Time of Contempt
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|Original title||Czas pogardy|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Krew elfów (Blood of Elves)|
|Followed by||Chrzest ognia (Baptism of Fire)|
Time of Contempt (Polish original title: Czas pogardy, early title was translated less literally as Time of Anger) is the second novel in the Witcher Saga written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published 1995 in Polish, and 2013 in English. It is a sequel to the first Witcher novel Blood of Elves (Krew elfów) and is followed by Baptism of Fire (Chrzest ognia).
The story in Time of Contempt begins where the previous book left off, essentially with Ciri and Yennefer having just left the Temple in Ellander, on their way to Gors Velen, and ultimately Thanedd Island. It is Yennefer's intention that Ciri be enrolled at the Aretuza school of magic and that she continue her instruction in the use and mastery of magic.
Once they arrive in Gors Velen, Yennefer goes to see her old friend Giancardi Molnar, a dwarven banker. The latter informs the sorceress that her financial movements are being tracked, something Yennefer already suspected. Molnar, who has an old obligation to Yennefer, arranges an essentially unlimited line of credit for her and makes several financial transfers to cover expenses for Ciri's education. He and Yennefer also agree to allow Ciri to see the city's sights, escorted by one of Molnar's faithful employees, Fabio Sachs.
While on their excursion, things get quickly out of hand, not the least by a wyvern that breaks out of its cage. In the following commotion, Ciri is mistaken for one of about a dozen students who have recently "escaped" from Aretuza in the kerfuffle leading up to the mages' conference being held there. She is apprehended by no less than the former and current headmistresses of the academy, Tissaia de Vries and Margarita (Rita) Laux-Antille after she uses a magical amulet given to her by Yennefer in case of emergency.
At first, the sorceresses do not believe Ciri's story, but ultimately, the girl and Fabio manage to convince the headmistresses to check out their story at the bank and things are quickly confirmed by Yennefer and Giancardi. The three sorceresses then decide to discuss events over at the Silver Heron inn, taking Ciri with them and leaving poor Fabio to deal with his employer.
At the inn, Tissaia and Rita have rented the entire cellar which is actually a bath house and the four "ladies" retire there to relax and chat. It seems that both Rita and Tissaia, but especially Rita have every intention of getting good and drunk and Ciri is dispatched to refill their carafe of wine not very long after it arrives.
While getting the refreshments, Ciri notices a mercenary (Rayla) who orders the innkeeper to open a back door for her — a door which leads directly to the outer walls of the city, bypassing the usual gates and guards. On her second trip to refill the caraff, Ciri uses her new found knowledge and runs away to see Geralt whom she has been told is at Hirundum, not far from Gors Velen. While on the run, Ciri is approached by the Wild Hunt who ask her to join, but she refuses. Yennefer, luckily is not far behind. Ciri's flight does, however, provide Geralt and Yennefer with an opportunity to meet up again and to patch up things in their relationship before the three set off for Thanedd Island together.
On the island, things are in a tizzy. The girls have been temporarily moved from their usual accommodation within Aretuza to Loxia, the lowest level of the complex as the school itself is being used to accommodate the visiting sorcerers and sorceresses. That evening, Yennefer takes Geralt as her date to the reception, leaving Ciri in her room and ensuring that there is no second flight with magic.
At the reception, Geralt meets quite a few interesting individuals, but in particular he meets Vilgefortz the mage for the first time. The mage is considered very young (which of course is anything less than 100 years to mages, but he looks more like 35), he is also considered to be particularly talented, but as Geralt finds out, his road to becoming a mage was not exactly the usual route. The wizard was abandoned as a baby and taken in and raised by druids. It was only as an adult that he became a mage, which he underlines with some emphasis to the witcher. He even goes so far as to try to encourage Geralt to become a mage himself, but the witcher refuses. Vilgefortz also hints that a power struggle is imminent and that Geralt has to choose sides. Vilgefortz wants Geralt to make a pact with him, but Geralt refuses, stressing his neutrality.
Dijkstra, head spy of Wyzimir, the King of Redenia, also tries to recruit the witcher to no avail. Geralt even refuses to give him information.
After the reception, Yennefer and Geralt retire to their room and re-connect on a more intimate level. After a very fruitful reunion and a bit of sleep, the witcher is awakened by an urge to urinate, but in deference to his hosts, decides against relieving himself in the flower pots outside the window and decides to find the courtyard. This is when he stumbles upon the coup, already taking place. Philippa Eilhart, a sorceress also working for the King of Redenia, and Dijkstra organize the coup and plan to reveal the traitorous mages working for Emperor Emhyr of Nilfgaard.
In the ensuing confusion we find out that Yennefer had brought Ciri before the Chapter on the request of Tissaia and the girl begins to prophesize. Ciri reveals the assassination of the King of Redenia the night before and that Demavend, king of Aedirn, has preemptively started an attack on Nilfgaard. The Northern Kings’ interest in waging war against the scoia’tael combined with Ciri’s revelations infuriates Tissaia, who is against such violence. She inactivates the barrier of casting spells in the school and sides with Vilgefortz in the matter, leading to a deadly battle among mages.
In the mean time, Geralt escapes from Dijkstra, leaving him angry and wounded. Geralt rushes in to save Yennefer and Ciri at the school. In the ensuring chaos, Yennefer and Geralt fight the invading scoi’tael supporting Vilgefortz, while Ciri flees from the scene. The Black Rider plaguing Ciri’s dreams turns out to be Cahir, a Nilfgaardian soldier, who had tried to escort Ciri out of the burning Cintra to safety. Geralt finally faces Vilgefortz, who offers him to join his side under Emperor Emhyr as overlord. Geralt refuses and a fight ensures in which Geralt is soundly defeated and severely wounded. Tissaia finally realizes her mistake and along with Triss Merigold’s help, takes Geralt to safety.
Emperor Emhyr wanted the Chapter of Mages to be broken apart since the sorcerers and mages were the reason for his loss at the battle of Sodden Hill. The breaking of the Chapter and the incoming war weakens Tissaia and she commits suicide. Soon after the events at Thanedd Island, a full blown war erupts with Nilfgaard advancing to the north. King Demavend escapes to Redenia while Aedirn, Rivia, and Vengerberg soundly fall to Emhyr’s grasps. King Foltest of Temeria forms a deal with Emhyr and avoids war on Temeria at the moment. In the meantime Emhyr manages to find a fake Ciri and publicly announces his plans to marry her, with the intent to appear as the rightful heir and king to Cintra.
Ciri escapes via an unstable and dangerous portal in the swallow’s tower during Geralt’s fight with Vilgefortz. She awakes in the Korath desert known to many as the ‘frying pan’ and barely manages to stay alive, thanks to the help of a unicorn. When pushed for survival, she relies on her magical abilities involving fire, which invokes more nightmares and hallucinations that forcefully entices her to take revenge on those who abandoned her, which leaves her scarred and promising herself to avoid fire as a source of power.
After escaping the desert, she is captured by bounty hunters of Nilfgaard and manages to escape them with the help of bandits known as the Rats. She feels safe and gains a sense of belonging among the group as the members faced a similar harsh reality of being abandoned during the times of contempt. Through her skills she learned in Kaer Morhen she impresses the group, which ask her to choose a new name for her. She responds in the old language, which they simplify to the dreaded name of Falka in the new language. The book also expands on Ciri’s prophecy as the bearer of Elder Blood, where it is revealed that she holds great power and her son will herald the new age, followed by the destruction of the old.
- Bulgarian (InfoDar, 2009)
- Czech (Leonardo, 1996)
- Finnish (WSOY, 2013) ISBN 978-951-039752-7
- French (Bragelonne, 2009)
- German (DTV, 2009)
- Hungarian (PlayON, 2013)
- Lithuanian (Eridanas, 2006)
- Russian (AST, 1997)
- Spanish (Bibliopolis, 2004)
The English (UK) translation was delayed several times; initially planned for 2009, it was published by Gollancz in June 2013. The US edition of the novel, after several delays, was published by Orbit Books on August 27, 2013.