This episode we dive into the Witcher franchise with The Last Wish. Tune in to continue our talks on Slavic folklore and our thoughts on the Witcher book and Netflix series.
Slavic Folklore Resources
Paige Presents Fun with Comics: In the Bleak Midwinter, Webtoon
The Last Wish
Creative’s Corner: Henry Sotheran’s Rare Bookseller
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Jennifer: Hi everyone. This is Jennifer,
Paige: and this is Paige and this is Big Book Energy.
Jennifer: We are back for episode two of season three today. If you haven't heard yet, the theme for season three is mythology and folklore inspired picks. So this week we are going to be tackling yet another offering from the Slavic folklore tradition, and that is going to be The Last Wish.
Paige: Yeah. First book in the Witcher series.
Jennifer: Yes. Yes. Written by someone whose name I cannot pronounce.
Paige: Andreee Supakowski? Supkowski? It's not, it's not Andre.
Jennifer: Doesn't end with a J?
Paige: It ends with a J, Andrzej. Sorry, dude. I got nothing.
Jennifer: I think he's Polish. Is that Polish?
Paige: He's Polish, yeah.
Jennifer: Unfortunately we don't speak Polish.
Jennifer: However [laughs]
Paige: No, I do not.
Jennifer: I really don't speak Polish. But we are going to be talking about the first book of his very successful series today. Insanely successful. But I don't know, do we have any chitchat to start off the episode today? I don't think I have a ton, other than the fact that I have been like in a reading slump.
Okay. I- I started off the year real strong. Okay. I realized that we are barely into the year at this point. So when I say I started off the year real strong, I mean the first two days of January went really well. For my reading, I finished two books in the first two days of January.
Paige: It was good.
Jennifer: But I am not super consistent. Like I read- like I'll get really into a book and I won't be able to do anything else other than read that book. And then I just am uninterested in reading for like a week after I finish. Which is not helpful when you have a reading goal of- can you guess what I set my reading goal for this year?
Paige: Is it a hundred?
Jennifer: It is not a hundred. It is 80 books.
Paige: That's still substantial.
Jennifer: It's a lot, especially because probably not very many of those books are going to be- a lot of times when you- when you get like really high numbers, like over a hundred, for example, people are including middle grade fiction or children's books. And I don't read middle grade or children's. So all of my books are typically denser nonfiction, and then an assortment of fiction as well. So it's going to be a long year for me. Basically, I have to be a better reader at this point. Just like more consistent, making it a habit. So yeah that's where I've been at for the past few days. I don't know. I'll get through it somehow.
Paige: I believe in you.
Jennifer: Did you make a- did you make a reading goal for this year?
Paige: No, no, I didn't. Yeah. I've never actually set a reading goal. I just figure if it's interesting, I'll read it if it's not I'll ditch it.
Jennifer: Yeah. Which I think, I think on good reads, if you DNF something, they still count it towards your reading goal. Maybe I'm wrong about that though. I would still count it towards your reading goal, even if you DNF'd it, because you put in time. So eighty, eighty is my number for this year. A lot. In 2020, I had originally set it to 40 on Goodreads. And then I- when I started my Story Graph account, I set it to 50 and I actually only got to 49.
Paige: Oh, so close.
Jennifer: Yeah. I was really close, but like the last couple of days of the year, I just didn't feel like reading. So I didn't, and that's fine. But this year, because of the #readmyshelf challenge that I'm doing, plus the podcast reading, plus like just other books on my TBR that I've been wanting to get to. It's substantial. It's a lot. It's a lot. So we'll see, we'll see how that goes. But other than that, I don't think I have any updates. So yeah.
Paige: I got nothing. I've just been playing Pokemon and filling out grad applications. So like ...
Jennifer: Yes, graduate school.
Paige: It's the most wonderful time of the year.
Jennifer: How many more do you have to do?
Jennifer: Three? Gross. We don't like it.
Paige: I am already ready for it to be over.
Jennifer: For those of you who haven't filled out grad school applications, they're terrible. They're just terrible.
Paige: They're the worst.
Jennifer: It's not fun to do. I mean, regular job applications aren't fun to do either, but grad applications aren't really very fun and they're expensive. They cost money.
Paige: They're so expensive. They're expensive. Goodbye Christmas money.
Jennifer: So just keep that in mind when you're applying to grad school. Are you wait, so, okay- so what graduate schools are you applying to? Because I don't think I even know the full list.
Paige: Notre Dame, again, hopefully they'll let me in th s time. Cornell, Western Michigan, University of Iceland, and University College, Dublin.
Jennifer: Those are all very exciting.
Paige: It'd be great, I just I just need someone to let me in and hopefully pay for it as well. That'd be great.
Jennifer: That is the best way to go through graduate school. Yes. Is having it paid for.
Paige: That is the plan.
Jennifer: Yeah, you should- you should definitely get into school like in Iceland or in Dublin, and then I can come visit you.
Paige: Of course, yeah. If I get in over there, you're coming out.
Jennifer: Yesss. I'm actually pretty close to Iceland now, relatively. So.
Paige: I mean, that's true, right? It's basically a hop, skip, and a jump away.
Jennifer: I'm going to need to look up what that flight is now, because I'm curious, but yeah, I'm pretty close. Well, I wish you luck upon the completion of the rest of your grad school applications.
Paige: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Jennifer: Obviously, listeners, we will let you know if Paige makes a decision on what school to go to.
Paige: That'll be a few months though. So -
Jennifer: Oh yeah, no, that's not anytime soon. That's not the pace at which graduate school works.
Paige: No, no, it is not. But yeah, hopefully I have some news soon on that front, but we'll see.
Jennifer: Are we ready to get into some folklore?
Paige: I think we are, let's head on over to our mythology section then.
Paige: Okay. So since we're sticking with the theme of Slavic mythology. I'm not going to go into a broad overview since Jennifer did that in the last episode, I'm just going to touch base on some creatures mostly, but also the law of surprise in this little brief over section, because they play relatively heavily within this first book in the Witcher series.
So the first one I'm going to go over is the Striga. And these guys are basically the vampires - not quite - but there are some definite similarities. So I've seen some references that say they even provided a template for Dracula and that they kind of evolve into what the modern vampire is. But vampire-like creatures are all over Slavic mythology. So it isn't terribly surprising that they make an appearance here.
So the Strega was a child born with two hearts, two rows of teeth, and two souls. They are most often female and then as they grow older, they start to resemble an owl, which is a bit weird. So no - no Edward Cullens, sparkly ass vampires here. These are not the attractive high school heartthrobs that you're thinking of.
They will haunt your dreams. So as a result of this pleasant appearance, the child essentially gets thrown out of the village. And then when it gets older, it starts wreaking havoc like drinking blood and tearing the people who threw her out of the village to tiny, tiny shreds.
And after destroying all those poor bastards it moves on to others. Yeah, good times. It's technically not a vampire, but the drinking blood thing gets them pretty close. So to prevent someone who is thought to be a Striga and who dies, you cut off their head. So again, this should sound pretty familiar.
I mean, we've actually discovered archeological sites where people have buried quote unquote vampires. So this is pretty run of the mill stuff. We are going to be adding a couple of links in the description if you want to check out a video about Striga in general, by a guy who does regular Slavic mythology videos, he's a writer. And then there's also an account of a legend of a Striga, a male one who, you know, does his Striga thing. Tries to kill people, good times.
Which brings us to the law of surprise. So I actually found a myth where this happened. I had never heard of it before, but it works pretty much the same way in the Witcher. It's a story of the Sea Tsar and Vasalisa the Wise.
Jennifer: [laughs] I just like- I was looking at your notes and all I could think of was like, Seastar. And it's not a Seastar, but-
Paige: It's not a seastar, it's a sea tsar, which now sounds like Caesar.
Jennifer: Yeah [more laughing].
Paige: This is going to be a real rough- Sea Tsar salad. Oh, I didn't try to say this one out loud so this is going to be really hard for me.
Jennifer: You're welcome Paige.
Paige: You suck. Vasalisa the Wise. Is that who you were referring to last week?
Jennifer: I don't know, actually. So the, the folk tale that I was talking about last week was Vasalisa the Beautiful. However this Vasalisa ends up marrying a tsar, which is what happens to Vasalisa the Beautiful at the end of hers. So I actually have no idea if they are referring to the same person or not.
Paige: Fair enough. We will have a link to the podcast which is actually reading the story to you. So you can listen to a firsthand. Okay. A quick rundown is a czar ends up making a bargain with a bird who promises to repay him if the czar will feed him for three years. So already a pretty weird-ass plot. Payment. It comes in the form of two chests that the czar has to take back to his home with strict instructions not to open the chest until he gets to very specific places. Like the court yard of his house or the backyard, like things like that.
Of course curiosity gets the better of him and he opens one of them up and out pops an entire herd of cattle and other farm animals, which is why he was told to specifically open that shit up in his backyard. So naturally the czar is freaking out because how is he going to get all those animals back into the chest, when a stranger offers to help him in exchange for the law of surprise. Want to guess what happened when the czar was away? Spoiler alert, he had his son.
Jennifer: Of course he did.
Paige: Of course he did. Anyway, the czar forgets to pay back the helpful stranger who happened to be the Sea Tsar, literally an underwater ruler. God damnit, Jennifer.
Jennifer: Seastar! [laughs]
Paige: The boy, who's a bit older now, heads off to go to the Sea Tsar and he meets up with Baba Yaga who actually gives him some pretty good advice, which he follows and that actually ends up getting him out of trouble. He ends up marrying Vasalisa the Wise who saves his ass on numerous occasions by outsmarting the Sea Tsar who happens to be her father and just some general magic shenanigans that they use to get back to Russia. Obviously that is a gross oversimplification. The story is actually 30 minutes long. Go check it out.
Everyone in the end is happy except for the Sea Tsar who seemed like kind of a dick anyway so that's probably fine. But this whole idea of law of surprise is going to show up in the Witcher and it is incredibly important to the story.
So two more quick things that show up. So next up is the djinn, which is not actually Polish, but it's actually Middle Eastern. So the djinn grant wishes and are more known in Western mythology as geniis, so you probably are going to recognize this from Arabian Nights. But they actually also feature in the Koran.
So actually a website I was looking at stated that the devil was actually a rebellious djinn in the Koran, not an angel. I don't actually know much about Islam or the Koran so if this is incorrect, I would be happy to learn about it. And I will also put a link to that website so definitely like give me a heads up about that one. There are some tales where they are bound to inanimate objects, like the lamp in Aladdin or a jar, which you see in Witcher. Either way while this isn't strictly a Slavic myth, it's a pretty well-known one universally.
So. So last step is the Silvan. This is another not strictly Slavic myth. The sylvan is actually based on the satyr, which resembles Pan. Characteristics are all there: half goat body, plays tricks with abandon, actually pretty crude, plays the pipes. It's very familiar character to anyone who knows Greek mythology. This is not a comprehensive list of monsters that show up in the Witcher. His whole profession is to kill monsters so there is a wide variety of them. These are just some of the most interesting, the most common, and the most prevalent in this story.
So that's actually all I have for the mythology section for this one. Nice, short, and sweet. So we'll actually head over to Paige Presents Fun with Comics. I'm excited to see what you got for this one.
Jennifer: All right. So this week, this is my first week doing Paige Presents Fun with Comics. So this is exciting. When we talked about doing this segment for the episode, like season three , well obviously we decided to keep the name Paige Presents Fun the Comics, but it also was... I mean, I had to think about it for a minute because I do not read traditional comics.
I don't read them. I've thought about getting into like your run of the mill superhero comics, you know, DC, Marvel, whatever, but it just seems like incredibly overwhelming. So instead, I think it was earlier in 2020, I feel like it was probably actually around March 20, 20, maybe April... it was like right in the height of lockdown.
I finally succumbed to all of the well-placed advertisements across social media for webtoon. So you, I don't know, some of you listeners may have also been getting ads for webtoon on, you know, Instagram or Snapchat or something like that. So yeah, I finally downloaded webtoon. Because most of the ads were actually for Lore Olympus, which you talked about in our last episode.
And I just was like, I'm really intrigued by the story. I really wanted to read it. So it was really Lore Olympus that got me to download Webtoon. So very clever marketing on that one. And yeah, I love webtoons. They're great. However, you know, Paige already talked about Lore Olympus, so I'm not going to talk about that one today. I actually- you know that's okay because I probably subscribe to a good, like 30 or 40 now.
Paige: Okay, that's impressive.
Jennifer: So quite a few. But my choice for this week is In the Bleak Midwinter. So a brief synopsis of the premise for this Webtoon: feeling guilty about the death of her sister, for reasons that still have not been revealed , and a soulmate timer that still has 25 years left on it, Anya figures a year of cryogenic sleep to get away from it all will be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, she wakes up to a post-apocalyptic nightmare where intelligent machines are methodically hunting down the remaining vestiges of humankind.
It also turns out that her soulmate is a leader of the machine army and would just assume kill her as live out their happily ever after. It's a real good thing that she can't die though. Whatever that's about. So, yeah, that's the premise. That's the premise. She goes into a cryogenic sleep after like just having like this huge emotional burden that she's carrying and she ends up waking up 25 years later. Not the year that she had originally signed up for. And all of those Androids that had been running around, like they had just been really getting started at the beginning of the webtoon, they've taken over now and they're trying to kill everybody.
And there's like this ruling family of Androids that is in charge of all the rest of them and her soulmate is one of them. And so he's actually the one that gets her out of the cryo chamber, I think. Or maybe it just opens on its own, but he like shoots her in the head in that very first encounter. So this webtoon comes out guns, ablazing.
Paige: No shit.
Jennifer: You know, like right in the very like first two episodes of this thing. But yeah, that's when she discovers that she can die somehow. So you're really like the whole time - you're like, you know, she was in this cryo chamber for 25 years and the Androids have been in control of that facility for a good portion of that. So what did they do to her when she was sleeping?
And yeah, so she it's basically her like trying to navigate figuring out how she fits into this new, scary post-apocalyptic world and it turns out her brother is running the human resistance. And so it's a lot of her interactions with him as well as with her, you know, killer robot boyfriend. So it is a very, very good comic overall. I really, I like the art a lot for this one and yeah, just the story overall is really good. So I'm trying to think if I have anything else to say about this, but I don't think so. I basically, I just really enjoy it.
Paige: I don't know, waking after 25 years to find a post-apocalyptic and then your soulmate shoots you in the face. That is one hell of a day. Like somebody get that woman to drink.
Jennifer: Yeah, no, for real, like, she basically is shell shocked for like the first good portion of this comic, because it's like, can you imagine?
Paige: No I cannot.
Jennifer: You know, imagine your life as it is right now. And then you like go to sleep and when you wake up, it's like this barren wasteland with robots running around killing people. So obviously a lot of adjustment, which she's still not even done adjusting yet where we're at in the comic. So season one actually just ended. I think that last season becomes available - if you're not a fast pass user - the last episode becomes available. This week? Next week? Something like that. So it will be on break for a bit, but that just means that you have like a good 50 episodes that are just ready for you to binge all at once.
Paige: I do love binge reading comics. That's a dangerous game.
Jennifer: It's one of my favorite things. Yeah. So that is In the Bleak Midwinter. I would highly, highly recommend it if you are a webtoon user and if you're not a web tune user, I would recommend that you download webtoon because I was not a comic person and it was definitely a great life choice. I mean, maybe it wasn't a great life choice. Like maybe it takes up a lot of time-
Paige: No, no, it was a great life choice. It was a great life choice.
Jennifer: It may be not the most productive life choice.
Paige: I'll give you that.
Jennifer: But yeah, there's some really good stuff on there. So I will probably plug webtoon every single time I do this segment.
Paige: I like it. I'm going to read it.
Jennifer: Plus, you know, I mean, if you're into like super hot robot dudes, there's that in there too. So.
Paige: I mean, not really on my list of things, but-
Jennifer: I didn't think it was on my list of things either, Paige.
Paige: [Laughs] Touche. All right. It is added to my list. In that case, you ready to head over to some summary?
Paige: All right. So the Witcher: cultural phenomenon, popular video game series. Pretty damn good book to get that out there. I liked it Author Andrzej Sapkowski... I'm so sorry. He's a Polish native who studied business and economics and then wrote a bestselling fantasy series, cause multitalented bastard.
Casually, as you do. My copy of the book is showing that there are eight books in the series. Currently, there are three RPG games and I've heard from a reliable source - Hannah Davis - that the third game is amazing. And lastly, one complete season of a Netflix TV series with a second season confirmed on the way. And I am here for this.
I have bought the first two games, but they were apparently too advanced for my last laptop so I didn't get to play them. I still have them. I just haven't played them yet. So yeah, one day when I have infinite time.
But now the book. So I'm only reviewing the first book here, which is The Last Wish which was surprisingly episodic in nature. I don't know what I was expecting, especially after seeing the show, but it kind of makes sense. Cause the format would really lend itself very well to being guide for a video game. Each story's at a quest kind of a thing. And while I'm telling you about this, each story is interspersed with Geralt, the Witcher, the main character, recovering at a temple after getting bitten by a Striga, which is our first little episode here.
So to start things off. The inhabitants of a village are being threatened by a Striga [see earlier mythology notes for what that is] which kills people roughly once a month. The commoners want the striga killed, the King, not so much. As it turns out the striga is actually his daughter and one that he had with his sister. So gross.
Jennifer: Yeah, noooo .
Paige: Surprisingly, it was not the incest that caused the kid to be born as a striga, it was the fact that a love rival cursed her, like asshole.
Jennifer: It wasn't the incest...
Paige: It wasn't the incest. It was, it was somebody else being a dick. So the King wants his daughter rescued if at all possible. So politicians hire Geralt to kill the striga. Her father begs for Geralt to save her. And he does, after a pretty rough battle and also using the asshole who cursed the poor kid - who turned her into a striga - as bait. And I gotta say that was pretty... it was pretty satisfying. She tore him to pieces. It was great. But while trying to subdue her without actually killing her, she bit the ever loving shit out of Geralt. Like right in the neck. So, you know, no good deed there.
Paige: Normal person would be dead. Anyway, next up is a story of a man named Nivellen, I think, who was cursed after raping a priestess and turned into the beast, like from Beauty and the Beast, but also with some magical powers. He's trying to find a way to break the curse. Hoping true love's kiss will break it. But what do you know, the women who are left with him for a year after, you know, their fathers dropped them off in exchange for an ass load of gold just wasn't cutting it. Eventually he kind of learns to like his beast mode form because it's apparently working out relatively well in the bedroom department.
Current girl he's got, though, is different and Geralt finds out how different when he figures out that she's actually a bruxa which Geralt describes as a vampire. But from what I was able to gather, it's kind of like a harpy and a vampire had a baby, so that's cool. Geralt kills her, which ends up keeping Nivellen safe, but it turns out the vampire chick actually did love him because the curse is gone.
Jennifer: Then he's sad.
Paige: And then he's sad. So our next episode involves a wizard named Stregobor who basically fucked over Snow White and now she's trying to kill him. And I'm actually being serious here. According to the asshole wizard, several children were born under some eclipse and became mutated and would kill a ton of people.
So they locked all these kids in towers. Sound like Rapunzel to anybody else, cause that's totally what I was getting out of that. Well, stepmother dearest decided that a girl named Renfri was too much of a risk so she and Stregobor arranged for a woodsman to kill this girl. It didn't work, but they continue to pursue her. This girl took up with seven gnomes, but then Stregobor poisoned her. Eventually some Prince saved her and you get the idea.
What is important to note here is that Stregobor represents Renfri as the worst possible person: using her sexuality to lead men astray, killing animals, essentially being a monster, which is how he refers to her. Renfri has tracked him down cause girl is pissed and Stregobor is asking Geralt to kill her. Geralt isn't super into this, but goes and tries to convince Renfri to leave. Well we eventually get Renfri's side of the story, which is a little girl who was given by her stepmother and her father's advisor to a woodsman who raped her.
She barely managed to survive except by people who took pity on her. All the acts that were ascribed to her as "monstrous" by Stregobor were done in the name of her just trying to survive. Geralt is sympathetic, but won't let her kill Stregobor. Well, she tries to trick him, but he figures out her plan and ends up killing her in the resulting confrontation.
Stregobor wants to immediately conduct an autopsy on this girl who's lying dead in the marketplace to see if he was even right about her being a monstrous mutant. But Geralt stops him. The whole incident gets Geralt the nickname of the Butcher of Blavikin, Blavikin being the name of the town that all of this took place in.
Jennifer: So a feel good story here.
Paige: Real feel good. That's a lot of these in the book.
Jennifer: It's not a happy book.
Paige: No, no it is not. All right. Next up is the story of Geralt impersonating a nobleman to help a bitch of a queen out who is trying to marry off her daughter to a powerful ally. All seems to be going well and Geralt is wondering why he's there, when some dude in a full suit of armor shows up and says that the princess actually belongs to him on account of the law of surprise. He tells how he helped the King previously and asked for what he has at home that he was not expecting.
Well, while he was out, the princess was born. So surprise! The queen did not appreciate this little hitch in her plan and does everything she can to discredit this knight who was actually very polite, but she does make him take off his mask and it turns out that he's been cursed and he basically looks like a hedgehog.
Jennifer: Like not the most like intimidating, scary animal ever but everyone reacts like it's the worst thing, and I don't understand.
Paige: Beware of the hedgehog! So everything goes to shit when the queen asks her daughter, if she wants to go with him and the girl's like, yeah, actually I totally do. So here's the thing about the law of surprise: it can be a total bitch when it's ignored because destiny is involved. And then the princess turns out to be a sorceress which presents itself at the perfect time to fuck everyone up. Basically what happens is the princess unleashes a primordial force of fuck you slamming everybody to the ground. Geralt and a Druid managed to get her powers under control, but the queen basically learned not to fuck with destiny because it will unleash a massive amount of fuck you energy all over your plans.
Destiny's a bitch. So the princess gets to marry this guy who she's actually been secretly hooking up with for over a year now and Geralt is offered payment for his involvement and invokes the law of surprise. Guess what: the princess is pregnant. Surprise!
Jennifer: Oh, man, that part of the book is so fucking funny to me.
Paige: It's so much funnier in the show though cause he like asks it like, eh, I guess the law of surprise. And the queen is like fuck.
Jennifer: Yeah. Yeah. In the show, he's just like- it's almost like he's trying to be like cute, you know. You're like, "Oh, isn't that funny? Like we just went through this whole thing" and then it's like... you idiot.
Paige: You're so dumb.
Jennifer: Yeah, that was good.
Paige: Next story involves Geralt trying to help a village get rid of a prankster problem in the form of a Sylvan. Except things are a little weird when it turns out the Sylvan is working for a bunch of elves. The elves are starving and are using the Sylvan to learn about agriculture, you know, so they don't starve. Well, now that Geralt is a threat to this little plan, they were going to kill him along with his trusty shit-talking bard friend, Dandelion. It was so much more intimidating in Polish. I am still going to use Dandelion though cause that's just funny.
Jennifer: Yeah. It's, it's like the stupidest name.
Paige: It's the stupidest name. Anyway. It turns out that a goddess shows up to help them and tells the elves to fuck off into the mountains? And I have no idea. I have no idea how it ended up like that. But this is the appearance of the bard so that's fun.
Jennifer: Yeah. He finally shows up like almost at the end of the book.
Paige: And, last but not least, the story of how Geralt met Yennefer. It all started when Geralt and Dandelion were fishing and instead of getting food, they managed to unleash a djinn who immediately tries to rip out Dandelion's throat - like all great love stories. Geralt brings him to Yennefer, a powerful sorceress, to heal up. Which she does, but she also has plans. She wants the djinn. So thinking she needs Dandelion to use up his last wish, she keeps a close eye on him and sends Geralt under a spell to literally spank the men around town who have been talking shit about her. So I'm not really a huge Yennefer fan, but hats off because that's a boss move.
Geralt ends up being put in prison, but jokes on Yennefer, because Geralt actually is the one with the wishes. So the whole Dandelion thing isn't working. She thinks that she can catch the djinn after Dandelion screams his third wish, but can't catch him until Geralt uses it instead. So he does eventually after diving into a shit storm of a magic fight after a woman who got him arrested and then uses the wish to hook up with her.
So the djinn gets away, but Geralt and Yennefer totally hookup in the ruins of a destroyed inn. So I have no moral for that story, but there you go. So that's The Last Wish. I actually really liked it. I will definitely be reading the rest of the Witcher series at some point. Go check it out.
Jennifer: All right. I guess it's time to head over to creatives corner.
Jennifer: All right. So today I- it's not really a creator per se today that I'm going to be talking about, but I did really want to talk about the Twitter account for Henry Sotherans, which is a rare book seller in London. They have been open since 1761. And their Twitter feed is just absolutely delightful. It's usually hilarious. And they have amassed a pretty impressive following, like almost 28,000 over just a few months. I think this has really just been since lockdown first really started. So it hasn't even been a year yet. Oliver is the one that does their social media , which I just think is adorable because how British is that?
And clearly they're doing like a, just a bang up job because their social media account is just really popular now. They are one of my bright spots on Twitter. They usually have a lot of things to say about rare books, which is an obvious draw for me. I think the original tweet that made me follow them was they were talking about like funny encounters when working in rare books . Which like, I always love a good, hilarious customer story. But they were specifically talking about how they were really tired of people asking them for an original copy of the Bible.
Paige: [Laughs] Nooo...
Jennifer: and like, and like people just fundamentally not understanding that there is no original copy of the Bible. Like it wasn't like, it wasn't like someone was requesting like an original edition of King James or an original like Gutenberg Bible, which like, they wouldn't have that anyway. That would cost millions and millions of dollars. But they're like, yeah, the first Bible, like the original edition of the Bible. And yeah, so that was really funny. And that's what got me started following them in the first place. So I would highly recommend that you give them a follow. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
And that's I think their username on Twitter is just Southern's: S O T H E R A N S. But I'm going to link that in the show notes for this episode so you'll be able to, to get to that, but yeah, Henry Southerns. Great book content slash book humor. It's a good time.
Paige: My favorite kinds of content and humor.
Jennifer: So that's, that's my greatest corner for today.
Paige: I like it. All right. You ready? For some discussion?
Jennifer: I am ready.
Paige: All right. So discussion questions. First one's up: since you have already read this book what'd you think of it?
Jennifer: So I, I liked this book more at the beginning than I did at the end. So I definitely, I definitely enjoyed the front portion of the book. Definitely the first story I really enjoyed a lot. And as I continued to read, I enjoyed the rest of the content less and less with the Geralt and Yennefer story being my least favorite out of the entire set. So unfortunately what that means is that that was the last thing that I read in the book. So it kind of like colored my whole perception of the book itself.
So I really liked the first couple of stories because it was just like so- there was just like a lot of folklore worked into those stories. And it was like really interesting cause I wasn't super familiar with it. The first couple of stories there was just a lot of actual folklore with like the striga and all that, that I just was unfamiliar with. Like, I hadn't really encountered a lot of Slavic folklore. At that point, I'm pretty sure that The Last Wish was the first book that I read in that little binge of Slavic folklore-inspired books that I read basically all at once last year.
And so, yeah, it was just very intriguing. I liked the, the dark and gritty nature of a lot of these stories. And definitely I intend to finish reading this series. But it's not like- it wasn't so compelling. The first one wasn't so compelling for me that I felt like I had to do that right away, which for me is a sign that I really enjoyed the book, like I just have to read the next one. I was like, yeah, that was good. But I'm okay. I can wait to start reading the rest. So, yeah.
Paige: That's fair. The other thing that I did really like about this series is that occasionally it would throw in like little nuggets of folklore or fairytales I was familiar with like, there's a snow white connection there, but there was also a mention of like Cinderella where someone had tried to hire Geralt to go after a woman who had run away from her prince and lost her shoe. Like I got a little giggle out of that.
Jennifer: Yeah. I think overall, I really liked the episodic structure of the book too, which I think may tie into our next question as well.
Paige: Yeah, ultimate question: book or TV show?
Jennifer: So I am going to go TV show on this one.
Paige: I actually am too.
Jennifer: I - yeah, I feel like that's an unpopular opinion. I'm not really sure cause I'm not really tuned into the Witcher fan base, like the book fan base. Cause that's like, that's the thing when you talk about the Witcher, you could be talking about several different fan bases because there are some people that are just obsessed with the video games and don't care about the books at all. But I feel like people were... had really mixed reviews on how the book was interpreted into the show, but I actually really liked it and I thought that actually a lot of the characters were more likable in the TV show than they were in the book.
Paige: Dandelion for sure.
Jennifer: Dandelion is more likable. I thought- not that I particularly liked Yennefer either, but I thought she was more likable in the TV show than she was in the book. The queen in the story was more likable in the TV show for me than the book.
Paige: Stone cold bitch in the book. I hated her.
Jennifer: She was not nice in the book and she wasn't nice in the TV show either, but like you, you understood why she wasn't nice. It was more like she was being like, clever. I don't know. It was just different in the TV show. I know a lot of people that weren't familiar with the Witcher story at all, really struggled with that episodic nature of the show and like the timeline and how it's broken up. Cause you really don't get the whole point of all these stories, that doesn't happen until the very end. Then you're like, "Oh, that's why we've been like going over all these stories at this point." Although I think the TV show goes into the second book material as well.
Paige: Yeah, there's a lot of stuff that I remember from the show that was not present here. So I assume that's in book two, maybe three.
Jennifer: It's in book two, yeah. So, yeah, I just- I loved the TV show. I binged all of it I think in like one day. You know, I mean, it has Henry Cavill as Geralt and I am here for it. I'm here for it.
Paige: And that stupidly catchy song that, all of what? When did this come out? January, February, something like that?
Jennifer: Yeah. Like last, last February or March? Yeah.
Paige: I dunno, I can't remember if it was pre pandemic or post pandemic, but everyone was singing that stupid song everywhere. I kind of wish we could use it for the intro to this episode but copyright's a bitch!
Jennifer: [laughs] I need to go back and watch the show again, actually, I was just thinking about that the other day when we were talking about doing this episode. Cause it's been a while since I watched it.
Paige: Yeah, think I'm going to wait until just before season two is coming out and then I can just go right into it.
Jennifer: When is- is there a date for season two yet or no?
Paige: So I saw it was just on Netflix, "new season is coming" and like that little banner thing that shows up underneath.
Jennifer: Okay. Yeah, I think I saw that Henry Cavill got injured on set and so that was going to like possibly set them back a bit. So you prefer the TV show as well?
Paige: I do. I just think that the material, the monsters, the fight scenes, they all lend itself a little bit better to visual media than it does a book. Like don't get me wrong, I like the stories aside from Yennefer and bitch queen, but it added something to be able to see those fight scenes and to be able to like add all that atmospheric dark, gritty cinematography to these things. So I think that that just came across a little bit better. I would be interested to play the games and see if that has some of the same energy that came out of the television show.
Jennifer: I'm pretty sure it does. Yeah.
Paige: Yeah, I really want to go and buy the Witcher three just because I've heard so many good things about it...[meows in background] I'm going to stab that cat.
Jennifer: You have a sword out.
Paige: I have a sword. I'm playing with a sword right now. I was thinking like, before I was recording this episode, if I was actually into drinking beer, this would be a beer drinking episode. I've got my sword right here. Some beer drinking.
Jennifer: A good ale.
Paige: A good ale.
Jennifer: I agree. I can't drink beer either, so.
Paige: Alas, some of it makes me sick and the rest of it just doesn't usually taste good. So instead I'm drinking extraordinarily spicy ginger tea and still playing with the sword because that's how I roll. Yeah. Those are my thoughts on the TV show. Book was good, but they did a good job on the show.
Jennifer: They did a good job on the show.
Paige: Question number three. So I know that some people found this a little bit confusing, so I was just curious what you thought about it, but the law of surprise. Good plot device, bad one?
Jennifer: I can see why people found it confusing because it's kind of like, what is that? I think it's not really something that has been incorporated into the Western standard fairy tale lore. Like it's not part of the Western consciousness, I guess. It's not Disney. All right? Like Disney hasn't used the law of surprise . Because honestly that's where most people get introduced to Western folklore is through Disney. And so I think it probably was confusing because people just had never encountered this before.
Obviously, you know, if you're growing up in other areas of the world, it probably would be a lot more familiar to you. But I actually really liked that storyline and I think part of the reason for that is because in the TV show - because it covers like books one and two - you get a lot more of the story behind that whole law of surprise thing.
And you really do, by the end of the TV show, that sense of destiny is really strong. Like how all of these things have fit together to get to the point where Geralt is reunited with this child. That comes through really strongly. And I liked it in terms of the TV show. I think when it came to the book, because there's really only the one story that involves it I was like, "Oh, that's kind of interesting." You know? And then I didn't know what the further significance of this is yet. So. Yeah. I thought it was cool.
Paige: Yeah. So I loved the law of surprise, largely because it's just like so random. It's reward roulette, who knows what you're getting. Turns out it's usually a child.
Jennifer: [laughs] Usually a child somehow apparently.
Paige: Although everybody keeps mentioning sometime "oh, you might find your wife has been sleeping around behind your back and you get the lover." Like, why would you want that?
Jennifer: Yeah, it sounds like not a good time.
Paige: It sounds like not a good time. I'm not really sure why would you would want to steal someone's child either, but you know, that's neither here nor there. No, I thought it was an interesting plot device. It certainly allowed for moments of humor in the TV show. I liked it a lot.
All right. So this is my last question and I sort of just like threw this on you last minute. So sorry.
Jennifer: I don't have a polished response, but then I didn't have a polished response for any of these questions. So it's all good.
Paige: It's all good. This one just occurred to me while I was trying to type up the the summary for this episode, but the story when it comes down to Stregobor versus Renfri, our asshole wizard versus our snow white. ,And I'm sure you can't tell which side of the fence that I land on, but which story do you believe: Stregobor, that she is in fact, a monster, or Renfri, that she is certainly a victim of circumstance.
Jennifer: I mean, kind of like both and neither for me. I remember reading this story and like just patently did not believe Stregobor's whole the-eclipse-caused-mutation bullshit. Geralt, too, was like adamant that that was not a thing. He was like, "that's not real." You just killed a bunch of children, you know? Cause I mean, I guess theoretically, this is a magical world, I guess that could happen.
Jennifer: But it really more came across to me as like, this is like one of those weird pseudo scientific or in this case, pseudo magical, beliefs that turns out to be really harmful to a lot of people and not actually being useful or anything like that, you know? So I definitely didn't believe Stregobor.
But. Definitely she wasn't a good person, right? So all of those experiences that she had, where she's had to make tough decisions to stay alive. You know, that is really traumatic and as we know, there can be all kinds of consequences for growing up in that kind of environment, in that kind of life.
So. She's definitely not a good person. I don't fault her for wanting to murder Stregobor, like at all. However, you know, that doesn't mean that she hasn't also made bad decisions that she didn't need to, and that's kind of how she came across to me. So she definitely has her own story about herself and I didn't really fully believe that either. I'm sure lots of terrible things did happen to her, but I think she was probably shaped by those terrible things for the worse, rather than the better.
Paige: I thought you said you didn't have a polished answer. That's that was a lie.
Jennifer: [laughs] I just came up with that.
Paige: Well, screw you then.
Jennifer: Maybe I shouldn't write down notes.
Paige: Cause that was a very good answer and pretty much exactly what I was thinking except expressed more eloquently than I probably would've said it. Cause yeah, Stregobor is just straight up wrong.
Jennifer: Yeah. And I mean you can tell when Geralt arrives at his house, you know, and it's like this fairy-land inside with a bunch of naked women running around. I'm like, "Oh my God he's so self-indulgent, I already don't like this guy."
Paige: Not a fan, not a fan, but there are some aspects of Renfri's story that don't quite add up either. Like I also do not necessarily doubt that that huntsman may have raped her, but then how did he end up dead? Because they found him dead. So...
Jennifer: I just assumed that she killed him while she was trying to get away from him.
Paige: But then it's like, how did she kill him? It's like was she evil before she got sent away, you know? Because Stregobor also mentioned that she killed some animals as a small child. Is that a lie or was that accurate? Because if that was accurate, then you know, that's the beginnings of a serial killer.
Jennifer: Is she a psychopath?
Paige: Is she a psychopath? Is she the victim of circumstance? I think to a certain extent, yes, very much so, but I think you're right. It's neither of them are completely true, but there may be aspects of even Stregobor's story that are correct. I think that there are more accuracies in Renfri's story. I would pick her over Stregobor and I kinda wish Stregobor had died.
Jennifer: Yes. I also wish he had died [laughs].
Paige: I wish.
Jennifer: Yeah, I think if I had to pick one of the two stories, I would pick Renfri's, but I also like wouldn't turn my back to her because I would expect her to like stab me in the back. So yeah. I had forgotten about that. I had forgotten about that part of the story.
Paige: I had kind of just like written off Stregobor as this crazy old man who was killing children for one means or another. I really don't like that guy. I automatically just assume the worst out of him, but then I was reading her story and I'm like, wait, you didn't explain everything, which makes me have questions.
Jennifer: Yeah and then Geralt gets fucked over from that whole story.
Paige: Right? Poor guy was just trying to keep people from getting killed and instead he ends up the butcher of Blavikin. No good deed. That really shouldn't be Geralt's tagline. No good deed goes unpunished.
Jennifer: That should be his. Yeah, that should be his tagline.
Paige: Destiny fucks me over every way I turn. This cheery episode brought to you by Paige.
Jennifer: All right. Well, I think that's our discussion.
Paige: Yeah, I don't have anything else.
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Jennifer: All right, thanks for listening guys and we will see you next time. Bye!