Rating: 4/5 stars
Spoiler Free Review of Lady of the Lake
I’ve had such fun reading The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski these past couple of months, and while I think this book had many notable scenes, dialogues and themes, I am a bit conflicted. There’s this huge part of me that keeps thinking that Lady of the Lake was the best finale I could have hoped for, and yet there’s also this little voice in my head that keeps saying “but, but, but…”
Lady of the Lake had a strong, entertaining opening that I felt embodied the kind of lightness and humor that is present in all of the Witcher books. It amazes me how a book can have so many horrifying and dreadful scenes, but also be hilarious and delightful at times.
If you get to this point in the series, you’ll know that Cirri has power over space and time, and a huge chunk of the book shows Cirri jumping from one dimension or world to another, in different points in time.
Not all she meets in these different worlds can be called ‘friendly’, and of course our Chosen One has to deal with old and new foes. As much as I adore the idea of visiting different worlds, I wish there were fewer pages dedicated to Cirri’s travels, as they became somewhat repetitive, and pulled readers away from the plot lines that I felt should have been given more importance.
Which leads me to my next point
I don’t know why I expected Sapkowski to drop his usual style of throwing in different perspectives and dumping new characters into the scene. I don’t want to go into too much detail over the events of the story, but I will say that the perspective jumps Sapkowski takes in this particular book are on a whole new level. I can’t imagine the amount of brain power it takes to arrange events in such a convoluted way.
I personally never had much of an issue with the author’s narrative style, but I will say that this time around I kind of hoped that we got more time with the familiar characters we’ve gotten to know throughout the series. It seems weird to introduce a bunch of new characters in a finale, although I kind of understand what the author was going for in terms of how he wanted readers to absorb the impact of Cirri and Geralt’s actions.
While a lot of those new characters truly had scenes that were engrossing—Sapkowski after all is great at characterization—I still felt sort of cheated that we got so little of Geralt and his company, and even Yennefer’s role in this book felt like an afterthought.
A finale isn’t a proper finale without battles and blood, and I think we got a fair amount of that in Lady of the Lake. I enjoyed the action sequences, and the battle at Vilgefortz’s castle is definitely my favorite part of the story! Readers can also expect A LOT of death here, and I’m especially devastated over a few of them! I actually had to stop reading for a few minutes because I couldn’t believe what happened.
There was a point in my reading where I thought everything was just about to wrap up nicely, and I couldn’t imagine what else there was to cover. Sure enough: PLOT TWIST. I cannot adequately express my shock and horror at this big revelation, and I would have rated this book 5 stars, if only for that crazy twist.
I have such mixed feelings over everything that came after that huge plot twist though. I thought Sapkowski’s way of ending this book, and thus this series, was a bit of a risk, and it’s not something readers would have expected. For me personally, the word ‘bittersweet’ doesn’t fully encompass how much I both loved and agonized over this ending.
A lot of the darker themes of this whole series—racism, xenophobia, misogyny, moral ambiguity—reflect our reality in a truly terrifying way. Lady of the Lake in particular effectively emphasizes an idea that is present in every single Witcher novel: humanity has a great capacity for monstrous acts and heroic deeds, and the battle against evil is never truly over.
And I suppose that’s why the world will always need a Witcher.