This series is so weird. This book doesn’t really have a beginning, middle, or end. Geralt spends the whole time hiding his feelings and being mad that people like him and want to help him. They spend the whole book on a fruitless quest. At one point we spend forty pages with all the characters getting drunk off weird mandrake root brew and chit-chatting, no forward plot movement at all. The main conflict of the book has no resolution, and the resolution that we are given has nothing to do with the rest of the book! And yet . . . it worked? This is the most engaged with this series I’ve been since the second story collection.
After the incident at Thanedd (would we call that a civil war? a betrayal? a plot?), Geralt is badly injured and Triss has teleported him to Brokilon Forest for the dryads to heal. Ciri is still with the Rats far to the south, but everyone thinks she’s in Nilfgaard about to be married to the Emperor. Yennefer is MIA. When Geralt has recovered enough, he sets off to rescue Ciri from Nilfgaard, a hopeless mission through war-torn country. Dandelion and new companion Milva insist on accompanying him, and they meet up with several other new companions along the way.
We know the whole time that Ciri isn’t even in Nilfgaard, so watching all these yahoos make their painful, dangerous way towards somebody eventually telling them “your princess is in another castle,” makes the journey even more agonizing. It’s honestly a great use of dramatic irony. I thought it was really interesting the way that the war between Nilfgaard and, well, everyone else, was just the background for what’s going on with our characters, and the obstacles caused by battles, troop movements, raiding, pillaging and looting, etc, aren’t the center of the narrative. It had the effect of making it seem like Geralt and his companions were a little island of hope in the center of chaos. Like, this is cheesy, but goodness and loyalty can be found even in the worst circumstances, SPOILERS and even a higher vampire, a monster Geralt would usually kill, can be an ally END SPOILERS.
This one has me back into the series, weirdness and all. It also really made me want to rewatch the TV show.