Book Review: ‘The Witcher: Baptism of Fire’ by Andrzej Sapkowski

As I’m working my way through The Witcher books, this is my favorite installment of the regular “saga” novels, thus far. It’s also the third and middle chapter of the five.

I guess it’s actually my favorite, counting the two short story compilations that I started with and honestly, the first one of those is hard to top.

In this volume, we pick up where things left off with the previous book. The trio of Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri are split up and in different places, dealing with their own issues and adventures.

Ciri’s part of the story deals with her taking on an alias and running with a gang called “The Rats”.

Yennefer deals with the politics and issues following the fall of the Brotherhood of Sorcerers.

Geralt, on the other hand, really gets the bulk of the time in this novel but then he should, as he’s the title character of the series.

In this, Geralt wants to search for Ciri. He sets off to find her with his bestie Dandelion and a newcomer, Milva, who initially has a rocky relationship with Geralt. They also meet up with Zoltan and his dwarves and along the way they are shadowed by Cahir, who was the “black rider” that Ciri was having nightmares about in the previous book. Eventually, Cahir joins the group, as does Regis, a vampire, who the group doesn’t trust but he comes with valuable medical skills.

The big climax of the novel sees the Battle of the Bridge on the Yaruga. This is where Geralt’s chosen name of “Geralt of Rivia” actually becomes an official title, after his heroism and skill helps win the day.

Additionally, we also learn a big secret about Ciri’s lineage, which I won’t spoil.

This book had superb action, a great battle, shaky alliances, new friendships and loyalties forged and it was just one hell of a fun, badass adventure. Honestly, this was just great escapism and an enthralling epic tale.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Witcher books, comics and television shows.

Book Review: ‘The Witcher: Time of Contempt’ by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Time of Contempt is the second book in the five-part main novel series of The Witcher. It’s my fourth book, as I read the two prequel short stories first, as was recommended.

This one starts off a bit slow but even the slower parts are good, as this series does a stupendous job of character development. And with that, we see Ciri mature a little bit and also experience the threat of the Wild Hunt for the first time.

The book also reveals more about Ciri and her destiny and how everyone is tied to her.

Beyond the first act, the book shifts into overdrive. We reconnect with some familiar faces but there are plots and twists and then, major conflict and action.

The core trio gets split up in the mayhem but this sets Ciri off on the path she is destined to follow.

I honestly don’t want to spoil too much about the plot but I hope these stories are something that the Netflix show can eventually get to, as long as they do it justice. I worry that they won’t but then, I’ll always have these books, which are the superior versions of The Witcher mythos.

I dig this series a lot and honestly, I’m halfway through the eight books now and I still find them hard to put down. I feel like this is a novel series I will return to multiple times in the future, as I have with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the other Witcher books, comics and television shows.

Book Review: ‘The Witcher: Blood of Elves’ by Andrzej Sapkowski

This book in The Witcher series is the first of the five books that form the primary saga. Before it, I read the two short story collections that were published later but have since been recommended by everyone, as the best place to start.

So I was excited getting into this one, as this is the beginning of the real journey for Geralt, Ciri and Yennefer, as well as the other core characters that come in and out of these stories.

Although, I have to agree that one should read the short story collections first, as they flesh out and beef up the core characters, which I thought was somewhat lacking, here, the book that was originally the starting point.

Having a lot more context going into this was a benefit, even if I already know a lot from the video games and television series.

However, as the television series only adapted stuff from the short stories, thus far, everything here was fresh and new for me and it was really cool reading this and sort of having the blanks filled between the origins of the characters and their later stories, which were used and adapted somewhat in The Witcher 3 game.

I really liked how much Triss was used in this book, as she is one of my favorite characters and it really developed her more than the short story books or the games.

I also enjoyed the stuff about Ciri’s training and how the other witchers had issues trying to raise a girl, as she was growing into a young woman.

Beyond that, I thought some parts of this dragged out a bit too long and even though there is some conflict and action, the book really feels like more of a set up to a larger tapestry than it does its own, solid body of work. That’s not necessarily bad, as this is part of a large saga but there’s not much here that stands out and gives this book its own identity.

This could also be due to the short story books sort of diminishing the overall effect of this one, as it was originally the origin of these characters for the readers who were there in the beginning.

All in all, this is still pretty damn enjoyable and it sets things up in a way that makes me excited for the other books.

I should have the review for the next one up in a few weeks.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Witcher books, comics and television shows.

Book Review: ‘The Witcher: Sword of Destiny’ by Andrzej Sapkowski

Sword of Destiny is the second of The Witcher‘s short story collections, which serve as prequels to the regular novel series. These books give more backstory and context to the core characters and help build out the world that they live in. If you want to get into this series, I’d suggest starting with these.

Like the other short story collection, which I already reviewed, some of the material here was used for episodes in the first season of The Witcher Netflix series. There are a few fresh stories, though, and the literary versions of these tales are actually better with more plot and details.

The most important story here is the one that covers the fall of Cintra and how Ciri lost everything and eventually found her way to Geralt, her destiny (and his).

Ciri’s journey to Geralt is actually covered in the two short stories at the end. However, it’s much richer and more detailed than the television series, which also appears to have made up some of its own details. Granted, some of those things could pop up in later literary stories that I haven’t read yet.

The other stories in this are all pretty entertaining but they do seem less important than the last two. Still, they all add greatly to the mythos and give you a great sense of these characters before you even get to the first regular novel.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Witcher books, comics and television shows.

Book Review: ‘The Witcher: The Last Wish’ by Andrzej Sapkowski

I have a friend that has been a massive fan of The Witcher for years. He always gave me shit for never reading the books, even though I love The Witcher 3 video game and also really dug the Netflix television show. So to appease him and because I actually wanted to read these anyway, I finally picked the books up in a fancy box set, which I got for a pretty awesome price.

This book in the series is the first of three prequels before the five-part regular book series starts. I figured I’d start with the prequels, as that’s the recommended reading order and because these stories are also familiar to me, as many of the short stories in this first volume were used as the basis of many of the first season episodes on the Netflix show.

I really liked reading these original versions of the tales. They exceeded what I thought they would be and I certainly enjoyed the deeper context and understanding the lore on a more intimate level.

I also kind of liked all the homages to classic fairytales that were thrown in, which the television show sort of ignores. I had no idea that the Renfri character was essentially Snow White. There are also homages to Beauty & the Beast and Cinderella in this collection.

There wasn’t a boring or dull short story in this book. Frankly, it was entertaining and I had a hard time putting it down. I blew through it in two sittings, which is pretty unheard of for me with my normal schedule.

That being said, I can’t wait to jump into the second and third prequel books and then the regular series.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the other Witcher books, comics and television shows.

Comic Review: The Witcher, Vol. 4: Of Flesh and Flame

Published: July 30th, 2019
Written by: Aleksandra Motyka
Art by: Marianna Strychowska
Based on: The Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski

Dark Horse Comics, 106 Pages

Review:

I have reached the last comic story in The Witcher saga. Well, at least for now.

I’m sure that Dark Horse or eventually another publisher will do more in the future, as it continues to be a hot property, especially with the Netflix show and I’m assuming, future video games and maybe even novels.

While this wasn’t my favorite of the four stories I’ve read, it was still entertaining and a good amount of fun.

This also brought Dandelion into the comic book continuity and he’s a favorite character of mine from the only game I’ve played in the series, The Witcher 3: Blood Hunt.

This was done by a different creative team but they did just fine. The story was energetic and exciting while the art was also really good and pretty much consistent with the volumes that came out previously.

The plot was well constructed with a pretty good twist that I didn’t predict and it leaves you smiling with an amusing, satisfying ending.

All in all, for those who enjoy The Witcher mythos, this shouldn’t disappoint. Honestly, if you want to read the comics, I’d just buy the omnibus edition, as it includes all four of the volumes that have been published, thus far.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Witcher comics.

Comic Review: The Witcher, Vol. 3: Curse of Crows

Published: July 4th, 2017
Written by: Paul Tobin
Art by: Piotr Kowalski
Based on: The Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski

Dark Horse Comics, 128 Pages

Review:

I thought that the previous Witcher comic lost a bit of steam from the first volume. However, this one picked things back up quite a bit and thus far, this is my favorite comic story that features Geralt of Rivia.

This was also the first comic book story to feature Ciri and Yennefer, as well.

At first, I was a bit annoyed by it, as it felt kind of random with multiple little plot threads weaved together without any real direction. However, this came together rather nicely and told a really solid tale.

The art is also pretty good and this series, now three story arcs deep, has been really consistent.

I liked what this plot evolved into and how it resolved. Overall, a good, fun read in The Witcher universe.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: other Witcher comics.

Comic Review: The Witcher, Vol. 2: Fox Children

Published: December 30th, 2015
Written by: Paul Tobin
Art by: Joe Querio
Based on: The Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski

Dark Horse Comics, 134 Pages

Review:

Since I was pleasantly surprised by the first Witcher comic book story, I didn’t waste much time picking this one up.

However, this one wasn’t as good as the first.

I still enjoyed it though and got through it in one sitting.

This one takes place primarily on a boat that is making its way up a river when the crew draws the ire of a supernatural threat due to one crew member killing this creature’s child.

Geralt of Rivia uses his wits to try and determine which threats are real and which are illusions created by the angered creature. This actually opens the story up quite a bit, as the crew of the ship are faced with several different threats throughout the story from zombie sailors, a maelstrom, killer snakes, killer crocs, dangerous fish beasts and all sorts of other goodies.

This wasn’t a bad story and I did like it but it didn’t have the impact or the emotion of the first. Still, I’m glad I read it and this plot would make for a good one-off episode of the television show.

That being said, I still look forward to reading the other volumes in The Witcher comic series.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other Witcher comics.

Comic Review: The Witcher, Vol. 1: House of Glass

Published: October 7th, 2014
Written by: Paul Tobin
Art by: Joe Querio, Mike Mignola (cover)
Based on: The Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski

Dark Horse Comics, 137 Pages

Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Witcher comic book but I’m glad that this didn’t disappoint and was a pretty cool read.

While the cover was done by Mike Mignola, the interior art was not. However, it does have the same sort of vibes even if it is less stylized.

The story here was enjoyable and there’s a mystery to be solved. While things aren’t what they seem, the story isn’t predictable and the ending is pretty satisfactory.

Most of the story takes place in and around a haunted house but there are a few characters that come into this tale, as well as some neat monsters, many of which you’ll recognize from The Witcher games.

The story here was interesting and well written with fairly rich and well developed characters that you end up caring about.

All in all, if you are a fan of the franchise, this is definitely worth your time.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other Witcher comics.