Blood of Elves

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Blood of Elves
Blood of Elves UK.jpg
Cover of the UK edition of Blood of Elves
Author Andrzej Sapkowski
Original title Krew elfów
Country Poland
Language Polish
Series The Witcher
Genre Fantasy
Published
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 320
ISBN 978-0-575-08484-1
Preceded by Sword of Destiny
Followed by Time of Contempt

Blood of Elves (Polish: Krew elfów) is the first novel in the Witcher Saga written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published in Poland in 1994 (English translation was published in late 2008). It is a sequel to the Witcher short stories collected in the books The Last Wish (Ostatnie życzenie) and Sword of Destiny (Miecz przeznaczenia) and is followed by Time of Contempt (Czas pogardy). It was published in Czech Republic (Leonardo, 1995), Russia (AST, 1996), Spain (Bibliopolis, 2003), Lithuania (Eridanas, 2006), Germany (Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2008) the United Kingdom (Gollancz, 2008) the United States (Orbit, 2009), Brazil (Martins Fontes, 2013) and most recently in China (Chongqing, 2016).

Krew elfów was the winner of the Polish Janusz A. Zajdel Award for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel in 1994. In 2009 the book won the David Gemmell Legend Award in the United Kingdom.[1]

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Plot summary[edit]

About a year before the beginning of the story, The Empire of Nilfgaard attacks the Kingdom of Cintra. Queen Calanthe, lethally wounded, commits suicide and her granddaughter, Cirilla, called Ciri and nicknamed the "Lion Cub of Cintra" manages to flee from the burning capital city. Emhyr var Emreis, Emperor of Nilfgaard, sends his spies to find her. He knows that this young girl has great importance, not only because of her royal blood, but also because of her magical potential and elven blood in her veins.

Almost two years after the war (won by the Northern Kingdoms), the rulers of the North meet in secret, to discuss the political situation. Peace with Nilfgaard is not what it was supposed to be. Nilfgaardian financial power is ruining northern economy, Nilfgaardian emissaries agitate aristocrats and merchants against their monarchs, elves and dwarves have formed partisan groups called Scoia'tael (Squirrels) and are conducting acts of terror against humans - and in every major city cultists are prophesying that the world will end, unless the Savior comes from the South. The kings decide to start a war, before the Empire weakens their countries further, and to regain Cintra. They are aware that the Emperor is looking for Ciri to marry her (morganatically) and thus to gain the rights to Cintra, which is known under Nilfgaardian occupation. To prevent this, the monarchs decide to find and kill Ciri.

The girl is being protected by Geralt of Rivia, a witcher: a magically and genetically mutated monster slayer for hire, who takes her to the witchers' keep, Kaer Morhen. There Ciri is taught by other witchers, including old Vesemir, Coën, Eskel, and Lambert. She learns about monsters and how to fight them. She is taught to fight with a sword in the witcher style. During her "education", the sorceress Triss Merigold comes to Kaer Morhen. She had been summoned by Geralt to help with occasional strange and abnormal behavior he had seen in Ciri. Triss realises that Ciri is a Source. She acknowledges that she does not have the power to control Ciri's talent, and advises Geralt to swallow his pride and seek help from Yennefer, a more experienced sorceress and his former lover.

At the same time, a mysterious wizard called Rience is looking for the girl. He is a servant of a more powerful mage, whose identity remains unknown. He captures Geralt's friend, Dandelion the bard, and tortures him for information about Ciri. Dandelion is saved by the timely arrival of Yennefer, who engages in a short magic duel with Rience. Rience manages to escape through a portal opened by his master, but is left with a prominent facial scar from Yennefer's spell.

In the spring, Geralt leaves Kaer Morhen with Triss and Ciri, intending to deliver Ciri to the Temple School in Ellander where she would receive a "normal" education from Nenneke. On the way, Triss falls ill, and they join Yarpen Zigrin's dwarven company who is leading a caravan for King Henselt of Kaedwen. Geralt tells Ciri about the roses of Aelirenn, an elf who died leading elven youths to fight the humans in a hopeless attack. The caravan is attacked by the Scoia'tael, and it is revealed that the escort mission was a trap set by the kings who doubted Yarpen's loyalty.

Ciri's stay in Ellander is still haunted by disturbing dreams until the arrival of Yennefer, who starts educating her in the ways of magic. From an initial antagonism, their relationship develops into a strong and deep bond, like that of a mother and daughter.

Meanwhile, Geralt does his best to track Rience and his mysterious employer. With the help of Dandelion, Shani, and the sorceress Philippa Eilhart, he forces a confrontation with Rience (the latter aided by Michelet quadruplets - famous murderers for hire), during which both are injured. Rience's master intervenes again, opening a portal for him, and Geralt is prevented from pursuing the mage by Philippa Eilhart, who also kills the last surviving Michelet brother so as not to provide Geralt any source of information which might eventually reveal the mysterious mage. Geralt is left gravely wounded.

Yennefer became Ciri's mentor and teacher. As they are about to leave the Temple School in Ellander, Yennefer asks Ciri whether she didn't like her at first, leading to a series of flashbacks detailing Ciri's studies with Yennefer from the day they were introduced and back to the present as they are about to leave the Temple. Ciri responds by admitting that she didn't like her, and they leave.

Characters[edit]

  • Geralt of Rivia. A Witcher, a human who has been transformed into a supernatural monster-slayer by the ingestion of various mutagens. Although Witchers rarely get involved in politics, Geralt takes under his charge a political refugee called Ciri, the granddaughter of the previous Queen of Cintra, a kingdom destroyed by Nilfgaardian invaders. He is the protagonist of tie-in videogames The Witcher, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
  • Triss Merigold. A powerful sorceress and member of the Chapter of Wizards, Triss wields significant power and unclear motives.
  • Cirilla, the Lion-Cub of Cintra, is the young granddaughter of the deceased and overthrown Queen Calanthe of Cintra. The blood of the elves flow through her veins, and she is hunted down for the mysterious yet dangerous power which she possesses.
  • Dandelion. Geralt's best friend. A charming, famous poet who is also a spy for the King of Redania.
  • Yennefer of Vengerberg. Another member of the Chapter of Wizards, and an ex-lover of Geralt's. Considered more powerful than even Triss Merrigold, Yennefer is called upon to try and gain an understanding of Ciri's power.
  • Philippa Eilhart. A senior sorceress of the Chapter of Wizards, and trusted advisor to the King of Redania, alongside royal spymaster Sigismund Dijkstra. She is one of the few mages that has mastered the rare art of magical polymorphy, enabling her to transform into an owl. She aids Geralt in tracking down the renegade mage Rience who is looking for Ciri on behalf of Nilfgaard and another more powerful mage, whom she does not want Geralt to be aware of.

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