The Witcher series, I must say off the bat, isn’t really sticking with me. I’m enough of a completist that I’m going to finish it (and I received the last book in the series as a gift from someone who didn’t know it was the last book in a series) but it’s not quite coming together in a way that has me very excited about the world or the characters.
The first two books in the series were actually collections of short stories that were from the point of view of Geralt of Rivia, a witcher known as the White Wolf. Witchers, in this fantasy universe, are human mutants who, through training and a tolerance to magical elixirs, are highly skilled assassins for hire against monsters that are annoying and terrorizing human villages and the like. Strictly mercenary, they are supposed to stay out of political battles and mostly keep to themselves. Blood of Elves has the witchers, most especially Geralt, being drawn into an impending massive war against their will. Geralt in particular is in the middle of this because of his guardianship of Ciri, the last living princess of a kingdom invaded by elves, who is being hunted by various factions for various purposes (none of which are likely to be very appealing to her.) In the meantime, Geralt and some of his sorceress friends (I say, blithely, even though Geralt’s “friendships” with these sorceresses are a great source of turmoil indeed in these books) are training Ciri both in combat and in magic, as she has an aptitude for both.
The word I want most to use for these books is “unresolved,” which is unfair because so far they are clearly only setting up a larger arc that plays out over seven books (and the first two were kind of like those early seasons of Buffy that focused mostly on monsters of the week and didn’t contribute in a massive way toward the building larger narrative.) But there is nonetheless a quality to them that feels disjointed, with before unseen characters that show up and play a major role in certain portions of the book and then vanish again for the rest of it, and not much of a sense whether they are actually major characters (the sorceress Triss Marigold, who first comes to examine Ciri, could be one since there were hints dropped around her backstory, but I have no way of knowing since she was gone after the first quarter of this book) or minor ones who have gotten swept up in what’s going on around them (a medical student whose name I can’t remember, is responsible for making a very crucial connection between Geralt and a source of information he needs but is otherwise a total question mark of a character.) In general, the books follow a “more is more” approach, that characters don’t really need to be people you care about, they just need to drive the plot, so the more people who populate the world and do things, the better! It’s okay to have side characters, but it’s confusing and too broad to have so many characters behaving with the principals as if there is some kind of significant backstory or connection there that the reader doesn’t know, and won’t get to know because after they’ve completed their part they’re completely discarded.
I’m hoping that a lot of these woes are actually the result of this being the first book and that a lot of what is not working for me comes together later, but I’m concerned that it may just be the style that I’m not connecting with.