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.

Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. Salvatore

“Fie these gods! What beings are these who would play so cruelly with the sensibilities of rational, conscientious mortals?”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 352 pages.
Read from December 2, 2020 to December 9, 2020.

Chugging along the Drizzt-train with book 30 of the Legend of Drizzt series and the last book in the Companions Codex (#1 Night of the Hunter, #2 Rise of the King). I never imagined I read this far into the series but here I am. Overall, it was great to have the companions back in the Companions Codex but I wasn’t satisfied with the plot in this trilogy of books but I have high hopes for the Homecoming trilogy that comes next.

The orcs, under the influence of the dark elves, continue to attack cities and break the hundred-year-old peace treaty once instilled by King Bruenor himself. Drizzt, Cattibrie and Bruenor must find a way to rally and bring the dwarves together and finally reveal that he is King Bruenor reborn. Separated from the trio after an attack, Regis and Wulfgar, decide to try and find their way to the Citadel by means of the Underdark, an extremely risky endeavour. Meanwhile, the dark elves are scheming and Tiago is getting frustrating with the instruction from his superiors and can’t let go of his obsession to kill Drizzt. Joined by an extensive list of supporting characters (too many, in my opinion) the companions and are working together to stop the Darkening and help stop the rampage and domination of the orcs in the North.

While I enjoy some of the supporting characters in Salvatore’s stories I also find that there are way too many and often detract from the main plot. I struggle to remember the names and their backstories because I wasn’t all that interested in them to begin with and generally just patiently wait for the story to come back to the companions or Jarlaxle, especially in some of the last few books. The plot lacks focus and isn’t as concise as some of Salvatore’s other books. The book is still enjoyable, however, and satisfying my Drizzt needs. I’m very much looking forward to the next three books in the series.

Ulysses by James Joyce

“To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.”

Read from March 21, 2018 – June 22, 2018 and DNF
Read/Listened – Restarted from the beginning on November 6, 2018 and finished Oct 28, 2019.

Ulysses isn’t a book that shouldn’t be reviewed and rated. This is a novel that needs to be absorbed and taken in slowly and then discussed for its insights and absurdity. It is an accomplishment to finish this complex and behemoth of a novel. It’s too much, of well, everything. There is so much to comprehend about this book that would likely take a PhD speciality to truly appreciate. Does that mean this book was entirely enjoyable for its near 1000 pages? Nope. Was it still worth reading? Absolutely.

When I first attempted to read this novel I approached it like any other novel and got a physical copy to read. While enjoyed sections of the book this way I found myself easily distracted from the book and couldn’t stay focused and ended up stopping a quarter of the way in. I was determined to read this novel so I thought I would try an audio accompaniment while also reading it physically. This was a strange step for me as I don’t really do audiobooks but it, however, proved to be key in finishing the novel. Not only did I enjoy more of the book but I also retained more.

On top of that, I also looked up summaries of each section before listening/reading it so that I could have a better understanding of the references, metaphors, and meaning behind some of the most difficult areas of the book. Doing this deepened my appreciation for the writing as well as my enjoyment.

While it took me over a year to finish this novel, I feel that it how it is is meant to be read as there is just too much to take and in and consider if not taken in methodically.

For those that would like to try my approach you can get audio and e-versions of Ulysses completely free from these websites:

  • Librivox – Two different audio versions. I would recommend the second.
  • Gutenberg.org – A variety of PDF and Ebook downloads

Librivox is amazing. The whole book has been read by volunteers from all of over the world and while some sections read better than others, it’s still wonderful that this resource exists and would strongly recommend that you check them out for other great recordings if you like audiobooks.

All and all, I’m proud I busted through this classic piece of literature and stand on my position on not rating it. I am curious about other people’s experiences reading this book, like how did you manage to finish it? Did you enjoy it? Or has gone to your DNF shelf? Shoot me a comment below!