Review: The Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski - 4.5/10
This is the final tale in the dark fantasy series The Witcher, and all though it had a decent start the ending will, no doubt, disappoint many readers.
The idea that the truths of ancient history and mythology can be unearthed by exploring them in the dreams of a talented sleeper is rather enchanting. It's an interesting idea, one that merges history and fantasy creating an almost dream like feel within the writing, though it never delivers what it promises.
The fantasy elements in here are predominantly dark and twisted. Not a bad thing of course. Just because it's a dream it doesn't mean it's going to be a pleasant one for the characters involved. This isn't a book about glorious forests and magnificent scenery in which good always conquers evil. No. This is a book about opportunists. It's a story about how people will always try to use others if it means they might have a chance for more power. Such is Ciri's strand of the story. She is entrapped by a group of elves who wish to harness the power of her ancient blood, by breeding her to create an offspring they can wield for their own advantage. Not very nice at all, though they have overlooked Ciri's own opportunist nature and her will to survive. She's not a woman to take this in her stride. Indeed, she bides her time and looks for an opportunity to escape.
Geralt, on the other hand, is enjoying life for the first part of the book. He has a new romance, though such a thing could only ever be temporary. There's only one woman he will truly love, and finding her again becomes his only purpose. But Ciri is far removed from his life and reuniting with her will lead him on a perilous journey. Fans of the video games will know all too well that his day job is hunting monsters; he puts this aside for a while and embarks on a bigger quest. The two separate strands drove the narrative forward as they grew ever closer. The relationship between the two characters was the strongest aspect of the book.
The events may seem far removed from the legend the title of the book references. It begins with a retelling of this element of the Arthurian myth, though Sapkowski gives it his own twist. He blends the history with the fantasy, creating a unique world. However, towards the end it did become a little confusing at points. It all felt vague and extremely fragmented, but I suppose that's what happens with dreams. The story telling was not as precise as the early books in the series, and the structure was a little clunky. It was hard to tell when events were happening in relation to each other, and at times the book felt like a series of connected short stories or novellas rather than the full novel it was trying to be this time round. The ending too will likely disappoint many readers with its sheer lack of punch and open ended nature.
I did enjoyed parts of this book, though it did have many problems. I only recommend this to those that have read all the previous books in the series; this is most certainly a conclusion, as weak as it was, rather than a stand-alone novel.