‘Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher: A Grain of Truth’ - Advance Hardcover Review

Raise your clan medallion if you are seriously missing the quips of Geralt as he chats with his trusty stead, Roach.  As we pine after the people’s Witcher, Dark Horse Books has seen the shiny beacon of reflected light from all our collective Witcher emblems, responding to our call to action with an official graphic novel adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s short story, “A Grain of Truth.”  For dedicated fans of the books, many will remember this tale appeared as the third story in Sapkowski’s collection, The Last Wish, originally published in 1993 (Polish version) and much later in an English version in 2007. And for fans of the Netflix series, this story features in the first episode of the second season.

“A Grain of Truth” opens as Geralt comes across the corpses of a young woman and a man, both with unusual and extremely violent mortal wounds.  The Witcher notices a blue rose peeking out from the woman’s fur lapel.  Geralt mentally weighs whether to continue on his way or to investigate; he decides that the opportunity for coin outweighs turning a blind eye.  Just before coming to a dilapidated mansion, Geralt notices a mysterious raven-haired beauty and extends his greetings only to scare her off into the dark forest that surrounds the mansion.

Geralt enters the mansion courtyard and notices the blue roses - he is at the right place.  A ferocious bear-like creature roars out of the mansion only to come short at the end of Geralt’s sword.  The bear, Nivellen, changes his attitude and invites Geralt into his home where they enjoy a lavish feast, which appears at Nivellen’s command.  The creature recounts how he came to be a bear, which borrows heavily from the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.  After listening to his story, Geralt offers to help Nivellen, but the creature has reconciled that the benefits of beast-hood outweigh being human, seasoned liberally with being in love with forest beauty who he does not want to lose.  Geralt takes his leave, but soon realizes that Nivellen’s lover is not quite what she seems.

The fairy tale that “A Grain of Truth” is based on has come to symbolize a man’s transformation to a beast, who must learn to reform himself while seeking to find true love before the last petal of a magical rose falls off.  Sapkowski’s version twists the fairy tale, but that doesn’t mean there is no longer a moral to be learned by Nivellen and maybe for the readers, too.

Dark Horse Books once again honored the Witcher IP with this latest release.  Jacek Rembiś and Travis Currit adapt Sapkowski’s story well, bringing the storytelling tone of the Witcher to the pages of the graphic novel.  Going the route of issuing this as one publication was a wise choice, because releasing this in three or four issues would have disrupted the natural pacing that the longer form delivers.  Jonas Scharf and José Villarrubia complement each other’s art style.  Scharf brings bold style through his use of thick lines and lots of black in the panels that are encased by black borders. This sounds oppressive, but it actually works to evoke a forest locale and dark magical overtones.  Villarrubia’s muted color palette of dark blues and greens blends well with Scharf’s art.  Reds and whites pop off the page and provide readers with a visually dynamic experience.  Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou delivers clean, balanced lettering that is easy on the eyes and in keeping with the lettering style of Witcher comics that have been released in the past.  Special mention and kudos to Kai Carpenter for the gorgeous, dramatic cover.  The cherry on the top!

I think fans of the IP will agree that the adaptation will sate our appetites for all things Geralt of Rivia and The Witcher in general. This will be a must-have volume, and this humble fan is appreciative that Dark Horse Books continues to release entertaining Witcher stories!


Creative Team: Jacek Rembiś (story adaptation); Travis Currit (English adaptation); Jonas Scharf (art); José Villarrubia (colors); Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (letters); and Kai Carpenter (cover art).
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Click here to purchase.





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