Review: BAPTISM OF FIRE (The Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowksi

Book Reviews

Ah, feels good returning to my poorly-written guilty pleasures haha. I’ve had complicated feelings about The Witcher books so far. They’re not very good and I wouldn’t for a second recommend anyone actually read them, but I sort of enjoy them regardless. I dunno, they just have a kind of raggedy charm, like an old scabby dog that just wants to be your friend. Having read the two short story collections and the first two novels, how did number three fare?



Not as entertaining as the first two novels unfortunately, though still enjoyably shit. At the end of Time Of Contempt all hell broke loose and I was ready for things to kick up a gear in BAPTISM OF FIRE, with lots of intricate kingdom politics and armies on the move, scheming mages conniving behind closed doors, and Geralt maybe finally becoming…interesting? We get some of this in a very patchwork sort of way, but what I really got struck by was just how much the pace of this book slooowed everything the fuck down. Like too much. Geralt actually just spends most of his time being injured, slowly trying to make his way to Nilfgaard in pursuit of Ciri, though meeting quite the colourful cast of characters along the way which, admittedly, was very enjoyable.

First he meets Milva, a baller archer who stalks the forests of Brokilon. She’s not very interesting actually but we do get an absolute treat when Sapkowski uses her knowledge of archery to give us a much-too-long lesson on composite bow craftsmanship. It was totally self-indulgent and absurd but I lived and loved and laughed while reading it. Anyway, she joins the party for this book and decides to travel with Geralt. Obviously Dandelion turns up, everyone’s favourite misogynist (I’m still bitter about his antics in the short stories), as well as a medicine man harbouring a dark secret who becomes an unlikely ally. My favourite addition to the troupe though was the dwarf, Zoltan Chivay, and his band of mercenaries, who provide some good old rollickin’ humour.

Ciri, meanwhile, is absolutely nowhere near where Geralt thinks she is, having made a home for herself with the notorious group of brigands known as The Rats. I really like the direction Ciri’s story has forked off in, it’s far from the noble hero coming to the rescue of the helpless princess; for one thing Geralt is totally mistaken as to her whereabouts, so he’s actually not coming to rescue her at all, but also Ciri trained to be a witcher herself and, despite being a politically-important princess, is becoming quite a brutal criminal on the fringes of society. I really can’t tell where her story is going, but I’m intrigued to find out.

The part of this book I found disappointing though was the newly-formed Lodge of Sorceresses. Philippa Eilhart founds The Lodge after leading the coup against The Brotherhood of Sorcerors. The idea itself is amazing. A disparate group of female mages from conflicting sides of the nascent war coming together to set aside their political allegiances and elevate the cause of magic above the interests of petty kingdoms. It has so much potential for the various members to be distrustful of one another, for backstabbing, fear of backstabbing and all the conflict that could arise with it. All this conflict actually does play out but it’s made very difficult to buy into because Philippa Eilhart just straight up tells all the members her plans before they even know why the first meeting has been called and (crucially) before they’ve agreed not to go straight back to their respective kingdoms and spill the beans to the various kings. It made no sense! None, not a bit. Throughout all these scenes I was left scratching my head about whether I was missing some vital piece of the puzzle that allowed all this to make sense. I’ve read enough Sapowski now though to know I probably wasn’t haha.

You know what though, I still enjoyed this book despite its many flaws. There’s a big part of me that wishes I could read Polish cos I can’t shift the feeling that a lot of my criticisms of this series stem from translation issues. Not all, but certainly a sizeable chunk. Regardless, I’m gonna carry on reading these books to the bitter end; they’ve got a hold on me that I can’t quite shake. I enjoy them, even though they’re a bit shit, and I’m quite happy with that 😀


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Review: TIME OF CONTEMPT (The Witcher #2) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Book Reviews

Definitely my favourite of The Witcher books so far, TIME OF CONTEMPT contains enough of the stuff I love in fantasy for me to enjoy it, even if I still think this is one of the most over-rated series of all time. And hey, you know what, sometimes the books we read don’t have to masterworks; in my humble opinion Andrjej Sapkowski is a bit of a hack haha. And I don’t really mean that in a pejorative way either (for the most part), it’s just these books aren’t very original or well-written and yet for all that, they’re still enjoyable. I realise I’m probably not selling anyone on this series right now, but I actually enjoyed this book, and here’s why.



For starters, this is where things finally kick off! BLOOD OF ELVES was a decent book, but for the most part was a set-up novel, where Sapkowski moved all the pieces on the chess board into place. This was enjoyable in its own right and I had a blast with the unscrupulous kings and their spies lurking in the shadows, working to advance the interests of the various kingdoms and factions in shady and nefarious ways. But now tensions begin to boil to a head, and these nefarious characters and organisations have plans to put into action.

What really keeps me invested in these books is all the delicious scheming. The scheming that everyone knows is going on, but up until the second half of this book have been unable to acknowledge in the open. There’s a great protracted scene where Geralt attends a banquet/piss-up at the mage college of Aretuza and gets caught up in a diplomatic merry-go-round, where the attendees are trying to variously recruit him, squeeze him for information or just insult him with a thin veneer of respectable politeness. I also just found this scene hilarious, because all the female mages are smoking hot and literally all of them want to bang Geralt; Sapkowski was definitely hunched over a very uncomfortable boner while writing this painfully obvious wish fulfilment scene haha.

That said, I feel like his writing of women has improved overall at this point in the series. The short story collections were atrocious in this respect, but I think Time of Contempt does well to give us female characters with power and agency, without reducing them to simply and only objects of desire (which a lot of them definitely are, but that’s fine so long as that’s not all they are). I have complicated feelings about the representation of women in this series and I’d really love to read something about it by someone more intelligent and articulate than I am.

Some of the other stuff I liked about this book in particular is probably quite niche, but I loved the scene with Yennefer and her dwarven banker. Give me more finance in fantasy. Merchants and trade, banking and lines of credit, shipping lanes and tariffs. I thrive on that shit, absolutely lap it up, can’t get enough of it. My favourite parts of games like Civ and Europa Universalis are the trade mechanics and one my favourite parts of Skyrim was the existence of the East Empire Company. What I like about The Witcher books is that trade is inextricably linked with empire and imperialism. Trade is political. The merchants have class interests that don’t line up with the nobility and there are complicated webs of alliances that form within the various nations that are lining up for war. This is the kind of stuff that gets my heart rate spiking.

I’m still enjoying the development of Geralt and Yennefer’s weird ass relationship, though I have generally been disappointed with Geralt as a character overall. There’s just not that much to him ya know? Other than being the strong, emotionally unavailable and damaged monster killer, he just comes across a bit meh. This book took some small steps to rectify that, I just feel at this point in the series I should have some strong feelings about our titular hero, and I just don’t. Yennefer, on the other hand, is a baller and Ciri got a bunch more interesting in this book, especially towards the end where some crazy stuff happens that makes me think I’m gonna enjoy her arc going forward.

I feel like my intro was much more of a downer on this book than I ended up writing about, but I did say I actually enjoyed it, so there you go. Definitely not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but an enjoyable fantasy romp with some cool action, monster fighting and a plot that throws the chessboard to the ground when it comes to the proverbial shit hitting the fan. Looking forward to the next one.


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Review: BLOOD OF ELVES (The Witcher #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Book Reviews

Peace with Nilfgaard is not what it was meant to be. Despite the victory of the Northern Kingdoms at the Battle of Sodden, Nilfgaardian financial power is destabilising their economies, Nilfgaardian diplomats and envoys spread propaganda among the merchants and nobles of the north and, after decades of oppression, elven and dwarven partisan terrorist cells have taken up arms against the humans of the Northern Kingdoms, supported and funded by Nilfgaard. Into this unstable world a young woman of royal blood is coming of age and showing signs of incredible magical ability. She has the power to change the course of the world, for good or for ill…

BLOOD OF ELVES is the first full length novel in The Witcher series and picks up the tale of Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri where Sword of Destiny left off, with Geralt having taken Ciri to the Witcher’s Keep of Kaer Morhen to begin her training as a witcher.

I enjoyed this book a fair bit. And to those of you who’ve read my reviews of the short story collections (The Last Wish and then Sword of Destiny) that might come as a shock. I honestly couldn’t believe I was reading the same author at times. Where the prose of the previous stories was often clunky and the dialogue awkward, Blood of Elves was much easier to read. Whether this was down to Sapkowski improving as a writer, a different translator being involved or a combination of the two I don’t know, but this story flowed much better and was a much more enjoyable experience.

The characterisation in this book is also much stronger and there’s lots of emphasis on the developing relationship between Ciri and the women who mentor her. I particularly enjoyed watching the bond that begins to develop between her and Yennefer, who in many ways takes on the role as a mother figure to Ciri, after Ciri’s own mother (allegedly) died in a shipwreck and her guardian grandmother committed suicide during the Nilfgaardian invasion of her home country of Cintra. For those who have read the short story ‘The Bounds of Reason’ this is a particularly meaningful relationship for Yennefer, despite her often outwardly cold and aloof demeanour. It’s quite touching in many ways.

The portrayal of women is significantly better in the novel as compared to the short stories as well, in so far as there is much less titillating sexualisation. I’m still critical of the subtext that women are inherently more emotional and suited to looking after children than the men at Kaer Morhen, though at the same time there’s some good exploration of how the needs of women are not met or even considered by the male witchers who structure Ciri’s training around their own needs and capabilities.

My favourite part in Blood of Elves is the heightening of political tensions and the scheming and maneuvering of the rulers of the Northern Kingdoms in the face of a resurgent Nilfgaard. Anyone who gets a kick out of kingdom politics, the plots and plans of rulers, nobles and merchants will love this part of the book. I studied International Relations and the history of conflict at university and just find stuff like this fascinating – it also has the advantage of being much less morbid in fiction than in real life, so there’s also that. Sapkowski does a good job of showing the slow build-up to a war that everyone knows is coming, looming like an unstoppable dark shadow on the horizon. I enjoyed this aspect a lot; often in fantasy war simply breaks out, with little exploration of the forces behind it or the economic warfare, soft power projection and military skirmishes that precede it. For anyone familiar with international relations theory I’m a committed structuralist and absolutely love seeing this stuff explored in the fiction I read.

I did have a few issues with the structure of the book and the story itself. For one thing, the chapters are just too damn long. And there’s no need for them to be. I found there were often times when a story beat came to an end, where the narrative moved off in an entirely new direction and there were very clear places for chapter breaks, but instead the chapters rolled on for many more pages. This is purely a psychological thing but it can really kill the pacing of a story when you find yourself looking ahead to see if the chapter ends soon or if you should just try and find a reasonable place to stop.

The narrative itself felt like it jumped around a bit too much at times as well. There was a particularly jarring moment around the middle of the book where, after spending a bunch of time with Geralt and Ciri at Kaer Morhen, the story suddenly jumps to some indeterminate point in the future where Ciri is off with Yennefer in Ellander and Geralt is now on his own, working a witcher job. This was the most jarring example but I felt there were a few instances where Sapkowski could have done a better job of transitioning between scenes.

Overall this was an enjoyable book and I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed each new book in the series better than the last, which bodes well for continuing with it. While it’s not necessary to read the short stories to understand the events of the novel, they do add to your understanding of the people involved and the events that begin to unfold, as well as adding a layer of knowledge about past events that characters sometimes refer back to. I personally didn’t enjoy them as much as I liked this novel, but they’re definitely worth reading first if you’re the kind of person who likes to have as full a picture as possible of all the moving parts of a story.

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Review: SWORD OF DESTINY by Andrzej Sapkowski

Book Reviews

⭐ ⭐
DIDN’T CARE FOR IT

SWORD OF DESTINY is the second collection of short stories in the dark world of The Witcher, Geralt of Rivia. Geralt is a monster hunter, a mutant who slays beasts and demons for coin. This collection follows Geralt as he hunts a dragon, gets hung by his guts from the rafters (metaphorically speaking) by his developing relationship with Yennefer and is humorously outdone by a changeling. There were bits and pieces in it that I enjoyed, but overall I definitely found this book lacking in Va Va Voom, as Thierry Henry might say.

Sword of Destiny is a weird book because, even though it’s the second in the series chronologically, it was actually the first to be published and honestly, the fact I enjoyed THE LAST WISH a bit more is the only reason I’m persevering with these books. But let’s not be a stick in the mud – I’ll start with the stuff I liked. And there was actually a fair bit that I liked.

Geralt and Yennefer’s relationship. Hoo Boy. That right there is some juicy drama and we see it play out in the second story, A Shard of Ice. These are two broken people – people who love each other but are too emotionally damaged to admit it or function together. Watching them trying and failing to overcome their own deeply-felt insecurities and self-loathing in order to open themselves up and commit to each other is both fascinating and upsetting in equal measure.

Dainty Biberveldt. Loved this guy. In the third story, Eternal Flame, Geralt and his pal Dandelion find themselves caught up in a classic sitcom case of mistaken identity when a halfling merchant called Dainty Biberveldt discovers he’s being impersonated by a changeling, who turns out to be an infinitely better merchant than Dainty himself ever was. This is a lighthearted little tale that serves as a bit of light relief following the emotional massacre at the end of A Shard of Ice and was actually my favourite story in the book. Don’t ask me why, but I’m a sucker for detailed discussions of trade goods and mercantile nonsense in fantasy and this story delivered that with some nice humour and the introduction of a great new character in Dainty Biberveldt.

I found the remaining stories somewhat forgettable, with the exception of the final instalment, called Something More. This is where we really see Geralt’s world turn upside down. From what I know of the full length Witcher novels, they centre around Geralt and a young princess called Ciri, as he attempts to ensure she is trained as a witcher herself. Previous short stories in the collection lay the groundwork for their meeting and this is where it all pays off and it was the first time I really had the sense of the world coming to life, with forces on the move that will start to make things interesting. This final story made me hopeful for the novels.

CW: sexual assault

Now I’ll tell you what I really didn’t like, and that’s Sapkowski’s writing of women. Frankly, he’s terrible at it. In the first (very forgettable) story, we’re introduced to two deadly female warriors who, as far as I could see, served no purpose other than to titillate. They’re frequently described wearing skimpy armour and it’s heavily implied they serve not only as bodyguards, but also as lovers to the important man Geralt spends his time actually talking to. Later on in the story, we’re subjected to a pointless scene where Yennefer is sexually assaulted and Dandelion is aroused by the whole thing. I’m not against depictions of sexual assault in fiction by any means, so long as it serves a purpose and is treat with care. Arguably this served the purpose of developing character for Dandelion (using sexual assault as a means of doing so is questionable, but hey ho) given that we see how he reacts to it. This would have been more justifiable if it was to show how much of a piece of shit Dandelion is, but my reading of the situation was just that we’re meant to find his red-blooded male response to seeing a bit of tit quite funny actually. This is one of the many reasons why, despite his reputation as a ‘cheeky chappy’, comic relief type character, I just find Dandelion intensely unlikable.

In another largely forgetable story, A Little Sacrifice, the first paragraph describes a mermaid emerging from the water and, I shit you not, contains this sentence:

“Geralt saw that she had gorgeous, utterly perfect breasts.”

And if that wasn’t enough to convey to you just how great her breasts were, we’re reminded again a little later on, with this gem:

“She still had beautiful breasts.”

Just…what?

Why?

Tear my fucking eyeballs out now.

There’s more stuff like this, but you get the picture. Sapkowski is the archetype male writer of the kind of utter garbage that gets posted on r/menwritingwomen. His many sins in that area, coupled with some plain bad writing that I talked about in my review of The Last Wish (you can read it here) made this a two star book for me. I only hope I’m not proven a fool by giving the novels the benefit of the doubt and continuing with these books.

Don’t make me look a fool Sapkowski!

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October Wrap Up and November TBR

Updates

Happy weekend booklings! Spooky Season is over already but I got to read some great books in October. I devoured every book in Tade Thompson’s ground-breaking WORMWOOD TRILOGY; I made progress in The Witcherverse with the second short story collection, SWORD OF DESTINY; finally read FAHRENHEIT 451 and delved into some classic horror with Stephen King’s PET SEMATARY.

Lots of folks are getting hyped about Sci-Fi month for November but I kinda did things backwards and read a lot of science fiction in the months leading up to it; this month I’ll actually be reading fantasy exclusively – and all of them old books at that (I feel like I’m developing a reputation here haha).

My November TBR is largely composed of books I want to read ahead of some awesome-looking TV adaptations. That means I’ll be starting on a re-read of the HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy and embarking on the first Witcher novel, BLOOD OF ELVES. I mean, just look at the trailers for these series and tell me they don’t give you chills.

His Dark Materials

I used to think it was The Hobbit that was my gateway to fantasy, but actually I read Philip Pullman’s NORTHERN LIGHTS a few years before that. When I realised that fantasy wasn’t limited to elves, goblins and dragons it dawned on me that Northern Lights was actually my first love and I’m so excited to read this series again. The Witcher books have been fine so far and the short story format has hinted at some interesting tidbits that I hope we get to sink our teeth into in the novel-length books. Finally I’ll be reading DRAGONS OF AUTUMN TWILIGHT as part of a readalong hosted by Jason from Off The TBR. I read this book as a young teenager but can’t remember much about it so looking forward to the re-read. Get in touch with Jason if you want to take part.

Check out my October Reviews
FLEET OF KNIVES by Gareth L. Powell
AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman
ROSEWATER by Tade Thompson
THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION by Tade Thompson
LORD FOUL’S BANE by Stephen R. Donaldson
THE ROSEWATER REDEMPTION by Tade Thompson
PET SEMATARY by Stephen King

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Hey! Watcha Readin’: 16/10/19

Updates

Hey everyone and thanks for stopping by for another weekly catch up 🙂 I’ll be using WWW Wednesday hosted by Taking on a World of Words. And hey, get involved! Answer the three questions below and let me know what you’re reading this week.

What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What will you read next?

Recently Finished: PET SEMATARY by Stephen King and SWORD OF DESTINY by Andrzej Sapkowski
PET SEMATARY was my October horror read and my second Stephen King book. I’m still a newb to horror literature though so it was interesting to see how differently it’s written compared to other speculative fiction. A lot of the dramatic tension in sci-fi and fantasy comes from not knowing how things are going to turn out but here King practically signposts the ending of the story the whole way through and the tension builds from the experience of being drawn into that inevitable conclusion. I enjoyed PET SEMATARY, even if it didn’t particularly blow my mind. SWORD OF DESTINY, on the other hand, was a difficult read. I slogged through it but my god, Sapkowski has women issues. The man is obsessed with tits. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have seen me posting some of the more cringey excerpts from this book. I am going to continue with this series, simply because although this was the second instalment chronologically it was the first to be released and I thought the second book he wrote was a bit better. I’m giving Sapkowski the benefit of the doubt here and hoping the next one is a decent read.

Currently Reading: FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
This is one of those ‘classic’ books that’s been on my TBR for years and I picked it up in a Kindle sale a few months ago. From what I know about FAHRENHEIT 451 it’s a classic dystopia in the vein of Brave New World and 1984 that tells the story of a future society where books have been made illegal and firemen are employed to burn literature and the houses of those who dare to still read them. Unfortunately for me I started a new job this week and haven’t got much reading done yet. I literally read about ten pages last night before I got too sleepy to continue so not much to report yet.

Next Read: THE ROSEWATER REDEMPTION by Tade Thompson
I’ve been excited for this release ever since reading the first two books in the Wormwood series! This is some seriously good effing sci-fi everybody. Aliens. Pseudo-zombies. Biopunk noir spy thrills. It’s got everything and Tade weaves it all together masterfully. Just go read my reviews of ROSEWATER and THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION and see for yourself how much it’s possible for one man to gush about a book.

That’s what I’ve got planned this week.
What are you folks reading?

Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned?
Get involved with WWW Wednesday either on your own blog or in the comments!

Hey! Watcha Readin’: 09/10/19

Updates

Another week, another batch of books to talk about! Thanks for stopping by for this week’s Hey! Watcha Readin’ and as ever I’ll be using WWW Wednesday hosted by Taking on a World of Words. If you want to take part answer the questions below and get chatting about the books we’re all reading.

What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished: THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION by Tade Thompson
I hadn’t realised quite how much time had passed since this was released and was horrified (but excited) to see that the final instalment of the Wormwood series was set for release on October 15th and I hadn’t got round to THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION yet! These books are a ground-breakingly imaginative take on the alien invasion genre with so much going on, from scientifically plausible telepathy, biopunk noir spy thrills and reanimated pseudo-zombies it’s hard not to go off about everything I love about them right now. Keep an eye out for full reviews of both ROSEWATER and THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION during Wormwood Weekend, this Saturday and Sunday!

Currently Reading: PET SEMATARY by Stephen King
This was my girlfriend’s book club book this month and I’ve used that as an opportunity to dip my toes further into the horror genre at this, the spookiest time of year. If you’ve read any of my previous updates you’ll know I was raised on a steady diet of inappropriately terrifying horror films from a young age, but that never really crossed over into reading horror books and I’ve been making some effort to put that to rights lately. I recently read the first issue of the graphic novel LOCKE AND KEY, which was fantastic and had me clamouring for more horror literature. I’m enjoying PET SEMATARY, zooming through it at an alarming rate. I read CARRIE earlier this year and thought it was an interesting story, if not very well executed, but with PET SEMATARY you can tell King had improved as a writer, even if I’d still liken it to literary candy floss. I can definitely see why he’s such a commercially successful writer.

Fun fact: Joe Hill is actually Stephen King’s son

Next Read: SWORD OF DESTINY by Andrzej Sapkowski
This is a late bonus addition to my reading plan this month because I have the ambitious goal of reading all The Witcher books before the upcoming Netflix series is released in December. Including SWORD OF DESTINY, I have five more to read before then, so good luck to me. This book is a second run of short stories about the adventures of the monster hunter Geralt of Rivia and follows on from the first collection called THE LAST WISH (read the review here), which I had a few issues with, but definitely enjoyed enough to keep me reading.

That’s all for now. I’m still looking for great horror reads so hit me up with your best Halloween horror recommendations!

That’s what I’ve got planned this week.
What are you folks reading?

Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned?
Get involved with WWW Wednesday either on your own blog or in the comments!

Review: THE LAST WISH by Andrzej Sapkowski

Book Reviews

⭐ ⭐ ⭐
LIKED IT

The Last Wish is a series of short stories that introduce us to the dark, brutish world of Geralt of Rivia. Geralt is a witcher, a mutant trained to hunt the multitude of monsters and fiends that plague the land. He’s currently recovering from a near fatal wound at a temple of the goddess Melitele and Sapkowski uses this as a framing device to allow Geralt to look back on the battles and adventures that brought him there.

There’s a definite Brothers Grimm vibe to the stories and a lot of the monsters are inspired by dark fairytales and Eastern European folklore. There are stories about a sinister, violent Snow White, a dark take on Beauty and the Beast and a nod to Rumpelstiltskin. The world-building isn’t extensive; instead each story is largely self-contained and we’re given tantalising snippets and hints of things I hope will be expanded on in later books.

While some of the side characters are somewhat forgetable, a few others just burst out of the page and the sorceress Yennefer is my favourite. There’s definitely a lot of unchallenged sexism and misogyny in this book, which means it’s not going to be for everyone, but in that setting Yennefer is a women who succeeds in imposing her will on the world without being overpowered or overruled by men.

And Geralt himself exemplifies everything about my favourite kinds of grimdark character. He’s flawed and conflicted, he lives in a world with little cause for hope and yet still strives to do good (most of the time), even if it is a thankless and Sisyphean task. He ostensibly works for money, but I found his imperfect morality and loosely-defined code of ethics a fragile, flickering source of light in an otherwise grim setting.

And Geralt’s world is bleak. Sapkowski introduces us to a ruling class of scheming nobles who care nothing for the peasants they rule over; bitter, vindictive elves oppressed by despotic humans and an untamed wilderness where travellers are ruthlessly murdered by monsters and men alike.

This isn’t a world of black and white morals. There is no good versus evil, no human bastions of virtue and honour fighting a brave struggle against the forces of darkness. Geralt is a monster hunter, but often the real monsters are the people he encounters every day, the people who abuse what power they have to oppress others and excuse or cover up their behaviour by pointing to the beasts and monsters Geralt is hired to kill.

“People,” Geralt turned his head, “like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves. When they get blind-drunk, cheat, steal, beat their wives, starve an old woman, when they kill a trapped fox with an axe or riddle the last existing unicorn with arrows, they like to think that the Bane entering cottages at daybreak is more monstrous than they are. They feel better then. They find it easier to live.”

All that said, the book wasn’t perfect.

I found some of the fight scenes to be overly-descriptive without adding anything to the narrative and a lot of the lore was delivered in clunky dialogue that I didn’t find particularly believable. I got the impression that a fair amount of that can be excused as poor translation rather than bad writing, but I thought there were elements of The Last Wish that just weren’t written very well.

Despite some flaws, I’m still looking forward to reading the next collection of short stories before moving on to the full length novels, where I’m excited to see how the lore is expanded. Geralt and Yennefer are fascinating characters and I can’t wait to see how their tentative relationship develops.

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Hey! Watcha Readin’: 25/09/19

Updates

So I just read Caitlin’s Weekly Reading Check-In over at Realms of My Mind and I love the idea of a weekly reading update as a way to boost some beloved book talk!

There’s this great thing called WWW Wednesday hosted by Taking on a World of Words that I urge you to check out.

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading: THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy
I picked this up cos I was having a bad day and was actually looking through my TBR for something lighthearted and uplifting (haha I know right?). Anyway, looking through that list made me realise I barely read any lighthearted and uplifting fiction. My book world is full of cynical, jaded characters sometimes trying to do good things in bleak, grim as fuck settings. So I thought “Whatever, I may as well lean into it and hey, my day could be worse – I could be one of these guys!” I’m not very far into The Road, but can confirm this is about as bleak as it gets. Good book so far, more thoughts to follow no doubt.

Recently Finished: THE LAST WISH by Andrzej Sapkowski
This is the first instalment in The Witcher series. I’m hoping to read as many of the books before the Netflix series hits our screens (which I am BEYOND excited about by the way). If you’re not familiar with The Witcher franchise, the stories follow the exploits of a monster hunter called Geralt of Rivia as he travels the lands seeking out the beasts and fiends that plague the realm. The Last Wish is a series of short stories that introduce us to the key people and places of Geralt’s world, offering tantalising bits of worldbuilding that have me hooked even if this isn’t one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’ll have a full review up later this week, but I’m excited to read the next instalment.

Next Read: ROSEWATER by Tade Thompson
This will be a re-read for me in the wake of the final book in Tade’s Wormwood trilogy set for release in October. If you haven’t read Rosewater yet then OMG what on earth are you doing reading my inane ramblings? Just go buy it now and come back to thank me later. One of my favourite reads of 2018, Rosewater is on the cutting edge of science fiction and tells the story of Kaaro, a Nigerian government agent with a criminal past living in a town grown up around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome. It’s honestly sublime and I’m even more excited to read it a second time.

What are you folks reading?
Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned?
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