Coming straight from reading the compilations of Witcher stories in The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, it’s a bit disappointing to find that the first entry into the collection of Witcher novels barely scratches the surface of everything I expected Blood of Elves to build on. Not even close.
I know it’s a bit unfair to be disappointed when an author takes their own story to a place that doesn’t align with what you hoped for, but I can’t help but not be a little bummed that we didn’t get a Logan-esque journey between Geralt and his ward – the Child of Destiny – Ciri. There’s a bit of that, but unfortunately it’s just a small portion of this story that jumps around in a way that feels very familiar to the more episodic structure of the short stories, with portions that focus on Dandelion being Dandelion, the Witcher briefly fighting one of the only monsters in the book (bad luck for all those people who thought Sword of Destiny was lacking in that department), political leaders being political leaders, Ciri training to survive a world hunting for her, the Witcher bedding yet another underaged girl (I hate this more than the use of “charms” for boobs), and not much else.
Oh, and that short portion of Ciri and Geralt traveling together? Good news is we’re introduced to Triss Merigold in this chapter too. Bad news is all that hope in possibly getting to witness the other side of the love triangle coming together was immediately crushed because all that happened off the page. And what remains is Triss as this lovesick individual that spends most of her time longing for Geralt, when she isn’t feverishly pooping. That’s right. Triss spends most of her time indisposed, before completely disappearing from the book. I’m as flabbergasted as you are.
At least Yennefer doesn’t disappoint?
Honestly Blood of Elves is just a continuation of storytelling that feels largely hindered by its disjointed structure. The brief experiences we have with characters don’t always work to their benefit thanks in large part to what the author chooses to focus on, Geralt continues to often feel like a secondary character who fails to prove why he deserves to be the subject of everyone’s obsession, and I can’t help but feel like we miss so much important worldbuilding, character development, and interactions between chapters.
What’s more, at the end of it all, Blood of Elves doesn’t even feel like a complete story, but a stepping stone for far greater things to come. Maybe had I been drawn in by the characters more it would feel like what we were given in these pages was enough, but unfortunately that’s not the case.