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The Witcher Book Review: ‘Blood of Elves’ by Andrzej Sapkowski

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Once again we journey to the land of The Witcher in Blood of the Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski  (Translated into English by Danusia Stok). This time we are treated to a full story instead of the anthology style of the first two books. At the end of Sword of Destiny Geralt was reunited with Ciri, the Child of Surprise that had been promised to him in The Last Wish. A Child of Surprise is supposed to be born with a great destiny. And even though Geralt claims not to believe in destiny, he sees something more in Ciri and knows that he will stop at nothing to protect her.

[Warning: My review of Blood of Elves contains some spoilers!]

Princess Cirilla of Cintra: a child of great power

Geralt isn’t sure if he believes in destiny, but he does believe in blood. Ciri’s mother was a powerful conduit for magic, but she was never able to control it. And she was conceived while her father was under a powerful curse. Between these two bloodlines, it would be surprising if Ciri didn’t have some sort of power. 

But young Ciri doesn’t have control of her power. In fact, she doesn’t even seem to be aware of it. To protect her and keep her hidden from those who would try to exploit her, Geralt takes her to Kaer Morhen, the witcher training ground. It has been many years since Kaer Morhen has had a young trainee. And there has never been a female witcher, only boys have ever been trained. The few witchers who remain at Kaer Morhen don’t really know what to do with Ciri, so they treat her like any other trainee and begin to teach her to be a witcher.

Blood of Elves by Andrej Sapkowski

However, Geralt knows that if Ciri doesn’t get control of her magical powers she will become a danger to herself and those around her. No one at Kaer Morhen has any idea what to do. He is afraid to reach out to Yennefer so he turns to Triss Merigold, another sorceress he trusts. Triss comes to see Ciri and confirms that she is indeed very special, and very dangerous if not taught to control herself. Triss agrees to stay and help until they can move Ciri to a safe place with a more qualified teacher. 

No one looks for you when you’re dead

If only that was true! But while some people take reports of a death at face value, others want more proof. Certain groups think that Ciri is destined for great things and they want to control her and her power. Most people believe that she died when Nilfgaard attacked Cintra but her body was never found. So some people continue to search for her. Some are ruthless and cruel in their quest. Others are sneaky and manipulative. But they’re all dangerous. Geralt must work hard and trust wisely if he’s going to keep Ciri safe from the forces that wish to find her.

The Blood of Elves is a true novel unlike the previous two

The first two Witcher books were wonderful reads, but not your typical novels. Instead, they were anthologies that tracked the witcher as he moved around fighting monsters and getting involved in trouble. Even though Geralt very much wants to be left alone by those in power, he somehow always gets tangled up with them. In the end, some seemingly unimportant events end up tying him to Ciri, the Child of Surprise with a great destiny. He may long to be a simple witcher who kills monsters and is otherwise left alone but fate has other plans for him.

By the time we get to Blood of Elves, the anthology style is no longer adequate to tell Geralt and Ciri’s story. So Sapkowski changes tactics and writes a traditional novel. Instead of following the witcher and offering different snapshots of his life, we now are treated to an in-depth story of Geralt, Ciri, and how they are connected to the war that is brewing across the land.

Luckily the story still contains a lot of what made the first two books so exciting. There are fewer monsters but there’s still plenty of action. And the humor comes from Ciri’s sarcasm, instead of Dandelion’s wit, but it still made me laugh (and we do see Dandelion, he’s just not as involved as he was in previous books).

A different side of Yennefer

Even though Blood of Elves is a Witcher novel a large part of the book doesn’t involve Geralt at all. Instead, it focuses on Ciri and her training with Yennefer. In the first two books, Yennefer was always presented as a selfish and cruel sorceress who only thought of herself. But in Blood of Elves, we get to see Yennefer a little differently. She takes Ciri under her wing to train her. And even though she is a harsh taskmaster who expects perfection out of her young charge, she also clearly cares about her. 

My theory is that Ciri fulfills a need for Yennefer that the sorceress never expected she would want. We’ve already learned in the first two books that Yennefer regrets sacrificing her fertility to become a sorceress. She has spent a lot of time and money trying to find a way to reverse the damage to her body. But to no avail. Now here she has Ciri fall in her lap. Even better, Geralt has taken Ciri under his protection. With Yennefer training and caring for her, it’s almost as if Ciri is the child that Yennefer and Geralt can never have. This allows Yennefer to open her heart to Ciri and the way she feels is obvious to the reader, even if Ciri can’t quite see it yet.

Worth reading for a deeper understanding of Netflix’s The Witcher

If you’ve read the first two Witcher novels, then you’ll certainly want to continue on reading Blood of Elves. If you only have knowledge of Geralt and his world from The Witcher on Netflix then you may want to read Blood of Elves (and The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny).

Netflix butchered Blood of Elves when they made The Witcher because they felt it wasn’t enough action. But Blood of Elves does have a fair amount of action and the other stuff. The planning, the spying, and the emotional intrigue make for great reading even if they don’t make for great television. So if you enjoy Geralt’s adventures in any form check out Blood of Elves and continue to explore his world.

My Rating: 8/10

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski (Translated into English by Danusia Stok) is available now! Will you be reading this book? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

The Witcher Book Review: The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

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The Witcher Book Review: Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

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