This book is another prequel to the main Witcher series, similar to The Last Wish it’s a collection of short stories following Geralt’s adventures.
The Bounds of Reason: This story was my favourite from the first season of The Witcher so I was excited to read it. Geralt is asked to join an expedition to follow a dragon. Geralt makes it clear that he will not hurt the creature. We get to see much more of Geralt and Yennefer’s relationship, they are no longer a couple and Yennefer is still furious with him. Dandelion is also part of the party, he makes me laugh so much! Most of the other people on the expedition want to kill the dragon for its treasure. I love the reveal at the end of the story and how once again Geralt is more moral and kind than the humans that hold him in such disregard.
“If dragons didn’t have treasure hoards, not a soul would be interested in them; and certainly not sourcerers.”
A Shard of Ice: The beginning sees Geralt and Yennefer living together in bliss, it’s really sweet. Geralt goes out to fight the monsters in the city and when he comes back Yennefer makes sure he isn’t severely injured, the elixir he has to take to get into fight mode means Geralt can’t feel anything until they wear off which could be too late. It’s a miracle he’s lasted this long without a person to look out for him. A rival for Yennefer’s affections tells Geralt that witchers can’t feel any emotions but I don’t think that’s true, maybe I’m projecting but I think Geralt does feel things. He cares about Yennefer and Dandelion as well as the people he protects. The ending to this one annoyed me and I’m not keen on the way Yennefer acts in this one.
“Truth is a shard of ice.”
Eternal Flame: Geralt and Dandelion find themselves up against a shape changer in a busy city. The Temple of Eternal Flame has an issue with the monster that is loose in their city, according to their beliefs, no monster can come close to their temples but it appears they were wrong. The head of the temple asks Geralt to rid them of the monster despite preaching that it doesn’t exist, if Geralt refuses they could end up in the dungeons or worse. Once again Geralt fights to protect the ‘monster’ they haven’t harmed anyone so why would he want to kill them? He has a conscience, he’s not a cold-blooded killer.
A Little Sacrifice: A reverse of the Little Mermaid where the mermaid refuses to become human but suggests the Duke who is in love with her becomes a merman instead, she’s frustrated that he expects her to make a sacrifice for him but won’t consider changing himself. The morale is of course that you shouldn’t have to change yourself for anyone. Geralt is then sent out to find a sea monster who consumed an entire ship’s crew. But witchers were not made to tackle sea creatures, they were made to clear the land of monsters, a very different skill set is needed.
The Sword of Destiny: Destiny is definitely the theme of this story! Geralt meets Ciri in some strange woods which are full of danger, only dryads can make their way safely through them, they live secluded from society and I think they have some magical powers, I low-key want to be them. Geralt is accompanied by a dryad to help him through and they save Ciri from a creepy snake-like monster. Geralt doesn’t realise that Ciri is his destiny until the dryads show him the truth. The reason Geralt pushes everyone away is because he thinks he’s going to get them hurt, his life is filled of endless dangerous situations, it makes me sad!
“The only thing that everyone is destined for is death. Death is the other blade of the two-edged sword.”
Something More: At the beginning Geralt was severely injured and had a fever dream where he remembered Yennefer told him to go to Cintra and find his destiny. In another memory Geralt meets with Queen Calanthe to tell her that he doesn’t want to take the child away from her, Geralt assumes it’s a boy but we know he’s wrong while Calanthe had assumed Geralt would want to turn the child into a witcher. There’s no way Geralt would put anyone through the horrible torture he had to endure to gain his powers. War is approaching and Geralt needs to act if he’s going to find Ciri and fulfill their destiny. This one had a beautiful and emotional ending, I’m really excited to get to the main series.
“The circle is closing, the snake is sinking its teeth into its own tail. That is how it must be.”
I think I enjoyed the first collection of stories a bit better. We saw a lot more of Geralt and Yennefer in this book and I’m not keen on their dynamic. All these stories are guiding us towards Blood of Elves, they’re more connected and centred around destiny, I think it’s set up the story really well, we get a real sense of Geralt’s character and his ties to the other main characters, I’m really looking forward to the next book!