Back to fantasy , my original favorite genre! ❤
I really loved the Witcher games, spent something like 300+ hours with Witcher 3 only and just couldn’t get enough of it. And now Netflix has an awesome first season for the Witcher and it really met all my expectations! I’ve also been a fan of Henry Cavill since his role in the Tudors so it’s really nice to see him have the role of Geralt. He and Anya Chalotra were so, so great as Geralt and Yennefer that I almost couldn’t believe it. I highly recommend watching the series on Netflix and of course playing the Withcer games.
So anyway, whenever I get excited about fiction, I want to have it all. So of course the next thing to do was to read more of the Witcher books that the games and the tv series are based on. I had read the short story collection The Last Wish like nine years ago, after I had played the first Witcher game, but somehow I didn’t read the rest of the available books back then. So now I read the next one: The Blood of Elves.
Until you understand what a sword is, and what purpose it serves in a witcher’s hand, you will not pick one up. You are not learning in order to kill and be killed. You are not learning to kill out of fear and hatred, but in order to save lives. Your own and those of others.
I really enjoyed reading Blood of Elves and look forward to reading more of these books.
Some spoilers ahead.
If you watched the Netflix tv series The Witcher, you know it ends with Geralt finding Ciri finally. Blood of Elves continues to show us what happened next. This happens through many characters: Geralt, Ciri, Triss, Yennefer, Dandelion (Jaskier) and many others that are familiar from either the tv series or the games and of course the previous short stories. Blood of Elves is pretty much a tale (or actually the start of a tale) of Ciri growing up from that scared refugee princess to a witcher trained girl and a sorceress in training. She and the others are slowly learning what makes her so special. We also get a glimpse of the complicated world politics and the powers behind them.
However big and complicated the setting of the major storyline is, I was really happy at how character-driven the book was. We are still only getting to know the characters, their motives and connections to one another. And the world is wonderfully familiar, yet unfamiliar too. At a quick glance you have the familiar elements of a classic, sort of feudal fantasy: kingdoms, humans, elves, dwarves, wizards, good and evil. And then when you look closer you start to see a harshness to the world that makes it stand out. When I played the games, especially Witcher 3, it was a great theme that you mostly had bad or worse options and nothing was clearly good or bad. This theme is strong in Geralt too. He is a witcher, a mutant, a killer of monsters for coin. But he is also someone who protects, cares and tries to stay neutral in the world. And through him we see that the monsters aren’t always the most obvious ones. Also, the ladies seem to love him so there is some tenderness in him too. 😀
Blood of Elves has many interesting moments. Like those where Ciri is confused by the world and how “grey” it is. For example, she asks why Geralt wants to stay neutral and who is right and who is wrong between the participants of wars. Not a simple question to answer, eh? The whole witcher training is interesting too. We get to learn more about witchers through Ciri’s eyes and she learns about not only fighting, but also facing fear through knowledge. Geralt tells her that once she knows how to defeat a monster, it becomes less of a threat. That’s true in so many things, right? The part I most enjoyed was actually right at the end of the book where Yennefer takes Ciri under her very firm tutoring and they form this sort of rebellious student/no bullshit teacher/girl-child-almost-woman/most-powerful-sorceress-almost-mother kind of a relationship. Sure there are awkward discussions about sex education and jealousy between women, but mostly it’s an interesting pair of two strong female characters who are slowly building a close relationship.
Speaking of awkward moments, I think Triss was behaving oddly when she was visiting the witchers. I rolled my eyes pretty hard when she was going off about the witcher men not knowing that a young girl on her periods cannot possibly do rough physical training. I would have imagined that an enchantress of her level could’ve discovered some medicine to help out with PMS? Triss was much more needy and vain than what I remembered so out of all the familiar characters, she felt the strangest in this book.
As someone who has played the games, and knows what choices I made for my Geralt (you play as him in the games), I think it’s inevitable that at some point with this book series there will be a moment where I would say “that’s not right, my Geralt would’ve never done that”, but that’s ok. As someone who used to read a ton of fanfiction, I can just think that my version of Geralt is the fanfiction one. 🙂 And actually so far, book-Geralt, game-Geralt and Netflix-Geralt have felt much like one consistent character so no complaints so far.
I’m really looking forward to the 2nd season of Witcher in Netflix, I want to read more books and perhaps even replay Witcher 3 (yikes, where am I going ti find the extra 300+ hours to do that?).
And before I ramble on and on with this post, I’ll end this as usual with filling of the prompts from the Reading Challenges I’m doing. Blood of Elves fills these prompts:
A book originally published in a language that you do not know (Helmet Reading Challenge)
The Witcher books were originally published in Polish.
A book with a bird on the cover (Popsugar Reading Challenge)
This edition of the book has a flock of birds on the cover. Crows perhaps?