Audiobook Review: The Tower of Swallows by Andrzej Sapkowski
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 4 of The Witcher (Novels)
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Length: 16 hrs and 25 mins
Author Information: Website
Narrator: Peter Kenny
I am so in love with these audiobooks. Peter Kenny is the incontrovertible voice of this series, making all my favorite characters come to life with his authentic reading style and superb acting. Fan translations of these books have been around for a while, but I don’t mind waiting longer if it means I can enjoy the audio editions; every time I jump into a new book, it’s like coming home to old friends.
The Tower of Swallows picks up from the end of Baptism of Fire, where the search for Ciri continues. The story begins by mirroring the intro of the previous book with a long convalescence of one of our characters, this time Ciri instead of Geralt. The young princess-turned-Witcher has adopted a new identity and settled into life with a party of young rebels who call themselves the Rats. Something happens, however, leading to her being found unconscious and gravely injured in the middle of a swamp by an old hermit named Vysogota. The old man nurses her back to health, and during her recovery Ciri tells him what happened.
Meanwhile, Geralt and his companions are still traveling together trying to find Ciri, but their precarious alliance keeps coming under fire from distrust and infighting, not to mention plenty of bad decisions. There’s also a lot of political intrigue happening in the background as their enemies keep plotting against them, and a new face of evil enters the field.
While I really enjoyed The Tower of Swallows, I have to confess it wasn’t my favorite. In fact, this was the first full-length Witcher novel in which I felt the pacing stumbled a little. After an incredibly strong beginning, the story loses steam around the halfway point when it takes a very sudden turn in a new direction. We go abruptly from fast-paced action and adventure to convoluted politics, which made the end of the book tedious and hard to understand when compared to the first half.
Still, this is a book you won’t want to miss, especially if you’ve been following along with the series, and the good parts made it all worth it. One of the things I admire most about Andrzej Sapkowski’s storytelling is the way he experiments with different narrative styles, which sometimes involve sudden jumps in the timeline and frequent switches in points-of-view. Normally I am not a fan of this; however, I love the interesting and engaging way Sapkowski does it, as illustrated at the beginning of the novel, where the events that befell Ciri are unraveled by having her share her story with Vysogota. Narrative threads are picked up, dropped, picked up again by different characters, but done in a seamless way that flows well and is easy to follow, even in the audio format.
The characters are also evolving nicely with each installment. Notably, Ciri has come of age and she is settling in as one of the series’ major characters. She’s still finding her way in this book, both literally and figuratively. Torn between her old life as a princess and her new one as a rogue Witcher, she’s frequently waffling on what she wants, and like many troubled teens she is quick to anger especially when confronted with hard truths. She may be an expert fighter, but at the end of the day she’s still just a lost young girl. Geralt is of course the other central figure, and here he suffers his own crisis of confidence, beating himself up for not doing all he can to find Ciri, at some points even convincing himself that she is dead and that his quest is futile. He also clashes with his companions, in particular with Cahir the Nilfgaardian, whom Geralt does not trust. Overall, lack of success has demoralized the party, causing rising tensions and fraying nerves. It almost makes you want to break out the popcorn and watch the fur fly.
Even though the second half is slow, the book does ends with a bang, making me excited for what’s coming next. In total, there are currently six books translated into English and produced in audio, including two that are story collections. I have a feeling all the questions will be answered and everything will come together as the series heads towards its conclusion.
Narration-wise, I really have no complaints. Peter Kenny has already won me over, and he’s probably the biggest reason why I’m such a diehard fan of the Witcher audiobooks, to the extent now where no other format will do. I’m just sad knowing that the next book will be the final entry in the saga. Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s all going to end.
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More on The BiblioSanctum:
Wendy’s review The Last Wish (Anthology 1)
Mogsy’s Audiobook review of Sword of Destiny (Anthology 2)
Mogsy’s Audiobook review of Blood of Elves (Book 1)
Wendy’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)