The impending war has finally broken out. Wizards of the Wizard’s Guild who were asked to help fight are now being intimidated by an unknown threat. Geralt has been severely injured and is unable to fight. And Ciri, who holds the fate of the world in her hands, has disappeared. The land is in turmoil, different races are at each other’s throats both literally and figuratively, and hope is beginning to fade. The time of contempt has truly begun.
If readers are unaware that it truly is the time of contempt in the next installment of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series, The Time of Contempt, never fear. Sapkowski ensures that even just the word “contempt,” much less the phrase “time of contempt,” is mentioned at least a dozen or so times in each chapter. Regardless of the repetitive use of the title, The Time of Contempt is not one of the more memorable of The Witcher books, acting more as a filler to lead up to the events of Baptism of Fire.
Mainly, the story contains pages and pages of politics and strategizing sessions for battle tactics for different races, mainly for sorcerers. Granted, these should be interesting, especially in the fantasy world Sapkowski created and some readers may still find it interesting; yet, it will more than likely become tedious for most readers to read. From the stories, action, and humor given in The Last Wish and Blood of Elves, readers are eager to see more of that and there is, in smaller doses, but not nearly as much as in the aforementioned.
It is well worth it to make it two thirds of the way through the story, for that is where the action really picks up. A great battle, a betrayal, an injured Geralt, and a missing Ciri. These are all one needs to know without completely spoiling anything. To get to the action, readers will, of course, have Sapkowski’s witty dialog to entertain them. The Polish author truly has a gift when it comes to writing dialog. Take this line from when Geralt accompanies Yennefer to a sorcerers’ banquet and he has some “interesting” encounters when Yennefer leaves him to mingle alone. “But I can’t imagine your wily old fox is capable of surprising me. Not after what I’ve been through here. I’ve been mauled by spies and jumped by endangered reptiles and ermines. I’ve been fed non-existent caviar. Nymphomaniacs with no interest in men have questioned my manhood. I’ve been threatened with rape on a hedgehog, menaced by the prospect of pregnancy, and even of an orgasm, but one without any of the ritual movements. Ugh…” (Sapkowski 131).
A few other good traits of the story involve the characters. Readers get to learn more about the Wizard’s Guild and of other sorcerers and sorceresses like Yennefer and Triss. Geralt and Yennefer are finally together again, which is always a treat for readers who are fans of the pair. It is a bit of a bummer there are not as many scenes with Geralt and Ciri as there were in Blood of Elves, but there are more scenes with Yennefer teaching Ciri how to control the power within her. Just seeing how both Geralt and Yennefer act with Ciri will make readers want for them to be a family together once the war is over.
To move ahead in The Witcher series, though it may not be as entertaining or action packed as its predecessors, The Time of Contempt is one that needs to be read. It has big events that occur which are very important in the next installment, Baptism of Fire. Even through the politics and battle tactics, the story does have its moments of humor and action that readers will enjoy (unless they also enjoy the politics and battle tactics, in which case, the readers shall enjoy The Time of Contempt thoroughly). Through the, yet again, long chapters and through the contempt many characters will feel towards each other throughout the story’s entirety, this sequel may not be one to reread over and over again.