Review: Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

Watch for the signs! What signs these shall be, I say unto you: first the earth will flow with the blood of Aen Seidhe, the Blood of Elves...

For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf.
I've read this in Czech translation and if you are from a Slavic country and there's a translation available, I suggest you read that rather than the English one. Also, this is the first novel in the series, but there are two other books of short stories. As far as I know only one has been translated into English. It's The Last Wish and one of the stories there is a kind of a prologue to the novels.

“To be neutral does not mean to be indifferent or insensitive. You don’t have to kill your feelings. It’s enough to kill hatred within yourself.” 

It might sound like any other high fantasy with all those elves, dwarves, prophecies, chosen children and with the medieval setting. But don't be fooled, this is an exceptional novel!

First of all, I think the whole series has a very different tone than any fantasy by an English speaking author. I can't help it, but it's just different. Obviously, Sapkowski works with Slavic folklore and mythology, but it's not just that. It's the characters and the mood. And of course the names of places and people. It's a nice change.

The most enjoyable thing about this book for me are the characters. Not only how wonderfully fleshed out they are, but also the fact that there are many believable female characters. The two main characters are Ciri, the child of prophecy, and Geralt of Rivia, the unusual witcher, who hunts monsters in order to protect people (but who are the real monsters?). But every character mentioned in the book is very real and moves the story along. It's a real joy to follow thoughts of different people as the story progresses. There are some people that could be labelled as villains, but even those have some ambiguity. Most of the characters are very complex and it underlines the fact that this book is not the typical good versus evil story.
The characters are the most important thing, even though the worldbuilding is great, it doesn't overpower the characters, and I believe that's how it should be.

Another great thing is the way Sapkowski explores human nature and shows us both good and bad side of what it means to be human.
What I really appreciate is that it does not present a view/philosophy/attitude as the (only) right one and as the ultimate answer to all the problems in the book. It has many interesting thoughts and suggestions. It shows, suggests, explores through the eyes of different characters, but it never comes up with an ultimate solution. It leaves the conclusion to the reader.

I loved this so much, I can't even tell you. You must read it! :)


Here's a video from the third game based on these stories. I think it captures some of the things I mentioned in my review pretty well!

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