Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

(7.8/10)

Much like The Last Wish before, Sword of Destiny is a collection of short stories following a talented witcher called Geralt of Rivia. Although you can start the series with Blood of Elves which is where the full-length novels commence, I can't recommend enough that even though a handful of these short stories are hit-and-miss, that they will add considerable depth to the future narrative arcs. 

The Last Wish featured mostly isolated stories with the Witcher tackling a certain monstrosity for a set payment. He travels around the world to where his peculiar killing and magic techniques are needed to tackle a problem and individuals will hire him. In the first book, apart from a couple of brief interludes, there were no recurring characters. It was solely about a certain adventure at one end of the world and then another a thousand miles away. Sword of Destiny features a handful of main characters from the series who become more fleshed out as there presence recurs. Geralt's friend and lady loving bard Dandelion, his mysterious sorceress love interest Yennefer and a potential child of destiny called Ciri. If you've played The Witcher computer games I imagine you a familiar with these characters, the sort of missions set and the monsters the Witcher is assigned to eradicate, and how beautiful and vast this created world is.    

I found the stories in The Last Wish more consistent but two or three of my favourites are from this entry. If you decide to read the short story collections first I'd truly recommend starting with The Last Wish and not Sword of Destiny. Two stories in The Witcher #1, one including Yennefer and one including a Queen and a Princess, add huge depth to the action and events that occur in this collection, especially with certain relationship complexities.

The Witcher tales are exciting and addictive to say that a story can be finished within about half an hour. Sapkowski doesn't dumb down the world and there are a plethora of complex characters and demons throughout these pages. My favourite story is here is The Bounds of Reason and it features about twenty-five different well-crafted characters who set off on a mission to kill a wounded dragon. I found this narrative exceptional, unpredictable, thrilling with a hell of a twist at the end. This sets Sword of Destiny up brilliantly. This constructed world does feature typical fantasy tropes but nothing feels forced. It all feels enticing and original. I'm not looking forward to seeing more of the Elves in the next book! 

I won't go into the details of the stories too much as it might approach spoiler territory. I will confirm that these tales feature many fantasy races as well as mermaids and underwater warriors, showdowns with sorcerers, a group trying to trace a doppleganger, and also meeting Ciri. It features monster hunting of course but not as much and as frequent as The Last Wish. Each The Last Wish story played like a level on the Witcher games. These are less standalone and cleverly building up for the full narrative which will start with Blood of Elves. 

I adored The Bounds of Reason, A Little Sacrifice and Sword of Destiny. Eternal Flame and A Share of Ice were very average. The final story Something More I really struggled with initially. It follows two timelines as Geralt in a fevered state and I sometimes got confused where and when we were. If it was a full-length story I wouldn't have finished it but I did and I'm glad I fought through as the ending is highly satisfying with setting up what can possible happen in the next outings. 

I decided to read all of the Witcher books before the TV series is released and I am glad that I have taken on this venture. I've read the first two books within four days and I can't wait to move on further. I often struggle with short stories but I can recommend these highly. The Bound of Reason is one of the top two finest short stories I've ever read alongside Sebastian De Castell - The Fox and the Bowman.
James Tivendale, 7.5/10

“I like elven legends, they are so captivating. What a pity humans don’t have any legends like that. Perhaps one day they will? Perhaps they’ll create some? But what would human legends deal with? All around, wherever one looks, there’s greyness and dullness. Even things which begin beautifully lead swiftly to boredom and dreariness, to that human ritual, that wearisome rhythm called life.”

So continues my adventurous Witcher journey…

The Netflix series releasing later this year is an adaptation of the novels, so watch as everyone (myself included) tries to cram as many of the books into their eye holes as quickly as possible!

There are two short story collections & six full-length novels in The Witcher series, including a prequel of sorts (Season of Storms) that takes place during The Last Wish short stories.

Did you follow all of that?! Because that seems to be one of the major issues people have when first beginning The Witcher Saga. The fact that these books were released the way that they were, it tends to throw some readers off. Don't let it! It's truly not as complicated as it first seems. Not like, say, The Malazan series. AHEM.

Sword of Destiny is the second book, chronologically. It's again made up of six short stories, this time much more character driven, whereas The Last Wish had more STABBY-STABBY. Honestly, I thought I preferred The Last Wish by just a fraction, but I think they are probably just about equal for me. As much as I love my battles & monsters, I also appreciate getting inside a characters depth. Sword of Destiny does just that, especially with providing more details on the complex relationship between Geralt & Yennefer. Also? We finally meet Ciri, my favorite character from the video games! Oh, how I adore her! We get to experience the start of what becomes such a beautiful relationship between the troubled Witcher & the Princess.

Sword of Destiny & Something More, the final two stories in this volume, were my favorites, no doubt in part because of the introduction to Ciri & her backstory.

“Life is full of hazards, selection also occurs in life, Geralt. Misfortune, sicknesses and wars also select. Defying destiny may be just as hazardous as succumbing to it.”

Sword of Destiny is an introspective look at both old & new characters. The core theme is, not shockingly, destiny. How people linked by destiny will always find each other, but that something more is needed.

There's drama, romance, intrigue, suspense. The supporting characters are brilliant (especially Dandelion, the poet & Geralt's best friend & of course, Roach.. A VERY GOOD HORSE!) I just absolutely love the back & forth in dialogue in the two books that I've read, so far. I enjoy the feeling that is captured in those moments. The games have always been heavy with dialogue, which is clearly a nod to Sapkowski's engaging writing.

After having read the two short story collections, I would suggest that fans of the video games at least read these for some glorious background on an already beloved series!
Holly Grimdragon, 8/10

Reviews by and Holly Grimdragon

All reviews for Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher series


Season of Storms
7.8

Geralt of Rivia. A witcher whose mission is to protect ordinary people from the monsters created with magic. A mutant who has the task of killing unnatural beings. He uses [...]


The Last Wish
9.0

Geralt is a witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no o [...]


Sword of Destiny
7.8

Geralt is a witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no o [...]


Blood Of Elves
8.3

For more than a hundred years humans, dwarves, gnomes and elves lived together in relative peace. But times have changes, and now the races once again fight each other - an [...]


Time of Contempt
8.0

Geralt the Witcher has fought monsters and demons across the land, but even he may not be prepared for what is happening to his world. The kings and armies are maneuvering [...]


Baptism of Fire
9.5

The Wizards Guild has been shattered by a coup and, in the uproar, Geralt was seriously injured. The Witcher is supposed to be a guardian of the innocent, a protector of th [...]


The Tower of the Swallow
8.8

The world has fallen into war. Ciri, the child of prophecy, has vanished. Hunted by friends and foes alike, she has taken on the guise of a petty bandit and lives free for [...]

12+

Sword of Destiny reader reviews

from United Kingdom

I've never really been one for short stories as such, preferring the larger canvas presented by novels. When I do read a short story it's usually a one off and I seldom reach entire collections in one sitting. Saying that, I have read some damn good short stories, but as I say I tend to read one from time to time between novels. However, having become hooked on the Netflix take on The Witcher I decided to familiarise myself with the books and I read the Last Wish from cover to cover before starting this second collection. I enjoyed both collections and although many of the stories seem to be made up of mostly dialogue they do carry the action forward. They are good, very good and do give an understanding of the characters and worlds of the Witcher. I'm eager to start the first proper novel now.

8.9/10 from 2 reviews

Write a reader review

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

The Lord of the Rings

by JRR Tolkien

Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power - the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ri [...]

Series: NA
Published: 1954

Score: 233

Our rating: 10.0 | 133 positive reader reviews

12+

Homeland

by RA Salvatore

Drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden, first introduced in The Icewind Dale Trilogy, quickly became one of the fantasy genre’s standout characters. But Homeland first rev [...]

Series: The Dark Elf Trilogy: Book 1
Published: 1990

Score: 103

Our rating: 9.5 | 8 positive reader reviews

12+

Dragonlance

by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Lifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with ru [...]

Series: Dragonlance
Published: 1984

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

12+

Beren and Luthien

by JRR Tolkien

Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2017

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

The Witchwood Crown

by Tad Williams

New York Times-bestselling Tad Williams’ ground-breaking epic fantasy saga of Osten Ard begins an exciting new cycle! • Volume One of The Last K [...]

Series: Last King of Osten Ard #1
Published: 2017

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

12+

The Fall of Gondolin

by JRR Tolkien

In the Tale of The Fall of Gondolin are two of the greatest powers in the world. There is Morgoth of the uttermost evil, unseen in this story but ruling over a vast militar [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2018

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Exile

by RA Salvatore

As I became a creature of the empty tunnels, survival became easier and more difficult all at once. I gained in the physical skills and experience necessary to live on. I c [...]

Series: The Dark Elf Trilogy: Book 2
Published: 1990

Score: 91

Our rating: 9.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

12+

Deep Into The Heart of a Rose

by GT Denny

On a crisp autumn morning, in his cottage in the idyllic land of the Vale, Mr. Edward T. Cozzlebottom composed the following letter for his secret love, the graceful and lo [...]

Series: Book of Broken Bindings: Book 1
Published: 2011

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.0 | 5 positive reader reviews

12+

The Story of Kullervo

by JRR Tolkien

The world first publication of a previously unknown work of fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the powerful story of a doomed young man who is sold into slavery and who [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2015

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+