Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski is the second book of the ‘Witcher’ series to be released in the US. The EU and several other countries have had them in various languages for years, but we’ve only started getting them since CD Projekt released their stellar RPG, The Witcher, here in the states.
It seems important to note that one should probably read The Last Wish, which is the first book of this series to be released in the US – and is a compilation of short stories starring Geralt of Rivia – before embarking on Blood of Elves. It’s a good idea to have a feeling for Sapkowski’s writing style (well… maybe it’s really the translator’s writing style, I’m not sure) before embarking on this novel.
Blood of Elves is exactly the kind of fantasy that I love. It takes the tired fantasy tropes, including elves, dwarves, halflings and gnomes, and actually creates a believable “medieval” style world around them. It’s very easy for the fantasy tropes to get turned into a “Dungeons-and-Dragons-style” world, where everything’s pretty okay and it all has sort of a shiny veneer on it. Sapkowski’s world, instead, is violent, brutal and very real. It has its flaws, but they are few and far between compared to the usual elf-and-dwarf fantasy.
The author is adept at describing action scenes, and his characterization is good, if not stellar. Geralt of Rivia, the eponymous Witcher, is easily the most developed of the characters. Triss Merigold and Yennefer are both strong females with individual personalities. Ciri, the young girl who Geralt takes on to train, is hotheaded and headstrong, but a real personality begins to show through by the end of the book.
The book ends somewhat abruptly, making way for the next one… and unfortunately, the next book in the series STILL has not been translated and released state-side. So, if you’re going to be disappointed that the next book isn’t immediately available, you might want to wait on this one.
Overall, this book nicely harkens back to the days of swords & sorcery in the able hands of Robert E. Howard & Karl Edward Wagner, two of my favorite authors, and two of the biggest influences for my novel, Elegy.
Final Score: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.