Book Review – Baptism of Fire

Next up for review is Baptism of Fire, the 5th book (publication order) in The Witcher Saga by Andrzej Sapkowski. I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Peter Kenny.

You can find my reviews for the other books in this series here:

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Here is the blurb:

The Wizards Guild has been shattered by a coup and, in the uproar, Geralt was seriously injured. The Witcher is supposed to be a guardian of the innocent, a protector of those in need, a defender against powerful and dangerous monsters that prey on men in dark times.

But now that dark times have fallen upon the world, Geralt is helpless until he has recovered from his injuries.

While war rages across all of the lands, the future of magic is under threat and those sorcerers who survive are determined to protect it. It’s an impossible situation in which to find one girl – Ciri, the heiress to the throne of Cintra, has vanished – until a rumor places her in the Nilfgaard court, preparing to marry the Emperor.

Injured or not, Geralt has a rescue mission on his hands.


Geralt begins this book recovering from his injuries, yet he is desperate to discover the fate of Ciri and Yennefer after the events at the conclusion of the previous volume. Finally he sets out from his refuge and follows rumor in an attempt to track down Ciri in Nilfgaard.

This book isn’t about reaching Ciri, but rather about the relationships that form on the journey, and how a war that spreads over a continent affects the everyday people trying to live there. Geralt slowly changes as a character and even though he is a Witcher, he is propelled more by his drive to see Ciri safe than his former mercenary lifestyle of monster-slaying.

Several characters are introduced in this book who will feature through the end of the series: Milva the archer, Cahir the outcast Nilfgaardian knight, and Regis – an aloof hermit with valuable medical skills. Geralt has always tried to handle danger alone, but through this story we can see how he starts to accept help from others, a theme that continues through the finale of the books.

Ciri and Yennefer take more minor roles in this book, so it came as a surprise that Sapkowski brings in issues of reproductive rights and pregnancy loss in this story. This topic becomes relevant in later books in a more indirect sense, so I can see why he has a direct conversation between the characters in this one.

Despite being an epic fantasy tale, this series uses stories to also make fun of fantasy in a very self-aware sense. Is Geralt of Rivia from Rivia? This book will finally explain his title.

While most of this book moves slowly in terms of plot, the characters are the high point here. Yet, action lovers can be satisfied with a fantastic scene near the end of the book in The Battle for the Bridge. I enjoyed this book and thought it was a solid installment in the series as it continues to add complexity and higher stakes.

Have you read any books in The Witcher Saga? What did you think? Let me know in the comments (above).

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – The Time of Contempt

I finished the last book in the Witcher Saga by Andrzej Sapkowski a few days ago and I wanted to get back to writing out my thoughts and reviewing the rest of this series. The next up is The Time of Contempt, the 4th book in publication order, coming after the two short story collections (The Last Wish, Sword of Destiny) and the first novel (Blood of Elves). I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Peter Kenny.

You can find my reviews for the other books in this series here:

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The blurb for this book was not very useful, so I pieced together a couple of them to come up with something better:

Geralt is a Witcher: guardian of the innocent; protector of those in need; a defender in dark times against some of the most frightening creatures of myth and legend.

His task now is to protect Ciri. A child of prophecy, she will have the power to change the world for good or for ill—but only if she lives to use it.

To protect his ward Ciri, Geralt of Rivia sends her to train with the sorceress Yennefer. But all is not well across the lands as a coup threatens the Wizard’s Guild, war breaks out across the lands, and a serious injury leaves Geralt fighting for his life. And Ciri – in whose hands the world’s fate rests – has vanished…


This book starts off with Ciri finally being able to show off some Witcher skills as she ventures out from the Temple School and is more on her own. However, her escapades are eventually interrupted as the sorceresses want to have her train at their magic school in Aretuza.

One huge theme in this entire series is that everyone is trying to control Ciri, presumably to help her fulfill a prophecy or whatever her destiny entails. But in the course of this, no one ever asks Ciri what she wants. Is she a pawn of her destiny or should she have a say in her own fate? Could it change anything if she does?

The events that occur in Thanedd were confusing to me as a reader, but I think that accurately reflected how things happened for those involved. From that point onward, I feel like these novels took a darker and more pessimistic turn, but one that sort of allows Ciri some new freedoms. This book sets the stage for the later events in the series in ways that are not immediately obvious.

The politics of this world becomes more important and the worldbuilding broader and more impactful as Ciri and Geralt’s fates unfold. I enjoyed reading this book, but it was one of those where I have to wonder what might stand out to me on a second read-through of the series, now that I know how it ends. Overall, this was a solid installment and moves the story along in an unforeseen way.

The narrator is wonderful and I was able to tell which characters were speaking without being told: Geralt is suitably gruff, while Dandelion is a frivolous dandy. This only adds to the superb characterization in this series, and I appreciate when the same narrator voices an entire series (as in this case).

Have you read any books in this series? Which was your favorite? Let me know in the comments (above).

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – Fairy Tale

I started to read Stephen King’s books at least 15 years ago when I picked up The Dark Tower series. I guess that after delving into many more of his works, I now consider myself a fan, although I still don’t read everything that he writes. When I saw that he had a book titled Fairy Tale, though, I knew that this was one I’d need to read.

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Here is the blurb:

Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. Then, when Charlie is seventeen, he meets Howard Bowditch, a recluse with a big dog in a big house at the top of a big hill. In the backyard is a locked shed from which strange sounds emerge, as if some creature is trying to escape. When Mr. Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie the house, a massive amount of gold, a cassette tape telling a story that is impossible to believe, and a responsibility far too massive for a boy to shoulder.

Because within the shed is a portal to another world—one whose denizens are in peril and whose monstrous leaders may destroy their own world, and ours. In this parallel universe, where two moons race across the sky, and the grand towers of a sprawling palace pierce the clouds, there are exiled princesses and princes who suffer horrific punishments; there are dungeons; there are games in which men and women must fight each other to the death for the amusement of the “Fair One.” And there is a magic sundial that can turn back time.

A story as old as myth, and as startling and iconic as the rest of King’s work, Fairy Tale is about an ordinary guy forced into the hero’s role by circumstance, and it is both spectacularly suspenseful and satisfying.


I truly enjoyed this book! The opening is very relatable and takes place in our world. There’s a mysterious old man with secrets, a sympathetic protagonist in Charlie, and a wonderful dog. You KNOW that this story is going to go somewhere fantastical though from the title.

The first half provides a lot of character background and is essentially about saving a dog. The focus then shifts to an unpredictable story about heroes, quests, and doing the right thing. King references traditional fairy tales that you know, but in a way that isn’t obvious at first. But he also brings in more modern stories that have developed their own cultural following: everything from Cthulhu and Disney characters, to his own lines from The Dark Tower series. He even trolls George R. R. Martin with his own take on “the prince who was promised.”

Like the original versions of classic fairy tales, this story has its dark aspects. However, it is much more of a fantasy story than something from the horror genre. The ending was satisfying and I might even have shed a tear on the final page. I expect that Fairy Tale will end up being one of my top books of 2023 and I’m finding it hard to even offer any criticism of it right now, so go read it!

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – In a Garden Burning Gold

When this book was released, I was immediately attracted to it by the gorgeous cover, but I wasn’t familiar with the author, Rory Power, at all. This isn’t her first novel, but she is a relatively new author, so I thought I’d take a chance and pick up In a Garden Burning Gold.

This is the first book of The Wind-Up Garden series, which appears to be a duology. I read this book in 2022 and this is one of my back log of books to review. I also want to thank Net Galley for providing this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the blurb:

Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they’ve been each other’s only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger.

Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father’s rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other across the battlefield.


The world found in this novel contained some fascinating magic, where certain rulers have magically enhanced lifespans and gain powers in a very specific sphere that help to run their world. Rhea’s power is that she helps to bring on the change of seasons by choosing a consort for a short time, then eventually murdering them. While it is supposedly an honor to be chosen as her consort, politics also plays a huge role in this system.

I enjoyed seeing how this story unfolded, and the plot took some surprising twists. However, I felt like these long-lived nobles (especially Rhea) acted far more naive than I would have expected for people with so much worldly experience. I probably won’t read the next book.

Have you read this book or any of the author’s other works? Let me know in the comments (above).

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – Blood of Elves

I have been continuing my audiobook listen to The Witcher books by Andrzej Sapkowski with Blood of Elves, the first volume that is a novel, rather than a series of short stories.

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Here is the blurb:

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.


Geralt, together with the other Witchers, struggles to raise Ciri and train her in combat and magic. Ciri excels in the training and wants to be a Witcher, but as a “Child of Destiny” she starts to manifest something more. This book contains fewer action scenes compared to the short story collections (The Last Wish, The Sword of Destiny), but more moments of character development and worldbuilding that look to be setting up a greater tale.

This was a fun book to read, despite the serious themes underlying the story. Geralt passes for human in most situations, but we are reminded that he is also a target of discrimination because he is different. So even though people need his services, he must shrug off bigoted comments and slights. When this book introduces the conflict between elves and humans, Geralt instantly sees the racism on both sides.

At this time, I’m almost done with the next book, The Time of Contempt, so look for my review of that soon.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – Sword of Destiny

Sometimes my pace of audiobook listening surpasses my physical reading and I end up adrift on my to-be-read list, unsure of what to listen to next. This is how I ended up delving back into The Witcher series of books by Andrzej Sapowski, narrated by Peter Kenny.

Different suggested reading orders exist for this series, and I decided to start with the two short story collections, The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny. I had actually read The Last Wish in 2019, prior to watching the television series based on these books. I never reviewed The Last Wish, but I did enjoy it, so in anticipation of catching up on season 2 of the show soon, I decided that I needed to continue reading these books.

(The books were also the basis for a series of video games which are one of the top-selling series of all time. I have played part of these as well.)

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Here is the blurb:

Geralt is a witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no ordinary murderer: his targets are the multifarious monsters and vile fiends that ravage the land and attack the innocent. He roams the country seeking assignments, but gradually comes to realize that while some of his quarry are unremittingly vile, vicious grotesques, others are the victims of sin, evil, or simple naivety.

In this collection of short stories, following the adventures of the hit collection “The Last Wish,” join Geralt as he battles monsters, demons, and prejudices alike.


Sword of Destiny is another collection of short stories, but I found these to be more connected than those in The Last Wish, with recurrent characters and themes emerging. The sword of the title is figurative, but the concept of destiny features largely in the stories and in Geralt’s outlook on his life. The stories also delve into what it means to be a witcher, and whether someone who has undergone this change is human or not.

These stories were fun to read, with great banter between Geralt and the bard, Dandelion (Jaskier in the show). Geralt solves problems that involve monsters while needing to remain true to the witcher code. This doesn’t always require killing the monsters, and while he is occasionally outmatched in wits, he uses more than muscles to solve problems.

I already started the next book, Blood of Elves, so look for a review on that one soon.

Are you familiar with The Witcher in any of its versions (books, show, video games)? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my book reviews here.

Book Review – The River of Silver

The River of Silver is a collection of short stories set in the world of The Daevabad Trilogy by S. A. Chakraborty. I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Soneela Nankani. It appears that this book is not available in print or as an e-book until October 2022, so the audio version is your only option for an early return to this stunning world.

I reviewed the books in the original trilogy here:

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Here is the blurb:

Bestselling author S.A. Chakraborty’s acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy gets expanded with this new compilation of stories from before, during, and after the events of The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, and The Empire of Gold, all from the perspective of characters both beloved and hated, and even those without a voice in the novels. The River of Silver gathers material both seen and new—including a special coda fans will need to read—making this the perfect complement to those incredible novels.

A prospective new queen joins a court whose lethal history may overwhelm her own political savvy…

An imprisoned royal from a fallen dynasty and a young woman wrenched from her home cross paths in an enchanted garden…

A pair of scouts stumble upon a secret in a cursed winter wood that will turn over their world…

Now together in one place, these stories of Daevabad enrich a world already teeming with magic and wonder. From Manizheh’s first steps towards rebellion to adventures that take place after The Empire of Gold, this is a must-have collection for those who can’t get enough of Nahri, Ali, and Dara and all that unfolded around them.


This book is for readers who have already enjoyed The Daevabad Trilogy, and while the stories would be readable to someone unfamiliar with the plot and characters of the books, much of the impact of these tales would be lost. The River of Silver is a collection of deleted scenes, character backstory, and moments of resolution that either didn’t fit in the main trilogy, would have given away spoilers too soon, or would have dragged out the ending of The Empire of Gold.

For anyone reading the trilogy and wanting just a little more, The River of Silver will deliver on that. Each story is prefaced by a short note from the author that lets the reader know when it occurs in relation to the books and if there was any other history behind it. For example, one story was an alternate prologue to one of the books.

The narrator is the same woman who read the original trilogy, and her voice took me immediately back to Daevabad. The slight variations in tone allowed me to discern different characters without needing to be otherwise told.

Overall this was a fun addition to the world of Daevabad and helped to ease the sadness of finishing the trilogy and knowing that such a wonderful story was over.

Did you read any of The Daevabad Trilogy? Have you picked up The River of Silver yet? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – The Empire of Gold

The Empire of Gold is the third and final book in The Daevabad Trilogy by S. A. Chakraborty. I listened to this one as an audiobook, narrated by Soneela Nankani.

You can find my reviews of the other books in this series here:

Spoilers below!

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Here is the blurb:

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.


This book was a long read, but I found it necessary to wrap up all of the complex plot threads and character relationships in this story. I generally love long and complicated stories, so this is not a criticism, and the book delivered a stunning conclusion to Nahri and Ali’s stories.

Even though I thought I knew certain things, the author managed to reveal new secrets that changed the dynamics between the characters. It is neither a happy nor a tragic ending, but a bittersweet, satisfying, and still hopeful one.

Have you read The Daevabad Trilogy? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – The Kingdom of Copper

The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty is the second book in The Daevabad Trilogy. I listened to this as an audiobook last year and loved the entire series. You can find my review of the first book, The City of Brass, here.

Also – beware! Spoilers below!

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Here is the blurb:

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family, and one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid, the unpredictable water spirits, have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.


Set a few years after the tragic ending of book 1, we see Nahri settling into her new role as a healer as this book begins. But she still grieves both Dara and Ali, and resents the king who essentially keeps her captive in Daevabad.

This book complicates everything that you thought you knew about this world, and looking back at it now, I don’t know how so much fit into one book. The politics entangles the characters more than before, new secrets are revealed.

Like the first book, this one reaches an ending but leaves more to be done. Look out for my review of book 3, The Empire of Gold, in the next week.

Have you read The Daevabad Trilogy? What did you think? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – The City of Brass

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty is a book that I read last year but had never reviewed. It is the first in a trilogy (The Daevabad Trilogy), and I loved this series so much that I had to go back to say a few things about it. I also just finished a fourth book set in this world (The River of Silver), so that reminded me that I needed to write about this series.

The City of Brass was nominated for a World Fantasy Award and a British Fantasy Awards, and the series was nominated for a Hugo Award for best series. I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Soneela Nankani.

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Here is the blurb:

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by – palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing – are all tricks, both the means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.

But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to reconsider her beliefs. For Dara tells Nahri an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire and rivers where the mythical marid sleep, past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises and mountains where the circling birds of prey are more than what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass – a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments and behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments run deep. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, her arrival threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries. Spurning Dara’s warning of the treachery surrounding her, she embarks on a hesitant friendship with Alizayd, an idealistic prince who dreams of revolutionizing his father’s corrupt regime. All too soon, Nahri learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for….


This story starts out simply enough, with an orphan girl summoning a djinn who whisks her away to a land of magic. But the history and politics in this world elevate the story as it grows in complexity. Everyone holds secrets in this place, and it is the slow revelation of the truth and the interactions between the characters that made this book so good. The unique worldbuilding was a tiny bit confusing to me at first, but once I became more immersed in the book, the phenomenal world that Chakraborty has created drew me in.

The blurb above is a little deceptive, as Alizayd is also a main character. We get to see the story from both Nahri and his points of view. I was more interested in Nahri’s story at the start, but Ali grew on me and develops into a wonderful character as he is torn between his family, his conscience, and his tentative friendship with Nahri.

If you do read this one, be ready to pick up the next book, The Kingdom of Copper, right away because this first book ends on a devastating sequence of events. Yes, there’s an ending, but even more questions remain.

Have you read any books of The Daevabad Trilogy? What did you think? Let me know in the comments above.

Read my review of book 2, The Kingdom of Copper, here.

Read more of my reviews here.

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