War! What is it good for?!
|Andrzej Sapkowski in 1996, translated in 2014|
Geralt’s world continues to fall apart, both figuratively and literally. In the immediate aftermath of the events of Time of Contempt, Geralt spends time in Brokilon mending his broken bones and trying to find out what happened to Ciri after his failed attempt to protect her on Thanedd. There is still the mystery of where Yennefer disappeared to, though the immediate problem is finding Ciri.
We spend a lot of time on the road in this book. Geralt’s first aim is get to Nilfgaard and rescue Ciri, who is purported to be there. Of course, he and the rest of the world does not know that Ciri is a fake, and the real Lion Cub of Cintra is in the wilderness gallavanting with a lesbian fugitive.
There is a lot of world building in this book, probably far more than any of the others so far. Being on the road means a lot of boredom, but we do learn an enormous amount about the dwarves through Zoltan’s stories, and more about the politics of the cosmopolitan world the book is set in.
Much of the book talks about the ravages of medieval warfare, torching everything, unfettered murder and the horrors that women and children face. The thing that strikes you is the futility of it all. Geralt and his ragtag party stumble through the countryside, destroyed and still falling apart, able, for the most part, to avoid any real conflict areas until the battle had well and truly moved on.
Baptism of Fire deals with the excesses of nobility in times gone by. You could argue that it still happens in modern warfare, except that you simply drop a laser guided munition into a target, rather than torch a village. In the meantime, Geralt is still steadfastly trying to save everyone, in a world that refuses any assistance. His is a unique perspective, and one that should be heeded, if we are to learn anything from the past.
The subject matter is not easy to deal with, suffering and indifference to suffering. But it is presented very realistically. Kudos to Sapkowski.
Read this if you…
Are continuing on the Witcher saga, like me.
Don’t read this if you…
Can’t handle a dark setting.