Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Tower of the Swallow by Andrzej Sapkowski book review

The Tower of the Swallow (The Witcher, #6)The Tower of the Swallow by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This review can be found on Amaranthine Reads.

The Witcher series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski continues, with the Child Surprise Ciri travelling around with a bunch of thieves and bandits called the Rats, whilst Geralt, sorcerers and the Emperor send out people to find her.

This series has plummeted to the very depths of tedium. Every book has melded in to one and it's difficult for me to remember this particular one, though I do recall my consternation at the random change of narrative style. Geralt is still not doing any Witchering, there is still monumental bitching between all the female characters and the dialogue is still pitiful.

I complained during a review of an earlier book in this series that we rarely had other points of view during the narration, which seemed to slow down the entire thing. This book rectifies that, but in such a way that it may as well have not happened. We have around five POVs during any given chapter, which confuses things incredibly and don't actually improve the plot or pace of the action. We also, for some reason, begin to get excerpts from Dandelion's little memoirs, which add nothing to the plot except a general feel that perhaps this is something Sapkowski should maybe try out because it's cool, yo.

The plot is also the same as it was in the previous three books. This series, a five book series discounting the first two short story collections, is definitely two books too long and probably four books too long. Everything seems to take around two chapters to tell. A journey that could be told in one sentence ends up taking approximately half the book and we are left wondering why. Nothing particularly exciting happens during these journeys, except meeting new characters that add nothing to the story because the characters we already know are weak and two dimensional. Their interaction is always so false and incredibly immature.

Speaking of the characters, the protagonists known as Geralt and Ciri have become cantankerous and pathetic. They whinge and moan and act like little children not getting their own way. And yet no-one minds because one is a part of a prophecy and the other characters are all in love with the other. It is as if nothing can touch them-which is apparently the case since they elude capture, maiming and death numerous times through no reason other than they must to keep the story going.

There is also far, far, far too many mentions of genitals. I have never read a book that is so obsessed with genitals and sex. I'm sure HBO would love to turn this in to a TV series-and a successful one at that-due to the sheer amount of tits and sex. Someone is either aiming to stab someone else in the penis or a man is wanting to shove his penis in a woman's vagina. This is basically all that happens, with some killing in between.

And there is still endless bitching between the female characters. I'm not sure there is a single woman who have anything nice to say about another woman, except Ciri but she's basically just a child anyway. And all women love all children. It's a fact.

I don't know why I felt the need to finish this series. There is one book to go after this and whilst I found this particular instalment as boring as any book can be, I find I've invested so much I need to know. Belzebub knows I will be disappointed: I can feel it with this book as the plot meanders, the characters flatten out even more and the dialogue improves by a hair's breadth. It is my own fault for wasting my own time.

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Baptism of Fire by Andrzej Sapkowski book review

Baptism of Fire (The Witcher, #5)Baptism of Fire by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

We come to book three of the Witcher series, or book five if you're counting the first two collections of short stories. Whichever way you want to look at it, Baptism of Fire is the same dull book as it would be in any order.

The series continues with Geralt the Witcher searching the land for the Child Surprise, Ciri. The war rages on around them and it seems every faction is on the look out for Ciri, too. But Geralt is injured and the sorcerers are in disarray, whilst the enemy approaches ever closer...

Let's first of all take a little look at the title of the series: Witcher. One would hope that this meant that the book would be about Geralt, who is THE Witcher, and of course, it is about him. In a roundabout way. But unfortunately, it is about him in the sense that today is about you. There's barely any Witcher-ing going on (a Witcher being someone who is paid to kill monsters) and the only Witcher-y things that happen are the countless pirouettes that occur during a sword fight.

Taking the characters as a whole, they're all still similar, juvenile and can't speak for toffee. Their dialogue has stopped being all about whores and sluts, and yet it is still the speak of simpletons. We get endless conversations that should be propelling the plot along but ends up being mindless drivel. The characters themselves don't notice this, nor do they seemingly notice anything else that's happening around them. When we focus on a certain character, the rest of the world just stops: or so it seems.

I feel I can't comment on the writing, not only because it's a translation (though I know a translation can only work with what it's given) but because I think the version I read was a fan-generated ebook of terrible writing and horrible grammar. Having said that, you cannot make good what was already poor to begin with-or indeed, you can't polish a turd.

Going back to the plot, it is dry and underdone. We only really have one plot thread running throughout, and that is Ciri. Whilst we are now getting POV from many different characters and we are encountering the different races and peoples that inhabit this Witcher world, we are still not getting much in the way of plot. There are minor conspiracies dashed about, but ultimately all it boils down to is Geralt's need to find Ciri. And even once we know that, we don't even know why. There are countless times when we are told of prophecies and plans, but nothing substantial stands out. It's mostly conjecture and it's as if the author didn't necessarily have much of a plot in mind from the beginning anyway.

My main consternation for this series, however, is the true lack of originality and imagination. We have here just a generic, every-day kind of fantasy novel. Which you could say is fine, because if fantasy is what you like, then this'll be right up your street if you're not looking for anything challenging or something that is truly breath-taking and different.

But when you consider what Sapkowski wrote in The Last Wish you'd be easily forgiven for hoping that these books might be better. The Last Wish intertwined fairytale re-tellings with political intrigue and we had a great and original character in Geralt the Witcher. But with these books we have none of that. We simply have flat storytelling, pointless plots and some very lacking characters.

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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski book review

The Time of Contempt (The Witcher, #4)The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am odds with this series. The Last Wish is a million miles away from what these have become, which is just generic fantasy that is badly written (or translated). In The Last Wish we have good battles with monsters, re-tellings of our own fairytales and interesting characters. In this series, which is made up of what are supposed to be full-length books, we have absolutely none of that and it's very disappointing.

The dialogue is the worst thing of all. There is an abysmal attempt at humour, and an attempt to make the characters-I suppose-"normal", or at least, not speaking in thees and thous. However, it goes too far and all the characters speak the same, swear the same, call every woman a slut the same and are just dull and ridiculous both. I don't know if it's the translation, the transcription or the original author, but a translator can only do so much with what they're given.

Beyond the dialogue, everything is is pretty much just generic fantasy with battles, swords, magic and men calling all females sluts or bitches. There is a small attempt to make interesting female characters, but just giving them magical powers doesn't do that. All the female characters are at odds with each other, bitching about them behind their backs, wanting their men, talking about men, doing nothing but bitching or talking about men. There is a wonderful opportunity here to make excellent female characters with power, working together, being helpful to each other, being friends, being wonderful. But no. They just bitch or get their tits out. It's getting old.

Of course, there is another female character who does none of these. Ciri. The most important character of all, (view spoiler)

There is also little or no need for Geralt to be in these books. It's supposedly about a Witcher, but I don't recall there being much Witchering going on. Geralt fights with around two monsters and gets paid for none of them. Instead, he kills humans and gets told off for doing so. There are elements of trying to philosophise about the Witcher profession and killing monsters in general, but it is lost in the deluge of mediocre writing.

However, to give the book a little credit, we do have a better omniscient narration here. We see the story through many different eyes and not just main characters, which is one of the best things about reading fantasy. We travel to different lands, as well, and experience them with the characters, so with these things this series has come on leaps and bounds because the last book was absolutely dire with those things. So hey-ho, can't have everything, can we? That'd be silly. That'd be a good, worthwhile book and apparently those don't exist.

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