Here we are. At the end at last. The final Witcher book (not counting Season of Storms, which we’ll get to soon enough). It’s been a wild ride. Let’s hope it sticks the landing.
All the pieces are set for the grand finale. Ciri has found her way to the land of the ancient elves, those who bear the Elder Blood, where she finds herself trapped. Geralt finds himself continuing his work as a Witcher in the land of Toussaint, trapped throughout the winter and unable to fly to Ciri’s aide. Yennefer is trapped in the power of Vilgefortz, a prisoner meant to lure her Witcher and surrogate daughter into a trap. Meanwhile, the war between the kingdoms of the north and Nilfgaard prepares for its final battle and the sorceresses of the Lodge make plans for acquiring Ciri. The moment of destiny is fast approaching. Will this fairy tale end in tragedy, as all the tell-tales of the future agree? Or will Ciri finally defy her destiny?
That’s a lot to take in, I know. Because this book has a lot to sort through. The series has set up so many threads at this point, all of which need resolving by the end of the book. As long as that summary is, I still needed to leave a ton out. Otherwise, it’d be longer than the review itself. Like a blackhole, this book is; hyper-dense.
That density is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives you plenty of book for your buck. On the other, it can become rather easy to space out and skim read when a descriptive paragraph or a whole scene just go on for a little too long. This is the kind of book that you’ll need to take in slowly, over the course of many reading sessions, if you want to absorb everything.
But that begs the question: is it worth getting everything? Well… kind of.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way. First of all: this book has the same issue as Tower of Swallows, in that it’ll hop between character perspectives and time periods very frequently. To be fair: it isn’t nearly as bad as it is in the prior book. Most chapters are very straight-forward and coherent, especially towards the beginning. Its when we get to the last four or so chapters that it starts hopping around. But even at its worst, it’s still reasonably coherent.
Second: I have mixed feelings on the ending. The story wraps up the big conflict, regarding the war and Vilgefortz, several chapters before the end. Then the story goes on for a little while longer before reaching its true ‘climax’. Then the story ends.
On one hand: I love the tension that arises through that. After the major conflicts are resolved and the story keeps going, it builds this great sense of dread. We’ve been given so many context clues hinting at this tale ending in tragedy. So, when the most dangerous hurdle our heroes need to face is overcome but the story carries on, we start to fear for what may be around the corner. What horrific twist of fate could occur before the end?
Then we get the answer. And it’s kinda lame. Not, like, so horribly disappointing that it ruins the entire series. But it does feel anticlimactic.
That being said: the final scene is absolutely fantastic. Not only does it bring the story right back to the beginning (oh yeah, this is another Witcher book that begins at the end), but it also leaves you off on a tragic and mysterious note. What’s going to happen to Ciri now that she’s truly alone in this strange new land? Is she going to fulfill her destiny after all? Or will she escape it? The answer is: you decide!
Unless you play the Witcher games, in which case the devs at CD Projekt Red decide.
The rest of the story is a mixed bag. There are plenty of amazing scenes, from the heartbreaking end of Geralt’s company to the hilarious ‘execution’ of Dandelion. Ciri’s final fight with Bonart is incredibly satisfying, even more so than Geralt’s final battle against Vilgefortz. I especially love all of Ciri’s world/time traveling shenanigans; her accidentally staring the black plague is equal parts horrifying and hysterical. However, the final battle of the war is kind of boring and hard to follow and all the stuff surrounding the peace treaty is rather dull. I love a good political drama, but this just ain’t doing it for me.
Also, this book is gross. Like, people have been wanting to fuck Ciri ever since the first book; child of destiny and all that shit. But this is the book where everyone starts to act on that desire and it gets really uncomfortable at times. Like, Vilgefortz being a rapist was bad enough. Did you have to make him a maniac who would impregnate her with a syringe then tear her fucking uterus out?
The Wild Hunt ends up being pretty disappointing too. They hold Ciri captive for a while, molest her for a while (again; gross), Ciri escapes, they threaten her a bit, then… they disappear. Seriously, they just vanish from the story. Never to be seen or heard from again. The book just drops them entirely, even though they’ve been built up to since book #2.
I’d be more mad about that if Witcher 3 didn’t exist.
Overall, I’d say that this finale is pretty decent. It isn’t absolutely incredible, but it does stick the landing with a small flourish. It wraps the series up in a nice little package, solidifying it as one of my new favorite fantasy series. If you need a good fantasy read, this book, and the Witcher series as a whole, is one of the better picks you could select.
But we’re not quite done! Not yet, at least! Technically speaking, we’ve still got one book left to cover! One disconnected from the events of the rest of the series, almost entirely stand-alone.
That’s right. We’ve still got to weather a Season of Storms.