Season of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher #0)

I received a review copy of Season of Storms in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Andrzej Sapkowski and Gollancz for the opportunity. 

Season of Storms begins with the Witcher successfully completing a contract to eradicate the threat of a monster known as an Idr. Upon receiving payment Geralt opts to travel to Kerack where another mission may be waiting. Upon arrival at Kerack's Watchtower he is made to disarm and hand over his two legendary Witcher swords which he does begrudgingly. His first act in the City is to frequent an inn and relax with some food and wine. Before he is able to tuck in though he is posed a question by three characters dressed in black who approached his table without a sound.

"Geralt of Rivia?"
"It is I."
"You are arrested in the name of the law." 

The Witcher Wiki states that this standalone novel is a midquel, set before "The Witcher" short story but after most of the other stories in The Last Wish. Although much longer at 368 this entry has much more in common with the short tales in both The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny than the other full-lengths in the saga. Instead of character and point of view hopping which was introduced in Blood of Elves and continued up until The Lady of the Lake, we only follow Geralt's actions here. This is with the exception of certain interludes which include letters, a story draft, and the happenings at an auction house. For me, the interludes were hit and miss for enjoyment/excitement and were really just a device to colour the reader slightly more informed of the current happenings than they would be if only isolated to the Witcher's point of view perspective. 

The world-renowned poet and Geralt's best friend Dandelion is one of the main characters throughout this narrative and like quite a few other The Witcher tales, he just happens to randomly come across Geralt in random cities and towns all over the world without planning to. The amount of times this happens throughout the series seems farfetched but I'm willing to forgive Sapkowski as the womanising troubadour is one the best characters in the overall story. The majority of the ensemble here are new creations such as the mysterious fire-haired sorceress Coral and the trusty drawf friend Addario Bach. There are mentions of other characters that are present in the series that readers will know and a few surprising 'easter-egg' moments. One, in particular, you will only understand if you have completed the whole series. As mentioned, this book does work finely as a standalone, however; I wouldn't recommend reading it until a potential reader had read The Last Wish as this collection introduces the character of The Witcher well and would, therefore, heighten the enjoyment experience in Season of Storms.  After that though, it can be read at any time. 

It is written in similar fashion to the short stories but does feature one or two styles of writing that Sapkowski toyed with more in the latter half of the full series such as dream sequences and transportation/place/world hopping scenes ala The Lady of the Lake. The place/world hopping scenes in the aforementioned book was one of my least favourite parts in the series as a whole so I was glad that it is only limited to half a dozen or so pages here before it proceeds back to the author's fashion of writing style I enjoy a lot more. 

Geralt, as always, has unshakable morals and his dependable horse Roach. There are many highs and lows for him here and throughout, more often than not, his luck seems to really be against him. In addition to his talents with blades, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of seemingly everything including law and magic but especially monsters. There are a large number of different sorts of monsters dotted throughout these pages including a she-fox, werewolves and ogrotrolls. Season of Storms features demon hunts, corrupted magic, uncertainty over monarchy ascension, and a battle with a gigantic sea monster. It's not the finest entry but it should be read by all fans of The Witcher as there is a lot to enjoy here. I devoured it in 48-hours and loved being back in the world of The Witcher. Recommended.

8/10 Features demon hunts, corrupted magic, uncertainty over monarchy ascension, and a battle with a gigantic sea monster... Recommended

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