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If the success of the first season of Netflix’s The Witcher is any indication, Andrzej Sapkowski’s brilliant fantasy series might be some of the best books to read in 2020.
I’ve already reviewed The Last Wish and The Sword of Destiny for you, and I highly recommend checking out those books if you need help understanding the streaming show. I also recommend them simply for their intriguing characters and exciting action sequences. Those two books cover the entire first season of the program, and provide the fascinating background for the 5-book Witcher Saga.
Here’s the recommended way to read the Witcher books in order:
Time of Contempt.
Baptism of Fire.
The Tower of the Swallow.
The Lady of the Lake.
Season of Storms.
The Witcher Saga begins with Blood of Elves, which is a departure from the short story anthology style of the first two books and a transition to a more linear narrative.
But did I like it?
Several chapters in Blood of Elves read like an extended training montage. At first, I thought this was silly, but then I realized how expertly the author was exposing for us his fantasy world of magic and sorceresses, and we see the arcane training of the Witcher explained, without boring us with lengthy background exposition.
This book really delves into the regional political intrigue, much like George R.R. Martin fans might like. We see assassination plots, secret allegiances, and spies behind the scenes. We also see some interesting interspecies conflicts, and learn more about the elves, dwarves, and other non-humans in this story.
Most of the book, however, is the development of Ciri, the young princess. We learn more of her epic destiny as we see her train not only as a Witcher, but also as a sorceress. We also see the complicated triangle of affection between Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer.
There aren’t as many monsters in this book. For a series named after a monster hunter, this is something of a letdown. Instead, for fans of books like A Game of Thrones, Blood of Elves is packed with politics and intrigue, only without the dragons.
Also, my favorite side character (Dandelion the Bard, of course) only gets a few short pages. I’m hoping he gets more action in the next book!
The Recommendation - 4/5 Stars
To be honest, the training montage dragged on just a little too much. I found myself putting down Blood of Elves much more easily than I did with Sword of Destiny. For this reason only, I’m giving it four out of five stars.
But despite a few slow chapters, I still really enjoyed the book. Sapkowski’s fantasy world of sorcery and warring kingdoms seems that much deeper now that I’ve read Blood of Elves.
The development of the relationships is starting to pay off, and I’m definitely invested in the outcome of not only the war between the human kingdoms, but the potential marginalization of elves and dwarves and other races.
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