This is the middle book in the series and it feels a bit slower, as we have to track the separate plotlines of our characters. After the disaster on Thanedd they have lost touch with each other and are fighting for survival separately. The events in the world at war gradually pull the further and further apart, until the past seems to be a mirage.
The war continues raging but the alliances seem to have shifted a bit. Originally when granting Francesca Findabair her elven kingdom of Dol Blathanna the emperor told her to leave Scoia’tael at his disposal. Now that the Northern Kingdoms are exacting their revenge he withdrew his support and forbade Francesca from granting any, leaving the troops open for carnage.
Ciri was captured by Nilfgaard guards, and after renouncing her magical powers, traveled with them apathetically and without any resistance. Unluckily for her captors, they roads crossed with a band calling themselves Rats. Ciri ended up joining Rats, who proved to be a bunch of youngsters from various backgrounds that saw no future for themselves. They rob, kill and spend the money, only to rob and kill again. Ciri joins this vicious circle, as it is the only group that can offer her acceptance and safety. She doesn’t share her story with them though, calling herself Falka instead. She becomes a bloodthirsty killer, enjoying the violence and suffering she causes as if avenging the one caused to her.
Geralt in the meantime leaves Brokilon to find and protect Ciri, he is joined by Milva, archer and guide for wounded Scoia’tael to the safety of Brokilon. Geralt has no idea where to look for Ciri but intends to move in the general direction of Nilfgaaard. Dandelion also joins him. And then on the way, the party grows as various characters feel compelled to support their quest.
Yennefer was in Francesca Finabair’s power for three months, and then is invited by other sorcerers to form a Lodge, that instead of advising the kings will simply rule them. Ciri’s royal bloodline and magic powers would make her ideal mediator between the two worlds. Hence Yennefer also joins the search, but her tactic is different from Geralt’s, she is trying to find Vilgefortz, who she believes holds Ciri captive.
Compared to the previous two novels this one is certainly slower. There is no other way when we have to follow three parallel plotlines. And the aimless search of Geralt and his party can get a bit annoying at times. I understand that this gives some space for character and relationship building which supports the next parts. But this is the part of the saga where I felt the tension dissipating. Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri are lost among all the tumultuous events around them and the constant need to jump between their plotlines to check on each of them makes any progress very slow.
Links to previous reviews in the series:
Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska