Baptism of Fire by Andrzej Sapkowski

“A baptism of fire, the Witcher thought, furiously striking and parrying blows. I was meant to pass through fire for Ciri. And I’m passing through fire in a battle which is of no interest to me at all. Which I don’t understand in any way. The fire that was meant to purify me is just scorching my hair and face.”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 288 pages.
Read from March 15, 2021 to March 22, 2021.

Next to The Last Wish, this has been my favourite Witcher book in the series so far.

Geralt has found himself in quite a predicament. He almost died after the Wizard’s Guild fell and has been separated from Ciri. He is recovering from his injuries in the Brokilon forest, of which he is a rare male exemption amongst the female dryads. While Geralt is nowhere near healed, he must find Ciri as rumours are circulating of her capture and impending marriage to the Emperor. Little does he know that the Ciri in the Niflgaardian court is an imposter. The real Ciri has found the company of thieves and has managed to keep her identity a secret, for now. Despite Geralt’s desperate situation he attempts to maintain his gruff lone wolf mentality by trying to shrug off some very unique companions as well as finding himself involved in a battle he wanted no part in.

The story in this book really revived the series for me and makes me want to replay and rewatch the games and TV show (especially before the second season starts this Christmas). Geralt is a stubborn brute and I love him for it. The character work and Geralt’s internal conflict in questioning who he is a Witcher and what he stands for as well as his interactions with his new, and generally unwanted, companions that stick with him through thick and thin are what make this book one of the best in the series. His new companions are robust and dynamic characters that I fell in love with immediately and the surprise reveal of one of them really caught me and had me loving and appreciating this story even more.

The books, games and TV shows are each such innovative takes on Geralt’s path and the Witcher world. With any other series, I might be annoyed at the discrepancies and inconsistencies with character appearances and the chosen focused storylines, however, with the Witcher I’ve really enjoyed each medium’s differing takes on Geralt’s story, the characters that he meets, and the trouble he finds himself in.

A highly recommended read for fantasy lovers, it’s definitely worth reading the whole series just to get to this book. Here’s hoping the next book continues to impress.

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

3/5 stars.
ebook, 409 pages.
Read from November 9, 2019 to November 25, 2019.

I tried to do the responsible thing and wait to get this book from the library but after reading The Last Wish and the Sword of Destiny and loving them I decided I couldn’t wait to continue into this series and bought a copy for myself. 

After finally accepting his fate, Geralt has found himself protecting and caring for Ciri, the orphaned princess and the only remaining royal bloodline of Cintra. Ciri is quickly becoming skilled with a sword under the Witcher’s guidance but an old friend and lover of Geralt, Triss, points out Ciri’s serious magical potential. Ciri then begins to learn the skills of a sorceress to ensure she can control her powers and hopeful stop the horrible nightmares that have been keeping her awake at night.  However, Ciri is still being hunted. Rience, a powerful mage, tortures Geralt’s friend, Dandelion, to find the whereabouts of Ciri and ends up being saved by Yennifer. Geralt then pursues Rience while Ciri falls into Yennifer’s care in order to protect her.

The storyline in this book is not what I hoped it would be for the first official novel on Geralt. The short story style in the last two books seemed more concise and engaging whereas this book felt convoluted. Perhaps this novel is just laying a lot of detailed groundwork so that the next novel is seamless? I hope so. I still enjoyed the book, especially the character-building with Yennifer and Ciri and their bond, but the plot itself was lacklustre compared to the last two books. The focus of the previous books was more linear whereas this book the focus changes a few too many times between characters as well as on some uninteresting politics. 

Here’s hoping that the focus in the next book is narrower and more concise as I am looking forward to seeing how Ciri and Geralt’s fate unfolds. Overall, this book is likely still a necessary book in the series and I’m hoping to see the rest of the books continue on the same track as the previous two.