The standard length of story arcs has become six issues. Whether by design or simply how the cards fell, it’s worked out fairly well and when I learnt about this series, one of my main concerns was that five issues wouldn’t be sufficient to wring a good tale out of it, but with this issue in the proverbial bag, I can safely say that it was the perfectly length. Paul Tobin squares his mastery of The Witcher’s speech patterns and tone perfectly, with each line of dialog serving to advance the plot or develop the characters. Geralt himself speaks without pretension or affectation and in this way, he’s become one of the most interesting characters in fantasy. He treats everyone as precisely befits their standing in his, not society’s, eyes. This allows him to converse with creatures he might otherwise be trying to kill or expunge from the world and has always made for some of his most interesting interactions and, as the story behind the glass house is revealed, that continues to hold true. I can’t say much about the story without giving away major spoilers, but it serves as a solid conclusion to a great story.
I’ve had complaints about Joe Querio’s art in past issues, though I’ve also had a great deal of praise for it, but in this issue he comes into his own. The level of finer detail is at an all-time high and the tone struck by his use of color and shadow is beautiful and horrifying in equal parts where it needs to be one, the other or, often, both. There’s not a great deal of action, but what there is is explosive and kinetic, and while it lacks some fluidity, this is one time when powerful stances and moments in time actually work better with the tone of a grim fable.
I mentioned before that the story could stand well on its own, though the more one knows about the backstory of the character and the world, the more enjoyment one would derive from it. Now that the last issue has come out, the former part is actually less true than I originally thought: you really NEED to be a fan of the source to get anything more than a passing enjoyment out of the series. For those who are already fans, it’s a worthy, fantastic addition to Geralt’s legacy, but by the end there are numerous references that require knowledge, be that the books or videogames, to get anything out of.
The reveal of the secret behind Marta, Jakob and the house of glass is a trope only elevated by an interesting turn. But that turn can’t fully make up for this being some very, very well-worn territory.
There are enough twists, turns and amazing dialog to easily forget the book’s few flaws and make it a worthwhile edition to any fan’s library. It might require some research, but frankly the world of The Witcher is vast and fascinating enough to make that research a great deal of fun. With the third game in the trilogy coming out and the third novel having a disappointing translation, this issue concludes a tale that was needed and, moreover, appreciated.