The sword of destiny (Andrzej Sapkowski, 1992)

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The sword of destiny, by Andrzej Sapkowski (1992, Spanish version by José María Faraldo).

Score: Not as good as The last wish.

Like The last wish, The sword of destiny is made up of short stories set in the Witcher universe that follow monster hunter Geralt of Rivia. While in The last wish pretty much all the stories were deconstructions of popular fairytales, this strays from the fairytale formula and starts developing the features unique to the Witcher universe.

There are mentions of The snow queen, The little mermaid and The twelve swans, but thematically it expands on fantastic racism (Scoia’Tael versus humans, humans versus monsters, humans versus anyone and their mother) and its curious opposite, fantastic ecologism and a hint at Renaissance-like early days of scientific method. Geralt and Yennefer’s relationship is further developed and Ciri is introduced as Geralt’s protegée.

While I thought Ciri’s and Geralt’s affection towards each other was sweet and well-written, I can’t say the same about Book!Yennefer. Game!Yennefer could be bossy and insensitive at times, but Book!Yennefer is a cliché on two legs. Her main conflict and the very thing that drives her being her sterility seems to me like very lazy writing and makes for a very flat and shallow character so far. “Oh, Yennefer looks very depressed. It must be because she has everything in life but she can’t bear children, which is the greatest tragedy that can befall a woman”. This terrible sadness is never developed. Does she want to be a mother to leave a legacy? Because she feels tenderness towards infants? Because she wants to make a better world through education of her children? Not a single word on why. I try to be impartial and avoid personal feelings regarding this topic but it really bugs me that this kind of characterisation assumes that woman equals mother and doesn’t bother elaborating.

Most of the book is devoted to fleshing out the universe, so if you have already played the videogame it’s going to feel dull since most of these things you already know, except perhaps how Ciri and Geralt met (apparently it’s not fully explained in the games).

All in all, you will want to read this if you want to read the whole saga, but it’s not as enjoyable as The last wish and I hope Blood of the Elves will improve again.

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