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The Witcher #1

Blood of Elves

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The New York Times bestselling series that inspired the international hit video game: The Witcher.
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.

398 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1994

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About the author

Andrzej Sapkowski

163 books15.8k followers
Andrzej Sapkowski, born June 21, 1948 in Łódź, is a Polish fantasy and science fiction writer. Sapkowski studied economics, and before turning to writing, he had worked as a senior sales representative for a foreign trade company. His first short story, The Witcher (Wiedźmin), was published in Fantastyka, Poland's leading fantasy literary magazine, in 1986 and was enormously successful both with readers and critics. Sapkowski has created a cycle of tales based on the world of The Witcher, comprising three collections of short stories and five novels. This cycle and his many other works have made him one of the best-known fantasy authors in Poland in the 1990s.

The main character of The Witcher (alternative translation: The Hexer) is Geralt, a mutant assassin who has been trained since childhood to hunt down and destroy monsters. Geralt exists in an ambiguous moral universe, yet manages to maintain his own coherent code of ethics. At the same time cynical and noble, Geralt has been compared to Raymond Chandler's signature character Philip Marlowe. The world in which these adventures take place is heavily influenced by Slavic mythology.

Sapkowski has won five Zajdel Awards, including three for short stories "Mniejsze zło" (Lesser Evil) (1990), "Miecz przeznaczenia" (Sword of Destiny) (1992) and "W leju po bombie" (In a Bomb Crater) (1993), and two for the novels "Krew elfów" (Blood of Elves) (1994) and "Narrenturm" (2002). He also won the Spanish Ignotus Award, best anthology, for The Last Wish in 2003, and for "Muzykanci" (The Musicians), best foreign short story, same year.

In 1997, Sapkowski won the prestigious Polityka's Passport award, which is awarded annually to artists who have strong prospects for international success.

In 2001, a Television Series based on the Witcher cycle was released in Poland and internationally, entitled Wiedźmin (The Hexer). A film by the same title was compiled from excerpts of the television series but both have been critical and box office failures.

Sapkowski's books have been translated into Czech, Russian, Lithuanian, German, Spanish, French, Ukrainian, and Portuguese. An English translation of The Last Wish short story collection was published by Gollancz in 2007.

The Polish game publisher, CD Projekt, created a role-playing PC game based on this universe, called The Witcher, which was released in October 2007. There is also a mobile version of the game which has been created by Breakpoint Games and is being published by Hands-On Mobile in Western Europe,Latin America and Asia Pacific.

The English translation of Sapkowski's novel Blood of Elves won the David Gemmell Legends Award in 2009.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 10,337 reviews
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,950 reviews434 followers
August 5, 2023
This review can be found on Amaranthine Reads.

Considering how well-written and quick-paced the short story prequel collection The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski was, this was ridiculously disappointing and underwhelming. We have the same characters as was to be found in The Last Wish, and we had their personalities expanded and explored further, but we had none of the excitement or fantasy that was found there.

Blood of Elves is very slow and very closed-off. We spend far too much time in one place alone, and we follow conversations at a snail's pace to the point where what they're saying is no longer important but pointless chit-chat. It takes over half the book for us to leave Geralt and Ciri, who have taken up most of the book doing pretty much nothing in one place. The narrator is supposed to be omniscient, but it feels more like first-person narrative with just one or two dips elsewhere to move the rather vague plot along.

It's such a huge disappointment because the inclusion of our own folklore and fairytales in The Last Wish was a very good idea and following Geralt as he went about the countryside tackling monsters and demons (which is the job of the Witcher) was exciting, refreshing and kept the stories moving along. In Blood of Elves we meet one monster and little else.

It is mostly full of political intrigue, none of which is that interesting, nor does it deviate from the generic fantasy trope of races warring with races, crossing borders and sacking cities. But even then, with the generic fantasy tropes, we barely even get in to them because the characters are too busy having inane conversations whilst, presumably, just standing about being targets.

There was, however, a better set of female characters in this, though it was a bit too James Bond-esque how they all seemingly dropped their knickers are the mere sight of Geralt of Rivia. If one can get past this obvious High Fantasy trope and author-projection, we see some female characters that are developed beyond their breasts, but only just.

It's a relatively fun fantasy day-out. A quick read, won't challenge you much and will give you a good dose of non-YA fantasy goodness if that's what you're looking for (it's why I gravitated toward it) but it is by no means anything brilliant or ground-breaking. I will, however, finish the series, maybe pick up the other short story collection I haven't gotten around to and possibly play the game that was inspired by it.

(It's worth pointing out that this book is the first of a series, despite GoodReads naming it the third. This book is the first full-length novel and makes up the series of full length books, with two anthologies of short stories taking up 1st and 2nd in the series.)
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
317 reviews1,343 followers
December 24, 2021
Blood of Elves is chronologically the 3rd entry within The Witcher saga. Whereas previously all the short stories followed Geralt of Rivia working on certain monster assassination assignments, within Blood of Elves he is one of 3 or 4 main characters that we share the minds of. For the novels, you can start here but I wouldn't recommend it. I found that I completely loved the groundwork I'd put in with the previous narratives and then hearing about the past stories mentioned of which I'd already read such as recollecting thought regarding meeting the Golden Dragon and about the macabre events that happened at the downfall of Cintra. It was also an excellent feeling meeting familiar characters (often a bit too spontaneously) that we'd briefly crossed paths with within the previous books. I can't state it enough that this book is so much deeper and more enjoyable if you've read what comes beforehand. The important side characters from the recent stories are more prominent here, most notably Ciri and Yennefer. I'm gutted we don't see more of one of my favourite characters, the womanising troubadour Dandelion.

The tale starts at a safe haven underneath a giant tree where Dandelion and his apprentice tell the epic poem of Geralt. We know the stories if we've read the previous entries but the poetry and the action is accentuated for the audience and is more picturesque, beautiful, and heightened in this form. Dandelion is the finest bard in the land who causes the ladies to swoon, the lords to be jealous and the brothel owners to panic! The ensemble of all assembled then discuss what happened at the end of the depicted action. Was Geralt murdered? Did the Child of Destiny, the Princess Ciri escape? Did her and Geralt meet up as was prophecised? It's a really intriguing beginning and sets the action up expertly. Geralt is an extremely famous Witcher whose name is world-renowned. Everyone claims to know him and his exploits but he's not been witnessed in two years so how much is a mere fabrication to attract the attention of revelers in a bar on a weekend evening?

In this outing, Ciri, the child of Destiny is essentially the main character with Geralt being more of a shadowy father figure who aids her development as an upcoming Witcher although she also has magical capabilities she does not understand. He is the infamous Witcher, Yennefer is an enchantress and "will they-won't they" love interest and although not the biological child of the aforementioned she seems like a perfect mix of arguably the other two main characters.

This tale was much deeper than what had come beforehand and as I've previously mentioned I wish to read all of these before the Netflix series is released. The first 30% is mainly focused on Ciri's training at the Witcher halls of Kaer Morten under the watchful gaze of the remaining handful of Witchers but also sorceresses Triss and Yennefer who are both former love interests of Geralt. Geralt does love Ciri as a father would and their relationship is complex, loving in a lack-of-emotion way from Geralt's perspective. He's a complex character as he's been genetically mutated to be a heartless monster killer but he has extreme morals and will not take sides in any sort of debacle. One person's right is another's wrong and he shouldn't take sides and that's not what he has been manipulated for.

Honestly, there isn't too much action throughout this novel, but that's fine. This is the foundation of what will no doubt be an exceptional next five books. The main drama is caused by a fire-scarred magical-wielding individual who has an unknown vendetta against Geralt and wants Ciri. Imagine if the Queen on a chessboard was infinitely more valuable and in the eyes of the soon to be warring nations this (even though they don't know if she's alive) 12-year-old young lady has a very important part to play. Child of Destiny isn't a title that everyone is able to flaunt after all.

Blood of Elves is very conversation heavy. Sometimes, with players having similar and confusing names it does get a bit over-bearing. Often a conversation will have eight contributors but it doesn't always make it obvious who is saying what so in these scenes I found my mind bouncing around thinking... "who said that?" - "who was that to?" etc? The vibe and the point of the scene are expressed well but it's not always easy to keep a perfect picture of progression.

I loved the majority of the short stories and only a few remain weak and uninteresting in my mind. This seemed like a well constructed but quite safe progression to the novel side of things. It didn't really have an exciting finale. The only event that could be considered as such was a confrontation at the eighty percent mark and then we were gifted a Ciri training session to conclude. This series isn't perfect yet. However, I am really enjoying following this interesting and multi-layered cast. This could go on to being one of my favourite fantasy series. At this point I believe I've only witnessed the tip of the iceberg and Ciri's destiny and the Witcher's influence is amazingly intriguing. I can't wait to read the next one.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
Want to read
January 24, 2020

Never thought I'd see Amazon go out of stock like this... and for a book over a decade old! So cool that it's in such high demand!

But... what's not cool is the stunning lack of hardcover options.

Don't they know I'm addicted to a beautiful book jacket?
March 23, 2021
Geralt of The Last Wish, where art thou?!

Do I need to call the puny human authorities and tell them to issue an AMBER alert? Have the obnoxious aliens abducted you again, as I suspect they did in book 2? Or is it that the Evil Russians™ are holding you hostage until I surrender my East Siberian Sea dominion? That very well could be. The Fluffy Siberian Bunnies (FSB™) can get bloody shrimping devious like that sometimes. Then again, I don't think that this is what happened here. You know what I think, my Little Barnacles? I think Geralt decided to bolt. Why, you ask? Seems pretty obvious to me: the previous installment nearly did him in. First things first, the guy's Monster Slaying Quota (MSQ™) dropped dramatically. Second things second, he was viciously attacked by brutal waves of utter boredom and blah blah blah. And third things third, he had to endure some major Lovey Dovey Drama Crap (LDDC™). I'm telling you, my Lovely Arthropods I would have pulled the Now You See Me Now You Don't Stint (NYSMNYDS™) too, had I been in his place.

Yes, that is indeed my little self very discretely pulling a NYSMNYDS™.

Okay, I know what you Annoying Decapods are going to tell me: "but, gloriously nefarious Sarah we are in such awe of, Geralt hasn't gone anywhere! Geralt is right here! In this book!" Naïve, naïve, Little Barnacles. I'm afraid you've been had like a bunch of provincial krill. It's not Geralt we're dealing with in this installment! It's gErAlT, his duplicitous, evilly evil twin! You have no idea how shrewd and calculating the guy is. And bloody shrimping presumptuous, too! He actually had the nerve to come up with his very own precepts for this book! Don't believe me? Check this out:

The Outrageously Outrageous Witcher Commandments According to Garp gErAlT (OOWCAtGG™) :

💀 Violently butcher monsters you shall refrain from.
Yes, this is kinda sorta awkward when supernatural beast slaying is kinda sorta your calling and day job. But what's a guy to do to get PETA off his back? See the tiny predicament here? The only solution is obviously for you to do the Pest Control Thing (PCT™) once in a while per book tops, so that your street cred doesn't get thoroughly ruined and stuff. Your life will no longer have a meaning, but that really is quite an insignificant price to pay in the grand scheme of things, is it not?

See, the Libidinously Mustached Duo (LMD™) doesn't think it's a big deal, either.

💀 Only a few pages told from your POV your slightly hysterical fans you shall provide with.
Because you are of the erroneously wrong opinion that absence makes the black, withered heart grow fonder and stuff. Well, some People of the Forever Right Opinion (PofFRO™) happen to think absence makes the pincers get sharper. But hey, to each their own and all that fish.

💀 Much needless blah blah blah crap let your fellow cast members gleefully indulge in you shall.
In the meantime a well-deserved nap most joyfully you will enjoy (while thinking "mwahahahaha and stuff" to your smug little self). Bored Slightly uninterested readers be damned and all that. If they can't appreciate coma-inducing goodness kindly brought to them by a bunch of queens/kings/rulers/whatever, it's their problem, not yours. Besides, if they think this book is the cure to insomnia, they should try and read The Lies of Locke Lamora. If they're lucky they'll only end up with an acute case of narcolepsy. So QED and stuff. It's time for a little Smug gErAlT Muahahahaha-ing (SGM™) again.

💀 Deceitfully bring in a disgustingly kidnap-worthy little kid to sneakily soften the tougher shrimps out there you shall:
Make her all sorts of revoltingly cute with huge ass-kicking potential and wondrous smartass abilities to weaken your intended victim's reinforced, titanium-coated exoskeleton. Cunningly hint at the possibility that said brat might one day be a greater character than your little self. This is far from the truth, of course. No one is, or ever will be, greater than your astonishingly fabulous (and yet so humble) little self. This is naught but a diabolically Machiavellian scheme to make sure some crustaceans will continue reading Ciri's your most fascinating adventures. Hook, line and sinker, the bloody shrimping shrimps are bloody shrimping done for. Mission accomplished and stuff.

Told you gErAlT was nothing like Geralt. Ha.

➽ And the moral of this What the Fishing Fish is Fishing Going On with this Series I Demand Both and Explanation and a Formal Apology Crappy Non Review (WtFFiFGOwtSIDBaEaaFACNR™) is: dear Mr. Sapkowski, give Geralt back NOW. And I don't mean gErAlT, I mean bloody shrimping Geralt. As in my super hot sexey badass monster slaying boyfriend from The Last Wish. Puny humans might get hurt somewhat painfully (and also suffer a slightly excruciating fate, by the way) if you don't comply. But hey, no pressure and stuff.

· Book 1: The Last Wish ★★★★★
· Book 2: Sword of Destiny ★★★
· Book 4: The Time of Contempt ★★

[Pre-review nonsense]

Geralt, Geralt, Geralt...What to do with you? I hope you do realize that I've only ever kicked one boyfriend out of my High Security Harem before. Surely you do not want to suffer the same fate? Especially since the boyfriend in question was Wimpish Happy Dresden (WHD™) *shudders* Pretty sure you'd hate to receive the same treatment as this substandard puny human, huh?

Yep, that's what I thought. Well you know what? If you want to stay safely locked up in the Harem, you're going to have to work for it. I'm giving you one last bloody shrimping chance, so don't screw things up in The Time of Contempt, or else...

➽ Full Not Even A Full Chapter Written From Geralt's POV This is Outrageous This is Unacceptable This Cannot Be This Will Not Do We are Not Amused Crustaceans at the Ready and Stuff Crappy Non Review (NEAFCWFGPOVTiOTiUTCBTWNDWaNACatRaSCNR™) to come.

P.S. Geralt dear, butchering monsters is always a plus. Think about that for a minute or two, will you?
Profile Image for Markus.
476 reviews1,561 followers
January 16, 2020
"The era of the sword and axe is nigh, the era of the wolf’s blizzard. The Time of the White Chill and the White Light is nigh, the Time of Madness and the Time of Contempt: Tedd Deireádh, the Time of End. The world will die amidst frost and be reborn with the new sun. It will be reborn of the Elder Blood, of Hen Ichaer, of the seed that has been sown. A seed which will not sprout but will burst into flame. Ess’tuath esse! Thus it shall be! Watch for the signs! What signs these shall be, I say unto you: first the earth will flow with the blood of Aen Seidhe, the Blood of Elves..."

Cintra is burning.

The legions of the Nilfgaardian Empire have crossed the Yaruga again, and the independent future of the Northern Kingdoms is in grave peril. It is against this backdrop that the story opens. The story of Cirilla, Ciri, the orphaned princess with a mysterious destiny. Of the great struggle between the free kingdoms of the north and their overwhelming imperial adversary. And of the lone mutated witcher known as Gwynbleidd, the White Wolf.

And so it begins.

After introducing Geralt of Rivia, the White Wolf himself, in a set of stunning short stories, Sapkowski kicks the main story off with a bang as Blood of Elves introduces a somewhat different, yet astounding, fantasy epic.

I first read Blood of Elves many years ago now, after having played the first game and read the absodamnlutely amazing short story collection The Last Wish. While I would seriously consider that book a masterpiece of the fantasy genre, this one is more of a traditional series novel. It focuses more on the actual storyline, which is quite fortunately intriguing enough to pull you in and never let go.

The world of the Witcher, most recently broadcasted by Netflix after having been stunningly presented in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, undoubtedly one of the most immersive and beautiful video games ever presented to the public, is shown just as enchantingly on the pages of the Witcher books, as they take the reader from the burning city of Cintra to the ancient Witcher fortress of Kaer Morhen and beyond.

While it is still relatively unknown by comparison to the giants of the genre (as a result of coming from a non-English-speaking country), I would not hesitate to call this one of the most impressive series in fantasy. And with the rise in Witcher adaptations in recent years, it appears more and more people are finding their way to it.

Witcher reviews:
#1 The Last Wish
#2 Sword of Destiny
#3 Blood of Elves
#4 Time of Contempt
#5 Baptism of Fire
#6 The Tower of the Swallow
#7 Lady of the Lake
#0 Season of Storms
Profile Image for Michelle Kobus.
765 reviews134 followers
July 26, 2020
So yeah, I had high hopes for this series, but it was a total fail for me. I can't remember whose recommendation steered me towards this series, which is probably for the best, because only the strongest relationships could withstand the level of betrayal I feel right now.

Like, seriously, I look at all the positivity online for this series, and I just want to scream! I know everyone has different opinions, so I'd expect at least some people to like or love it, but I'm scrolling through endless 4*/5* reviews where no one mentions any of the problems I see in the series.

What I Hated (an uncomprehensive list, due to onset of carpal tunnel syndrome):

1) The rampant misogyny:

Women are sexualized at every possible point. Triss gets horny when she's mad (page 74) and doesn't mind sleeping with her best friend's man (page 76). Triss also contends, in the name of all women, that their boobies are their pride and joy; and anyone/thing that might inhibit a growing girl's boobies from achieving gigantic proportions will be scorned by them when they are women (page 92-3). Yennefer also makes comments on a nude Ciri's body and how womanly it's shaping up to be. (page 345)

It's also stated that women are treated (or, at least, should be, according to the book) like delicate flowers when they have their periods, and must act the part of a proper little lady during this time (pages 88 - 91), by way of feminine mannerisms, dresses, brushed hair and staying indoors and not doing one little thing that anyone could say is manly. Readers like to say women doing anything but being sexy in this series is "historically accurate" (in a fantasy novel lol), but woman always had to do housework at home or as a maid, etc. etc, on their periods. How is this the thing the author decided to change about women during any time period? He could've written gender equality, but we get women sitting around like hens 5 days a month. Imagine if the whole female sex just quit working so many days straight, every single month. Like, what???

I get told "Stop injecting politics!" if I want the women to do anything but be hot. You know, in a series people say they love for its politics. (Also, being a woman is "a political stance"? WTF?) Listen up, this is a FANTASY novel. You can be inspired by history, but being rigid in historical accuracy when you're writing fantasy is a choice, not a rule. The author chose not to write modern (at the time of original publication) women. Geralt wasn't written as historically accurate guy; a guy who drinks potions and kills monsters is fantasy, not factually an occupation of the middle ages. Sorry, but screaming "Middle Ages!", alone, just doesn't cut it in a FANTASY novel.

Defenders could mention these books were written by a guy several decades ago, that they're a product of their time and they read as such. It doesn't totally excuse misogyny in my view, since Robert Jordan and GRRM were writing books around the same period and they wrote awesome women; but it explains it to a minor extent and would definitely further arguments contrary to my opinion. But that would require believing women can be strong and capable, independent of their sexuality. I mean, Geralt isn't prancing around, getting women to do his bidding by being sexy, and it somehow seems like something he could do because all the women find him inexplicably attractive; so why should women exploit their sexuality 100% of the time? Arguing that using something so simple as beauty to persuade enemies and monarchs to do their bidding also undermines the woman's intellect, because she isn't using it. Why does any woman even put effort into learning magic, if boobies are the answer to everything? Why not invest all that tuition money on a magical boob job and avoid the hassle of teachers and grades? Magical makeovers are a thing here, so they could. Writing a good female character is something like showing how beautiful women are more than a pretty face; or writing a plain woman, without attractive features, who gets characters (men) to do her bidding through sly intelligence. "Woman who flashes boobs every time she needs a favor" is not good writing, it's wishful thinking.

Look, if women are sexy, they're sexy. The issue is that the author won't let the women be anything else. They COULD be capable but plain, but they're not. Yen can't just be a great sorceress, she has to be SMOKIN' HOT sorceress. Triss isn't just Yen and Geralt's friend/ally, she's their SEXY, HORNY friend/ally. Ciri isn't just a child of prophecy, she's a SHAPELY child of prophecy. Brienne of Tarth wouldn't fit in here. I'm not saying beauty shouldn't exist, I'm saying use more creative character descriptions beside HOT HOT HOT. The men are allowed to be ugly. Why am I fighting for ugly equality? See what this book is doing to me????!!!!

2) This series is presented as the story of a monster hunter.

Want to know how many times anything odder than a dwarf or elf graces these pages? Zero. Zero times. And even when they do show up, Geralt doesn't even interact with them in any significant way. Geralt himself isn't even here much, even though this series is called THE WITCHER. The most fantastical thing to happen in this whole fantasy novel is a shape-shifting sorceress and a few portals opening and shutting.

3) The MC doesn't even have a backstory.

Geralt is the MC; there are other POVs, but he's the guy that ties them all together. I am not bothered by multiple POVs, since people seem to get hung up on this. I've read Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Stormlight Archive; never confused, loved them all. It's that this is THE WITCHER, but the character who threads everything together is so underdeveloped. We never learn one thing about how he was changed and trained as a witcher, or who he was before he became one (since witchers are made, not born). Geralt doesn't even show up much, and he's not that likable. Why is the guy so important to so many people? He has the personality and charm of a tree stump, and the looks to match (Henry Cavill was way too attractive in the Netflix series). He sucks at his job, too; monster slaying is relegated to the short stories and is all but nonexistent in the novels. The games gave him so much personality that just doesn't exist here. Stories can have mysterious MCs, but they need to give us something, anything. I'd read a standalone if I didn't want character arcs. If the author can't be arsed to write a character background, maybe don't make him the titular character.

Overall, this whole book is a story of subpar political maneuvering, lame magic, and some of the dumbest statements about women that I've had the misfortune of reading. It's a fantasy novel, but lacking in fantasy. I just wanted a series where a man kills monsters dammit!
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,118 reviews44.8k followers
March 23, 2022
Blood of Elves sets the stage; it pulls back the curtain and begins to tell a story that is clearly going to develop into something quite grand. 

 Make no mistake this is Ciri's novel, and this is very much the start of her story. Breaking the mould of the episodic short stories of The Last Wish and The Sword of Destiny, which follow the adventures and monster killing contracts carried out by Geralt of Rivia, this is about the growth of Ciri and the trials she faces as she attempts to discover exactly who (and what) she is. After seeing Geralt in action, she wants to be a Witcher too; however, she has the potential to be something much more. Learning exactly what this and why she is so important drives the story forward.

 I really like how well described the magic systems are and how each character has their own limitations. Although Ciri is still learning, Geralt and Yennefer are very much aware that she has the potential to be greater than both of them in terms of magic skill and fighting prowess. Geralt trains her with the sword and Yennefer with magic. Again, we are just beginning to see the possibilities of what she can do. Her elder blood has determined her destiny, she just needs to discover it once she has finished learning.

  “Remember,” she repeated, “magic is Chaos, Art and Science. It is a curse, a blessing and progress. It all depends on who uses magic, how they use it, and to what purpose. And magic is everywhere. All around us. Easily accessible.”

Because of the political power Ciri possesses, the world is out to remove her from the existence because she is too powerful a pawn if the wrong hands got hold of her. She is the heir to the mighty kingdom of Cintra, and it is a prize many seek to conquer. As such, Ciri finds herself much sought after for not only the political advantages her hand possesses but also because of her innate abilities. Although the plot is slow moving in this regard, focused only on the perusal of Ciri, I feel like the ground has been laid for some interesting developments over the next few books.

So, this is a very good start to a series that I am very excited to read more of. I particularly like how it has built upon the foundations the short stories laid, adding depth to a world that was already very intricate with a large amount of careful world building established. The monsters in all their variety gives the world a bit of a unique feel and when combined with the magic, factions and guilds it has a very strong sense of identity. And this is important because I’ve found that the genre, for all its brilliance, can start to feel very samey when you a read a lot of it.

To conclude here though, I'm expecting great things from this series and from Ciri.

Short Story Collections
1. The Last Wish - 4.25 stars
2. The Sword of Destiny - C/R

The Witcher Series
1. The Blood of Elves - 4.0 stars

You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Celise.
505 reviews318 followers
April 18, 2017
For anyone who's played The Witcher games, or anyone who has not but is interested in dark fantasy, I encourage you to consider reading The Last Wish, which is the first of The Witcher books, an anthology of short stories. Read it before this, and Sword of Destiny too. They're good, and you'll thank yourself for it later when you're not trying to decipher the backstory behind this one. The Blood of Elves is the first full-length novel in the series, and I was not disappointed. It's even made it onto my "favourites" shelf.

The general concept is that Geralt, a Witcher created through elixirs and brutal mutilation as a child, hunts and kills monsters for pay. This volume is about the child Ciri, who we meet in the short stories of The Last Wish and The Sword of Destiny, and her training in both magic and witching (I don't know if that's what the Witcher craft is called but hey I used it). The other part of this is the brewing war between the Nilfgaardians and the countries on the other side of the river.

Character relationships are complex and full of history. They're so tied together by destiny, yet so emotionally stunted towards each other that at some point it's just sad. Poetic and lovely, and not pathetic enough to become angsty and melodramatic. Ciri is kind of the light in the dark, probably to her detriment. She's the one to which Triss's longing for Geralt, and Yennefer's pain over him, is actually put into words. This is the first book in which Triss appears and while I was geared up to immediately feel bitterness towards her, none of Sapkowski's characters end up deserving that. All that said, this isn't a sappy romance love-fest, and is very much story-oriented.

Sapkowski's sense of humour is exactly within my tastes too: cynical and quippy, as well as a little mean. Yennefer and Triss both have that sharp tongue that made me laugh out loud a few times, and Ciri is just comical by nature.

And here's a less reviewy part and more of a collection of my thoughts. At this point, I'm not sure if Ciri being "destined" for Geralt means she's meant to eventually be his partner, or more of a daughter, and I have not played the games to know. Also no spoilers, please. Yennefer's initial resentment towards Ciri would be justified either way, either as a woman with a past with Geralt, or as a woman unable to bear her own children. In this volume at least, Ciri is his ward, and he trains her in Kaer Morhen to be a witcher. Her early training in magic (and how to survive puberty, let's be honest) is carried out by Triss Merigold, whom I adored for being one of the only characters who just said what they were feeling, and later by Yennefer. Yennefer's interactions with Ciri were my favourite part of the book, ultimately. In my opinion, Sapkowski writes the relationships between a young girl and her older female mentors with sincerity and impressive believability.

I usually struggle with fantasy not making me truly feel things, but there's plenty of heart torture for me in these!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
March 3, 2020
Maybe I'm a slave to TV after all. I watched the Witcher production before picking up any of the short stories or the novels. Even before playing the games! (And I admit I still haven't played the games.)

So obviously, my opinion is going to be somewhat SKEWED from the rest of the hoards of fans of Sapkowski. Or maybe improved. Who knows?

The fact is... I had a wonderful time reading this.

At no point did I ever feel underwhelmed, think that the pacing was off, or want to complain about the lack of huge battles or epic whatnot.

I knew this whole series was a character study first, a social commentary second, and a delightful worldbuilding/epic fantasy extravaganza third. And so, since I already loved the characters, I continued to love the characters, get awed about the full ramifications of the elves, the brewing war that would bring about much more than self-destruction, but the end of so much that was good in this flawed world, and was properly horrified by the other wars that had already happened.

One could say that these novels are the effects and substance of massive amounts of Aftermath. And the TV show reflects that. We know things are all about to end. Spectacularly. And it is this over-story that keeps me at the table that is still, primarily, a delicious feast of characters.

So I repeat. :) I loved this. I love them. :)
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,144 reviews1,847 followers
February 6, 2014
I "feel" (note the use of the word "feel" rather than "think") I should (have) like(ed) this book better. The plot sounds very interesting. The girl Ciri, child of promise and prophecy (yes a common motif in fantasy and folklore) who was promised to the Witcher before she was born. (Evil faeries and so on used to claim that promise). The story of her "education", training, change and all the people around who want to protect or use her.

But I just found the book a sort of yawner. It opens with a really "grab ya" scene of an attack on a city that turns out to be a partial and suppressed memory of Cir coming out in a dream... and jumps to a bard singing about "someone" or "some people" that all the listeners "just know" are Ciri, Geralt etc. But it rolls on so slowly.

The races here a a little different than we find elsewhere but not greatly. The magic folk, druids, priests who populate the book never grab me and I just couldn't get into the story. I found myself skimming the book going from Triss' memories to Ciri's training, from events to visions and all along I was just losing interest.

Maybe it's me and my own taste. I see a lot of people like this book and I'm certainly glad you found a volume you like. I liked the first book or prequel to this one (The Last Wish) pretty well, but this one just never drew me in. I really don't care for it all that much.

I do apologize to you who like this book greatly, as I've noted many times it's simple a matter of taste.
Profile Image for Michelle.
147 reviews239 followers
November 6, 2018
“Blood of Elves”, the third book in “The Witcher” series, is the first full length novel. I recommend reading the two short story collections first (“The Last Wish” and “The Sword of Destiny”) as they are linked together to form the background for this book. It will also give you a feel of the writing style and pacing of the whole series. This is not an action pack, high stakes thriller. This is a very slow, character driven tale where the enjoyment is taken from world-building escapism. I'm not saying it's boring, but if you're use to modern western fantasy stories, you may not enjoy the slow pace.

Though there is plenty of Geralt to go around, you’ll realize that this is really Ciri's story. It primarily offers some insight to her childhood after she's taken in by Geralt, showing the early relationships she had with the other characters. The backdrop, of course, is a distinctly sociopolitical tragedy. It mostly sets the scene of two enemy countries, on the brink of war, and how Geralt of Rivia is stuck in the middle, with both countries and numerous independent guilds after him and those he loves. I won't spoil anything but there's a scene that speaks loudly to the futility and toll of war: that very little is gained from killing in the end.

Like the previous books, “Blood of Elves” is mostly based on dialogue -- using the characters words or thoughts to set the scene. This does, at times, make it feel a bit rushed and shallow but not enough to detract you from the story. The characters are memorable, the prose is far more sophisticated than in most fantasy, and the world Andrzej Sapkowski created is deeply compelling. I loved almost everything about it: from the sharp dialogue to the complex and multifaceted treatments of racism, sexism, colonialism and other socio-political issues that affect us in the real world. I particularly appreciated the way the book managed to operate simultaneously as serious fantasy and as a tongue-in-cheek deconstruction of the genre's tropes and cliches.

That, of course, is in part because the characters are just ridiculously good! I think Geralt is one of the most fully realized protagonists in fantasy. He's powerful, but reluctant to use his power in a way that might play into the world's terrible politics. He'd like nothing more than to opt-out completely and go about his business killing monsters for coin, but he can’t, and is inevitably dragged into affairs of war and peace. He's quiet, yet thoughtful; violent yet only hesitantly so; hard yet shows a greater capacity for empathy than anyone else in his world.
The powerful enchantresses he is romantically involved with, Yennefer of Vengerberg and Triss Merigold, are no less compelling. Any scene with Yennefer is pure gold! She's prideful, antagonistic and fierce. Yet, beneath the hard exterior -- undoubtedly caring and sympathetic--exactly the kind of complex, independent female character that male writers often have trouble writing. Her tortured relationship with Geralt is one for the ages, and works because she is his equal in every way.

“Blood of Elves” serves more as an introductory chapter to the overall story arc, and while it isn't the most exciting or plot driven story I've read -- it excels in delivering interesting, fleshed-out characters that you can't help but want to learn more about and sets the stage for the rest of the series. The ending is not an ending at all, but more of a lead into "A Time of Contempt”. Patience is required! If you ever want a more realistic approach to a fantasy world where politics of the realms have a larger impact on the world than a single character -- “The Witcher” is worth the effort.
Profile Image for Logan Berrian.
97 reviews9 followers
September 1, 2009
I loved it like I knew I would. It was well worth the wait, and I can not wait until the next installment. For some reason, my wife and I were possessed by the title and now run around the house doing some ridiculous call and response thing-
Me(from downstairs, yelling black metal voice): "BLOOD OF ELVES"
Her (from upstairs, shrieking black metal voice): "BLLLLLLLLLLOOOOD OF EELLLVVVVEEES"

There are worse reactions a book can inspire.
Profile Image for Anniebananie.
552 reviews399 followers
March 30, 2020
4,5 Sterne

Der erste reguläre Band der Hexer-Reihe erfüllt für mich alle Erwartungen, die ich nach den ersten beiden Vorgeschichtenbänden an ihn hatte.
Sobald man sich einmal an den Schreibstil gewöhnt hat, finde ich ihn ziemlich genial und passend, ist aber sicher nicht für jeden etwas. Diese Geschichte lebt aber einfach von ihren Dialogen und ich finde das gelingt dem Autor auch sehr gut.
Das Buch besteht nur aus 7 Kapiteln, ähnelt im Aufbau also irgendwie sehr den Kurzgeschichtenbänden, denn auch hier springen wir sehr viel in Zeit und Raum und Erzählperspektive hin und her. Das hat meinen Lesefluss kurzzeitig etwas gestört, daher musste ich auch ein halbes Sternchen abziehen. Außerdem fehlte mir an mancher Stelle einfach ein bisschen Spannung (wie bspw. bei der Szene mit den 5 Königen). Trotzdem hatte ich stetig das Verlangen weiter zu lesen und habe mich nur aufgrund der Leserunde, in der ich dieses Buch gelesen habe, gebremst.
Dem Ende stehe ich etwas ambivalent gegenüber: einerseits hört es zwar mittendrin auf und lässt uns mit vielen offenen Fragen und Vermutungen zurück, aber andererseits ist es auch kein fieser Cliffhanger. Freue mich dennoch tierisch auf Band 2!
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews44 followers
October 24, 2021
Krew elfów = Blood of Elves (The Witcher #1), by Andrzej Sapkowski

Geralt, the witcher of Rivia, is back — and this time he holds the fate of the whole land in his hands ...

For more than a hundred years, humans, dwarves, gnomes and elves lived together in relative peace.

But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over and now the races once again fight each other and themselves: dwarves are killing their kinsmen, and elves are murdering humans and elves, at least those elves who are friendly to humans...

Into this tumultuous time is born a child for whom the witchers of the world have been waiting.

Ciri, the granddaughter of Queen Calanthe, the Lioness of Cintra, has strange powers and a stranger destiny, for prophecy names her the Flame, one with the power to change the world for good, or for evil ...

Geralt, the witcher of Rivia, has taken Ciri to the relative safety of the Witchers' Settlement, but it soon becomes clear that Ciri isn't like the other witchers.

As the political situation grows ever dimmer and the threat of war hangs almost palpably over the land, Geralt searches for someone to train Ciri's unique powers.

But someone else has an eye on the young girl, someone who understand exactly what the prophecy means and exactly what Ciri's power can do.

This time Geralt may have met his match.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و سوم ماه اکتبر سال 2018میلادی

عنوان: حماسه‌ی ویچر؛ تالیف آنجی سپکوفسکی؛ مترجم سینا طاوسی‌مسرور؛ ویراستار بهناز حسینی؛ تهران، آذرباد، سال1396؛ توضیح: جلد سوم تا ششم ترجمه‌‌ی بهناز حسینی و سینا طاوسی‌مسرور است؛ جلد نخست: آخرین آرزو؛ جلد دوم: شمشیر سرنوشت؛ جلد سوم: خون الف‌ها؛ جلد چهارم: زمان خواری؛ جلد پنجم: غسل آتش؛ جلد ششم: برج پرستو؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان لهستان - سده 20م

عنوان: خون الف‌ها؛ نویسنده: آندری ساپکوفسکی؛ مترجم مهدی فیاضی‌کیا؛ ویراستار مریم فرنام؛ تهران، نشر ایجاز، سال1396؛ در367ص؛ شابک9786009750597؛

عنوان: خون‌ الف‌ها؛ اثر آندره ساپکوفسکی؛ برگردان امیرحسین خداکرمی؛ تهران، کتابسرای تندیس، سال1397؛ در368ص؛ شابک9786001823282؛ چاپ سوم سال1399؛ چاپ چهارم سال1400؛

گرالت، ویچر اهل ریویا، جنگجویی است که خود سپکوفسکی او را مانند تیر از کمان رهاشده صاف و ساده می‌‌داند؛ اما دنیا و سرنوشتی که گرالت را احاطه کرده، چنان پیچیده است که سادگی او به طرز دیوانه‌‌واری عمیق و با معنی جلوه می‌‌کند؛ شاید در نگاه نخست تنها با یک هیولاکش حرفه‌ ای که برای پول کار می‌‌کند روبرو باشیم؛ اما گرالت معمولاً با انسان‌هایی سروکار دارد که هر هیولایی را شرمنده و این انسان‌‌ها هستند که مجبورش می‌‌کنند قوانین همیشگی‌‌اش را زیر پا بگذارد؛ زبان نیش‌‌دار و بی‌‌باکی غیرطبیعی گرالت او را به شخصیتی ماندگار، فراموش‌نشدنی و محبوب بدل کرده که حتی در لحظه‌‌های آغشته به خون، به او احساس نزدیکی می‌‌کنیم؛

نقل از متن: (کتاب خون اِلف‌ها: فصل اول؛ شهر در میان شعله های آتش بود؛ از خیابانهای منتهی به خندق و ردیف اول خانه های شهر دود و خاکستر گرم فوران میکرد؛ شعله ها خانه های به هم چسبیده و سقف شالیپوش آنها را میبلعید و به دیواره های قلعه زبانه میکشید؛ از سمت غرب، از دروازه ی لنگرگاه، صدای فریاد، همهمه ی جنگی وحشیانه و ضربات کُند دژکوب که بر دیوارها کوفته میشد، هر لحظه بالاتر میرفت
مهاجمان به طور غیرمنتظره ای آنها را محاصره کرده بودند، سنگرهایی را که تنها چند سرباز؛ تعدادی از اهالی شهر مسلح به هالبِرد و چند نفر از کمانداران رسته از آنها حفاظت میکردند درهم شکستند؛ اسبهایشان که با زره های بلند سیاه رنگ پوشانده شده بودند، از بالای سنگرها به پرواز درآمدند و تیغهای براق و درخشان شمشیرِ سوارانشان بذر مرگ در میان مدافعان در حال گریختن میپاشید
سیری احساس کرد شوالیه ای که او را جلوی خودش روی زین نشانده، ناگهان به اسبش مهمیز زد؛ فریاد شوالیه را شنید که گفت: «محکم بشین! محکم بشین!»؛
شوالیه های دیگر که پرچم سینترا بر تن داشتند از آنها جلو زدند، در همانحال که با بیشترین سرعت میراندند، با نیلفگاردی ها نیز میجنگیدند؛ سیری از گوشه ی چشم نگاهی سریع به کشمکش انداخت: پیچ و تابهای دیوانه وار شنلهای آبی-طلایی و سیاه بین نبرد فولاد، تلق تلق برخورد شمشیر به زره و شیهه ی اسبها
فریادها. فریاد نه؛ جیغها
محکم بشین!؛
ترس؛ همانطور که به افسار چنگ میزد، با هر ضربه، هر تکان، هر پرش اسب، درد در دستانش میپیچید؛ پاهایش به طرز دردناکی گرفته نمیتوانست تکیه گاهی پیدا کند، چشمانش به خاطر دود پر از اشک شده بود؛ دستی که دورش حلقه شده بود راه نفسش را میبست، خفه اش میکرد، دنده هایش را میفشرد؛ در اطرافش، صدای جیغهایی که هرگز شبیه شان را نشنیده بود، بلندتر میشد؛ با یک آدم باید چه کرد که اینگونه جیغ بکشد؟
ترس؛ ترسِ طاقت فرسا، فلج کننده، خفه کننده؛
دوباره برخورد آهن، ناله و غریدنِ اسبها، خانه ها اطرافش چرخیدند و درجایی که لحظه ای قبل تنها خیابانی کوچک و گل آلود میدید که اجساد آن را پوشانده و داراییهای اهالی در حال فرار در آن پخش شده بود، میتوانست پنجره هایی را ببیند که آتش از آنها زبانه میکشید؛ ناگهان شوالیه ی پشت سرش به خس خس و سرفه ای عجیب افتاد؛ روی دستانی که افسار را محکم گرفته بود، خون جهید؛ بازهم جیغ؛ تیرهایی سوت کشان از کنارشان رد شد
سقوط، غافل گیری، به طرز دردناکی کوبیده شدن روی زره؛ پشت سرش سُمهایی روی زمین کوفته شدند و شکم و تنگ کهنه ی اسبی از بالای سرش به سرعت گذشت و به دنبال آن، شکم و زره سیاه و مواج اسب دیگری؛ هن و هنی از تقلا، مثل صدای یک چوببر موقع قطع درخت؛ اما این چوب نیست، برخورد آهن روی آهن است، فریادی خفه و بعد چیزی بزرگ و سیاه با فواره ای از خون بین گل ولای کنارش سقوط کرد؛ پایی زره پوش لرزید و با مهمیزش زمین را خراشید
یک حرکت سریع؛ نیرویی او را بالا کشید و روی زینی دیگر گذاشت؛ محکم بشین! دوباره سرعتی که استخوانهایش را میلرزاند و چهارنعل رفتن دیوانه وار؛ دست و پاهایش ناامیدانه در جستجوی تکیه گاه بودند؛ اسب روی دو پا بلند میشود؛ محکم بشین!...؛ تکیه گاهی نیست، ن��ست...؛ نیست...؛ خون هست؛ اسب به زمین میافتد؛ فرار از زیرش غیرممکن است، هیچ راهی برای خلاص شدن نیست، هیچ راهی برای فرار از این بازوهای زره پوش که او را محکم در برگرفته اند نیست؛ هیچ راهی برای دور ماندن از خونی که روی سر و شانه هایش میریزد نیست
یک تکان، صدای چلپ چلوپ پوتین روی زمین گل آلود، برخوردی شدید با زمین، سکونی مبهوت کننده پس از یک سواری وحشیانه؛ خس خس و شیهه های اسب که تلاش میکرد دوباره روی پا بایستد؛ صدای کوبیده شدن نعل اسبها بر زمین، موی پشت پای اسبها و سُمهایی که به سرعت رد میشدند؛ زره اسبها و شنلهای سیاه؛ فریاد زدن
خیابان آتش گرفته است، دیواری سرخ و غران از شعله ها؛ جلوی آن، شبح سواری عظیم الجثه؛ بلندتر از سقف در حال سوختنِ خانه ها؛ اسبش که با زرهی سیاه پوشانده شده روی دو پا بلند میشود، سرش را تکان میدهد و شیهه میکشد)؛ پایان

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 01/08/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Helen.
421 reviews94 followers
November 22, 2017
Boring. After reading The Last Wish, short story prequels, I was expecting fairy tale influenced monster hunting and adventuring. What I got was endless discussions about kings and politics, who wants to marry who and who wants to take over who's country.

I didn't like the way the women were written. They all lost all sense at the sight of Geralt, falling head over heels for him for no apparent reason because he has about as much personality as a stick. And the author appears to understand nothing about girls' puberty and periods and should really stay away from writing about them. Why should the use of magic cause cramps for women? What was the point of that? And why should they not exercise when they have their period?

I ended up putting this down and reading other books and just struggling to finish it.

It was just about getting good at the very end. It was just a generic training montage with Yennifer teaching Ciri the way of the magicians but the magic system was interesting.

The translation is good but even that can't fix the fact that it's just a book about politics, people arguing and jockeying for power. Add in the lack of decent female characters and this is just not for me.
Profile Image for Edward.
377 reviews1,006 followers
October 26, 2020
Check out my review for Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski on Grimdark Magazine here: Grimdark Magazine

Blood of Elves, the first ‘proper’ book in the tale of The Witcher, is a story of extreme training, bards songs and of course, swords. You’ll want to read this and the previous two instalments before you commence your journey into Netflix’s The Witcher.

“When you know about something it stops being a nightmare. When you know how to fight something, it stops being so threatening.”

The 3rd instalment into The Witcher moves away from the prior collections of short stories, and shifts into gear for the grand arc that is sure to come in the remaining 5 instalments. Where The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny focused on monster-slaying contracts, Blood of Elves has character development at the fore. It was my main gripe with the previous two stories, how there did not seem to be an over-arching scheme that would link everything together.

I highly suggest that you begin your journey into the realm of The Witcher with The Last Wish, and then Sword of Destiny as they subtly introduce a vast range of characters. I was pleasantly surprised with the return of minor characters that had quirks and personality enough for me to distinctly remember them.

“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.”

It is through Geralt’s interaction with other characters where the books come alive. The vast variety of dialogue sequences and subjects allows everyone to have their own voice, pardon the pun. Their voices and styles are distinct, if a lot of the time very wordy, which I will blame on the translation…maybe.

If you’ve played the games, you’ll notice lots of references the makers made in honour of the books. Particular scenes, such as the training of a young ‘Witcher’. There is a surprise as Geralt is not the only POV. The most notable addition is Ciri’s side of things, which I wasn’t keen on at first (everyone always wants more Geralt,) but in the end really enjoyed it. She is a character that is growing on me and I am really looking forward to seeing where the story takes her.

“I know you’re almost forty, look almost thirty, think you’re just over twenty and act as though you’re barely ten.”

The world building is solid, and gives the impression of a vast and well thought out world, from the Witcher haven of Kaer Morhen to the busy city of Novigrad. Characters that drift between places are met and so are characters that are key parts of regions. I’d have loved a map to go with the various names, which would have given me a real scope of the world, but I used my knowledge of the games (which is albeit probably slightly different to how Andrej Sapkowski imagined the world).

I still managed to find the examples of a gender imbalance, which unfortunately I’ve come to expect from a Sapkowski book about the Witcher. Geralt is a good man, and someone who tries to treat everyone equally, but there were still instances in the general writing of it. Still, I was pleasantly surprised with Ciri’s POV and really enjoyed her portrayal.

Now one thing I need to say is that I was desperate for more sword and sorcery. Geralt is one of the coolest guys and he has some really cool swords and I really wanted some cool swordplay and casting of signs and monster heads to go flying and… I could go on for a while. I would have enjoyed some more action. And some more classic fairy tale re-tellings. There was certainly enough talking in Blood of Elves, there could have been a few more instances of bloody fighting and some twists and turns. Hoping I’ll get my silver sword fix in the next instalment, Time of Contempt!

“Night and day the streets resounded with music, song, and the clinking of chalices and tankards, for it is well known that nothing is such thirsty work as the acquisition of knowledge.”

3/5 - Hoping for something better, but still enjoying what I received. This lukewarm dish is warming up and I have high hopes for the continuation of The Witcher Saga. The preparation for Netflix’s The Witcher is enjoyable, and I am sure will sweeten the TV show and Henry Cavill’s lovely wig. More swords next time, please! Igni!
Profile Image for Trish.
2,015 reviews3,434 followers
January 14, 2022
This is the first full-length novel in the Witcher universe. The previous two books, that I've read in January, were collections of short stories.

Ciri is now with Geralt and at the Witcher settlement where she is trained despite being a girl. And I celebrated her fighting windmills, carrying a sword and turning from damsel-in-distress-with-a-twist to a determined warrior-to-be who won't take shit from anyone.
The problem is that she's not just a princess whose fate is intertwined with Geralt's - she has powerful magic her current companions can't teach her anything about. So the enchantress Triss is asked to help. But her power has limits so the trio soon sets out to get Ciri to a save place where she can train all of her skills while Geralt goes off wandering again.
Along the way, they encounter the political problems of this world: the races are as good as at war with one another, sometimes they even kill their own kind for being too friendly to another race.

So we get to marvel at old ruins of elven palaces and weep for the story of their demise. We witness dwarves killing each other. We're also fighting alongside Geralt and his convoy, experience first-hand the horrors of war (burnt corpses, tortured creatures, death and fire).
As a contrast, we also get to know about places such as the University of Oxenfurt that shows us a different aspect of this world that is no less important.
I was also very pleased that there weren’t only Ciri and Geralt (plus a few other players) but that we got a bit more of Yennefer as well when she became Ciri’s teacher. Yep, I really like her.
Other than that, we sadly didn’t get too many creatures (read: monsters) as Geralt had no time to follow his original profession as monster hunter since everyone and their mothers were after Ciri and he needed to keep her safe and her whereabouts secret.

There was a bit of a lull in this book from time to time. The short stories got to the point much more quickly, of course. However, we trade the snappiness of the action for beautiful worldbuilding. Some details might seem random at first but the author has strewn them about purposefully and picks up the strands later to weave a gorgeous albeit grim and dark tapestry of a world where magic and fantastical creatures still roam the earth and every breath could be your last.

In the middle of such a turmoil, the author asks important questions such as the meaning, purpose and consequence of neutrality in a conflict. Or the motivation of different factions, the complex aspects that often have to come together in just the right way to spark war. How and why some individuals are trying to prevent it. The devastating results and how to pick up the pieces afterwards.

Some elements resonated more with me than others, as is to be expected. One such element suckerpunched me right at the beginning of the book when Triss contemplated collective responsibility, guilt for something that happened long before one’s birth, and refused it. I happen to be a person supposed to accept such a collective responsibility and I, too, refuse it. Thus, there was an instant connection I hadn't expected. Just one more example of deep thoughts being implemented into an action-fantasy story.

Yes, this is fantasy. But it is SMART fantasy. Very well written in a wonderfully detailed as well as fast-paced way that has only few equals.

I sure as hell hope that the second or any subsequent seasons of the Netflix adaptation will feature this story or aspects of it at least. We've seen the motives being addressed in season one already but I definitely want to see the Witcher settlement / school (and more Witchers).
Profile Image for Dana Ilie.
404 reviews352 followers
January 17, 2020
4.5 stars

I believe I did a bad decision when I started the series with The Last Wish. May be I have to read the novels after I read all the main books. I believe I did a bad decision when I started the series with The Last Wish. May be I have to read the novels after I read all the main books. Long story short: I picked The Last Wish after I hear Daniel Greene ( my link text )on you tube that he is reading The Witcher and is so good I have to try, but I did not like the book. Most of the time we have similar tastes and exactly the things I find annoying in a book, he also highlights them, so it surprised me a little that the book didn't captivate me. After Cavil got the role of Geralt I have to see the tv show, so in my characteristic style I cannot see a movie if it is made after a book until I read the book, and here I am!

Blood of Elves I like it a lot. I really loved the characterization. Both in our main characters Geralt of Rivia and Ciri, and all their supporting characters. The dynamics of relationships between characters in this book are complex and full of history. brought together by destiny, but emotionally stunted towards each other. Geralt, Yennefer, Triss, and Ciri all have emotions that will captivate your heart and you will root for them in different ways. What I love about Yennefer and Triss is that they have both a sharp tongue, that "woman in control" attitude I like to see more in feminine characters.
This book has a perfect balance between action, dialogue and description, and when conversation take over, is so well written that does not fill pages just for the sake of making the book thicker, but simply provides information for the reader to understand this world. It was a struggle for me and a little confusing because of the similar names, and when it’s not entirely made clear who it talking .

So, overall, I really really enjoyed the read and want to certainly continue the series.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,063 reviews1,473 followers
June 12, 2020
This is the first full length instalment in The Witcher series, but does follow from two prequel short story collections The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny.

Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, a magically-enhanced individual paid to slaughter the beasts that prey on the humans of the land. His current task involved the transportation and ensured safety of Ciri, the child of his destiny and the individual in which his future lays. Enemies lie on every side of them, keen to either abduct Ciri for their own evil gain or abolish the threat she poses altogether.

Despite this being the first series instalment, I can't imagine finding much enjoyment or understanding without previously having read the prequel short story collections. They both contain a multitude of individuals that also feature here and do the job of explaining their nuanced relationships and interwoven backstories.

Although this is titled the Witcher series, not much Witcher antics actually occurred and Geralt himself did not receive the majority of page time. This was dedicated the Ciri, the child of destiny. The reader largely follows her growth as a magical individual, first under the care of Geralt and then with his former-maybe-also-future love interest, Yennefer.

Whilst Ciri remained a favourite of mine I was always keen to discover where Geralt was and found the pacing, when following all of the characters, a little slow. My interest remained high and I am looking forward to discovering where the story will continue, after the slight cliffhanger this closed on.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,206 reviews3,194 followers
January 3, 2023
3.5 Stars
I don't think I would have enjoyed this novel as much if I wasn't already a fan of the video games and tv show. This has a fairly classic European setting, although I appreciated the eastern Polish influences. I hated Triss' sections and wished Yennifer had showed up earlier. Ciri was awesome. While I found some of the political intrigue parts dry, I want to see where the story will go from here.
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
375 reviews3,086 followers
September 10, 2019
This is such a conflicting read because I LOVED the first half of this but I could not focus on the second half and actually got to a point where I wanted it to be over. I guess I’m just Geralt and Ciri trash and only wanted to read about them XD
Profile Image for Zitong Ren.
504 reviews158 followers
March 29, 2020
My first Witcher book, and hey, it was a total success! I know that it is generally recommended to read The Last Wish first, but I don’t have that on me and going to the library or going out and buying it isn’t really an option in times like these where I am happily self-isolating. I do have the first three books of the Witcher however as some of the last few physical books I actual have at home(since I mostly rely on libraries) and have decided that I might as well binge read them. I do plan to get to The Last Wish eventually, which like, might be a while.

Like I said, it was a success and I did really enjoy it, however, I do also have some criticisms and other things that detail to personal preference that means that this book is a 4 star instead of 5.

One thing that I did really enjoy was all the characters and the many interactions that we saw between them. There is lots of dialogue in this book, and a lot of descriptions, which is very different for a fantasy novel, though since this is a translated work, and I don’t know anything about Polish Literature, it may be something more common in Polish works compared to English fantasy, which is basically known for having super long descriptions about everything while being slow. This book instead was honestly the opposite with minimal descriptions and a lot of dialogue, which truthfully, I didn’t mind that much, since it was written really well and some of these characters are plain awesome. Now, when I initially saw these books, I was quite surprised at how little pages it had for an Epic fantasy, but now that I have read this book and have noted that there aren’t that many descriptions, it makes a lot more sense, as most fantasy authors would have made this easily a good 600 pages.

There isn’t a map in this book, which I understand, not every author likes a map in their book, yet it also mentions lots of places geographically that I had no idea where they were in relation to the rest, yet thankfully, due to the internet, I did spend some time staring at the map Netflix made for the show, which honestly, is such a beautifully done map(if anyone’s wondering, I have not seen the Netflix adaptation).

I did like the world building in this book and at how the author gave us some background history to the current situation and hints of political intrigue as well, though there was not a lot of this. I would have liked to have learnt a bit more about each individual country and the culture behind it. We did get some decent information on Cintra and Nilfgaard, but would have liked a bit more on some of the other prominent nations in this book such as Redania or Kaedwen. I know that this is book 1 and it is very likely that we will get more worldbuilding in the near future.

It was interesting at how this book was laid out, since instead of having a direct goal or point of interest for the characters, each individual chapter was more like a short story of its own that joins to together to form the book. There are some chapters dedicated to Ciri and her training, yet there are other chapters which does not feature her at all and instead focusses on another plot line that has little relevance to her, even by the end of the book. Another thing to note about the ending is that there is no pay off at all, and largely consists of conversations and simply leads into the next book instead of the usual action packed ending of more traditional fantasies, which I found interesting as in reading a translated work, it sort of shows that different cultures have different ways I suppose in writing the same genres that I know and love, even though it is based roughly on the same ideals.

This is definitely a book that sort of highlights the transition in a way between traditional and modern fantasy, since while it features elves and dwarves, there are also lots of cooler newer aspects, the Witcher and world itself to mention some of them. I mean, overall, I thought that this was an awesome book and I can’t wait to start book to to see where my characters are off to in the uncertain times that they are in. 8/10
Profile Image for Vanitha Narayan.
42 reviews36 followers
February 14, 2023
When I started this book I was under the impression that the fantasy genre may not interest me as much as it used to. Apparently not, a well written fantasy series does interest me still!. Had a great time with the first book. Picking the next right away!
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,399 followers
March 10, 2020
After two collections of short stories, I’ve finally arrived at the first novel in The Witcher series. Though this is marked as book #1 in many places, including Goodreads, I really can’t imagine diving into this world without having some background knowledge and context for the events occurring. Whether that’s from The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, the several video games or the first season of the Netflix show, I wouldn’t recommend having Blood of Elves be your introduction to Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri.

For one thing, there’s so many time jumps! The chapters are massive, so they’re broken up with a few line breaks, but you really have no idea what time or place Andrzej Sapkowski is going to pick up at. I wish that he was more clear, but at this point part of reading a Witcher book is being confused halfway through it until whenever Sapkowski decides to explain what’s going on. It’s just part of the journey! We’re all Dandelion, wandering around, singing about earning coins until Geralt comes swooping in to save the day.

Speaking of, Dandelion (Jaskier) is much less insufferable this time around. I take back my wish from my last review that something would eat him. And only two (!!) women completely lose control of their faculties and throw themselves at Geralt for no discernible reason. It’s still ridiculous, and so obviously written by a dude, but at least he didn’t leer at any rogue nipples this time around.

The highlight in this book comes in the last chapter, where Ciri and Yennefer are sequestered alone with one another. They are a riot and have some of the best interactions of the series. Solely for that selection of 60-odd pages I will give this one five stars, though the rest was pretty solid as well. This book sets up a lot of events that are going to happen down the road, and I’m highly anticipating those future payoffs!
Profile Image for Knjigoholičarka.
153 reviews8 followers
December 17, 2018

Jenefer je carica. <3

geralt and yen


Šta sve donosi epska fantastika? Vilenjake, patuljke, magiju, seksi čarobnice. Koje sve motive možete očekivati od epske fantastike? Pa, zasigurno neko Proročanstvo, pojavljivanje Odabranog, najmanje jednog super frajera mračne prošlosti i slomljenog srca, koji se pretvara da to je isto srce odavno skamenjeno.

I dete.

Slatko, pametno, šarmantno do bola dete, koje, samo kako to deca umeju i znaju, svojom prostodušnošću, brbljavošću, radoznalošću i hrabrošću, leči to srce pretvoreno u kamen.

Suma sumarum: sve ono što od epske fantastike već očekujete i znate da ćete dobiti, ali bez suvišnog davljenja (da, Džordane, ni mrtvog neću prestati da te prozivam!).

geralt and ciri
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