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Blood of Elves Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2009
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Andrzej Sapkowski’s New York Times bestselling Witcher series has inspired the hit Netflix show and multiple blockbuster video games, and has transported millions of fans around the globe to an epic, unforgettable world of magic and adventure.For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But that peace has now come to an end.
Geralt of Rivia, the hunter known as the Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. The one who 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 pursued for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt’s responsibility to protect them all. And the Witcher never accepts defeat.
Join Geralt of Rivia; his beloved ward and the child of prophecy, Ciri; and his ally and love, the powerful sorceress Yennefer as they battle monsters, demons, and prejudices alike in Blood of Elves, the first novel of The Witcher Saga.
Witcher story collections
The Last Wish
Sword of Destiny
Blood of Elves
The Time of Contempt
Baptism of Fire
The Tower of Swallows
Lady of the Lake
Season of Storms (stand alone)
The Tower of Fools
Warriors of God
Translated from original Polish by Danusia Stok
"Delightful, intense, irreverent, and compelling....you have to read The Witcher books because they are rife with all of the elements that make you love fiction, and especially fantasy, in the first place....In a word, The Witcher delivers."―Hypable
"One of the best and most interesting fantasy series I've ever read."―Nerds of a Feather
"Like Mieville and Gaiman, [Sapkowski] takes the old and makes it new ... fresh take on genre fantasy."―Foundation
"Sapkowski has a confident and rich voice which permeates the prose and remains post-translation. I'd recommend this to any fan of heroic or dark fiction."―SF Book Reviews
About the Author
Andrzej Sapkowski was born in 1948 in Poland. He studied economy and business, but the success of his fantasy cycle about the Witcher Geralt of Rivia turned him into a bestselling writer. His work has received Poland’s Janusz A. Zajdel prize five times, as well as Great Britain’s David Gemmell Award for Fantasy, in 2009. In 2016, he received the World Fantasy Award—Life Achievement. The Witcher has been adapted to a successful video-game franchise, and is now a series on Netflix.
- Publisher : Orbit; 1st edition (May 1, 2009)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 031602919X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316029193
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #44,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on November 15, 2021
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And thus officially begins the story of the witcher in Andrzej Sapkowski’s first book of his 'Witcher' series, 'Blood of Elves'. The story “A Question of Price” told by Geralt in The Last Wish had the Queen of Cintra, Calanthe, promising her granddaughter, the Child Surprise, to Geralt. The very end of The Last Wish left readers with Geralt leaving Nenneke and Melitele’s Temple in search of the Child Surprise, for he had been waiting for her to be born. After a siege on her home in Cintra, the Child Surprise, Princess Cirilla, is found by Geralt. Young, alone, and afraid, Geralt takes Ciri under his protection and destiny begins to work its magic.
What a way to begin a fantasy series. With the plot being about a child of destiny and this child being destined to someone else and that someone else being said child’s protector, one would think the story is a typical, cliché, and predictable fantasy story. On the contrary, 'Blood of Elves' is incredibly unique and is in no way predictable. The first in the 'Witcher' series is, like its predecessor: well-written, action-packed, and humorous.
With the premise stating that Geralt and Ciri were destined to be together, it is great to begin with the witcher and the princess. Their relationship is not that of lovers, but rather as a father and daughter and it works beautifully! Because of destiny, Geralt is thrust into the role of not only protector, but of father and it is one he never thought he would have. Same goes for Ciri: she was very young when she lost her parents and Geralt is not only her guardian, but a father she doesn’t remember having. One would think before reading that, due to Geralt’s personality in 'The Last Wish', he may find Ciri a nuisance; however, the scenes with them together are wonderful to read. They get along very well, joke around with each other, and Geralt has taught Ciri to defend herself, though he still keeps a sharp eye on her. This is a pleasant surprise for readers who assumed the aforementioned.
There is a wonderful blend of serious action and witty comedy throughout the story. Sapkowski improved on writing his battle scenes, making it easier for the reader to imagine how Geralt and the others are fighting. Dandelion is still as humorous as ever and a new character is introduced that is just as funny: Triss Merigold. Triss is a sorceress like Yennefer and met Geralt through her as well. When she travels to find Geralt at Kaer Morhen, the home and training grounds of the witchers, she is able to meet Ciri there. Geralt and a handful of other witchers have been training the young princess on how to fight and defend herself; however, these men have forgotten a very important fact about Ciri that Triss was not shy to remind them about: that she is a teenage girl blossoming into womanhood. The exchange of dialog between Triss and the witchers during this explanation is clever and a crack up for readers to read.
The only true downside about 'Blood of Elves' is the length of the chapters. There are only seven chapters, but each one spans roughly about 50 pages each. This makes it difficult to pick a stopping point, whether a reader wants to stop or not; however, there are gaps between the events that happen where readers can stop if they need to, which Sapkowski probably strategically placed knowing how long he would make each chapter. And, if readers ever forget while reading what the title of the book is, do not fear. Sapkowski refers to the title many times. The first time it is mentioned is in the first 20 pages, for of the different names given to Ciri (child of destiny, the Child Surprise), she is also called a child of Elder Blood, the blood of elves. Also within these first few pages, much is explained about destiny, Ciri, and how Geralt and Ciri were destined to be together, so anyone who has not read The Last Wish will be caught up on what is happening and those who have read it will be reminded.
'Blood of Elves' is a beautifully written book and a wonderful way to officially begin the 'Witcher' Series. Every turn of the page offers events and happenings that will make it difficult to put the book down, disregarding the long chapters and the difficulty in finding a stopping point. Readers will admire Geralt more as a hero than he was in The Last Wish and will fall in love with his father-daughter relationship with Ciri. It is a book that one can start with if one is curious about the series, but the series would be much more enjoyable and easier to follow if one has read the prequel first. Due to its well-written prose and the large world Sapkowski created, one will immediately want to pick up the sequel, 'The Time of Contempt', shortly after finishing.
Seriously, I pity the fool who attempted to read this novel after The Last Wish, since it must have been nonsensical. Anyway, Sword of Destiny is now available in English and there's nothing preventing readers from reading the book in its proper order. Blood of Elves follows the events of Sword of Destiny by recapping the previous book's events as a story told by Dandelion. We, immediately, get a sense that this is going to be a different kind of tale than the short-stories. Much focus is given on the politics, interrelationships, history, and culture of the North over the short stories being about Geralt's comedic monster-slaying.
Nilfgaard invaded the country of Cintra, destroyed its capital city, and was promptly driven back due to the outrage from the North. Nilfgaard has switched tactics, however, and now are undermining the North by covertly funding an elven terrorist group called the Scoia'tael. The Scoia'tael has popular support from nonhumans but is too few in number to do anything but cause civil war and economic collapse. Which Nilfgaard is counting on. The Southern Empire is also using a combination of religious prophecy and economic warfare to divide the North. As a result, the monarchs are debating whether a first strike against Nilfgaard may be their only chance to avoid defeat by their foes without a war.
Meanwhile, Geralt of Rivia has taken the sole surviving member of the Cintran Royal Family, Ciri, under his wing. Training her as a witcher despite the fact it was never meant for unmutated girls, let alone princesses, they discover Ciri has immense potential as a Sorceress and invite Geralt's old flame Triss Merrigold to join them. Events conspire to set them on the road, though, as both Nilfgaard and the Northern monarch's plans do not tolerate a loose end as big as Ciri.
Blood of Elves isn't a typical fantasy novel as very little of it is about actual events but, more, exploring the aftermath of a war. If I were to liken it to another series, I'd say it's similar to the scenes where Arya and the Hound explore the Riverlands in the aftermath of the War of Kings. It's more a mood piece than anything else. The characterization is particularly strong with Geralt, Ciri, Yennefer, and Dandelion all having very strong scenes. I'm also impressed with new characters Triss Merrigold and Yarpen, who have smaller but still essential roles. Ciri, in particular, is an impressive bit of characterization because she's one of the very few children in fiction I don't find annoying.
I like the depiction of Nilfgaard inside the book as they back away from the Nazi-analogues from the previous novel. Instead, Nilfgaard is a ruthless and aggressive dictatorship which has many horrific qualities--but the North isn't much better. More than anything, the Nilfgaard is extremely good at conquering and if they can't get you through one method, they'll try another more subtle one. We also get an introduction to Emperor Emhyr, the secret mastermind behind the invasion, and he is an effective character defined entirely by other's interactions with him. Not since Sauron or the Galactic Empire have I gotten such a strong character feel from someone off-camera.
The Scoia'tael and their role in the book is also well-handled. Sapkowski created a group which has all the hallmarks of a plucky resistance against a racist set of governments but the truth is more complex. They're killing large numbers of innocent people for dubious gains. In the North, peaceful cooperation between the races is a pearl without price and the conflict between them only creates more bodies which does no one any good. Still, you understand where they're coming from and why they believe what they do. Yarpen's scene where he explains his motivations, also, is a real gut-punch for how some people are sacrificing everything in the name of peace (and won't be appreciated for it).
I've mentioned before I'm not a huge fan of the Yennefer and Geralt romance. I think Sapkowski means for them to be a flawed but noble couple but, honestly, I just think they're toxic for one another and would be happier with other people. I, pretty much, prefer ever single other romance for Geralt to her (especially Triss). Despite this, I love Yennefer as a character and enjoyed her scenes with Ciri a great deal. Yennefer is a terrible mother-figure, mostly because she didn't go into it intending to be one at all, but her gradual warming to Ciri reminded me of Angelina Jolie's performance in Maleficent. Who, honestly, wouldn't be a bad pick for playing Yennefer in the imaginary super-big-budget adaptation of the series. Yennefer is a fun, engaging, and witty character I would love to see in future works with or without Geralt.
But I could be talking about this stuff all day. It's a deep-deep book.
In conclusion, Blood of Elves is a great novel. I very much enjoyed it and recommend it to everyone who is a fan of the Witcher series plus fantasy in general. It's not something you'll be able to read, however, without having read the previous two volumes. Likewise, it's a very slow and characterization-driven piece versus event-driven.
Top reviews from other countries
The story focuses largely on two characters, Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher (enhanced mercenaries who fight monsters for money) and Princess Cirilla of Cintra, known as Ciri. She has the blood of elves flowing through her and has been destined to be Geralts ward. This blood gives her surprising powers the Witchers don't know how to deal with and have turned to outside help from sorceresses to train her all the while some people are searching for her with seemingly sinister intentions...
The story is excellent and had me pretty hooked from start to finish, the translation feels very well paced and well written with several moments especially with Dandilion the bard really made me laugh. The book isn't especially action heavy (which may disappoint those who have played the computer games based on the series) but takes a pretty in depth look into Ciri's training at the Witcher's Keep of Kaer Morhen as well as introducing the political state of the world as well as several characters from previous short stories like Yarpen and Yennifer.
My one complaint, if you could call it that, is that it still feels like several short stories tied together rather than a full novel, the book is practically in sections and the ending was pretty abrupt but the actual content is excellent and feels like it's building up for the next book which I shall be reading straight away, Time of Contempt .
+ Well written.
+ Good pacing.
+ Great characters.
- Ends pretty abrubtly.
Why? Well, it lacks any real narrative thread at all. The construct of short stories joined together doesn’t work as a novel. There is a semblance of investment in world building, but in the main I thought there was lots of unwieldy dialogue masquerading as character-building, whilst manifestly failing to actually do so. No pace, no momentum, no real sense of threat or engagement in the characters, no standout sections to interrupt the tedium.
Just dull, like I say. I never expected to say this, but the game is vastly superior in every respect.
There are pages and pages and pages of unnecessary dialogue - literally entire chapters. This seems to be the authors way of filling the reader in on the history and background of the story. But it got to the point where I was just skimming over these bits because they were so long, and the dialogue was between characters that weren't even part of the story. There is so much going on in the background of the story that this seem a clunky way of imparting it to the reader and just left me feeling confused.
Then onto the characters. By the end of the book I didn't feel like I knew or understood any of them. I had no understanding of their history, their motivations or their feelings. I don't really feel like I even know what's going on.
I am honestly baffled by the hundreds of good reviews. There are so many better fantasy books out there.
On top of this, I've grown to love the characters ever more and want to know more than ever about them. However, I am hoping for more monsters in the ext book, but I understand this was setting up for a much larger tale to be told.
As for the author's style, that too is frustrating! This book feels like half a dozen short stories thrown together with a roughly common thread to form a book!! And then there's the format of the chapters too. One chapter is comprised almost totally of dialogue between a group of characters who have very vaguely been mentioned earlier. This is a mechanism the author uses to move the story forward or explain events. I really didn't like it! Small elements of dialogue you expect, but close to an entire chapter, come on!
The concept behind the Witcher is very clever, and I will certainly watch another season on Netflix. I certainly won't be reading another book in the series.