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Time of Contempt: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: Time of Contempt

Author: Andrzej Sapkowski

Publisher: Gollancz/Orbit

Format: Print, audiobook, ebook

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 2013 (English)

Star Rating: 4/5

The Witcher TV show, computer games and books have become immensely popular in the last few years. The franchise began with short stories that Andrzej Sapkowski then extended into a trilogy of full-length books.

Time of Contempt is the second book in this trilogy, after Blood of Elves. The last one is Baptism of Fire.

Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, an itinerant slayer of monsters. This isn’t glamorous by any means, and he’s far from wealthy.

However, Geralt becomes caught up in more grand affairs when he falls in love with Yennefer, a sorceress.

When Time of Contempt begins the couple have been apart for years but perhaps a reconciliation between them is on the cards.

However, both are in immediate danger. Geralt hires Codhringer and Fenn, two lawyers, to investigate who has been asking questions about himself and trying to capture a young woman he is protecting.

Ciri is a disinherited princess, having commonly believed to have died of diptheria in a refugee camp. However, she is being taken by Yennefer to begin her studies as a sorceress at the school of Aretuza.

This is regarded as a good place to help Ciri harness her natural powers for magic and provide a sanctuary for her and hide her identity until she can come forward and claim her destiny.

She certainly has real power, but no training and a wild temper make her quite dangerous to be around!

On a wider front, the northern kingdoms are plotting war against Nilfgaard. The Emperor of Nilfgaard discovers their plans, many of which are carried as verbal messages, and prepares a response.

Ciri is headstrong and reckless, so she becomes separated from Yennefer’s care after making a real show of herself in public at a fayre.

She is transported via an unstable portal and, without Yennefer and Geralt, she must learn quickly to protect herself.

Meanwhile, Yennefer and Geralt are attacked at a General Mages Conclave. This is a fascinating gathering which presents the sorcerers and sorceresses to us en masse.

They are such a strange bunch, but their amusing eccentricities are soon replaced with more serious considerations as the magical community attack each other.

Plots spill over and Geralt is seriously injured. With Ciri gone, Yennefer must hope that she can be reunited with the princess and that Geralt will recover.

Time of Contempt is fantasy with a strong emphasis on magic rather than epic battles or swordplay. The book is much shorter than is usual for a fantasy novel, with the English edition I reviewed only having 331 pages.

The background history essential to any fantasy novel is provided, but this is done quite briefly. The focus is mostly on Yennefer, Ciri and Geralt, which keeps it personal in tone.

There are battles as war breaks out, but these do not occupy most of the story.

Time of Contempt has a deliciously ironic tone that I’ve already enjoyed in other writing by Andrzej Sapkowski. The reference to an academic called Radcliffe of Oxenfurt had me giggling, and the book was shot through with amusing passages of this kind. The scenes with the lawyers were hilarious.

The story is a strong one, but the history and introduction of a vast range of characters is done very quickly. This meant I had to go back and check a few things during my first read through, but this didn’t spoil the narrative in any way.

Thank you for reading my review.

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John C Adams Reviews Time of Contempt

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