Review: Blood of Elves [The Witcher #1] 3/5 (1)

March 1, 2019
Title: Blood of Elves
Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure
Publication date: 1994

Summary:

For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf.

Geralt of Rivia, the cunning assassin known as The Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world – for good, or for evil.

As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt’s responsibility to protect them all – and the Witcher never accepts defeat.

The Witcher returns in this sequel to The Last Wish, as the inhabitants of his world become embroiled in a state of total war.

    After reading the first two books I was left with mixed feelings for this series. I really wanted to like it because many of my friends read it and liked it, and because I’ve seen some of the cinematic of the game and they looked awesome. So I said to myself, Blood of Elves (first book of the main storyline) will be better. It would grab me and keep me up late at night and make up for the boring moments in the previous two. Unfortunately, we don’t always get what we want.

   Unlike The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, Blood of Elves was not a sum of short stories. It was a whole, connected, finished novel. Thank god for small favors! The story follows first Geralt (after he saved Ciri) as he takes the girl to Kaer Morhen, the Witchers’ secret keep, to train her and keep her safe. The first half of the book is basically switching between his pov and Ciri’s (and Triss Merigold’s, an enchantress who is helping him) as they teach her this and that. The philosophical aspect of Sapkowski‘s brain was in full swing here, I had to skim over paragraph after paragraph to get to the point. Some readers may like it but I am not one of them. It was too pompous and overly-dramatic for me.

    After the first half the action picks up with a few fights, magic and Yennefer. I know some don’t like her but at least she is no-bullshit-say-it-as-it-is person which can’t be said for most of Andrzej Sapkowski‘s characters. She may be a bitch and she may have broken Geralt’s heart, but she is fiercely loyal and incredibly powerful.

    I have to admit, I do like the novel format better. There was some build-up, there was a clear storyline and a lot of character development here. But the pacing was so off that there were moments where I literally wondered why am even I reading this; at the same time, there were other moments where I was anxiously holding my breath.

   One thing I’ll give to Sapkowski – he can write magical creatures and battle like it’s nobody’s business. If you are reading a scene including one of those – or both if you are that lucky – then you’re in for a threat. His descriptions are vivid and active and you feel like you are fighting alongside them (Spoiler alert: there are barely any magical creatures featured in this book). But after the scene ends he falls back into another where two people can spend a week talking empty words while trying to prove who is smarter and more cunning. And it really gets old after the third or fourth dialogue like that.

    There were some amazing moments too, I have to admit. The battles, learning about Ciri’s powers and watching as the world slowly strode in the direction of a new war. But the whole book felt like a preparation for the next book. I do get that this book was about Ciri and her training and the author probably would have gotten away with the static parts if there was some culmination at the end (Spoiler alert: there wasn’t). There was no conflict resolved, no goal achieved or new threat being introduced. It didn’t even have ‘and they lived happily ever after’. It just… ended. It just left me hanging wanting to know what has happened to Geralt (the last 20-30 pages or more had nothing to do with him), what will happen to Ciri and Yennefer and what will happen to the war. It is good when the reader is left with questions and wants to know more but it’s just not fair when the book does not resolve even half of the existing questions.

   I’m giving it a generous 3/5 rating just because somehow, despite the frustration and disappointment, I started to care about those characters and I want to know more about what happens to them. And I did love the fighting scenes.

   What about you? What rating would you give? What are your thoughts and takes on Blood of Elves?

   P.S. Have you noticed how Geralt has a whole harem of women who just long to sleep with him despite everything? I get that strong, confident men are attractive but c’mon! This is getting ridiculous by now…

What do you think?

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