Book Review: Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 5 of The Witcher (Novels)
Publisher: Hachette Audio (March 14, 2017)
Length: 20 hrs and 7 mins
Author Information: Website
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Eighteen years after its original publication in Polish, this concluding volume of The Witcher series finally has its official English translation. While fan translations have been around for quite a while now, honestly I thought it was well worth the wait, if nothing else because I got to enjoy the excellent audiobook edition. I started off by reading the books, but then on a whim decided to switch formats once I got to Baptism of Fire and never looked back.
Anyway, the final book of a series is always something special. By this time, the story has taken over your mind and the characters have wormed their way into your heart. While endings can be a delight, oftentimes they are also bittersweet, because you’ve had so much fun on this adventure but now it’s time to say farewell. You start to wonder to yourself what the long awaited finale might be like: will it be everything you ever wanted, or fall short of expectations?
Well, in the case of The Lady of the Lake, my thoughts were mixed. The story begins cryptically, with Sir Galahad of Arthurian legend fame stumbling upon Ciri bathing in a pond. After the knight mistakes her for the Lady of the Lake which causes Ciri to correct his error, the two of them start talking and she begins to recount the tale of what she has been up to since the Tower of Swallows. It seemed that the portal she entered there had taken her to a different world, one where the Elves reigned. Seeing that she was trapped and at his mercy, the Elven king had proposed a bargain: Ciri could have her freedom…but only if she would agree to bear his child.
Meanwhile, back in her home world, the northern armies and the Nilfgaardian forces are still at war. In the middle of all this, Geralt and his companions are also continuing their search for Ciri, but with the recent abduction and imprisonment of Yennefer, the Witcher now has even more troubles on his hands.
It vexes me admit this, but The Lady of the Lake was probably the most confusing of all the books. Not that any of them have shown much linear storytelling, but for this one Sapkowski takes devices like flashbacks, dream sequences, POV switches and time jumps to extremes. This not only made the book feel very disjointed and hard to follow, it also dampened my enthusiasm for the story especially when we went on wild tangents that added zilch to the main plot or followed characters I could not care less about. If it were up to me, I would also have axed much of the ending. In my opinion, too much of the fluff that came after the climax spoiled a lot of the impact.
Now that I’ve gotten my complaints out of the way though, here’s what I did like: 1) Pretty much any scene where Ciri or Geralt and any of his companions or key characters appeared was topnotch. These are the characters I’ve come to know throughout the series and I found it hard to stay focused whenever the attention shifted away to anyone else. 2) Despite all the jumping around we do, there was at least a sense that final volume was trying to pull everything together; whether it’s a nod to events in the previous books or tying up loose ends and bringing things full circle, the narrative made an earnest attempt at closure. 3) All the references to fairy tales, myths and legends. This was one of the aspects I fell in love with when I first picked up The Last Wish so long ago, and it just seemed so apt for this last book to bring me back to those memories. 4) The action sequences were amazing. Obviously, it’s great anytime we get to see Geralt or Ciri kicking ass, but there was also this one epic scene depicting a huge battle which I thought was really well done, transporting the reader into the thick of the fighting.
Overall the book’s strengths outweighed the weaknesses, ultimately making The Lady of the Lake an enjoyable if flawed read. It wasn’t my favorite book of the series, and as an ending, it definitely wasn’t as good as what I’d hoped for. Still, I don’t regret reading it at all. Taken as a whole, The Witcher is a superb series, and I would certainly not discourage anyone to try these books just because I wasn’t a hundred percent pleased with this concluding volume; after all, you’d be missing out on many more great moments on this epic journey. In spite of everything, it was well worth it to see this saga through to the end.
Audiobook Comments: As always, Peter Kenny brings his best. His narration was a big reason why I stuck with the audiobooks for this series, because when he reads he brings the stories and characters to life. The Witcher books are also generally pretty well suited for this format, I find, because of their nonlinear structure, and the stories just seem to flow more smoothly and are less distracting when I’m listening. So if you’re considering tackling this series with the audiobooks, I say go for it; truly I can’t recommend them highly enough.
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)
Mogsy’s Audiobook review of The Tower of Swallows (Book 4)