The Tower of the Swallow
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|Original title||Wieża Jaskółki|
|Preceded by||Chrzest ognia (Baptism of Fire)|
|Followed by||Pani Jeziora (The Lady of the Lake)|
The Tower of the Swallow, known as The Tower of Swallows in the United States (Polish original title: Wieża Jaskółki) is the fourth novel in the Witcher Saga written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published in Poland in 1997. It is a sequel to the third Witcher novel Baptism of Fire (Chrzest ognia) and is followed by the final entry in the series, The Lady of the Lake (Pani Jeziora).
Vysogota, an old philosopher living alone in the Pereplut swamp, comes upon an injured Ciri near his retreat and takes her in, caring for her until she is ready to continue her journey. During her recovery, Ciri recounts the events of the last few months, in which she was parted from a gang of young bandits known as "the Rats" and captured by a cruel bounty hunter working for Nilfgaard, named Leo Bonhart. After remembering her connection to Cintra, Ciri - having been using the name "Falka" - initially intended to return to her homeland and claim her birthright, dispelling the lie that the Empire has found a girl they claim is Ciri, who is actually a fake. Instead of doing so, however, she decided to return and help the Rats after learning Bonhart was pursuing them. She arrives at the village too late, and sees Bonhart kill her friends, including her lover, Mistle. Ciri tries to fight Bonhart, but he is too skilled and defeats her. Instead of killing her as instructed, he intends to make a profit off of her, while also seeking to prove her true identity as a witcher and a princess of Cintra, which he suspects but cannot confirm. He takes her to the home of a boorish nobleman named Houvenaghel, who runs an arena in which animals and monsters - and sometimes people - fight for sport. Here, Bonhart has Ciri fight for her life in the arena, proving her witcher skills and confirming who she really is.
Meanwhile, the witcher Geralt of Rivia continues to travel with his party, which includes his friend Dandelion the bard, Milva the archer, Regis, a higher vampire, and the former Nilfgaardian soldier, Cahir, with whom the witcher has a strained relationship. After being accepted into the partisan alliance of Queen Meve of Rivia, Geralt and the group enjoyed their new heroic status for a time but, as Dandelion recounts - in what he dubs his 'memoirs' - they soon remember their goal of finding Ciri and are forced to part from the army. They set out in search of a group of druids who they believe may be able to provide information on Ciri's whereabouts, but are waylaid several times. During their journeys, they learn that a bounty has been placed on their heads by a mysterious half-elf and a group of criminals led by a man named Nightingale. Partnering up with a former member of this group, a young woman named Angoulême who resembles Ciri, they intend to spring the bandits' trap and question them for information on who hired them, whom Geralt suspects is the sorcerer Vilgefortz. On their way to find Nightingale, they stumble upon the half-elf instead, a brigand named Schirrú, and attempt to question him. He sees through their ruse and a fight breaks out, in which Cahir is injured, forcing him and Geralt into hiding. During this time, Geralt and Cahir make peace with one another. They reunite with the rest of their party and learn that the others have made their way into the territory of Toussaint, where the druids have also travelled. They attempt to locate the criminals, but are captured instead by the druids, who have killed the criminals before Geralt could question them. In the process, Geralt loses his witcher medallion, but declares it no longer matters, as he is not a witcher anymore. During this time, Geralt also meets with an elven sage known as Avallac'h, who explains that Ithlinne's prophecy of the end of the world may yet come true, and how Geralt must not seek out Ciri if he hopes to stop it. Geralt remains committed to finding Ciri nonetheless.
Elsewhere, Sigismund Djikstra travels to the neutral nation of Kovir, in an attempt to gain the necessary capital to prepare a proper army for the nation of Redania in anticipation of a massive Nilfgaardian invasion attempt. During his time there, he recounts the history of Kovir, a former vassal state of Redania that seceded some time ago, declaring ongoing neutrality. It is revealed that the sorceresses of the Lodge, an organization that supports the supremacy of magic, have already begun their plan to establish Kovir as a nation sympathetic to magic, which they can then control. A number of powerful sorceresses - including the Nilfgaardians Assire var Anahid and Fringilla Vigo, and the Northern sorceress Sheala de Tancareville, under the leadership of Phillipa Eilhart - gather information on the movements and plans of various nations, and begin to set their own plans in motion. Triss Merigold, technically allied with the Lodge but privately questioning its motives, searches for information on Yennefer of Vengerberg, who is widely believed to be dead, after the events of the previous novel.
It is revealed that Yennefer survived her escape from the Lodge and took refuge in Skellige, requesting aid from the yarl, Crach an Craite, with whom she has a romantic past, and who knew Ciri in her youth. Crach aids her out of loyalty, and Yennefer gains the help of the Priestesses of Freya, led by the faithful Sigrdrifa, in order to gather information on Vilgefortz's plans and attempt to find him. During her time here, she has a vision of Ragh Nar Roog, the end of the world, and is urged by what appears to be the mythical Modron Freya to choose a side. She ultimately learns that Vilgefortz may have teleported into a dangerous part of the sea beyond Skellige, and travels there, where she is apparently consumed in a maelstrom, the ship accompanying her destroyed.
Back in Vysogota's lodge, Ciri concludes her story, including the tale of her escape, which reveals that there are a series of plots at work within the Nilfgaardian Empire, which involve both the head of Nilfgaardian intelligence Vattier de Rideaux, and a group of disaffected noblemen, who are angry at their families being cast aside in favour of the fake Ciri. Bonhart arrives in a village with Ciri, where he meets with Stefan Skellen - also known as Tawny Owl - the Imperial coroner, tasked with locating Ciri. It was Skellen who initially hired Bonhart, and whose job is to find and murder Ciri so she cannot reveal the deception surrounding the fake. With the help of a psychic named Kenna, Skellen's group learn they are being stalked by Rience, a sorcerer and associate of Vilgefortz. Skellen, Rience and Bonhart each want Ciri for their own means, and Rience uses a magical device which allows them to communicate with Vilgefortz, who remains in hiding and explains what he knows about the various Nilfgaardian plots. Before they can reach an agreement, Ciri is freed by a traitor in Skellen's ranks, and has her magical capabilities restored - muted since her time in the Korath desert - when Kenna attempts to read her mind. Using her powers, Ciri manages to grab her sword, mount her horse, and escape, but not before Skellen wounds her face, giving her the scar she bore when Vysogota found her. Vysogota then reveals that a travelling peasant told him that there are agents of Skellen waiting in ambush in nearby towns, and Ciri leaves the old philosopher's hideout, first to exact her revenge, then to seek out the mythical Tower of Swallows.
The novel has been published in Czech (Leonardo, 1998), Russian (AST, 1999), Spanish (Bibliopolis, 2006), Lithuanian (Eridanas, 2006), German (DTV, 2010), Bulgarian (InfoDar, 2010), French (Bragelonne, 2010), Serbian (Čarobna Knjiga, 2013), Finnish (WSOY, 2015) and Portuguese (WMF Martins Fontes, 2016). English translation was released by Gollancz (titled The Tower of the Swallow) and by Orbit (titled The Tower of Swallows) in May 2016. The Polish title refers to a singular swallow, so The Tower of the Swallow used by Gollancz is the more accurate translation.
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