My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As with the previous Witcher book (see my review to The Last Wish) this is a collection of short stories each following a particular quest or recollection from Geralt’s past.
We find out a lot more about Geralt’s relationship with Yennefer, and the origin of Ciri.
For the same reasons why I love the Witcher game(s), the books evoke emotional responses to the most unlikely of characters. Geralt is not your stereotypical “hack and slash” monster hunter, he thinks carefully about the situation and creates a full strategy to solve the problem. And actions have consequences, some a long long way into the future. No doubt into the next books in the series, and the narratives have been reproduced very cleverly and intricately in the games.
Not all monsters are evil, and not all humans are kind or trustworthy. Truth emulates fiction, and vice versa. This is the strength of Fantasy (and Science Fiction) – you can tell stories of political significance, but one step removed from “reality”. It unpicks complex economic and social situations into a meaningful narrative, which then gives you insight into how the real world works. Kings and Queens, and Generals (historically) gain land and people through wars and espionage. Religions conflict with one another. The general population have basic human needs just to go about their lives within this landscape. And even in reality there are monsters – they don’t have to be dragons, or elves, or witches – all fictional monsters represent sides of the human condition.
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