Law of Surprise - The Sword of Destiny
Updated: Oct 18
Having now read three of the Witcher books, I realized that I needed to tell y'all about The Sword of Destiny. Like The Last Wish before it, this book is something of a prequel to Sapkowski's later Witcher Saga. I recommend reading these two books first.
But that's not the real reason that I'm recommending The Sword of Destiny. Sapkowski has created something truly amazing in this book: a piece of lore that functions as a plot device.
The Law of Surprise.
The Law of Surprise is a way of settling a debt, by promising something (or demanding something) that is unknown to both parties.
This way of honoring promises is actually rooted in Old Testament, Hebrew tradition. In the book of Judges, Chapter 11, a general named Jephthah promises God "If you give the Ammonites (enemies of the Israelites) into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."
Sapkowski uses this rich tradition to build the core theme of the power and control of destiny over the Witcher's life. Without spoiling anything that you will learn in the Netflix series or the books, I can only promise that it delivers fantastic twists and intrigue.
It delivers several exciting scenes of monster hunting, and creates a world of superstition, magic, and lore without boring the reader with heavy exposition. The Sword of Destiny stands alone, and also contributes to your enjoyment of the rest of the books and episodes.
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