Fantasy Horror Reviews

Season of Storms (Witcher#0) – Andrzej Sapkowski

12 January 2019
Season of Storms Book Cover Season of Storms
The Witcher (#0 Chronological Prequel)
Andrzej Sapkowski
May 22, 2018

The New York Times bestselling series that inspired the Witcher video games. World fantasy award lifetime achievement winner, Andrzej Sapkowski, introduces Geralt of Rivia. a witcher who is one of the few capable of hunting the monsters that prey on humanity. A mutant who has the task of killing unnatural beings. He uses magical signs, potions, and the pride of every witcher -- two swords, steel and silver. But, a contract has gone wrong, and Geralt finds himself without his trademark weapons. Now, he needs them back because sorcerers are scheming and across the world clouds are gathering. The season of storms is coming... Witcher collections. Translated from original Polish by David French

The Return of the Witcher

A prequel that will appeal to avid fans, filling out the backstories of key characters and expanding further upon the established lore. However, as a standalone, it’s perhaps the weakest of The Witcher series.

Once more Geralt finds himself trapped between malicious monarchs and sultry sorceresses, dragged into conspiracies and criminal enterprises where allies and enemies are rarely who they appear to be. Featuring the trademark dose of gritty realities and grey imperfect outcomes that fans have grown to love.

The world-building, character interactions and political intrigues are still as interesting and well-delivered as ever, Andrzej Sapkowski absolutely deserves the comparisons to J.R.R Tolkien. The witty dialogue, Lovecraftian description of monsters and general horror depictions, visceral violence and conspiracies continue to deliver at the high standard we’ve come to expect.

Everything that you loved with the main series is still here, the allegories of racism and discrimination and the more “reality-based fantastical” nature of how this world works. The relatable characters and viewpoints, particularly between various class roles or non-humans. Some might even argue that the Witcher series has never been more relevant, given the exemplary job it does of raising these issues to the fore. Not to mention the epic monsters and creatures, described in disturbingly wonderful detail.

This is an Epic Fantasy that has many great stories left to tell, but unfortunately this novel at times feels more like a filler episode than an exciting new direction. Previously, Sapowski has created full-length serialised novels as well as collections of short stories, and to a degree this book seems like a short story which has been laboriously stretched to full-length.

Due to the nature of the plot, nothing has any real impact or value to the main saga – making this at times feel more like empty fan service…or a quick cash grab for the more cynical of us, conveniently close to the launch of the new Netflix series… as well as the obvious success of the video games. This was originally written in 2014 however, and only officially translated to English in May 2018. The last major game launched in 2015.

In short, I suspect my own expectations and hopes over one of my favourite franchises has probably contributed to my disappointment, as the potential has not been realised. However, even the worst Witcher book tends to be far and above many other modern fantasy novels. The lore, characters and world are simply beyond reproach. They must be experienced.

Buy this book, and tell your friends, this series has so much more to give!

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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