They say that progress illuminates the darkness. But there will always be darkness. And in that darkness there will always be Evil, in that darkness there will always be fangs and claws, murder and blood. There will always be things that go bump in the night. And we, witchers, are the ones who bump back at them.
Before he was the guardian of Ciri, the child of destiny, Geralt of Rivia was a legendary swordsman. Join the Witcher as he undertakes a deadly mission in this stand-alone adventure set in the world that inspired the blockbuster video games.
This stand-alone novel has a fair bit of positive elements to combat the negatives. Jumping back into the world of The Witcher is always a pleasure. The world is rich with environments and characters that allows full immersion for the reader. Geralt is back at the forefront of focus with more character development. Considering this is a ‘prequel’ to the saga proper, it’s good to see this enhance Geralt’s presence in the full story.
The novel itself does take a bit of time to pick up but comes into its pace. It reads like an extended short story. This is not a detriment. It is simply an observation based on the two collections of short stories available. The intrigue is thick, the action is present (not overbearing), the characters are interesting, and the combination of all works well.
One of the main issues with this stand-alone is that it is a prequel. We know there is more to come. Any peril that befalls Geralt, while very interesting, becomes moot considering the saga proper has not even yet begun. The reader, unless this is the first book they read, will know that Geralt will be okay. This should be one thing that every reader should just accept before going into the read. This may make the read dull for some readers who cannot accept this, but others will have no issue.
Overall, the novel is a fine addition to the full story. The people, events, and environment make the read well worth the effort. There is some fanfare for the long-time fans as some characters come back for brief periods to add to what the reader should already know. For new readers, they get a chance to acquaint themswlves with how the world of The Witcher works. It’s not an essential read, but it is an excellent read.
PS: There is one character that really made me laugh!
‘Women,’ the king drew his skinny frame up on the throne, ‘are entitled to expect from a man only two gifts: in the summer, pregnancy, and in the winter a measure of his seed. The first and second gifts are to anchor the woman in the house. The house is in fact the appropriate place for a woman, assigned by nature. A woman with a swollen belly and children clinging to her skirts, mind does not wander and get filled with silly ideas, and it ensure a man’s peace of mind. A man with a calm mind can work hard because wealth and prosperity are his ruler. Working tirelessly, bringing a sweat to his brow, but calm knowing that there are no silly ideas in his woman’s head. But if a woman can persuade someone to let her give birth when she wants and when she doesn’t want, to have matters her way, then dear, the social order begins to waver.’