Audiobook Review: Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Series: The Witcher Saga
Publisher: Hachette Audio (12/1/15)
Author Information: Website
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Narrator: Peter Kenny | Length: 12 hrs 47 min
Sword of Destiny is a collection of short stories featuring Geralt of Rivia, and it is actually the second book in The Witcher sequence. But because the English editions of the series’ first three full-length novels were released before this one (not to mention I was also pretty adamant about waiting for the audiobook, which wasn’t released until December 2015), I had to read it out of order.
Now that I’ve completed the book though, so much is finally falling into place! Sword of Destiny bridges the events between the end of The Last Wish (the first short story collection) and Blood of Elves (the first novel of the series), making it a must-read for fans of The Witcher. Even if you’re not a “short story person”, picking it up is absolutely essential if you want to get the full picture.
The book opens with “The Bounds of Reason”, a story about a good old-fashioned dragon hunt. Well, things begin innocently enough, anyway. Geralt and his friend Dandelion get together with a group of adventurers to investigate rumors of a rare gold dragon. They eventually come across the creature, only to be met with some pretty big surprises! Geralt is true to form, stepping up and proving himself to be someone you want to root for. Yennefer, one of the series’ major characters, also makes an appearance. This was a great story to start the collection, with lots of action and a healthy dose of humor. I also enjoyed the classic quest narrative…with a twist.
The second story is “A Shard of Ice”, which I admit I didn’t enjoy quite as much. It’s not a typical short story, with not much of a plot, instead centering its focus on the romantic relationship between Geralt and Yennefer. Still, I liked how it revealed more about both characters, how they are both flawed people with plenty of cracks and vulnerabilities in their defenses. How can two people be so right and yet so wrong for each other at the same time?
The collection continues with “Eternal Flame”. In my opinion, this is another rather ho-hum tale, though it certainly had its moments. Geralt and Dendelion are up to their shenanigans again, heading back into the city to visit a friend, only to discover that he has been replaced by a mischievous doppelganger. It was a fun story, but ultimately I didn’t find it very memorable, and overall it didn’t add to the narrative in any meaningful way.
Next up is “A Little Sacrifice”, and I have to say, this story is where the audiobook excels. There’s a good reason why I choose audio format for this series, and that’s because narrator Peter Kenny is awesome—but more on that later. In this story, we get a twisted little take on The Little Mermaid. A duke and a mermaid fall in love and Geralt is hired as a translator to negotiate the terms of their relationship. The results are as hilarious as you would expect, and funnier still, the mermaid “language” involves singing the words. Peter Kenny rises to the occasion, delivering the lines the way they were meant to be spoken—in sing-song. Major points to him for that, because I have a feeling very few other narrators would have made the effort. This story made me laugh a lot, but it isn’t all humor either; Geralt reacts unexpectedly to another woman’s affections, realizing how his relationship with Yennefer has changed and affected him.
Finally, we come to the most crucial story, “The Sword of Destiny.” Geralt is tasked to meet with the Dryads, and while traveling through their forest, major events come to pass which will forever change his life. This is perhaps the most important story to read in this collection, as it is the one that introduces Ciri, the lost princess of Cintra. She plays a huge role in the rest of the series, and Geralt’s first meeting with her is not to be missed. As watershed moments go, it was a pretty good one.
There’s one more story left, and that’s “Something More”, aptly named because it is like an addendum to the previous story, reaching back to link Geralt’s past with his present and future. It also references more of the fairy tales and myths that make this world so fascinating. Geralt sustains a grievous injury after one of his harrowing battles, and he drifts in and out of consciousness during his long recovery, flashing back to memories and regrets from the past. This last story is a very powerful and touching one, a perfect end this collection. It ties things up neatly, and the final scene is enough to bring any Witcher fan to tears.
All in all, Sword of Destiny is a fine collection of tales, though as most collections go, it is not without its ups and downs. Nevertheless, it is an essential part of The Witcher series, especially the last few stories. Now that it is out, I highly recommend reading the books in order. This one in particular covers a lot of the events before Blood of Elves. The audiobook release schedule has also now caught up to the print release schedule, which is great news because I can’t imagine experiencing these books any other way. For me, Peter Kenny has become the voice of this series, and I look forward to hearing him narrate the next novel The Swallow’s Tower.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Wendy’s review The Last Wish
Mogsy’s Audiobook review of Blood of Elves (Book 1)
Mogsy’s Audiobook review of The Time of Contempt (Book 2)
Mogsy’s Audiobook review of Baptism of Fire (Book 3)