Baptism of Fire Book Review – Spoiler Free
Baptism of Fire is Andrzej Sapkowski‘s thrilling third entry into The Witcher series. We ended Time of Contempt with our main characters Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer and Ciri forced apart. Geralt has recovered from his injuries and is on the hunt to find Ciri with a new ragtag group of characters.
This story wasn’t what I expect in the third installment. Before I picked up Baptism of Fire, I couldn’t help but wonder where this story is going. I was disappointed with Blood of Elves (Book 1) and enjoyed Time of Contempt (Book 2). But now here I am at the halfway point of the series wondering if I am going to get some answers or revelations for the plots direction.
Baptism of Fire actually succeeds in this. Not all of my questions are answered which leaves some mystery for the last two novels to unravel.
Baptism of Fire spends a lot of time with Geralt, which I loved. Geralt is perhaps one of my favorite fantasy characters right now. I also believe Sapkowski’s writing shines the most with Geralt. Geralt might be this rough, tough and stubborn character but he shows us a lot of humanity.
I loved the relationship Geralt has formed over the years with Dandelion. Dandelion might come across as too much at times but his wit and knowledge are second to none.
Yennefer plays quite an important role through this series. Even though her story was short, we obtain a vast amount of knowledge about the war ravaging the world and how magic is to be preserved.
I was bummed by the lack of Ciri throughout the story. However, this turned out to be a great narrative choice for this particular story but I hope we can see more of her in the next novel. Sapkowksi also provided us with several new characters to follow – Milva, Regis and Cahir. Each character provided a great new dynamic to the Geralt and Dandelion team.
The magic system in this story isn’t used as much as other fantasy series like The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. The magic is definitely here in the story but it is used in more subtle ways. I enjoyed some of the unique uses of magic in this story particularly around Yennefer’s storyline.
“You surround the dead with veneration and memory, you dream of immortality, and in your myths and legends there’s always someone being resurrected, conquering death. But were your esteemed late great-grandfather really to suddenly rise from the grave and order a beer, panic would ensue.”
One of my biggest complaints with the series is the lack of a map to look at. Sapkowski mentions villages, rivers, and many of the different countries throughout the series. There is a lot of imagination as to were places are which I guess could be a unique style on this genre but a good old fashion map would be nice.
The history, creatures, races, countries…. even the political intrigue is very thought out. The author doesn’t force this on you with long information dumps but he thoughtfully adapts it into the story quite well. There are moments where the characters are making dinner and you learn what kind of fish they are eating, hear about a story that happen years ago or even a discussion about the territory. I have a great appreciation for how the world building is handled in this series.
Overall, I really enjoyed where Baptism of Fire went. Even the new cast of characters added another layer to the story that wasn’t in the previous installments. However, I did feel the story ended a bit abruptly and on a cliffhanger. I definitely can’t wait to see where Andrzej Sapkowski takes me in The Tower of Shallows.