A Review of The Tower of the Swallow – Spoiler Free
In this review of The Tower of the Swallow there may be mild spoilers for previous books in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski.
Baptism of Fire mostly focused on Geralt’s mission to find and rescue Cirri, supposedly from the clutches of Nilfgaard, after the devastating events on the isle of Thanedd. The third book of the series was fun, although upon reflection it did not do much to further the overarching plot of the story.
Enter The Tower of the Swallow, Book 4 of the Witcher series, which pushed the plot so far ahead that I’m convinced this particular installment could have easily been two books.
Writing Style & Plot
If you reach this point in the Witcher series I’m sure you won’t be surprised at Sapkowski’s writing style: dialogue-heavy, with extensive descriptions, abundant background details, and point of view transitions that can be confusing but entertaining overall.
The Tower of the Swallows is as ‘Sapkowski’ as any Witcher book can get, and you will surely need more than two brain cells to understand all that happens here. More mysteries are unraveled, more foes are defeated, and yet I imagine there is still much to be revealed in the finale.
This book mostly covered what was essentially lacking in Baptism of Fire. We see what happens to Ciri after becoming part of the Rats, a gang of thieves and outlaws. I loved Ciri’s character development throughout the books, but it is in this particular installment that we see her go through trials that test her strength and will, and emerge a truly formidable girl that everyone should stop underestimating.
Ciri is a ‘Special Snowflake’, a character trope that I’ve generally gotten tired of after reading ‘Special Snowflakes’ who are about as interesting as drying cement. Ciri though, for the most part, earns the title of Chosen One. Sure, she’s the Child of the Elderblood, descended from a line of powerful women, but she’s also a Witcher girl and a sorceress.
She all but walked through fire in this book, and Frodo Baggins’ journey to destroy The One Ring looks like a trip to the postage station compared to all the horrors Ciri underwent. I think it’s funny how many powerful and vicious personalities keep failing to capture this sixteen-year-old girl, and at this point, I don’t think there is anything Ciri cannot do.
This book also allows readers to discover what happens to Yennefer after she escapes from the Lodge, as well as to get a glimpse of her life before becoming the famed raven-haired sorceress. I’ve personally never liked Yennefer, but I gained a lot of respect for her in The Tower of Swallow.
I get the appeal of heroes who always do what is right, who are ready to die for their country or whatever greater cause they have in mind. Yennefer however admits that she doesn’t WANT to sacrifice anything, even for some greater cause, that she LIKES taking vengeance for all the wrong that was done to her. It must sound selfish, but I can completely respect that attitude!
For a series that gives the impression of being about the Witcher, Book 4 does not have that much content regarding Geralt and his company. There is a relatively short account from Dandelion’s POV covering what happens to their group after the Battle for the Bridge on the Yaruga, but most of it is just interactions of the characters mainly featured in Baptism of Fire, which I very much enjoyed nonetheless.
Unlike all the books that came before, The Tower of the Swallow ended on a somewhat hopeful note. There’s still quite a lot to cover, and I’m excited to see how the finale ties all these loose ends!