Audiobook Review: Season of Storms 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: The Witcher
Publisher: Hachette Audio (May 22, 2018)
Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
Author Information: Website
Narrator: Peter Kenny
There really is no such thing as a bad Witcher book, just some are better than others. Season of Storms is probably one that I would put on the lower end of the spectrum—meaning I enjoyed it, but compared to the rest of the books in the series, it simply didn’t stand out as much as I’d hoped. While this is the eighth one overall (when you include all the novels and collections), it is also something of a standalone prequel, taking place between the short stories featured in The Last Wish and well before the events of the main saga.
In Season of Storms, readers are given insight into the events occurring just prior to Geralt of Rivia’s fateful visit into the city of Vizima to deal with King Foltest’s striga problem, which was chronicled in what was Andrzej Sapkowski’s debut work, a tale simply titled “The Witcher”. When the story opens, we get to catch up with our protagonist in a quiet seaside kingdom, though in true Geralt fashion, it’s not long before he finds himself embroiled in a spot of trouble and winds up getting arrested and thrown in jail.
Unfortunately, this also means that his swords are taken from him. A Witcher without his iconic weapons? Say it isn’t so! After all, what use is a monster hunter without the tools of his trade? As a result, the main plot of this book mostly focuses on Geralt as he is roped into taking on all kinds of dangerous and daring missions to try and get his swords back. It involves a lot of the elements you would expect—shady sorcerers, political intrigue, monster killing, and sexy times.
In other words, Season of Storms is full of your usual Witcher shenanigans. It means that if you’ve enjoyed the previous books in the series, then there is a good chance that you’ll enjoy this one too. This novel also felt more light-hearted to me, though of course, when it comes to The Witcher, words like lightness and darkness are all relative. Since this one is a prequel, there are quite a few people who haven’t yet made their appearances in Geralt’s life, the most notable of these being Ciri, which does mean the story is generally free of the kind of angst that typically follows her character everywhere. There’s also a general nonchalance and more laidback tone to the story which gives the impression of much simpler times.
In fact, that might be part of the problem. Season of Storms doesn’t really add anything new or special to what we already know of the world or protagonist; everything feels like it has been done before—in bigger, better, and more complex ways. Its status as a standalone prequel might also have a lot to do with this, since the main saga itself is over and done with, leaving this one to feel “tacked on” and apart from the other novels. Whatever intrigues and challenges Geralt has to deal with in this book, they simply pale in comparison to those he has faced in the overarching series. Likewise, when it comes to the relationships he forges, the villains he fights, or the monsters he kills, all of them feel rather like superficial throwaway encounters in the context of this novel.
Does this mean you shouldn’t read Season of Storms? Not at all. As a matter of fact, it might make a good choice if you are new to Sapkowski or The Witcher. While I would still recommend starting with the main series, this book would be an ideal jumping off point to dip a toe into the world if you just want a little itty-bitty taste of the series’ overall tone or writing before taking the full plunge. Plus, it would also make for a nice, light introduction to the author’s style, which can be tough to get on board with if you are not used to non-linear storytelling. Devices like time jumps, flashbacks, multiple plot threads are all employed here, giving new readers a good idea of what to expect from the main saga.
There’s plenty of things to like too, if you’re an old fan—as long as you’re not hoping for big revelations or anything earth-shattering. As a longtime follower of this series, I would describe Season of Storms as a comfortable read, full of references and cool easter eggs you might catch, but it is far from being Geralt’s best adventure. For completion’s sake though, I would still deem it a must-read, and at the end of the day, the uncomplicated spirit of this novel meant that I had a fun time with it.
Audiobook Comments: Obviously, I’m a huge fan of Peter Kenny. I started listening to the audiobooks of this series with Blood of Elves, and because of his excellent narration, I’ve never looked back. Kenny’s voice has an intensity to it that makes it perfect for Geralt of Rivia, and yet he is also versatile enough to portray every single other character, bringing all the humor, magic, and charisma of this series to life.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Sword of Destiny (Anthology)
Review of Blood of Elves (Book 1)
Review of The Time of Contempt (Book 2)
Review of Baptism of Fire (Book 3)
Review of The Tower of Swallows (Book 4)
Review of Lady of the Lake (Book 5)