Audiobook Review: The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski
Series: Book 2 of The Witcher
Publisher: Hachette Audio (7/7/15)
Author Information: Website
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
For the first time ever, the English translations of the novels in Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher Saga series are being made into audiobooks, and I have been enjoying them immensely. Thus far, four Witcher books have been published in this format, including the short story collection The Last Wish. Today I’ll be reviewing The Time of Contempt, the second full-length novel in the sequence.
The story beings where Blood of Elves left off, following Yennefer and Ciri’s journey to Gors Velen where the sorceress hopes to continue her young apprentice’s education by enrolling her into a school for magic. Unhappy with these plans, Ciri devises a plan to escape and seek out Geralt, whom she has been told is not far from the city. However, on the way she is intercepted by the Wild Hunt and given an unexpected choice.
Meanwhile, more political intrigue and back-alley negotiations are happening in the shadows. A power struggle is developing, and the players must choose sides. How is a Witcher, sworn to neutrality, supposed to deal with this? Especially if that Witcher, a staunch and principled man, stumbles upon a coup that could lead to a bloody war that would tear apart the land? Gerald faces one of his hardest challenges yet in this novel, putting all his wits and fighting skills to the test.
If you’re even mildly interested in The Witcher video games, I would highly recommend picking up this series. Even if you’re not, you can still enjoy these novels for the excellent sword and sorcery fantasy books they are. Bottom line: these books are great, featuring plenty of spectacular action scenes along with magic and sword-wielding heroes; you really can’t ask for more than that. Geralt the Witcher is in especially rare form in this one, our favorite “white-haired fiend” demonstrating just how good he is at what he does – killing lots and lots of bad guys and monsters.
But of course, these books aren’t just about Geralt, even though he is often used as the face for The Witcher franchise. It’s easy to forget sometimes that the other characters are just as involved as he is, and once in a while, as in the case of this novel, they can even play a bigger role. In my eyes, The Time of Contempt is where Ciri truly gets her chance to shine. She may be destined for great and terrible things, but readers are reminded that despite all the grand prophecies about her, little Ciri is still a child. While still struggling to control the magic in her blood, she learns there is even more to her potential. It’s a lot to place on the shoulders of a young girl, not to mention all the people who want to kill her or use her in their political machinations. The development of her character in this novel shows that she is a strong-willed and spirited youth despite being burdened with a world full of troubles, and that in the face of danger she can still show plenty of good humor. For that reason, she was my favorite character in this book.
Also noteworthy is how much the story has matured over the course of this novel, raising the stakes in this world of shifting alliances and backroom deals. The plot comes alive, becoming more twisty and complex as the result of the lofty ambitions and power-hungry maneuverings of mages, rebels and kings. This book also sees a greater role for the Scoia’tael, the group of guerilla fighters mostly made up of elves, dwarves and other non-humans. Portending a time of war and misfortune, the spectral riders of The Wild Hunt also make their appearance in the sky, a promise that everything we see here is merely the beginning.
Narrator Peter Kenny continues to deliver a superb performance for this series, making the experience of listening to the audiobook memorable. He has a great voice for expressive storytelling, and is especially adept at doing accents and voices without drawing excessive attention. As a fan of the games, I had initial concerns that I would have trouble reconciling myself to anyone other than actor Doug Cockle as the voice of Geralt, but Kenny quickly dispelled them. He truly is a talented voice artist.
In sum, The Witcher series and its characters are a one-of-a-kind creation, and The Time of Contempt is another excellent novel in the sequence, not to mention a great experience in audio format. I’m enjoying them a lot, as you can probably guess; otherwise, I wouldn’t keep listening. Obviously this is a series I want to keep reading, and I’m already excited for the next one.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Audiobook review of Blood of Elves (Book 1)