Saturday, August 7, 2021

REVIEW: Sword of Destiny: Tales of the Witcher (book) by Andrzej Sapkowski, translated by David French

Sword of Destiny is another anthology of Witcher stories. I'm not really sure about the series chronology, but it was sold in a set with The Last Wish, as though it followed that anthology. Goodreads tells me that starting with The Last Wish and then Sword of Destiny is the best reading order.


The stories in this Witcher anthology are all on the long side, a change from The Last Wish. Also, there are no efforts that I could recall to transition from one story to the next, although several of the stories do naturally work well in the order in which they're included.

Geralt encounters a mermaid and other sea creatures, dryads, a dragon, and a shapeshifter. He also deals with further complications in his relationship with Yennefer and finds himself face-to-face with a destiny he's not entirely sure he wants anymore but can't avoid.

The Last Wish ended with something that felt like a cliffhanger, as Iola had some kind of horrible vision of Geralt's future. I had thought that Sword of Destiny would continue on from that point and provide an explanation, but that didn't seem to be the case. Not only that, Iola and Nenneke made no appearances in this volume.

It was a bit jarring, but not necessarily a bad thing. This volume also seemed to lean less heavily on fairy tales (unless they were ones I didn't recognize) - I noticed "The Little Mermaid" and one or two others, but they were more in the background this time. The tone didn't shift quite so wildly from one story to the next, and overall it felt like Sapkowski had gotten a better handle on his characters and their world.

That said, the individual stories weren't quite so memorable this time around. Also, I found the first half of the volume's greater focus on Geralt's love life to be tiresome. Geralt and Yennefer exhaust me, and Geralt and Essi was just depressing. I was glad that Sapkowski made no attempt at a Geralt and Braenn pairing.

It was surprising how well Gerald handled Ciri. I wouldn't have thought he'd have had much experience with children - he seemed like the kind of guy parents would generally warn their children to stay away from. And it was nice to see one of the loose ends from The Last Wish get taken care of, or at least continued/built up further.

This is the last of the books from this series that I own, and I have some book club reading to do, so it may be a while before I continue this. However, I do plan to continue on.

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