Blood of Elves – Andrzej Sapkowski

Synopsis: For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf.

Geralt of Rivia, the cunning assassin known as The Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world – for good, or for evil.

As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt’s responsibility to protect them all – and the Witcher never accepts defeat.

“To be neutral does not mean to be indifferent or insensitive. You don’t have to kill your feelings. It’s enough to kill hatred within yourself.”

It wasn’t necessarily my intention to read a Witcher book each month, but alas.. here we are! With the 8-part Netflix series arriving sometime in late 2019, this isn’t a bad thing. My goal was to read a few books, including the first full-length novel, before the series is released. ::pushes glasses up bridge of nose:: Well, well, well.. achievement unlocked! For once.

“Remember,” she repeated, “magic is Chaos, Art and Science. It is a curse, a blessing and progress. It all depends on who uses magic, how they use it, and to what purpose. And magic is everywhere. All around us. Easily accessible.”

Blood of Elves is the sequel to the short story collections (The Last Wish, Sword of Destiny) & begins the “Blood of Elves” saga, which happens several years before the video games. Even though Blood of Elves was translated & released first, chronologically this takes place after those two compilations. READ THE BOOKS IN ORDER, GODDAMNIT!!

This installment is quite different from the first two books, not only because it’s a full-length story, but because the main focus switches away from Geralt of Rivia. Rather, Ciri (who I love) becomes the central figure. Geralt plays a surprisingly minor role throughout.

Blood of Elves starts with Dandelion, the finest bard in the kingdom, recounting the adventures of Geralt from the previous book to an enchanted audience. That is, until a mysterious individual captures Dandelion & tortures him for information about Ciri.

Meanwhile, we learn that Geralt has taken Ciri under his protective wing. At the castle Kaer Morhan, Ciri is learning the witcher way, undergoing brutal training. Triss (!!) is invited to the castle by Geralt to help out with Ciri. Soon, she realizes that Ciri has a natural talent for magic & that it is beyond her capabilities. They then drop her off to train with Yennefer, the powerful sorceress (& Geralt’s on-again, off-again lover), at the Temple of Melitele in Ellander.

You probably know by now that I’m a sucker for training in a book, especially of the magical kind! So it’s not shocking that I absolutely adored the scenes with Yennefer becoming Ciri’s mentor & teacher! At first they dislike each other, but by the end of the book they seem to have a mutual respect for one another.

“When you know about something it stops being a nightmare. When you know how to fight something, it stops being so threatening.” 

Although I am enjoying this series a lot & find it almost soothing to read, it isn’t blowing me away, just yet. I was expecting/anticipating/wanting these books to be darker.. which isn’t a complaint, more of an observation.

Blood of Elves is at times disjointed, meandering & lacking in action. The chapters are bloody long & took me awhile to fall into. However, Sapkowski’s writing is just so easy to appreciate. There is something to be said for a simple & direct writing style. Sapkowski gives shape to brilliant characterization & crafting vibrant dialogue. Also? Dude wrote about menstruation in a fantasy novel as if it was a common thing that actually happens to vagina owners. Can you imagine? LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!!

Overall, I’m digging the series & will definitely continue on with it! Mythology, folklore, political intrigue, badass female characters. The foundation has been laid for what will surely be an epic tale! I just hope there will be more monsters in the next installment, what with Geralt being the monster hunter extraordinaire & all. Fingers crossed!

-Holly

(Massive thanks to the radical folks over at Orbit Books for the copy! Again, sorry for the delay!)

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