Blood of Elves (The Witcher Book 1) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Book Review

Title: Blood of Elves (The Witcher Book 1) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal

Rating: 3 Stars

The first two books in The Witcher series are anthologies of prequel short stories that introduce us to the characters, their backstories and their relationships to each other especially Geralt and Ciri since the main series focuses around them and Yennefer I believe but apart from that I didn’t know much about it going into it. The opening to Blood of Elves was interesting as it takes place about a year after Sword of Destiny. While Geralt rescued Ciri from the Battle of Cintra many people believe that Ciri is dead and that Geralt has vanished but Dandelion’s ballad about the battle stirs up some questions and lands him in some serious trouble. Dandelion even when he is being tortured for information won’t betray his friend even when the thing he loves most is at stake. Fortunately he is rescued by Yennefer and I have a feeling that the pair will be meeting up with Geralt and Ciri at some point in the future. The relationship between Geralt and Ciri so far is parental as he comforts her when she has nightmares and I can’t wait to see more of that as the novel progresses.

As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, we know that Yennefer knows where Geralt is but she can’t warn him of the dangers he and Ciri faces because she hasn’t been invited to the place they are. This place turns out to be Kaer Morhen or The Witchers’ Keep and there are several other witchers there right now including Eskel, Lambert, Coen and Vesemir and I can’t wait to see more of them and their relationships with each other. We are also introduced to Triss Merigold who supposedly died at the battle of Sodden but is still alive. She encounters Ciri while she is training and is furious at the way the witchers are treating Ciri as they are ignorant of a woman’s needs and Triss immediately steps into that role of guiding Ciri through these things. We can also see Triss has a thing for Geralt despite knowing and supporting his relationship with Yennefer through those years so she throws herself into a friendship and sisterhood with Ciri. She and the witchers have both noticed that Ciri is magically as such but she a Source meaning she conducts magic almost and this frightens them all which is why the invited Triss to the keep in the first place and she wonders why the asked her instead of Yennefer and it might be Triss doesn’t know of the struggles Geralt was facing in the relationship with Yennefer. So far, this seems slow paced than the first books and that might be the case for the whole novel as it needs to set up the events of the main series in a prose format rather than short stories.

As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, Triss begins her role in taking care of Ciri as a young woman while the witchers train her to defend herself should the situation arise but they have no intention in turning her into what they are. Triss also knows that Ciri is a source and attempts to delve into Ciri’s mind when she falls into a trance to find out who or what she is communicating with and how strong it is. Inside Ciri’s mind Triss learns that the being Ciri is communicating with is far too strong for her to deal with alone and Geralt needs to contact Yennefer but his pride won’t let him do it. They finally agrees that in the spring they will take Ciri to the temple where her connection to the being might be cut off and then Geralt will talk to Yennefer and get her perspective on the situation but he isn’t looking forward to it as they haven’t spoken in years at this point. Triss also has complicated feelings towards Geralt and these are further enhanced when Ciri is around as Triss wants to protect her from the horrors of the world and wants the witchers to help her but they have accept the horror of the world and intend to do nothing about it. This conversation sends Triss into a rage which upsets Geralt and he ends up taking it out on Ciri when she mentions revenge for what the Black Knight did to her and her family but they eventually calm the situation down and Triss realises that Geralt truly loves Ciri despite his protesting and claiming his lack of emotions when she knows that isn’t the case. I am looking forward to Yennefer reappearing the story potentially with Dandelion but I don’t like the relationship between Geralt and Yennefer as it is really toxic but I am going to wait and see.

As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, things don’t seem to be moving along much as Geralt, Ciri and Triss are travelling together in order to take Ciri to the temple but the world around them is moving towards war and Ciri doesn’t understand her place in it. However, when Triss suddenly becomes very ill, Geralt and Ciri are lost and don’t know how to help her when they come across a caravan being led by Yarpen who we have seen before in the short story collections and I liked him. Ciri and Yarpen take a liking to each other since he speaks to her frankly and doesn’t hide the truth of things from her like others have tried to do and he sees a lot of potential in her despite her age and being a woman. The trio travel with the caravan while Triss is recovering from the mysterious illness but pretty soon they hear news of elves being spotted along the route and become more cautious. Ciri is sent to scout ahead and sees a group of elves which Geralt also spots and he teaches her more about the elves and what they stood for before the last big battle with humans almost 200 years before and what this cost the elves. It turns out that only the young elves are fertile and most were killed in the last battle with humans which is why the elves retreated to the mountains, in order to preserve their race. Ciri then realises is it comes to all out war again the elves could be wiped out permentantly and that would be a shame since they have much to offer the world but they soon end up in a fight with a group of elves and obviously the group with Geralt is victorious but they feel horrible about having to kill the elves. I think Yarpen’s mentality is right here because for the last 200 years most races have learnt to live alongside each other and he believe this needs to continue for the races to survive.

As we cross into the second half of the novel, Ciri is safely delivered to the temple and Nenneke and Geralt begins making plans to divert the attentions of the people looking for Ciri. He ends up taking Triss’ advice and contact Yennefer who ends up travelling to a pre-arranged meeting point. While Yennefer is travelling Geralt has been in touch with Dandelion who is acting as a spy and gathering information for Geralt but he isn’t the only spy. Dandelion often butts heads with another spy who is trying to track down the girl that Geralt has among others but they are working together in order to keep Ciri hidden from these people. Eventually, Geralt comes up with a plan to get employment on the riverboats and draw his enemies to him and distract them from Ciri’s whereabouts which works but it also angers a lot of people giving them more enemies but the sorceress working with their enemies encourages Geralt to keep Ciri safe and not to let her fall into the hands of these unsavoury characters. During this whole encounter we see that Geralt still doesn’t really understand why these people want Ciri as much as they do but the magicians of the series including Triss and Yennefer do. Right now Ciri is protected where she is and not many people know where she has been hidden but I have a feeling it isn’t going to stay this way for long as war looms on the horizon. I am not sure where the action of the series is going to come in this book or whether its going to be one big game of cat and mouse but I am willing to at least finish it and see what it sets up for the rest of the series.

As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, we are bouncing all over the land between the different factions in the war and the people that are going to be affected by the war as well as our main cast. I wasn’t keen on this bouncing around but it does provides context on what is going on around our characters and why Ciri is being targeted the way she is and by extension Geralt is being targeted too. Everyone at the moment either wants Ciri dead or to get their hands on her because Cintra is a key location for the war but the people of Cintra will only truly follow someone of royal blood and the only remaining royal of Cintra is Ciri. Knowing this watching Geralt, Triss, Yennefer and Dandelion fight to keep Ciri safe and out of harms way even at a major risk to themselves was heart-warming and really creates an almost found family vibe which I really enjoy. I am not sure what Sapkowski is going to do with the ending of Blood of Elves but we can see many plot points coming into existence for the wider series. Unless the ending really takes my breath away then it is only going to be a three star read for me but I am still excited to see what the rest of the series has to offer as well as his new series Tower of Fools.

As we cross into the final section of the novel, we see Yennefer step into the story properly for the first time. She goes to the temple where Nenneke has been watching Ciri as assesses her potential to be a sorceress like herself and it turns out that Ciri has a lot of potential. Yennefer begins teaching her how to control the power and not to be afraid of it as she has been in the past. The final section of the novel really focuses on building a relationship between Ciri and Yennefer as Yennefer becomes almost a mother to Ciri in the way Geralt has stepped into the role of father. Watching Ciri and Yennefer work together mirrors the same way Geralt worked with her in teaching her a witcher’s skills and shows how similar Yennefer and Geralt really are and Ciri might be the missing link between them that might enable them to have a healthier, more stable relationship. While I didn’t like this book as much as the short story collections I am hoping that Time of Contempt is better and picks up on the action side of things more.

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