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The Witcher Book Review: ‘The Time of Contempt’ by Andrzej Sapkowski

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Geralt is a witcher. He’s been trained to fight monsters and protect people but now he’s been drawn into something bigger. He’s tied himself to Ciri, a child of prophecy. Ciri has great power and will someday have the power to change the world for better or worse. If she can survive that long. But war is breaking out, coups threaten the wizard’s power, Geralt nearly dies, and Ciri vanishes. The fate of the world teeters on the edge of a knife and it’s far from certain who will triumph. All this and more in Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Time of Contempt! (Translated into English by David French)

[Note: For my reviews of the previous Witcher novels visit The Witcher Books tag! Warning: My review of The Time of Contempt contains some spoilers both for the book and Netflix’s The Witcher season 3!]

Trust no one in the world of The Witcher

In The Time of Contempt, no one can be trusted. The kings plot against their wizards, the wizards seek to control the kings. The different kingdoms plot against each other. Nilfgaard has spies trying to infiltrate the kingdoms. Non Humans attack humans and humans retaliate. Multiple people are trying to find Ciri. Some want to get rid of her, some want to use her, and some claim they want to help her. But none of them can be trusted. 

But no one can live completely alone. Geralt trusts Yennefer to care for Ciri. He leaves Ciri with her to learn to control her power. And Ciri is making great progress. She is learning to become a sorceress. But in her heart, she’ll always be a witcher. And she misses Geralt. When Ciri realizes that Yennefer is planning on sending her to a school for sorcerers instead of teaching Ciri herself, she decides to take a stand. Ciri learns where Geralt is and runs away from Yennefer to find him.

A bold move leads to a difficult reunion

By chance, Ciri learns that Geralt is very close to the town where she and Yennefer are at the same time that she learns Yennefer is planning on sending her away. Ciri decides to run away and find Geralt. When Yennefer learns that Ciri is gone she chases after her. Ciri finds Geralt just as Yennefer finds her and the three reunite.

The Time of Contempt

Their reunion brings up difficult feelings for all three of them. Even though Geralt and Yennefer had thought it better to be separated, they decide to stay together after Ciri’s stunt.  Yennefer must attend a special gathering of the Wizard’s Guild and bring Geralt along as her escort. The initial festivities contain much excitement and revelations for the pair. After a long night of various diversions, the real action begins. A coup is staged and in the fighting and confusion, Yennefer and Geralt are separated. Geralt is gravely injured and almost killed. Yennefer is gone. And Ciri vanishes from her safe room. No one knows where she is. Can Geralt find her before it’s too late?

The Time of Contempt is a book of action

The Time of Contempt is a perfect second part of a trilogy. Blood of Elves contained a lot of setup. Now in The Time of Contempt, those plans begin to be realized. Coups are enacted, kings are assassinated, wars are started, and change happens fast. Indeed, if one word were to be used to describe The Time of Contempt it would be “fast”. A lot of different things are happening in this book and they’re all happening at the same time. Because so much is going on it feels like you never get to take a breath. 

And Ciri is truly the embodiment of this feeling. She is a bundle of energy and she hates sitting still. She always wants to be doing something. And she always wants to be part of what’s going on. She doesn’t like being left out. So she’s a normal teenage girl. Her confidence is something to be envied and if she can live long enough to find her balance, she’ll truly be a force to be reckoned with.

A truer adaptation is coming

The new season of the streaming adaptation of The Witcher, the first half of which released on June 29th on Netflix, is going to be based largely on The Time of Contempt. Many fans were upset that the last season strayed so far from Blood of Elves. The new season is supposed to be a more faithful adaptation of Sapkowski’s work. And it’s easy to see why. With all the action that’s packed into this novel, it should be easy to make some exciting episodes to entertain viewers. 

I’m always happiest when adaptations stick close to the source material. Especially when the source material is already so good. The action and excitement in The Time of Contempt are thrilling. And there is plenty of genuine concern for Geralt and Ciri. Especially Ciri. Because she’s the child of prophecy you know she’s going to survive, but just what will happen to her is a mystery. After all, survive and thrive are not the same thing. And there are many different possible futures for Ciri that would all fulfill the prophecy, just not all of them are great for Ciri. This uncertainty allows for the story to really mess with our heads and pull on our heartstrings as we follow Ciri’s journey.

A journey worth continuing

If you’ve been following along with me on my Witcher adventure then you know that in the past month, I’ve read straight through Geralt’s adventures starting with the first anthology The Last Wish moving on to Sword of Destiny, then Blood of Elves, the first true novel of saga. And now The Time of Contempt. I’ve enjoyed every step of this journey and I recommend the books to everyone. The books are exciting and well worth reading. 

Geralt claims to have no feelings because of his witcher trials. But it’s obvious that he does care about certain things. And those feelings endear him to readers. He is a good guy even if he is a little emotionally distant and you will find yourself rooting for him. Now I can’t wait to get started on the third novel to The Witcher saga, Baptism of Fire, to learn how Geralt’s story continues. 

My Rating: 8/10

The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski (Translated into English by David French) is available now! Will you be reading this novel between Vol. 1 and 2 of season three? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

Review: The Witcher Season 3 Vol. 1

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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

Luna Gauthier has 228 posts and counting. See all posts by Luna Gauthier