Andrzej Sapkowski was born in Poland in 1948. He is a major heroic-fantasy writer: his oeuvre has received Poland’s Janusz A. Zajdel prize five times, as well as Great Britain’s David Gemmell Award for Fantasy, in 2009. In 2016, he received the World Fantasy Award—Life Achievement in the United States. What has made Andrzej Sapkowski’s style so successful is the unique blend of folk tales and very contemporary realism. With a good bit of violence, a rogues’ gallery of endearingly imperfect characters, and a smattering of sex, the whole is leavened with irony and dark humour.
Andrzej Sapkowski was 38 years old when he wrote a short story called “Wiedźmin” (“The Witcher”) and submitted it to a short-story contest in Fantastyka (the only sci-fi and fantasy magazine in Poland at the time). That was in 1986, when Poland was still behind the Iron Curtain, and Heroic Fantasy was a derided genre. Which story won the competition? A sci-fi one. Not Sapkowski’s, which came in third. Still, that was enough to be published in the magazine… and the rest is history. The magazine’s readers requested – nay, demanded! – more adventures of Geralt, the troubling and solitary hero. Sapkowski complied with their wishes. The stories poured out, and readers enjoyed them enormously. They were collected into a first anthology, and then a second, and each new volume was an instant success. In the early 1990's, Sapkowski quit his job in international sales to focus on Geralt’s adventures, and every single one met with success. The Witcher series soon caught on in neighboring countries like Russia and the Czech Republic. In the 2000s, the series began to be published in western Europe too: France, Spain, Great Britain, Sweden, Portugal. And in the 2010’s, it was Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, the USA, Brazil and elsewhere’s turn, before it finally reached Asia.
THE WITCHER SAGA
In the Witcher saga, Andrzej Sapkowski introduces his hero, Geralt of Rivia, a witcher. He’s an itinerant mercenary. He kills monsters for money. His strange physique, with white hair and cat-like eyes, distinguishes him from other people, who reject him because of it. He’s an exceptionally powerful mutant who occasionally resorts to magic. Both feared and scorned by the powerless as well as the powerful, who see him as someone dangerous and impossible to retain. His honor code forbids him from killing if he can avoid it, and not to attack monsters unless they pose a real threat. He’s got a strong character, but he still has a human side: he doesn't always emerge from battle unscathed. Set in an imaginary medieval world enhanced with magic and monsters, the Witcher saga will surprise you: the monster isn’t always who you think it is!
THE HUSSITE TRILOGY
Colorful characters, humor, and magic are all there, too.
Andrzej Sapkowski launched with Narrenturm a new trilogy, this time a historical fantasy set during the vibrantly depicted Hussite wars. The hero of the trilogy is Reinmar of Bielau, called Reynevan. He is a learned herbalist and medic, a somewhat naive, yet extremely likeable youth. Reinmar is constantly getting into trouble due to his romantic sensibility. In love with the beautiful Adela, the wife of the knight Gelfrad de Stercza, he must save himself by fleeing when the knight’s brothers discover the two in flagranti. Thus begins Reynevan’s epic journey through old Silesia, a land torn by religious wars with Hussitism. In his wanderings, Reynevan visits places which can still be found on maps today, meets authentic historical figures, participates in genuine historical events. Pursued not only by the Stercza brothers bent on vengeance, but also by the Holy Inquisition, Reynevan finds himself in the end in the eponymous Narrenturm, that is, Fools’ Tower, a medieval asylum for the mad, or for those who simply thought differently. The ‘patients’ of this institution form an incomparable gallery of colourful types: we meet here, among others, the young Copernicus, proclaiming the truth of the heliocentric solar system.
The second part of the trilogy, Warriors of God, depicts the adventures of Reynevan and his friends in the years 1427-28. As it begins, Reynevan is in Bohemia, but soon leaves for Silesia, where he carries out dangerous, secret missions entrusted to him by the Hussite leaders. Meanwhile, he strives to avenge the death of his brother and discover the whereabouts of his beloved. Once again, pursued by multiple enemies, he is constantly getting into trouble. Sapkowski’s deftly written novel ensures a range of reading pleasures, which is certainly one of his strong sides as a writer. Those who read for the plot will find in Warriors of God gripping action full of numerous twists and mysteries and seasoned with elements of magic as well as Sapkowki’s everpresent and occasionally bawdy sense of humour. Those who read for the pleasure of the text will enjoy the intertextual games inscribed into the book. And fans of historical novels will appreciate the rich panorama of this slice of the Middle Ages.
In the third part of the trilogy, Lux perpetua, Reynevan continues to get into trouble. Someone is always out to ambush him or make him an offer he can’t refuse. He is tracked by real-world secret agents and by unclean powers who do not hide their diabolic origins. But after all, Reynevan lives in the cruel and dangerous times of the crusades, of Hussite retaliatory campaigns, when the word ‘mercy’ was unknown and thousands of innocents were slaughtered with the name of God on their lips. Reinmar believes in religious renewal and takes the side of Hus’ supporters, even when they commit hideous crimes. The ends justify the means. Reynevan continues his quest to avenge his brother. Though a medic and herbalist, an idealist and disinterested defender of the sick and suffering, he must take on the role of a Hussite spy, infiltrator, killer, and merciless avenger. Torn between his duty and the voice of his heart, he bets everything on one card, anything to rescue his beloved from the hands of his enemies.
Lux perpetua fittingly crowns the masterpiece. It is written on a grand scale, with extraordinary care for historical details and with Sapkowski’s characteristic sense of humour and linguistic intuition. The cruelty of war contrasts with moving love scenes and the stories of the characters are woven into a great political drama that moves toward the inevitable, yet shocking finale. In the final pages of Lux perpetua, Sapkowski writes, „Be noble and good, gentlemen. May providence protect you on the path of misfortune and malign adventure. No, no, I have spoken, the end is the end, I shall tell stories no longer. My fantasy can go no farther.” And so ends a a trilogy of immense proportions (a total of 1800 pages) set in the early fifteenth century in a Silesia shaken by bloody wars, by alliances broken and again reforged.
The magisterial combination of seriousness and the grotesque, the tightly plotted action, the picturesque background, and the incomparable dialog make one want to read each book in one go. The fantasy elements are woven so skilfully into the tissue of the narration that they seem to be an integral part of the historical reality. Readers familiar with fantasy will also find pastiches of the most popular works of recent years, such as Harry Potter.
WHO WE ARE
This e-shop was conceived by Patricia Pasqualini Literary Agency, which manages it in collaboration with Andrzej Sapkowski. Together, Andrzej Sapkowski and Patricia Pasqualini have been working for nearly 20 years to make Andrzej Sapkowski’s books available in languages spoken around the world.
Patricia remembers her first encounter with The Witcher, "I was in Krakatit, a bookstore in Prague specializing in speculative fiction, with Stéphane Marsan, editorial director of French publishing house Editions Bragelonne. We were surprised to see a three-foot-long shelf entirely devoted to the books of a single author, Andrzej Sapkowski. It intrigued us, so we asked a few questions. Then we got a reading report about The Last Wish, and we were sold on it. Stéphane is now the lucky publisher of the Witcher series in France, and I am the proud agent negotiating foreign rights for the author."
Are you ready to enter the enchanting yet darkly realistic world of Andrzej Sapkowski’s books?