Sirwin
Sirwin
The Witcher - Sword of Destiny

The Witcher - Sword of Destiny


Good day everyone,

I hope you are all having a good day, welcome to CryptoGod-1's blog on all things gaming and literature. Today I will be doing an analysis and review of the second book from The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski, entitled The Last Wish. Within I will break down the chapters and give an overview of what happens within each tales, with a conclusion on the overall book at the end.

I have previously written a dedicated piece to the world of The Witcher in general, which you can find here: The Witcher

I have also previously written about the first book in the series, titled The Last Wish, which you can find here: The Witcher: The Last Wish

 

Sword of Destiny

The book, published in Polish 1992 and English in 2015, is comprised of more short stories and follows on from the first book in the series. Overall there are a total of six stories, and many of them were originally written and published before the first Witcher book known as "The Last Wish."

The different short stories are all combined into one book. This gives an overall page count of 374 pages within the English version of the book which was translated by David French. The stories within are:

  • The Bounds of Reason
  • A Shard of Ice
  • Eternal Flame
  • A Little Sacrifice
  • The Sword of Destiny
  • Something More

 

The Bounds of Reason

This story begins with Geralt in the middle of a contract for an Alderman. We do not know exactly what Geralt does, merely that a group of villagers are awaiting his return from a cavern with a beast inside. As Geralt emerges he encounter a man named Three Jackdaws, and his two Zerrikanian warrior women. He joins them in a meal and a nights slumber in a local tavern, where Three Jackdaws and Geralt end up discussing the topic of dragons, and Geralt firmly assures the man he does not hunt them as they represent Chaos. not Order. As they set out the following day, they encounter a blockade on a bridge as order of King Niedamir, Lord of Caingorn. Here they encounter Dandelion as the group ponders how to cross the bridge without the required pass. The bard explains how a dragon attacked in a field and the King has order for it to be slain. The villagers had tried to kill the dragon with poison, and failed, therefore every band of dragon slayers in the vicinity have arrived and are on the hunt of this dragon. Whoever slays the dragon will be awarded a princess's hand in marriage, meaning there is a great amount at stake, not just the treasure the dragon must be hiding. Three Jackdaws sends his women into town and they return with a sorcerer. After some drinking and merrymaking with the guard on the blockade, eventually the group manages to pass over it, but only after learning that a sorceress, Yennifer, has already crossed the bridge and is ahead of them.

Geralt, Dandilion, Three Jackdaws, and his warriors find themselves mixed in with the hunters of the dragon, a group of warriors, a knight, a ruler of a kingdom and his advisor, a band of dwarves led by Yarpen Zigri, while the sorceress Yennifer is also present. They are led by a villager who knows the route up the mountainside where the Dragon was seen flying after it escaped from being poisoned by the villagers. Geralt shares exchanges with Yennifer but they are brief and not what he had been hoping to achieve. The group sets out on their journey while Geralt passing some interesting exchanges with the different members, notably the dwarves and the sorcerer. Eventually they reach a bridge, deteriorating and shrouded in misty fog, while Three Jackdaws hangs back and allows the group ahead to try their luck at crossing it.

The bridge collapses and Geralt and Yennifer are thrown towards the ravine below, only clinging on for their lives. The group try to save Geralt, not caring for the fate of the sorceress, but he will not allow her to fall. They get out alive, although shaken and the group is in general less optimistic. Proceeding forward, they encounter a golden dragon, a mythical creature never seen by any of them before. The dwarves take it on in battle but are no match, and suddenly, along with Yennifer, they double cross Geralt and Dandelion. The pair are bound as the sorceress and the dwarves figure out how to capture their prey. The dwarves then double cross Yennifer, not wishing to spare the spoils with anyone, and bind her along with the men. As they take on the golden warriors from the town arrive to assist, but in this moment the two Zerrikanian warrior women who had accompanied Three Jackdaws rush to the dragons aid and strike down the attacking men.

The dragon communicates with Geralt and Yennifer, using its mind to speak the common tongue into theirs. It has a baby dragon, the baby being from the original dragon who the villagers had tried to kill when they poisoned it. The dragon is really Three Jackdaws, and he arrived to protect the wounded dragon. His price is to take the baby, and he tells both Yennifer and Geralt they belong together before departing.

 

A Shard of Ice

This tale shows us the human side of Geralt, although it is not something we often consider with the Witcher, it becomes immensely apparent as the tale ensues. He is residing with Yennifer in a town known as Aeed Gynvael. The are residing together and we learn of an elven legend within the town regarding a "Winter Queen" who casts shards of ice from her sleigh as she roams the lands, piercing the souls and hearts of those she encounters. Geralt, initially unbeknown to him, is one of these such victims who has been pierced by the Winter Queen; Yennfier. He does not wish to remain in the town for long but Yennifer has other ideas, as she is constantly busy with an acquaintance known as Istredd. 

Istredd is a sorcerer within the town and held in high regards by the mayor, Herbolth, if only because they could not afford a replacement for him. He is also held in high regard by Yennifer, which is not something Geralt particularly cares for. This is where we begin to notice the jealousy within Geralt as his emotions and feelings for Yennifer become more and more obvious. After a discussion with the Mayor in regards to payment for a job, Geralt learns where Istredd resides and decides to pay him a visit. The encounter is particularly interesting, as we learn about Yennifer's past encounters with Istredd and how she is perceived within the town. Both men wish to be with Yennifer, with Istredd having previously proposed to her and seeing Geralt as an obstacle in his way. While Geralt feels he has the upper hand by being Yennifer's current lover, he is struck with a bombshell as Istredd reveals he has been intimate with Yennifer that very morning.

Gearalt decides to confront Yennifer on this new information, hoping to convince her that his love is true and her love of Geralt should not be denied. Instead he is left with the realisation he is just another number, another one of her fellow followers, at least that is how he feels. Geralt decides to confront Istredd, and the two men agree the only way to make Yennifer choose between them is a fight to the death. A sorcerer against a Witcher. The mayor discovers their intentions to battle and tries to persuade Geralt to leave town and never return for a pricey sum of gold coins. The Witcher is having none of it, knowing he would rather battle and die than run away from a chance with the woman who stole his heart.

With a feeling of being lost and drowning his sorrows, Geralt ends up in a brawl with a group of local thugs. Not until they realise he is a Witcher do they spare his life, but we get a very strong and distinct line from one of the group, "next time you feel like killing yourself Witcher, don't drag other people into it. Just hang yourself in a stable from your reins." Without knowing how this encounter began we can only assume Geralt went looking for a fight to numb his pain, which is the truest sign of a man with a broken heart.

Geralt arrives to discover Istredd waiting for him, with a sword at his side and a solemn look upon his posture. Questioning the sorcerer before their duel, Geralt discovers that Yennifer left a note for Istredd claiming she could not choose and had to leave. Heartbroken and lost without her, similar to Geralt the night before, Istredd is looking to release his anger by completing the duel with Geralt. With a new insight thanks to his encounter the previous night, Geralt walks away, exclaiming that Istredd need not drag others into his own suicide, instead hang himself in a stable. Geralt leaves the sorcerer with his broken heart and rushes back to where both Geralt and Yennifer had been residing. The Witcher is not expecting to find her here, instead he is rushing to find the note she has left for him, even though he knows it will be no different from that which was left for Istredd.

 

 

Eternal Flame

This tales beings in quite the lively manner, as Geralt is walking through the city of Novigrad and stumbles upon an almighty scene. A woman known as Vespula is hysterical upon a balcony, throwing items at a man who she claims has been unfaithful to her. Geralt recognises his old friend at once, and approaches Dandelion through all the commotion and the gathered crowd. It ensues that Dandelion has been 'unfaithful' to his latest damsel, although the scene would hint that she was no saint either in that regard. The pair head to a local tavern, where they encounter a dwarf merchant by the name of Dainty Biberveldt. As the three converse, another Dainty appears, and the original that Geralt and Dandelion were in conversation with is exposed as a shapeshifter, known as a 'Doppler.' They apprehend the imposter, and after interrogating it with the aid of the real Dainty, it is revealed the doppler is named Tellico Lunngrevink Letorte. He has not only stolen the dwarf's appearance, but also his horses, with the animals have been sold and the money reinvested, leading to dismay for the real dwarf as Tellico has none of the coin on him. They are interrupted by an official of the city, creating a moment of distraction for the doppler to escape while the Witcher, the bard, and the real dwarf are left to discover that the official is there to see Dainty as taxes are owed on the profits made by the imposter. To the astonishment of the three, the initial 130 coins earnt from selling the horses, which was then reinvested in all sorts of goods, has left Dainty with a tax bill of 1553.20 coins! So taken aback is the dwarf by this he exclaims 'If anybody asks, I'm in the dungeon' knowing only too well he has no chance of coming up with this sort of money.

The three have one day to figure out how to get the money owed and clear Dainty's name, and more importantly to find the shapeshifter. The three are gather at an old disused fountain, pondering their next move, when they are suddenly approached by a battalion of armed men. Immediately Dandelion recognises the leader of this unit as Chappelle, the leader of basically the 'secret service' within the city, a minister and member of the temple of the Eternal Flame. The Flame is a symbol of the city, which never goes out, and is a reminder of the evil and monsters that were eradicated before. He calmly informs the trio there is no need to fret, no harm will befall them. He informs them the innkeeper has been imprisoned for spreading false rumours about a Doppler roaming the city, which could not be true in his opinion. While the trio know otherwise, they remain silent. Chappelle calls Geralt aside, to ask him would it would cost for the Witcher to take care of matters if hypothetically such a 'monster' was roaming the city. Indignant, Geralt refuses to play ball, although Chapelle does hint that the trio would be free to leave the city without harm if Geralt was to handle such a matter. After Chappelle and his men leave, a merchant approaches and the plot thickens as to how the Doppler of Dainty managed to rack up such an enormous tax on profits. Finally realising that he needs to get to the bottom of this and fast, Dainty leads the trio to the local bank to meet with an old acquaintance of his by the name of Vimme Vivaldi.

The trio sit in private with Vivaldi in his office at the bank, where he explains to them the events of the past three days. Tellico has been busy trading while impersonating Dainty, and what an amazing job the doppler had done. They discover that through some intelligent trading, including items that seemed worthless such as cod liver oil, wax, and rose oil. Vivaldi is busy keeping track of the latest venture and the trio are stunned at the progress which has been made. Apparently the Doppler has been to see Vivaldi only moments before them, As offers are arriving via the gnomes in Vivaldis office, the banker dwarf realises he is dealing with more than one Dainty. As Vivaldi explains to the trio exactly what has happened, they learn that profits have been made, and even the tax has already been paid off. Overall Dainty has made a profit of 21, 969.05 gold crowns, more than any could have ever expected. There are still products purchased by the Doppler yet to be sold, but the issue of Chappelle arises. Vivaldi believes Chappelle should be managable for the trio, even if their business dealing have created quite the stir. When more gnomes arrived with further orders from the Doppler, Dainty discover his 'twin' is at the Western Market.

At the market, Geralt and Dainty give chase to Tellico and finally Geralt corners him in a tent. After a brief conversation, and a moment where Tellico becomes Geralt, the Witcher agrees to let the Doppler live in peace hidden amongst the people of Novigrad. While Tellico is leaving, disguised as Dandelion, he is confronted by Vespula who smacks him across the face with a pot. Geralt takes the opportunity and binds the Doppler, when Chappelle appears along with Dainty and Dandelion. We discover that there is more than one Doppler living within Novigrad, while Dainty declares Tellico as his mainstay merchant in Novigrad due to the large sums of coins he has earnt him. The group leave to celebrate the events and profits to conclude a peaceful and joyous end to the tale.

 

 

A Little Sacrifice

Gearlt and Dandelion are down on their luck, searching for work after they had been forced to part with their coin following an altercation with a group known as the Rangers. The scuffle which took place after Dandelion had insulted them resulted in a fine for the duo, and meaning they had to flee to a coastal town of Bremervoord for fear of being shot with an arrow by the remaining rangers. This had left them broke and lacking in available contracts, resulting in Geralt trying to help local Duke Agloval by convincing a mermaid known as Sh'eenaz to give him her hand in marriage. Of course she had no interest in consuming a tonic which would give her legs, as she felt in her prime as a mermaid. Therefore she wanted the Duke to take her potion which would make him into a merman and they could be together under the sea. Needless to say the Duke refused and in doing so claimed Geralt had not fulfilled his duties of the contract and refusing to pay. Looking for an opportunity to earn some coin, one found them. A man approached the pair after recognising Dandelion, and with some convincing from Geralt, the bard agreed to play at this local man's daughters weeding, ensuring Geralt and Dandelion would make some coin from the Bard's talents. The downside from Dandelion's point of view was he would not be the only musician at this gathering, there would be another by the name of Essi Daven.

At the banquet we discover that Dandelion and Essi, whom he affectionately refers to as Poppet, are old friends since childhood, and that Dandelion sees he somewhat as a little sister. This is stark contrast to his usual demeanour around women. Both the musicians take their turns playing their tunes and ballads, to the delight of the gathered crowd. During the festivities Duke Agloval arrives, and casually greets the host Drouhard. Geralt is beckoned over, and quietly away from the banquet the Witcher is informed that his skills are required. Still in need of coin for food and lodgings, Geralt agrees to the task after learning that a boat containing seven fishermen and divers suffered a casualty. The boat was left in fine condition, but the crew had disappeared and nothing but a bloody mess was left behind. Geralt agrees to head out to its last location the following morning to investigate. Returning to the celebrations and getting his fill of food, Geralt pursues Essi to the terrace while Dandelion is performing and the pair embrace in a momentary kiss. Esri pulls away and advises they should return inside as she will be performing again soon, leaving Geralt feeling that insincerity, pretence, bravado, and lies would get him nowhere with her. Geralt returns to rest for the night and is sharing his lodgings with Dandelion. The bard can sense that something happened and realises Geralt tried his luck with Essi. He goes on to explain to Geralt that while the Witcher may feel unusual or different, everyone has their own things happening and that the fact he was a Witcher was not enough in itself to catch every woman's attention. Feeling foolish, Geralt retorts by informing the bard that he is a cynic, a lecher, a womaniser and a liar before heading to sleep.

Geralt arrives at the shore to discover Essi waiting for him. She informs him that she is aware of the gruesome murders which took place and how to townsfolk are frightened of what might happen if they return to sea. The pair discuss the events and Geralt comes to the conclusion that she is not angry nor unhappy with him for what occurred between them. The duke Agloval approaches and discusses the dilemma with the pair, noting how he expects Geralt to discover a way out to sea even though no fisherman or seafarer will being the Witcher via boat. Essi concludes Geralt is a sensitive man behind his exterior roughness as a Witcher, due to the fact Agloval persuaded him to pursue the problem under the threat of the local fishermen, their wives, and children going hungry or having to return to the peril at sea for work. Geralt dismisses this, although he does believe it is in fact Essi who is sensitive. She wishes to accompany him out to sea, explains how she is a sailor and also the way the tides fall and create a route out to where the horrific event happened at Dragon Fang rocks. Geralt at once refuses her as it is his job to face danger. As the pair continue waiting, Sh'eenaz appears and questions where the duke is, annoyed that he refused to wait a mere three hours for her. Here we discover Essi is well educated and is able to communicate in the mermaid tongue, which is an adaption of old elvish language. 

Geralt and Dandelion set out when the tide in low, as the bard wishes to collect a gift from the sea bed for Essi as it is her birthday the following day. Following the rocky path revealed from the low tide, the duo eventually stumble upon a staircase in the middle of the seabed. Immediately Dandelion recognises it as Y's, a legendary underwater city which was swallowed beneath the waves and a clear reference to Atlantis. Geralt is apprehensive and rightly so, as before their eyes greyish fish eyed sea monsters emerge from the water and attack them. Geralt warns Dandelion to run while he strikes the monsters down with his sword. The duo flee back along the rocks while more monsters give chase. Dandelion makes it back to shore but Geralt get caught and dragged into the water, fighting for his life, and as often the heart and mind does in moments of danger, Geralt thought about Yennifer. When all looks doomed suddenly Geralt is swept onto shore, as Sh'eenaz had managed to save him from the remaining monsters. Gaping for breadth as his is strewn across the sand, she warns him not to return as he cannot fight those monsters.

Gearalt is being tended to by Essi, who bandages up a severe cut on the Witchers arm but he will be alright. Bathing, Dandelion is ignoring the constant questions and suspicion from Essi of what actually happened. Garalt informs here that the townsfolk must keep away from Dragon Fang Rocks, and that Y's is not a place to be bragged about for fear of treasure hunters meeting their doom. Dandelion must be off, as he is meeting one of the women from the town, leaving Geralt to take claim for the foul smelling gift from the sea they gave Essi. After the bard departs, a pearl falls from the shell, and Geralt informs her how it will bring her luck. She decides to tell the Witcher she is in love with him, feeling like she is enchanted under a spell, which unfortunately she cannot life. She ran from her dwelling when news of Geralts injuries emerged in the town, but the Witcher cannot reciprocate the same feelings. He is focused only on Yennifer, and while her comforts and hugs Essi close to him for what feels like an eternity, nothing becomes of it. Dandelion returns, and the two men give a silent stare with no words spoken, as Essi departs.

Duke Agloval is far from impressed with Geralt's report of an intelligent race residing below the sea at Dragon Fang. Dismayed by the news, the Duke and his court discuss options including waging war on the sea creature's. He refuses to pay Geralt once again for the service the Witcher has provided, as in the Duke's opinion the job was incomplete. The Duke makes Geralt an offer to be the skipper of his armed guard until the problem is eradicated, in return for lodgings and warm food. Geralt refuses, and once the Duke claims Geralt to have no choice, Essi interjects. She exclaims to the Duke how he cannot buy Geralt, merely hire him to undertake work. He cannot own Geralt, and she imparts wisdom on the Duke not to interfere with the vasts of the ocean or what dwells below the waves at Dragon Fang. The Duke, with his usual stubbornness informs her that either himself, or his grandsons, or grandsons' grandsons will conquer the ocean as his ancestors did in the past, this time without requiring the Witcher's aid. With a gleam in her eye, Essi reveals the gravest of realities to the Duke, as at that moment Sh'eenaz appears. She has been transformed into a woman with legs and is capable of speaking the common tongue, having made a sacrifice of no longer being a mermaid so she can be with the one she loves.

The trio rode out of Bremervoord the following morning with the aim to each head in their own direction. They travel for two days together, enjoying a fine feast on the final night. Prior to this, Dandelion get fed up of the tension and declared he would go fishing and leave Geralt and Essi to intimately know each other, as must be done. The trio set off on their own journeys the following day, and we learn that Geralt and Essi never crossed paths again. She came to an unfortunate end a few years later, with Dandelion present to give her the peaceful resting place she deserved.

 

 

The Sword of Destiny

Geralt is on a diplomatic mission and travelling through a dangerous wood known as Brokilon. This is a home to the elves, and Geralt stumbles across the corpses of three men who fell victim to their arrows. He comes across a victim who has survived this far, known as Frexinet, who warns Geralt to find and rescue the princess. Unbeknown to Geralt who the princess is, he is ambushed by three elves/dryads. Showing he means peace, Geralt throws his sword to the ground and pronounces he is Gywnbleidd in their tongue, on a mission to seek out Lady Eithné. After considering his presence and position, the leader of the three decides to send Geralt to Lady Eithné at Duén Canell to complete his task as envoy, and he is to be led their by a dryad by the name of Braenn.

The pair set off, and Geralt makes an impression on the young dryad who merely assumed him to be a man and not realising he was a Witcher. She is familiar with the woods and brings him on a trail which makes the journey much safer and quicker. As the travel the pair hear a loud shrill and scream, and at once Geralt recognises it as a child's. He dashes into the trees to discover a little girl trapped and in mortal danger from a scolopendromorph, a snake like create with similarities to a centipede. Venomous, it has the child in its crosshairs, but Geralt intervenes. He is not capable of destroying it alone, but the skilled archer Braenn strikes the creature with numerous arrows until finally Geralt can deliver a swift and precise blow. Immediately Geralt questions the girl who she is and why she in in Brokilon, and he discovers this girl to be Ciri. Unbeknown to him, this is the result of his request from the tale in the first book, A Question of Price. Geralt questions Ciri further and discovers she had been to Verden to meet a Prince Kistrin, but ran away due to her disgust at the idea of marrying him. The corpses Geralt encountered earlier were her esquire, and this was the princess Frexinet had spoken of. Carrying her on his back, Geralt and Ciri bond while he gives her an apple to fill her belly, and the duo continue along with Braenn towards Duén Canell.

The trio rest for a night and Geralt discusses more with Ciri, discovering her parents died and her grandmother, the Queen, is her guardian. He does not realise who she is, but she explains how her nanny told Ciri that her mother was a witch and her father had magical properties. She was born to destiny. To help her rest for the night, Geralt tells Ciri a tale about a cat and a fox in a forest. Both Ciri and Braenn listen intently, about how the animals are hunted and only one survives, a moral of the story being run when you are in danger. The continue their journey the next day and Braeen informs Geralt he must be blindfolded if he wishes to continue. Ciri takes him by the hand and brings him along, telling Geralt of all the beautiful plants, animals, and fish she can see. The Witcher informs Ciri that this is Brokilon, and is where all the beauty is, and that's why it is known as The Last Place. She does not understand, and Geralt informs her that nobody does, and that nobody wants to understand. I believe this is in reference to Brokilon being the final place in existence where dryads live and defend their home for themselves, having not accepted the fate man would put upon them.

The trio arrive at Duén Canell although it is not Geralt's first time to be within the pristine landscape. The tall oak trees have living homes within them, as the Dryds simply inhabit the trees and do not fell them to make their habitats. The trio meet Lady Eithné, who informs Braenn to take Ciri away. Geralt tries to persuade her not to convert Ciri into a Dryad but to no avail. Here Ciri learns that Geralt is in fact a Witcher, and immediately she understands who he is. Geralt is left with Frexinet, who survived and was brought to Duén Canell on a sleigh. Lady Eithné questions him on his fertility, and he is to breed with a few dryads to help them grow their numbers. Geralt is to meet with Lady Eithné in her quarters that evening to discuss the reason he ventured into Brokilon, although she is well aware and has no interest in surrendering her forest to the kings who border her lands. 

Geralt enters the three oak trees which form Lady Eithné's home, to discover Ciri sitting before the Lady of the forest. He pleads with Lady Eithné once again to not transform Ciri into a dryad due to the fact she is a princess. He bargains that by informing the Lady that Ciri is to marry Prince Kistrin of Verden and would be a strong ally to Brokilon as the wife of the king, but Lady Eithné is not interested. She knows the destiny of Ciri and that the girl posesses Elder Blood. Ciri is the child of surprise and the destiny of Geralt, as he discovers once she mentions that her Grandmother is Queen Calanthe. Geralt tries to leave as he does not wish to see Ciri the struggle Ciri will go through once she is made drink the water of Brokilon which will clear her memories and leave her as a dryad. To his surprise, the water has no effect on her, and Lady Eithné questions Ciri on what she desires. The princess responds that she wishes to leave with Geralt. This is allowed, but first the Lady decides to test Geralt on whether he would dare drink the the water. The water of Brokilon is within a container that is inscribed in elvish with the words 'the sword of destiny' and although Geralt is immune to toxins and hallucinogenic from his Witcher blood, he drinks the water to his misfortune. He gets lost to the void and flashes through memories of Lady Eithné daughter whom he once knew, but she is dead now. He also sees Yennifer and finally looses himself to the powerful magic of the drink.

Both Ciri and Geralt wake up not far from the edge of the forest, as the dryads have taken them away from Duén Canell and left them to return home in peace. As the duo leave Brokilon, Geralt notices how the Elder blood within Ciri means she has a keen sense of direction. They take the path along the edge of Brokilon to discover a massacre has taken place. The group of men are suspicious to both Geralt and Ciri, as they claim the Dryads of Brokilon felled a tree and murdered the merchants. Geralt questions them and raises their suspicions, and once Ciri interjects that the dryads would never fell a tree with an axe, the mercenaries attack. Ciri scampers up a tree while Geralt deals with the men, killing a supply of them. While facing a group of bowmen, the dryads appear and shoot from the trees to kill the remaining mercenaries. Mousesack appears among them to the delight of Ciri, and the trio leave Braenn and the dryads to bring Ciri to Cintra. Geralt discusses the destiny the binds him to Ciri with Mousesack as they travel, and while Ciri is resting Geralt decides it is not for him. Mousesack protests and pleads with Geralt not to walk away from destiny as they child is special and is bound to Geralt to be more than just a Witcher. Geralt ignores his protests, understanding that destiny is a double edged sword, and leaves on his horseback only for Ciri to awaken and call after him not to leave her. He proceeds into the darkness of the landscape, with Ciri calling after him that he wont get away as she is his 'destiny.'

 

 

Something More

As Geralt is travelling along a path through the wilderness he encounters a merchant named Yurga whose cart has broken down at a bridge. Geralt advises the man to leave the area with haste, as when night falls the evil of the area shall appear. Yurga is dismayed, as his assistants fled and he has a years worth of supply within the cart. In a panic, he pleads with Geralt to assist him and will give the Witcher whatever he desires in return. Gleefully Geralt requests 'whatever is awaiting the merchant that he is not expecting at his home when he returns. The man agrees, and as the sun goes down Geralt prepares. After downing his Witcher tonics, Geralt battles the creatures on the bridge, and while he succeeds, it comes at a price as Geralt is badly wounded. Yurga, along with the help of his assistants' who have returned in the sunlight, load Geralt into the cart and make for a nearby human settlement to get the Witcher the aid he requires.

Geralt awakes on the journey and with his leg in a dire state, requests Yurga to aid him with his Witcher tonics. They put Geralt into a deep hazy slumber where he imagines himself at a gathering. This gathering is the festival of Beltane, where locals loose their morals and inhibitions to celebrate the endless natural cycle with bonfires, intoxication, and loosening of morals. Geralt is taken by a young lady, but upon their way to privacy they encounter a dark haired woman who Geralt recognises at once. Yennifer. The two embrace their encounter with formalities and decide to continue their conversation in more privacy, which is where they decide to add another night to their fleeting romance. Yennifer stays with Geralt till the morning in this dream/memory, but Geralt soon awakens to Yurga in the cart tending to his wounds once again.

This next dream/memory sees Geralt in Cintra, passing his time with Mousesack while awaiting a meeting with Queen Calanthe. Geralt is observing a group of youngsters at play, unaware that Ciri is amongst them. As far as Geralt is concerned, he believes the child of surprise to have been born a boy. Mousesack informs Geralt of how Ciri's parents died, on a ship from Skellige where not a splinter of the wreckage was found. The Queen and Geralt enter into discussions about the child, of which Geralt is still not aware is a girl. Calante offers him a choice, pick one of the ten children playing and take it in the aim of making it into a Witcher. Geralt refuses, explaining to the Queen he has no interest in destiny. Instead the Witcher explains to the Queen how the law of surprise is not something he wishes to be bound by, and he has no interest in looking into the eyes of the child of destiny. The pair discuss more intimate details of Geralt's life, and we discover his mother was no mere woman, but instead a sorceress who could bear a child. The Witcher departs Cintra without encountering Ciri, and as he leaves Queen Calante speaks of a forewarning she feels within that she shall not gaze upon the Witcher again.

Geralt awakes from this dream to a feeling of relief, as the pain that was within him is now gone. He has been mended by a sorceress after Yurga managed to get the Witcher aid. She is a red haired woman, slender and mysterious going by the name of Visenna. She explains to Geralt that he has been mended but will need a few days rest and care which Yurga can provide. Even though Geralt is still groggy he knows deep down who this woman is. Unlike his belief that it was Vesemir who named him Geralt, she reveals that is not the truth and hints that it was actually her who gave him that name. It is assumed from this passage that she is Geralt's birth mother, but not confirmed. The pair only briefly talk, and she leaves him with the instruction not to look for her. As they head back towards Yurga's home beyond the river Yaruga we learn of the effects the Nilfgaardians and their war has hand upon the land. Life must go on, but must has been lost. Yurga explains how Visenna followed them and healed Geralt once again in the night, and how she tended to him like a mother. She healed all of them for no payment, further hinting who she really is. Geralt learns of the second battle of Sodden where 14 sorcerers lost their lives to repel the Nilfgaardian invaders. Amongst the dead is an old acquaintance of Geralt's by the name of Triss Merigold.

Atop a hill there is a menhir, an obelisk, which was placed there with magic. Engraved upon it are the names of the fourteen who feel in the defence of Sodden. Geralt decides to climb the hill and once he reaches the stone he begins to read their names. The Witcher was familiar with many of them, including Triss, Lawdbor of Murivel, Lytta Neyd, and Old Gorazd. A young woman emanating a cold chill approaches and kneels before the stone, hiding the fourteenth name from Geralt before he can read it. He knows who she is, a woman who takes those by the hand at their time of passing; the lady of death. Geralt admits she is all he feared in life, she was always on his footsteps but never quite at him. He lost everything he loves in his opinion and wishes her to take him, as he believe the final name on the stone is Yennifer of Vengerberg. Next thing Yurga calls him, and Geralt admits he had fallen asleep in the heat and was within another dream. The Witcher questions the merchant on who the fourteenth name is, and to his relief it is someone unknown to Geralt, a sorcerer by the name of Yoel Grethen of Carreras.

As Yurga and Geralt are travelling towards the merchants home, he explains to Geralt how there will be no child for the Witcher to take. Yurga's wife cannot carry anymore children, but he has two sons and would see it fitting if the Witcher wished to train one in his trade. Geralt does not mention the torturous trials to Yurga, and as they approach a river they see a massive crowd struggling to get on a ferry. Amongst the crowd is Dandelion, who informs Geralt of the hard reality of the war with Nilfgaard. The Nilfgaardians have decimated the lands and are leaving nothing in their wake, and to Geralts dismay they have taken Cintra. Queen Calante has fallen as have the rest of her people, with Geralt gravely astounded and seeking information on Ciri. Dandelion has none, and begs for Geralt to help him cross the river and flee from the advancing army. Geralt agrees and brings him along with Yurga until they find a way across the river. Once back at Yurga's home, to the merchants amazement his wife informs him that she has taken in an orphan child, a little girl. Yurga's two boys approach along with the girl, and at once she runs towards Geralt and screams his name. What was waiting for him which he did not expect turned out to be Ciri. She is delighted to see the Witcher and demands Geralt admit she is his destiny, to which he replies 'You're much more than that, Ciri. Much more.'

 

 

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed this book, the second part of the eight Witcher books I am reading my way through. The development of the characters and the romances / differences that entwine them are fascinating. We encounter a whole host of new locations since the first book, along with some interesting new characters. Mythical creatures such as dragons, gnomes, and mermaids are introduced, while as often is the case Geralt is keen to distinguish between monsters and intelligent creatures. The introduction of the many different dwarfs adds a new dimension to the live of the Witcher universe, and locations are given more depth and culture. As the short stories progress we really see the impact Yennifer has had on Geralt, while also enjoying the strong bond between the Witcher and Dandelion. Meeting Ciri for the first time is an exciting and delicate experience for Geralt, while the lives of the outcast dryads enhance our insight into their world and their leaders. The final stories comprises a compact and elicit series of memories which help define our knowledge of Geralt, how Witcher's are put through trials, his feelings on destiny, and of course his own history. Briefly we hear of the war which has begun and will have a great impact on the lives of all the characters in one way or another. Overall the stories tie together to give a strong understanding of the way a Witcher lives and dies by the sword, their ineptitude to reside in urban dwellings, and the bonds they can forge by sticking to their code. Destiny cannot be escaped no matter how much one tries, and Geralt learns this as we progress through the stories. He is bound to Ciri, and this bond grows from within both him and her. I would highly recommend reading this book along with the first book if you are planning on reading the Witcher series, as together they create the backstory for the Witcher Saga which is the next five books in the series. Overall the writing is easy to follow and understand, which creates beautiful vivid scenes in the readers mind.

 

If you would like to check out my analysis on the World of the Witcher, please follow this link here: The Witcher 

While if you wish to check out my review on the first book of the Witcher series, it is available here: The Witcher: The Last Wish 

Have a great day.

Peace. CryptoGod-1.

 

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cryptogod-1
cryptogod-1

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CryptoGod-1 : Gaming, Literature, & Life
CryptoGod-1 : Gaming, Literature, & Life

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