Where do you begin when it's time to say goodbye? I'd say that I'm unsure about this book especially in regards to the recommended reading order. I'll say this with conviction - this book NEEDS to be read after the first installment of short stories ("The Last Wish") BUT the epilogue should be read ONLY after finishing the last full length novel ("The Lady of the Lake") if possible IMMEDIATELY after. I think it will give the reader a much more positive way of concluding the series. Though I still consider it a VERY open ending.
This book, as mentioned, takes place, chronologically after the story "The Last Wish", which means, Ciri is not a part of the story and not mentioned even briefly. This is mostly Geralt's story as a Witcher (something he really HADN'T been for a few books). Going after demons and finding the real monsters are humans. His connection with Yennefer is still confusing to both of them. Geralt finds a "romantic interest" even if he realizes Coral isn't the one he really wants. And Yennefer? who knows with her, right? She has a rather short appearance in this one. But at least we have Dandelion with his shenanigans hehe.
The story itself was intriguing even if annoying in the way Geralt was treated and the misfortune following him around wherever he goes. I felt bad for him. I think this is the kind of Geralt we saw in the very beginning and almost forgot. Witchers aren't appreciated or admired, they are mostly seen as half monsters themselves. He is lucky to have Dandelion and naturally everyone in Kaer Morhen.
I'm not sure how to summarize this book as there is much going on. I'll just say that even though it felt a bit slow at times, I enjoyed it and getting a final (?) taste of Geralt. It's really too bad Andrzej isn't going to give us anymore of our favorite characters. There is so much more to explore! Which actually explains why the games (taking place after the ending of the series) has such a large following. In a way it's getting more where, in my opinion, more was needed. The story does NOT end in a very definitive way. Not in this one (in the epilogue) and not in the previous book. It almost feels like it needs a spin-off series. Who will be the focus there? That's a good question. I'm also left wondering where the TV series will be going as there are a lot of differences in events and characters.
I'll say this in the clearest way possible this is an AWESOME series. It's full of action but also has a lot of relatable and interesting characters. Each has his / her faults. It also offers a lot of debatable issues about war but also of love and companionship. While the word destiny is thrown a lot into the mix, in the end, it was up to Geralt, Ciri and Yennefer to decide how to navigate their connection. Both Geralt and Yennefer has been alone even while surrounded by people. It's hard for them to surrender to their feelings to one another. In a way it's easier for them to show parental love for Ciri. MUCH easier. This is what I ADORED about this series, how complex and multi layered it is. It's about these three (plus Dandelion) and their journey but it's not just a physical one - going from one place to the other and trying to survive war, politics etc.
Goodbye Geralt, Yennefer, Ciri and Dandelion. At least till the next season starts on the TV show then I might relisten to the first one again.
5-9 May 2022