Baptism of Fire


Having finished re-reading Baptism of Fire, it is once again hard for me to believe that I once held this series in such high esteem. I would like to give a short summary of the plot but, unfortunately, there isn’t much plot to speak of.

It is surprising how little actually happens in Baptism of Fire, and none of it drives the story forward in any way. Geralt and friends roam around in forests for what seems like an eternity, meanwhile Ciri and the Rats do bandit type things. The Lodge of Sorceresses talk incessantly about lineage and other boring topics, while Nilfgaard fights everyone else. There, I believe that’s an accurate summation.

The first third of Baptism of Fire was actually pretty decent, but it’s all downhill after that. The one redeeming facet of this book is Regis, the vampire. It was interesting to see Geralt’s reaction to a monster that he spent his life learning how to kill, and the moral quandary it posed for him. Regis’ explanation of why he gave up drinking blood was also pretty humorous. Zoltan and his bird were another good addition, though they unfortunately disappear from a good portion of the story.

Sapkowski’s treatment of women doesn’t improve with Baptism of Fire, though it’s almost like he believes he is writing powerful female characters. Ciri is amazing at swordplay and likes killing, so she is supposed to be strong and independent? Or something? The sorceresses like to scheme and plot, but even their own compatriots view them as overly sexual and devious. Milva probably got the worst treatment of them all, however. Peer-pressured into sleeping with two complete strangers, and she winds up pregnant and having a miscarriage. But she is good at shooting a bow, so it’s okay?

Sapkowski’s bland prose doesn’t help this series at all. Perhaps there is a problem with the translation. Baptism of Fire suffers from the same problem as its predecessors in that there are pages upon pages of people just talking to one another about inane nonsense. Even things that should be important are presented in such an uninteresting way that it’s impossible to pay attention. It’s frustrating because there is a good story here, and even some very good characters. The execution is just all over the place and, quite frankly, every book after Sword of Destiny has been excruciatingly boring.


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