! It’s better to die than to live in the knowledge that you’ve done something that needs forgiveness.”

Again he fell quiet. Ciri did not ask the questions pressing to her lips. She instinctively felt she should not.

“We have to live next to each other,” Yarpen continued. “We and you, humans. Because we simply don’t have any other option. We’ve known this for two hundred years and we’ve been working towards it for over a hundred. You want to know why I entered King Henselt’s service, why I made such a decision? I can’t allow all that work to go to waste. For over a hundred years we’ve been trying to come to terms with the humans. The halflings, gnomes, us, even the elves – I’m not talking about rusalkas, nymphs and sylphs, they’ve always been savages, even when you weren’t here. Damn it all, it took a hundred years but, somehow or other, we managed to live a common life, next to each other, together. We managed to partially convince humans that we’re not so very different—”

“We’re not different at all, Yarpen.”

The dwarf turned abruptly.

“We’re not different at all,” repeated Ciri. “After all, you think and feel like Geralt. And like… like I do. We eat the same things, from the same pot. You help Triss and so do I. You had a grandmother and I had a grandmother… My grandmother was killed by the Nilfgaardians. In Cintra.”

“And mine by the humans,” the dwarf said with some effort. “In Brugge. During the pogrom.”

So, I still felt moved by the translated versions.

There's some good and bad elements depending on how you like the characters as well, too. For example, I love Geralt of Rivia and I think just about everyone does, hence why he's the titular character. However, there's a lot more controversy about his love-interest Yennefer. Sapkowski clearly considers her to be the love of Geralt's life but fandom is pretty split in the English-speaking world over whether or not she's got some sort of emotionally disorder or is just abusive.

She's a very-very unlikable character and I prefer every single other one of Geralt's love interests. It gets further complicated by the fact I *LIKE* Yennefer and think she's awesome and fun when she's being an awesome [searching for a non-gendered version of bitchy--jerkish?] wizardess but the books just STOP whenever she and Geralt's love arc shows up.

You should also be warned a lot of the books deal with Ciri and her coming of age drama. Ciri, to me, is one of two young girls in the entire history of science-fiction fantasy who don't annoy the hell out of me (the other is Newt from Aliens) so I don't mind the sections of her growing up. Especially since, in later books, they become absolutely horrifyingly traumatic on a Martinian level.

But it's not JUST a series about Geralt but Geralt AND Ciri.

Edited by Charles Phipps

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm planning on playing the video game series, after the glowing reviews of Witcher 3. Fans of the games say that reading the books before playing can really enhance your experience.

However, I'm concerned about the quality - especially the notorious English translation.

I'm not looking for everything to be Martin quality of course, but I do want to read something good. I read Feist's "Riftwar" books as a teen and enjoyed them. Not sure if I'd still consider then good if I read them today, as my standards have changed.

There were a couple books - a "Shannara" book and one of the Drizzt books - that I tried reading years ago, and simply couldn't. I stopped both a fraction of the way through because they simply weren't good enough.

Just how does the English translation of the Witcher series stack up to other fantasy novels?

This is no Shannara or Drizzt. I can't read fantasy anymore because of how juvenile the majority of it is. I am a "snob" or so labeled by my friends. The Witcher is good though. The series is great reading. It has strange moments I chalk up to differences in culture, and the greater story is interesting. Very character driven. At times it is much about Geralt, other times? He is not featured often. Read it in the order listed on page 3. So good! The earlier translations are a bit worse unfortunately, but they don't hurt it overall.

And Witcher 3? I can't even say how much I love it.

Edited by Simon Steele

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is no Shannara or Drizzt. I can't read fantasy anymore because of how juvenile the majority of it is. I am a "snob" or so labeled by my friends. The Witcher is good though. The series is great reading. It has strange moments I chalk up to differences in culture, and the greater story is interesting. Very character driven. At times it is much about Geralt, other times? He is not featured often. Read it in the order listed on page 3. So good! The earlier translations are a bit worse unfortunately, but they don't hurt it overall.

And Witcher 3? I can't even say how much I love it.

Doesn't playing video games kind of disqualify you from "snob" status?

... unless you play them ironically.

Edited by mgambino

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doesn't playing video games kind of disqualify you from "snob" status?

... unless you play them ironically.

It is true. The author himself has a hilariously supercilious attitude about the games. He apparently, like Goodkind, perceives his work as Important Literature and above such vulgar things as entertainment for its own sake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doesn't playing video games kind of disqualify you from "snob" status?

... unless you play them ironically.

Well, I'm NOT a snob but write academic articles on the important role of video games as an artistic medium.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guy, I'll probably read the series given the positive reviews here.

Doesn't playing video games kind of disqualify you from "snob" status?

... unless you play them ironically.

Considering that gaming is pretty universal, I don't see how it would relate to literary snobbery.

Many people who are in fact too "snobbish" to read the books can enjoy games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Arggg! Just finished reading #2 and #5 and desperately want to read THE SWALLOW’S TOWER (#6) .Is the unofficial english translation worth reading or do i wait for the Gollancz vesion out next year ?


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you really can't wait and have nothing else to read, I'd say go for the fanslation. It's my favorite in the series.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you really can't wait and have nothing else to read, I'd say go for the fanslation. It's my favorite in the series.

Thanks,i really can't wait! :D Did you read the english fanslation or the original Polish ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently listened to The Last Wish on audiobook and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I'm still trying to get a copy of Blood of Elves.








It is true. The author himself has a hilariously supercilious attitude about the games. He apparently, like Goodkind, perceives his work as Important Literature and above such vulgar things as entertainment for its own sake.




No, Sapkowski just explained that he will not base future novels on the events outlined in the videogames because he believes they are two different entities. The books are the books and the games are the games. He doesn't want to be limited by CD Projekts interpretation of the story.

Edited by Maelys I Blackfyre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently listened to The Last Wish on audiobook and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I'm still trying to get a copy of Blood of Elves.

Seriously, don't read "Blood of Elves" next. It'll be nonsensical unless you read "Sword of Destiny" first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly, The Last Wish, then Sword of Destiny and then Blood of Elves and the rest. Ancalagon, just wait till The Lady of the Lake (#7). It consists one of the best battle scenes I've ever read. And the final resolution of Bonhart storyline. There's much to wait for, even if the finale might be a little disappointing.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you really can't wait and have nothing else to read, I'd say go for the fanslation. It's my favorite in the series.

Thanks,i really can't wait! :D Did you read the english fanslation or the original Polish ?

Personally, I wouldn't read the fan translation. I know some people thought the first official translator for the books was annoying, but I thought the fanslation of Sword of Destiny was way worse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ancalagon, just wait till The Lady of the Lake (#7). It consists one of the best battle scenes I've ever read. And the final resolution of Bonhart storyline. There's much to wait for, even if the finale might be a little disappointing.

Please don't tease me further and increase my anticipation even more! :laugh:

btw,is Ciri going down the Arya Stark road in book #6 ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

btw,is Ciri going down the Arya Stark road in book #6 ?

If by Arya Stark road you mean training to become an assassin, then no, not that road. Let's just say she has to grow up quite quickly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All you need to know is that Ciri's story in that book is one of the most satisfying single-novel arcs I've ever read in a fantasy. I read the unofficial English translation fwiw.

No, Sapkowski just explained that he will not base future novels on the events outlined in the videogames because he believes they are two different entities. The books are the books and the games are the games. He doesn't want to be limited by CD Projekts interpretation of the story.

Yeah iirc Sapkowski has been out to CD Projekt Red's offices many times and even consults with them on the games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly, The Last Wish, then Sword of Destiny and then Blood of Elves and the rest. Ancalagon, just wait till The Lady of the Lake (#7). It consists one of the best battle scenes I've ever read. And the final resolution of Bonhart storyline. There's much to wait for, even if the finale might be a little disappointing.

Yeah I found the finale a bit of a letdown after

The awesomeness that is Brenna and Geralt's attack on Stygga. And the death of basically everyone in his group, godammn Cahir's was the worst, though he went out well

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, Sapkowski just explained that he will not base future novels on the events outlined in the videogames because he believes they are two different entities. The books are the books and the games are the games. He doesn't want to be limited by CD Projekts interpretation of the story.

I'm guessing we're both using his recent interview about the games as context for our opinions.

I'm not going to quote specific parts of the interview because I'm using my phone, but it seemed to me the author was praising the praise of the gameplay and graphics the game received and was extremely dismissive of of a game's ability to tell a story. Which is why he very emphatically rejected the game's story as having any connection to his own, not even in a spiritual sequel sense. My impression was that he viewed the game as grossly inferior fan fiction wrapped up in highly praised graphics and gameplay, and his own books as an awesome untouchable cornerstone of the literary world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0