If you’ve been following any of the blogs I post on for any length of time at all, you already know I am a huge Andrzej Sapkowski fan. Unfortunately, while the rest of the world has been enjoying Sapkowski’s Witcher series of books for well over fifteen years, publishers in the United States are a little… slow. In fact, they aren’t just slow; they’re downright silly about this series.
After publication of The Last Wish, a series of short stories introducing the main character, Geralt of Rivia, U.S. publishers skipped the next short story collection, The Sword of Destiny, and went straight on to Blood of Elves, the first full-length novel in the series without ever looking back. Fortunately, die hard fans of the series on the CD Projekt Red Witcher gaming forum were kind enough to put together an English fan translation of all the books in the series that aren’t yet (or probably won’t ever,) be available for sale in the States.
Praise be to Melitele for that. I knew there was story missing between The Last Wish and Blood of Elves, but with no way to sink into that story until now, I simply sucked it up and pretended it didn’t break my heart to know I was missing out on some seriously awesome bits of story.
To sum up the major details of the plot, the entire series of stories revolve around the Law of Surprise and the persistence of Destiny. The Law of Surprise, for those who may not know, is usually an offering of payment for services, either in the guise of “the first thing that comes to greet you upon returning home,” or “what you find at home, yet don’t expect.” The second instance often becomes “The Child Surprise” and when Geralt accepted such payment to lift a curse from a young man named Duny. The story that explains how Geralt became the recipient of such a gift is in The Last Wish, in the short story: A Question of Price, and so we know in some small way how Geralt’s destiny became intertwined with that of a little girl named Ciri, but alas, between The Last Wish and Blood of Elves, there is so much missing.
The six stories in The Sword of Destiny give readers a broader history of their entwined destiny, its importance and how stubborn Destiny is about making sure it is achieved. On more than one occasion, Geralt tried to give up his claim to Ciri, but Destiny refused him, weaving their paths together at every turn. Along the way, we are given further insight into the complicated romantic relationship between Geralt and the sorceress Yennefer, as well as the depth of the friendship bond between the witcher and his best friend, Dandelion.
I have become so emotionally attached to these characters over the last few years. By the time I got to the end of the last story in the Sword of Destiny I had a pile of tissues on the table beside me. I felt both empty and full at the same time.
It saddens me a great deal that these stories were missing, little bits and pieces of memory somewhere lost in the fog, but wow… Just wow. Filling in those empty spaces with these stories was like coming home through memories you almost forgot were the greatest part of who you were, are and will one day be.
While only a fan translation, the cleverness and wit were captured perfectly, the society and its woes feel so very real and the depth in which we explore the heart of a man who does not think of himself as a man, but a monster, is so emotionally riveting it is difficult to finish a book in this series because I never want them to end.
It’s a shame these stories are so hard to come by, that they are missing from the greater picture, but praise be to all the gods they are no longer missing from my version of the story. Thank you, fantasywind, for steering me on the right path to finding these translations! I will always be grateful.
5 of 5 stars, in fact, I’ll give it 10 of 5 stars. Extra stars, it was that good.