Excellent continuation of Geralt’s tales
“The sword of destiny has two blades; you are one of them”
If “The Last Wish” was an introduction to who is Geralt of Rivia, then “Sword of Destiny” is where we learn what is his true purpose. Throughout the short stories, we get to see Geralt being forced to make choices, even when he doesn’t want to. These choices eventually lead him down a path he has been reluctant to follow and yet had been destined to follow. It’s an interesting juxtaposition we see, between making choices and having a destiny as it seems that one would be the opposite of the other. The idea of destiny has a finality to it because it implies a lack of choice, however, if we considered that the choices, we make lead us to a destiny then there’s no loss of free will.
The short stories follow somewhat the same template as the short stories in The Last Wish, though they are more in-depth and focused. Their fairy tale connection is also less overt as it focuses more on Geralt himself and how he reacts and responds to the events surrounding him.
The first short story “The Bounds of Reason” finds Geralt finds hunting for dragons, the only problem is the Geralt of Rivia, monster hunter, doesn’t hunt or kill dragons. He sees them as intelligent creatures that unless they are causing purposeful harm to others, he sees no reason to hunt them. Throughout his adventure, he meets an array of characters most of which wish to hunt the dragon, some of which might not. However, no matter who he meets and what happens Geralt does not waver from his beliefs and in the end is rewarded with an amazing surprise.
In “A Shard of Ice” we see Geralt and Yennefer together as a couple. Their relationship is very interesting, they for on/off because of different circumstances some of which are their own insecurities being who they are. What I love the most about the two of them is that they have a genuine love for each other that is not based on their physical form or their professions. Geralt knows the Yennefer use to be a hunchback and Yennefer knows that Geralt has been mutated by his training as a Witcher, yet she will not allow for anyone, even Geralt himself, to dehumanize him because of that. Likewise, Geralt holds Yen in the highest of estimations. He doesn’t care what she looks like or what potions she uses to make herself look younger and more beautiful; he loves Yen for who she is.
Following the theme of “less than human,” we have the short story the “Eternal Flame”. In the story, we explore the difficulty in surviving a world we you are not like everyone else. Given his experiences and who he is Geralt understand this more than anyone. He doesn’t always recognize it at first but in his wise way, he learns from his experiences. We also get to see more interactions between Geralt and his BFF 4-evah Dandelion. This story evaluates something that’s very prominent throughout the series which is discrimination. There’s a lot of exploration of discrimination and otherness throughout the series and it’s done in a way that it doesn’t come out as preachy, it’s a real issue in this world and our own and it’s something that needs to be exposed.
Next, we get to experience some mermaid action in Geralt’s next adventure in “A Little Sacrifice”. Geralt is accompanied once again by his friend Dandelion. Like all their adventure together nothing goes as planned but a few things happen along the way. Geralt realizes what loving someone truly means, you can’t just sacrifice a little if you love someone, you must be willing to sacrifice everything and this I think is an important lesson that will come into play later in the series.
In “The Sword of Destiny” we are finally introduced to Princess Cirilla of Cintra, aka Ciri. I’ve been anticipating her introduction as I know she plays a very important role in the main series. I very much enjoyed her interactions with Geralt. They do not get off on the right foot yet by the end you could see the bond forming between them, even if Geralt was not ready to embrace the bond by the end of this short story.
Finally, in “Something More” we see Geralt’s adventures and travels come to a head when he’s accepts that destiny can mean many things, not just death. Geralt was fond of saying that the only thing that was destined was death, yet he learns that there’s more to it than that. You can just carve a path straight to death, life happens, choices happen, and these things can’t always be predicted. The final scene is an absolute tearjerker and I loved it.
Overall, I enjoyed this book tremendously. Getting to know the characters better and meeting new characters and seeing how they grow both as individuals but also in their bonds to one another was a real treat. The stories were entertaining but meaningful and they made you care which is what any good story should do.
Overall score 5/5 stars
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