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 – 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.

An Update on Books and Reading Goals

I just realized that we are halfway through 2022, so I thought this might be a good time to stop and look back at how the year has been going.

First – reading goals! I had set an unrealistic goal to read 89 books this year, when I normally struggle to get through 50 in that time frame. As of today, I have finished 23 books, which puts me at 23% of that original goal, but not far off the mark for reaching 50 this year.

Here is a graphic of what I’ve read so far in 2022:

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My plan to read one book from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series every month has gone astray, along with reading one Dune book every month. I have made it through half (3 of 6) of the Dune books by the original author, and only 3 of 14 of The Wheel of Time.

As always seems to happen, I have picked up books I didn’t originally have on my 2022 list, and then branched off into new series and authors. I think that for 2023 I will have to focus on finishing some series that I’ve started.

What am I reading now? Look – pretty covers! I am listening to the next book in The Witcher seriesThe Time of Contempt. On Kindle, I’m reading Lover Unbound, a book in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series which is sort of a guilty pleasure (sexy vampires, yeah), and In a Garden Burning Gold which I received courtesy of NetGalley for review.

After I finish those, next up are these options:

All of these are continuations in a series, except for The Water Dancer. I think I have a series problem!

Which should I read first? Let me know in the comments above. What other books and series have you read this year and enjoyed? Help me add to my ridiculous to-be-read list!

Find my book 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.

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