Subject: ...And then Thoth read *The Sword of Destiny*, also by Andrzej Sapkowski
Posted on: 2020-07-13 17:10:20 UTC
Being a short story anthology published either (depending on how you count it) two years after or one year before The Last Wish, it's reasonable to expect The Sword of Destiny to be more of the same, a sort of Last Wish Part 2, Electric Boogaloo.
Not so. In may respects, The Sword of Destiny is a very different book from its predecessor. Last Wish is a book, fundamentally, about a bunch of things that happened to Geralt of Rivia. Sword of Destiny is actually about Geralt himself. In a sense, you could think of it as a character study. Over the course of the books, we see Geralt deal with love, death, feelings, and fate. We see what he's willing to do... and more to the point what he isn't willing to do. What's against his code.
Of course, this is made all the more interesting because allegedly Geralt doesn't have emotions. After all, he isn't human. But despite their constant re-iteration by characters who don't know better, that's entirely untrue. By the end of the book, it's clear that Geralt is human. He's incredibly human. Which makes the dynamic between him and those who think that he's not more interesting. Racial tensions and prejudice were a theme in the Witcher from the start, and this book pushes that further to the fore, with multiple stories having it as the center of their conflict.
Also brought to a more prominent role in this book is Geralt's on-again-off-again love interest, Yennefer. They're absolutely perfect for each other and also (and I cannot emphasize this more) do not work. They're both idiosyncratic and dysfunctional and they both probably understand each other better than anyone else, but their relationship is a constant disaster that keeps starting and stopping, endlessly. I've never enountered a "will they or won't they" arc that provides such a clear and obvious reason why they don't yet. Or rather, they do, but that doesn't mean it works.
Finally, there's Ciri, who's introduced for the first time in this book. Well, sort of for the first time. But once again, Sapkowski's managed to setup another character that bounces off Geralt wonderfully well. But this time it's a kid, so... y'know. Adorable.
Apologies this write-up is a bit more scattershot than last time. But needless to say, I enjoyed this quite a lot. If you liked The Last Wish at all, I'd recommend it.