For years, reading the Witcher novels in English was a tricky matter because the translators skipped Sword of Destiny. At last, that is not the case. While I read the Sword of Destiny fan translation to understand the story, I was excited to finally get an official copy.
Sword of Destiny bridges the gap between the short stories of The Last Wish and the novel Blood of Elves. While it’s another collection of short stories, it contains important details for the overall saga, particularly in the stories “The Sword of Destiny” and “Something More.”
The overt fairy tale nature of The Last Wish is gone. Sword of Destiny still contains ties to fairy tales and legends, such as the role of mermaids in the heartbreaking story “A Little Sacrifice,” but also shows more of the dark fantasy elements found in the later novels.
While only a couple of its stories directly contribute to the saga’s plot, the others are enjoyable on their own and provide additional character development for important figures like Yennefer and Dandelion.
All the elements work together well. In particular, one discussion in “A Shard of Ice” about the elven legend of the Winter Queen references a myth, contributes to characterization, sets up the short story’s theme, and foreshadows something which in retrospect is quite important to the series:
“It’s not a legend at all, Yen. It’s a pretty description of the hideous phenomenon that is the Wild Hunt, the curse of several regions. An inexplicable, collective madness, compelling people to join a spectral cavalcade rushing across the sky. I’ve seen it. Indeed, it often occurs during the winter. I was offered rather good money to put an end to that blight, but I didn’t take it. There’s no way of dealing with the Wild Hunt…” (91)
Like the rest of the series, despite portraying a bleak world, Sword of Destiny also contains some humor, through both quirkiness [at one point Dandelion mentions four princes, “exasperating brats called Putzi, Gritzi, Mitzi and Juan Pablo Vassermiller” (242)] and irony, such as Geralt denying the existence of destiny while destiny all but hunts him down.
Finally, Sword of Destiny has some emotional moments, with the conclusion of “Something More” being particularly heartwarming.
If you’ve read The Last Wish, this is the book you should read next. If you jumped straight to Blood of Elves, this should clear up any confusion. In any case, I highly recommend Sword of Destiny for any fan of The Witcher or dark fantasy.
It’s great to see this book finally available, and the last two are finally receiving official translations, as well. The Tower of Swallows will be available this May, and Lady of the Lake will follow in 2017.
And guess what? I’ve finally begun playing The Witcher!---
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