Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Mar 022015
 

Cover for The Witcher: Blood of ElvesAfter our look at The Last Wish, I checked out the fan translation of Sword of Destiny to make sure I had the necessary knowledge for the story (since it sets up an important plot point), and moved on to the next book in the Witcher series.

Unlike the previous two, Blood of Elves is a full fantasy novel, without the strange fairy tale overtones. It continues Ciri’s storyline, which seems to extend into The Witcher 3.

(If you’ve read The Last Wish but you don’t intend to read Sword of Destiny, Ciri is Pavetta’s daughter, and therefore bound to Geralt by destiny.)

Make no mistake, despite the cover of my copy prominently displaying Geralt and the back description emphasizing his responsibility, this book is very much about Ciri.

Geralt does have some important scenes, as he struggles against sinister forces that are searching for the girl–some for political reasons, some for reasons left unknown. These forces get some key moments of their own, and a sizable section is devoted to other world powers dealing with war, politics, and the potential that Ciri might be alive. Those chapters in particular are very dialogue-heavy, which is one of my few complaints about the novel. I enjoy dialogue, but some stretches contained so little description or action that even I felt a bit put out.

On the other hand, a few dialogue-only scenes used the format to their advantage to surprise the reader in a way they couldn’t if they included the action. For example, in one such exchange, Lambert guides Ciri through combat exercises, sprinkled with taunts and mockery from him, only to reveal at the very end that she’s been blindfolded the entire time. While it would have been pretty cool to see her performing these moves blindfolded, the unexpected revelation at the end makes its impact greater.

The majority of the book focuses on Ciri’s combat training at Kaer Morhern, her journey with Triss and Geralt, and her magic training with Yennefer. In this way, we not only get to see Ciri as she grows from the child in Sword of Destiny to a young woman skilled in both combat and magic, we also get to see new dimensions of other characters–particularly Yennefer, who is much more sympathetic here, with hints of her softer side.

My only complaint about the plot itself is that it is not very self-contained. While the short story collections could stand on their own, this novel needs its sequel. It introduces conflicts and questions, but resolves very few of them. It focuses on Ciri’s development and sets up a plot, as you might expect if this was just the first part of a larger novel.

That said, it’s an enjoyable setup, and I’ll be interested to see where the next book takes the plot. Bottom line, if you enjoyed the previous entries in the Witcher novel series and/or are interested in learning more about Ciri, check out Blood of Elves.

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