This graphic novel volume collects issues #1 through #5 of the Dark Horse comic book, The Witcher. It is a horror fantasy with plenty of action and adventure, set in the world of the video game series The Witcher. If you are unfamiliar with the multimedia franchise, you may wonder who or what is a Witcher: a Witcher is a genetically modified monster hunter, with extreme strength and select magic at his command.
The story begins on the edge of a black forest, with a man catching a fish just as the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, arrives on the scene. He unexpectely surprises the man while riding up to make conversation. Geralt introduces himself and the man returns the courtesy with his name, Jakob Ornstine, a hunter. They share a meal and companionship and Jakob tells Geralt his sad story of how he lost the love of his life, his wife Marta. He relates how she is now a Bruxae vampire, one of the undead, and that she stares at him from afar, without coming close, no communication, other than the sound of song birds to remind him she is near.
After a few days, Geralt decides to travel on through the black forest and Jakob decides it's time to sever ties with his wife and move on, so he travels with the Witcher. Both have an uneasy feeling about the forest. Things begin to pick up when they encounter a grave hag who taunts them and then they come upon a house of glass in the middle of the forest, led there by the sound of song birds. After entering the house they realize that the house is seemingly endless, full of glass murals, each depicting a story. They also discover they are not alone; the house is full of lost souls, including Marta.
The men manage to get separated while exploring the house and, while Jakob is trying to find his wife, Geralt runs across a succubus named Vara, who claims she's been trapped in this cursed house for a long time and is bored. When not trying to seduce Geralt, she tells him the tale of how she came to be there, as well as showing him around the many different rooms. Is she friend or foe? It's hard to tell as the story starts to escalate.
Can Geralt unravel the mystery of the house of glass and manage to get free or will he be forever trapped, cursed like all the rest? Will he become one of the horde of walking dead who are trying to catch him? Will he be eaten by the grave hag, or drained of his life force by the bored succubus, or worse? What of Jakob? Is there more to the story about his wife Marta? Why is her spirit trapped in the house? You'll need to read the book to find out the answers to these many questions.
I enjoyed the book and the storyline is decent, though it's not too hard to figure out where it's leading from about halfway into it. I think it works well as a primer for anyone just entering the world of the Witcher. If you are already a fan of the franchise, you will probably enjoy reading this book, since you know more about the nuances that make Geralt the character he truly is.
The artwork flows nicely and the colors are dark, yet vibrant when needed. It fits well with the storyline. ~~ Dee Astell