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A highly recommended read for fans of Geralt of Rivia long awaiting a good translation.
on 8 March 2014
Baptism of Fire is the third full novel of the Witcher series, following on directly from Time Of Contempt and Blood Of Elves. For me it's highlight is the wonderful character interplay that Andrezj Sapkowski became renowned for when the novel was originally released in polish in the late 1990's. It is set in a world which is heating up with each novel over the series and in Baptism of Fire we really begin to see the saga of Geralt of Rivia unraveling. The translation is also good, if that can be believed. Be warned: minor spoilers below.
Continuing on Time Of Contempt, Geralt is severely wounded and with his eternal companion Dandelion in Brokilon forest. Ciri is somewhere in the Nilfgardian provinces, where Geralt is convinced she is in danger. Yennefer has gone missing, whilst the other sorceresses dabble in a secret political 'lodge' to forge the world in a way that they desire. Against all this the Empire of Nilfgaard has broken the truce made In 'Contempt and invaded the Northern Kingdoms again, this time in Brugge, south of Temeria. In short, there really is a lot to follow in the novel, and though the novel focuses primarily on Geralt and his desire to find Ciri the events of the world are in action, constantly driving on the plot, driving Sapkowski's complex characters further and further, towards Geralt;s literal 'baptism of fire' in the novels final pages.
Over the course of the novel, Geralt meets several entirely new characters, each as complex and wonderfully built as himself. Milva: a woman, secretly pregnant, escorting scoia'tael to the safety of Brokilon, Regis: a powerful higher vampire who has vowed not to drink blood & Cahir, the Nilfgaardian who isn't a Nilfgaardian continues to hound the Witcher from the previous novels: the three of them will stick with Geralt to the very end, not that it's easy getting to that point. Zoltan Chivay: a dwarf & the leader of a troupe fleeing the war joins with Geralt at least for this part of the company's journey too. The interplay between these characters are all wonderfully crafted, whatever the scene and by the end of the novel not just each individual character has come a long way but also the entire group itself.
The translation, completed by David French (who has experience with Sapkowski's work including the previous novel 'Time of Contempt'), is overall very good. Throughout the novel there are one or two small errors however; these are only small. Truthfully, I feel these errors could easily be down to an overlooked typo and are not outright translation issues, as has often been a gripe in the past for the translations of the Witcher saga in English. With this release, I hope David French has proven both to the fans of the series and to Gollancz that he is the right man to continue translating Sapkowski's work into English.