Review of ~ Andrzej Sapkowski – Blood of Elves (The Witcher #3)

8.5/10

Blood of Elves is chronologically the 3rd entry within The Witcher saga. Whereas previously all the short stories followed Geralt of Rivia working on certain monster assassination assignments, within Blood of Elves he is one of 3 or 4 main characters that we share the minds of. For the novels, you can start here but I wouldn’t recommend it. I found that I completely loved the groundwork I’d put in with the previous narratives and then hearing about the past stories mentioned of which I’d already read such as recollecting thoughts regarding meeting the Golden Dragon and about the macabre events that happened at the downfall of Cintra. It was also an excellent feeling meeting familiar characters (often a bit too spontaneously) that we’d briefly crossed paths with within the previous books. I can’t state it enough that this book is so much deeper and more enjoyable if you’ve read what comes beforehand. The important side characters from the recent stories are more prominent here, most notably Ciri and Yennefer. I’m gutted we don’t see more of one of my favourite characters, the womanising troubadour Dandelion.

The tale starts at a safe haven underneath a giant tree where Dandelion and his apprentice tell the epic poem of Geralt. We know the stories if we’ve read the previous entries but the poetry and the action is accentuated for the audience and is more picturesque, beautiful, and heightened in this form. Dandelion is the finest bard in the land who causes the ladies to swoon, the lords to be jealous and the brothel owners to panic! The ensemble of all assembled then discuss what happened at the end of the depicted action. Was Geralt murdered? Did the Child of Destiny, the Princess Ciri escape? Did her and Geralt meet up as was prophecised? It’s a really intriguing beginning and sets the action up expertly. Geralt is an extremely famous Witcher whose name is world-renowned. Everyone claims to know him and his exploits but he’s not been witnessed in two years so how much is a mere fabrication to attract the attention of revelers in a bar on a weekend evening?

In this outing, Ciri, the child of Destiny is essentially the main character with Geralt being more of a shadowy father figure who aids her development as an upcoming Witcher although she also has magical capabilities she does not understand. He is the infamous Witcher, Yennefer is an enchantress and there is the “will they-won’t they” love interest, and although she’s not the biological child of the aforementioned she arguably seems like a perfect mix of the other two main characters.

This tale was much deeper than what had come beforehand and as I’ve previously mentioned I wish to read all of these before the Netflix series is released. The first 30% is mainly focused on Ciri’s training at the Witcher halls of Kaer Morten under the watchful gaze of the remaining handful of Witchers but also sorceresses Triss and Yennefer who are both former love interests of Geralt. Geralt does love Ciri as a father would and their relationship is complex, loving in a lack-of-emotion way from Geralt’s perspective. He’s a complex character as he’s been genetically mutated to be a heartless monster killer but he has extreme morals and will not take sides in any sort of debacle. One persons’ right is another ones’ wrong and he shouldn’t take sides and that’s not what he has been manipulated for.

Honestly, there isn’t too much action throughout this novel, but that’s fine. This is the foundation of what will no doubt be an exceptional next five books. The main drama is caused by a fire-scarred magical-wielding individual who has an unknown vendetta against Geralt and wants Ciri. Imagine if the Queen on a chessboard was infinitely more valuable and in the eyes of the soon to be warring nations this (even though they don’t know if she’s alive) 12-year-old young lady has a very important part to play. Child of Destiny isn’t a title that everyone is able to flaunt after all.

Blood of Elves is very conversation heavy. Sometimes, with players having similar and confusing names it does get a bit over-bearing. Often a conversation will have eight contributors but it doesn’t always make it obvious who is saying what so in these scenes I found my mind bouncing around thinking… “who said that?” – “who was that to?” etc? The vibe and the point of the scene are expressed well but it’s not always easy to keep a perfect picture of progression.

I loved the majority of the short stories and only a few remain weak and uninteresting in my mind. This seemed like a well constructed but quite safe progression to the novel side of things. It didn’t really have an exciting finale. The only event that could be considered as such was a confrontation at the eighty percent mark and then we were gifted a Ciri training session to conclude. This series isn’t perfect yet. However, I am really enjoying following this interesting and multi-layered cast. This could go on to be one of my favourite fantasy series. At this point, I believe I’ve only witnessed the tip of the iceberg and Ciri’s destiny and the Witcher’s influence is amazingly intriguing. I can’t wait to read the next one.

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