Sunday, January 4, 2015

Baptism of Fire

It is as if the plot set for the saga turned out to be too short and the series needed a fillerish volume. Baptism of Fire takes Geralt and his fellowship of the witcher into a long journey to find Ciri but they never reach their destination, partly because of the distance and the difficulty of navigating between armies, and partly because they are not even sure where exactly they need to go. (I wish there was a map in the book.)

The journey is not entirely uneventful, though, and the novel has no trouble reaching a good 300 pages. In fact, it seemed the length of the book surprised Sapkowski himself. The final chapter starts with an old man telling the book's story to some village's kids. He has time for one more story because it is getting late. It is as if the man is the author himself who came to the realization that he needs to end the book soon or it will grow too lengthy for some standard.

Ciri gets very little spotlight time in Baptism of Fire, which means more of Geralt. Unfortunately he does not get to fight any monsters. Defeating them might have been challenging without a silver sword, though. At least he gets a high quality dwarven sword towards the end.

An elf called Iorweth makes a short appearance in the book. I had to look up on the Witcher wiki if he is the Iorveth of Witcher 2 spelled differently, but apparently he is not – only his name was used for the game character. (Iorweth is the original Polish name and that is why it is so in the book as well.) While I was at it, I also checked if Vernon Roche was created for Witcher 2 from scratch and it seems that he is. His last name, however, is not related (and some subtle joke) to how Geralt calls all of his horses Roach, even if they are pronounced the same way. Or at least that is what the wiki claimed.

Even with the useless wild goose chase, I liked Baptism of Fire very much. There was lots of character development and the story-telling is interesting. And there were many truly funny moments. One of them was how Geralt got knighted at the end and officially became Geralt of Rivia. It was revealed earlier that he is not actually from Rivia but he started using it to make him seem more trustworthy to his contractors.

However, I recall someone recognizing Geralt's accent as Rivian – I think it was in one of the short stories. So either Geralt learned to speak like a Rivian to make his name plausible or Sapkowski retconned the fact in this novel. Who knows.

Now to wait for the translation of The Swallow's Tower...

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