Title: The Lady of the Lake
Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
Page Count: 540
This is the fifth of six books in the Witcher series and so it’s going to be difficult for me to talk about it without going into spoiler territory. The good news is that most of the Witcher books can be read almost like standalones, although you’ll miss the nuances of that overarching story line in which we see the politics develop as war breaks out.
What’s cool about this one is that there’s a little bit of a crossover with our own world, with Ciri passing through The Tower of Swallows and ending up in Avalon, chilling at the court of King Arthur. In fact, that’s where it gets its title from, because Ciri herself is mistaken for being the legendary lady of the lake.
You might be pleased to know though that we don’t spend too much time in our own world, and it’s really just what Sapkowski uses as the framing device for this particular tale. He does that a lot, telling stories within stories, and I’ve always found it interesting to look at the different ways that he accomplishes that.
I also find it amusing that by this point, Dandelion is essentially masquerading as a lord of sorts, while Geralt has a few little romances that show a softer side of the witcher. Romance isn’t really my thing, but I don’t know if it’s even the right word for what we have here. There’s nothing romantic about blood and gore, for example, and Sapkowski’s world can be pretty bleak at times.
Winter is coming (hey, that sounds familiar), and war is on the horizon. It’s not an easy place to live, but it is an easy place to die. It didn’t leave me wishing that I could go and visit it, like some other fantasy settings do, but it did do a great job of asking questions of the reader and it had plenty of the great philosophical stuff which was what made me get hooked on the witcher series in the first place.
I have noticed that with the last few books, they seem to be getting longer and longer. I was initially worried about that, because I generally find my attention starting to wane towards the last 50 pages or so, but it never felt torturous or as though Sapkowski was dragging the story out without much of a reason.
So yeah, I’d recommend this one and say it’s probably my second favourite instalment in the novels now after Baptism of Fire, but you will also want to read through the books in order. That’s a good thing because they start out with the short story collections, which are arguably my favourites of the lot.
One final point to make is that the books also hold up very nicely just as books, regardless of whether you’ve played the games or watched the Netflix show. I haven’t watched either of them, although I do plan to watch some YouTubers playing the games after I’ve finished reading all of the books. But I wasn’t much of a fan of the Netflix show.