Portal to the Pages

A quick glimpse into my thoughts on various fiction

Blood of Elves – Andrzej Sapkowski

on December 18, 2012
Book cover of Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

Blood of Elves

Blood of Elves is the first book in the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski, which, incidentally, is the series that inspired the video game of the same name. Blood of Elves is another book recommended to me by my brother so I had no idea what it was about.

I quickly gathered that it is set in another world, a world where humans are not the only sentient beings; they share the world with all sorts of creatures, such as elves, dwarves and so forth. Magic is also present in this world; however it is not exclusive to those who consider themselves magicians. There also exist people known as “witchers”. These people are highly trained in the art of killing, as well as possess some magic, and are generally paid to dispatch unwanted monsters and lift curses.

Blood of Elves follows the exploits of one witcher in particular, Geralt, who has been destined for a very important fate. This fate is routinely hinted at but we are told that it involves a young girl, Ciri, a former princess who was rescued from a violent takeover of her kingdom. The book mainly focuses on Ciri’s experiences as she interacts with Geralt and he in turn tries to train her and keep her safe from the many forces conspiring against her, both known and unknown.

Despite the many different concepts relating to the world introduced in this book, including those of inter-species politics, this was a surprisingly easy read. I had expected to take a little bit of time to understand exactly what “magic” meant in this book, but it was all presented in a self-explanatory way. This meant that my immersion in the book was never broken by me thinking, “Wait, he did what?” This is something that I truly value in a fantasy or science-fiction book, especially those that include magic.

Despite this however, Blood of Elves is the first book in the series and reads as such. The pace of the story is relatively slow; much time passes during the book but not many major events occur. Without giving anything away, I felt that it ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger, which is meant to persuade you to read the next book. As such, I feel that it doesn’t really work as a standalone book.

That said, I can’t wait to read the next book and I did really enjoy Blood of Elves as the opening book to a whole series. I feel that I have gained a significant understanding of the various forces at play in the world the book is set in, as well as developed an emotional connection with the various characters. I look forward to seeing how the characters continue to develop and interact with each other. However, it is still a bit of a let-down that after over 300 pages, I am still waiting for the real story to begin.

In general though, I did really enjoy reading Blood of Elves. I also have to commend Danusia Stok for translating it to English. Sometimes when a book is translated, I feel that part of it gets lost along the way. I didn’t feel that once during Blood of Elves, which is so important for a book dealing with fantastical creatures and magic. At no point during my reading did I feel that I was reading the watered down version of the book.

I am honestly really looking forward to getting my hands on the rest of the Witcher series, if Blood of Elves is anything to go by. My only regret is that, as I said above, Blood of Elves didn’t also function well as a standalone novel. However, if the series as a whole is as strong as this introductory book sets it up to be, I may not mind so much!

A quick note on the game before I finish my review; I haven’t played it yet but I do have it installed on my laptop. Has anyone played it? Does it overlap with the books?

If you’ve read Blood of Elves or any of the Witcher series, please let me know your thoughts in the comments – but no spoilers please!

Sinead

Edit: I have since been informed that the Witcher series is actually a sequel to The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny (which is not currently available in English), two collections of short stories about the previous adventures of Geralt. I’m now adding The Last Wish to my to-read list so I may very well review it in the future!

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