I have really turned around on this series! I feel like I need to re-read the first book now before moving onto the series proper, because I only experienced it in a grudging manner, and didn’t appreciate it for its good qualities. I will also be honest in that it was entirely the Netflix show that did the turning. I enjoyed it so much that it crystallized for me retroactively what people were seeing in the books.
This second book in the Witcher series is also a collection of short stories, but you can see the seeds of future major story arcs being planted. There are only five stories in this book, as opposed to the seven slightly smaller stories in The Last Wish. I liked them all to varying degrees, but some more than others.
“The Bounds of Reason” is a nice little tale where the Witcher and companions get roped into a dragon hunt, despite Geralt being opposed to the killing of dragons (he doesn’t kill sentient beings, especially ones that never harm humans). I would have liked it better if I didn’t think the show did it better. They took the bones of this story and tweaked it just enough so that the final product was more satisfying for me, mostly in the Geralt/Yennefer relationship area. 3.5/5 stars
“A Shard of Ice” was the one I liked the least. So much Yennefer drama. She’s supposedly torn between Geralt and Istredd the sorcerer, but I just found myself bored and frustrated with their whole thing, and was glad when Geralt left the town and Yennefer with it. 2/5 stars
“Eternal Flame” was my second favorite story in the collection. It was just a silly tale about a shapeshifter conning people out of money really successfully, and I enjoyed how the whole thing went down. 4/5 stars
“A Little Sacrifice” features Geralt and Dandelion, short on money, being hired to chase down a sea monster when it kills a boat full of pearl divers. Geralt takes the job anyway, despite having no experience with killing sea creatures. This is after that same employer refused to pay him for another job. He’s a lord and he’s fallen in love with a mermaid, and they both speak different languages, so he hires Geralt as a translator. I found the mermaid hilarious, and the lord detestable. I really liked this story and found myself wishing they would adapt it for the show next season. There was also a plot in here about another bard falling in love with Geralt, but I was much less interested in that part of the story than I think it wanted me to be. 3/5 stars
“The Sword of Destiny” is the titular story in the collection, and sets up some important things for down the road, involving the child of surprise, Ciri, from back in “A Question of Price.” I know for various spoilery reasons that she will be important later, and the setting of Brokilon forest was a good one. I didn’t really mind the younger, brattier version of Ciri, except for when the translator had her use the word “awffy,” twice (in place of “awful”), and I almost threw the book across the room. Bad translator. Makes me wonder how that dialogue sounded in the original Polish. 4/5 stars
“Something More” was my favorite of the five stories. It just felt very poignant to me. Geralt is seriously injured while saving a man on a bridge from foul creatures, and spends the rest of the story hallucinating his memories, and he’s dwelling on something in particular, so all the memories are connected thematically. The ending of the story was also really emotional. This one in particular made me excited to continue on with these characters. 5/5 stars
CBR BINGO: Adaptation