Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
American release date: December 1, 2015
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy/LGBTQ/400 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Geralt of Rivia, known as the Witcher, returns in another collection of short stories chronicling his adventures.
The Bounds of Reason – The people Geralt does jobs for are not always appreciative, and are sometimes downright dishonest. Having almost had his personal possessions stolen, Geralt makes the acquaintance of a man called Borch, known as Three Jackdaws, and his girls, Téa and Véa, two Zerrikanian warriors. They travel together to an inn known as the Pensive Dragon, where they eat and drink well, and talk about things such as dragons. Taking to the road again, they attempt to cross a bridge, only to find their way barred by soldiers who insist that only those with a safe-conduct can go through, by orders of King Niedamir, Lord of Caingorn. They aren’t the first to be stopped from crossing, and among the others Geralt finds Dandelion, who mentions the King and a dragon. Apparently a dragon appeared on the pastures outside Barefield and now the hunt is on. Three Jackdaws, amused by the tale, offers to pay the bribe required to get them through the blockade, to search for the dragon. They run into the other groups who’ve been allowed past, including a group of dwarves, a cobbler named Sheepbagger and his contingent, a sorcerer named Dorregeray, and the sorceress Yennefer, whom Geralt hasn’t seen in four years.
A Shard of Ice – Geralt and Yennefer are living together in a town called Aedd Gynvael, which translates to a shard of ice. Something about this town is rubbing Gerald the wrong way. People seem to know things they aren’t telling him. When Geralt tells the mayor he doesn’t intend to stay for any length of time, the mayor suggests he might like to talk with the wizard Istredd. When Geralt goes to see him, his worst suspicions are confirmed.
Eternal Flame – Geralt runs across Dandelion, who is having a variety of objects lobbed at him by an angry woman. The two men head to the nearest inn, but Dandelion is broke, as usual, and Geralt has spent his unds on a new jacket. At the inn, they run across a Halfling of Dandelion’s acquaintance, Dainty Biberveldt, who is talked into buying them food and drink. Imagine their surprise when another Dainty Biberveldt burst into the room, the first one’s doppelganger. And the fun has just begun.
A Little Sacrifice – Geralt finds himself intervening between a lovesick duke and the object of his affections—a mermaid. The two would-be lovers are at an impasse, neither willing to concede what the other wants. The duke wants her to have legs and live on land, Sh’eenaz wants him to grow a tail and come into the sea with her.
Geralt and Dandelion are traveling together and broke. It’s Dandelion’s fault, but Geralt is not angry. When an opportunity arises for Dandelion to make some money, he acts as if what he is being offered is beneath him, but Geralt unhappily reminds him they need the money. His nose out of joint, since Geralt seems to pick and choose his jobs without commentary, Dandelion agrees to accept the offer with Geralt’s promise that he will accept the next job that comes his way. As it turns out, another bard has also been hired for the occasion, one whom Dandelion knows—Miss Essi Daven, aka Little Eye.
Sometimes love requires a little sacrifice.
The Sword of Destiny – Geralt finds himself in Brokilon, which is not a safe place to be, as evidenced by the bodies he finds. Brokilon is a forest and it belongs to the dryads, who do not suffer intrusion lightly and do not hesitate to shoot their arrows at trespassers. Geralt finds one person still alive, a man he knows by the name of Frexinet. The wounded man begs Geralt to find a princess, and then they are attacked. Good thing Geralt has friends in high places. But is this something he wants to become involved in?
Destiny has a way of happening anyway.
Something More – While crossing a bridge, Geralt finds a merchant cowering beneath his wagon, having been abandoned by his companions. He convinces the merchant, whose name is Yurga, that he means no harm but that he needs to leave this place quickly as it is dangerous. Yurga begs Geralt to help him and he’ll give him anything he wants? Geralt says he wants whatever Yurga comes across on his return but did not expect, and Yurga agrees. However, in protecting Yurga, Geralt himself is gravely injured and Yurga must save him.
Sometimes what you ask for is something more.
This second collection of Witcher stories is every bit as good as the first. Andrzej Sapkowski takes what could have been an ordinary sword and sorcery tale and brings it to life. He gives depths to his characters, monster or human, and he does a great job of world-building. His action scenes are riveting, and I can see Geralt in my mind’s eyes, whirling and slashing and dodging and throwing up witcher signs. I love Geralt, he is a great character and, despite his claims to the contrary, I believe he is more human than he lets on, capable of greater emotions than he thinks he is. I love Dandelion (although I would never date him, I much prefer Geralt). Together, they make a great team. I don’t care for Yennefer much, but I’m afraid we haven’t seen the last of her. In this book, we first meet Ciri. I know we’ll see more of her.
Geralt must have gone through hell to become a witcher, and that as a child. It’s inconceivable that someone could do that to a child, and yet apparently it happened. What an unnatural sort of mother was Geralt’s to allow this to happen. I love the theme of destiny that runs through the stories, and how everything works out because of it.
If you like the video game, you’ll love the books. Looking forward to the next one!