- File Size: 1913 KB
- Print Length: 324 pages
- Publisher: Orbit (April 22, 2009)
- Publication Date: May 1, 2009
- Sold by: Hachette Book Group
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00276HAEY
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,962 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Blood of Elves (The Witcher Book 1) Kindle Edition
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''The character interplay is complex, unsentimental and anchored in brutal shared history. All bodes well for twisty plotting in future volumes.'' --Nic Clarke - SFX --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
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--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
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I'm really just writing this review so people don't fall into the same trap that I did and skip over Swords of Destiny before reading this one. Amazon has this labelled as Book 2 and has Swords of Destiny labelled as Book 4. That is because Swords of Destiny was published later (the English version at least), but in terms of the story this is the order I would recommend reading them in: Last Wish, Swords of Destiny, Blood of Elves, Time of Contempt, Tower of Swallows, and Lady of the Lake (coming out in 2017). The Last Wish and Swords of Destiny are collections of short stories, but the rest all follow a specific story arc so it is really better to at least read the rest in the order that I mentioned. Hope that helps!
1. Geralt is not the main character. He's only in I'd estimate about 1/4 of the book, and half the time he is in it he's sulking about something and not talking. So there's only about 1/8 of the book where Geralt is being the Geralt I liked from the Last Wish.
2. Instead of Geralt, the main character of this book is Ciri, and she's just not an interesting character at all. Yet another 'chosen one' child with some great destiny that's hinted at but never given any substance in this book. There's a long section where's she's training to be a Witcher, then she gives that up, and there's a long section where she's training to be a sorceress, both of which are just boring. In fact, the whole last chapter of the book, which is 50 pages long, longest in the whole book is her training like Luke Skywalker with Yoda.
3. In that last chapter Yennefer is reduced to being Yoda. This is not the bad ass Yennefer from The Last Wish, but a changed, boring teacher character. Yennefer in The Last Wish was drinking herself into a stupor and sleeping around town that she was in illegally. She bedded Geralt then put a spell on him to make him go around town thrashing her enemies, generally making a fool of himself and getting himself arrested. Then she had no qualms about destroying the whole town and nearly getting herself killed trying a control a genie that would have made her magical powers near omnipotent. From that, in this book she turns into Yoda basically, teaching and scolding Ciri about how to use the Force. Literally. It's such a knock off that she is actually teaching Ciri to "use the Force." E.g., an actual line spoken by Yennefer that could have come Star Wars -- "I know the force is bursting out of you, but you have to learn to control it."
4. There's no story. Nothing really happens. Ciri learns how to sword fight from Geralt's buddies and to cast spells from Yennefer. There are some unidentified bad people trying to find her. Geralt tries to figure out who they are, lets them get away a couple times without finding out much, then disappears from the book. There's a lengthy meeting of a bunch of kings planning a war that didn't actually result in anything, at least not in this book. There are repeated disjointed flashbacks to a battle in a prior was in which some better characters from the Last Wish were killed off. That's about it.
Geralt. Dandelion. Yennefer. Ciri. Oh, how I missed thee.
“Blood of Elves” continues the Witcher series and is the first true novel in it. Though every bit as readable and poignant as the earlier tales, the novel lacks much of the punch as the short stories that preceded it. That’s to be expected to some degree, given the longer-form approach of the novel format. Still… I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed by this entry. The book still gets two thumbs up, but that rating in this case is entirely subjective. Veritably no part of my disposition toward this book, which is mostly positive, can be born of anything remotely impartial. I’m just too interested, too enamored and too invested to see these stories in anything less than a favorable light.
If you enjoy the world that Sapkowski has built, you’ll want to take this ride. For those not already acquainted with Geralt of Rivia, you are advised to check out the short stories first. While “Blood of Elves” can stand on it’s own, the story is much better, the world much deeper and the characters far more interesting when provided context from the previous entries in the series.
Recommended for: existing fans of the franchise, whether the introduction occurred from the games or the anthologies (“The Last Wish” and “The Sword of Destiny”); genre devotees looking for a story with more modern sensibilities or relevance; readers that enjoy prophecy-tropes or other tales that involve a child saving the world, with all the accompanying humor and character growth those stories tend to offer.
“To be neutral does not mean to be indifferent or insensitive. You don’t have to kill your feelings. It’s enough to kill hatred within yourself. Do you understand?”
“Let them call me a traitor and a coward. Because I, Yarpen Zigrin, coward, traitor and renegade, state that we ought to live. Live in such a way that we don’t, later, have to ask anyone for forgiveness.”
“You should know, Ciri,” said Yarpen, “that my grandmother knew her medicine like nobody’s business. Unfortunately, she believe that the source of most disease is idleness, and idleness is best cured through the application of a stick. As far as my siblings and I were concerned, she chiefly used this cure preventively.”
“Geralt and Coen controlled their expressions wonderfully, Lambert and Eskel a little less so, Vessemir not at all. But then, she thought, looking at his comically embarrassed expression, in his day the world was a better place. Duplicity was a character flaw to be ashamed of. Sincerity did not bring shame.”
Top international reviews
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.
Having prior knowledge of the Witcher universe (all 3 video games) gave me a distinct head start, as I could picture the characters and Geralts "gravelly voice"
Set as a series of short stories, I cannot fault this series at all this far. Very dark fantasy, some of which are old folk lore tales and even a few nods to well loved Disney tales such as Cinderella.
Must read for any fantasy enthusiast or fan of the Witcher series
The problem lies in pacing - the translation is wonky in a few places, but generally I thought it was fine. Early in the book, there is a scene after a Dandelion concert and there is a conversation between the audience which goes on for about 20 pages. Not good and due to the proliferation of unfamiliar Elvish and fantastical names used with no context, it serves to frustrate the reader.
There are a few moments like that, which act as quicksand in the book, bogging down the reader and slamming large chunks of Basil Exposition into one's eyes. Add to that, the disappearance of main characters (Triss) with nary a word halfway through the book and some missing lumps of storyline and it's generally hard to digest and has put me off trying the later books in the series.
Having said all of the above, I still thought the book was quite good. There is humour and a pleasing turn of phrase at many junctures, which indicates that Sapkowski has a warm ear for language, even through translators.
It has increased my knowledge of all things Witcher, which (ha!) is the intended effect, even if it has uneven pacing and a lack of Geralt, preferring to concentrate on his young ward Ciri.
Overall, a luke-warm recommendation.
In the end I decided to persist to the end, but found it to be a bit dull to be honest. I’m sure it’s probably setting the scene for the next one, but it was long and drawn out. Nothing really happened and it hasn’t encouraged me to read the next one.
There are far too many characters so it’s hard to get attached to any of them (apart from maybe Ciri and Gearalt). The chapters are just full of conversation after conversation.
Sadly I can’t recommend this book.
They are also great stand alone stories, using the races of old as some kind of allegory of the ways humans treat each other and what can result fro. Such. Or perhaps it doesn't and its just a fantasy romp. Maybe read it and find out.
However, I really enjoyed as this shines a light more on Ciri as a character and her thoughts. There is also more to Yennifer bit subsequently less Geralt.
Will continue to read the series.