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Time of Contempt: Witcher 2 – Now a major Netflix show (The Witcher Book 8) Kindle Edition
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The adventures of Geralt the Witcher continue in this second novel in the bestselling Witcher series that inspired the Netflix show and video games.
The kings and armies are manoeuvring for position, each fearing invasion from across the river, each fearing their neighbours more. Intrigue, dissent and rebellion fester on all sides.
After decades of oppression, the elves and other races are fighting each other and attacking the humans - and with growing numbers preparing for battle, the threat of all-out war looms ever greater.
Against this backdrop of fear, Geralt and Yennefer must protect Ciri, the orphaned heir who is sought by all sides. For the child of prophecy has the power to change the world - if she lives to use it.
Translated by David French.
The Lady of the Lake is, without any doubt, the best and most profound fantasy novel I have ever read. It is hard to put down, yet also a challenging and deeply rewarding book. And it is genuinely moving. I have never read a fantasy series like this, and suspect I never will again."--Nerds of a Feather on The Lady of the Lake
"A breath of fresh air in a well-worn genre. Don't miss it!"--Fantasy Book Review
"The universe of Sapkowski's The Witcher is one of the most detailed and best-explored in modern fantasy, offering endless opportunities for fresh ideas ... Complex character relationships enrich this already complex world; this is the sort of series fantasy fans will cherish."--B&N
"The Witcher delivers one of the most intense and rewarding role-playing experiences this year."--GT Reviews on The Witcher video game
"I really, really enjoyed this book ... None of the characters in Sapkowski's world are black or white; they are all shades of grey, including Geralt and the monsters."--The Deckled Edge
"It is [his] world-weariness combined with his battle-honed powers that make Geralt such an interesting character. Here's hoping The Last Wish is merely the opening chapter in his English language adventures."--Edge
"Like a complicated magic spell, a Sapkowski novel is a hodgepodge of fantasy, intellectual discourse, and dry humor. Recommended."--Time
"Like Mieville and Gaiman, [Sapkowski] takes the old and makes it new ... fresh take on genre fantasy."--Foundation on The Last Wish
"New battle mechanics, a fantastic storyline, and a gritty setting make The Witcher one of the most engrossing, mature RPGs to arrive on the PC in years."--Gamespot.com on The Witcher video game --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Time of ContemptBy Andrzej Sapkowski
OrbitCopyright © 2013 Andrzej Sapkowski
All rights reserved.
When talking to youngsters entering the service, Aplegatt usually told them thatin order to make their living as mounted messengers two things would benecessary: a head of gold and an arse of iron.
A head of gold is essential, Aplegatt instructed the young messengers, since inthe flat leather pouch strapped to his chest beneath his clothing the messengeronly carries news of less vital importance, which could without fear beentrusted to treacherous paper or manuscript. The really important, secrettidings–those on which a great deal depended–must be committed tomemory by the messenger and only repeated to the intended recipient. Word forword; and at times those words are far from simple. Difficult to pronounce, letalone remember. In order to memorise them and not make a mistake when they arerecounted, one has to have a truly golden head.
And the benefits of an arse of iron, oh, every messenger will swiftly learnthose for himself. When the moment comes for him to spend three days and nightsin the saddle, riding a hundred or even two hundred miles along roads orsometimes, when necessary, trackless terrain, then it is needed. No, of courseyou don't sit in the saddle without respite; sometimes you dismount and rest.For a man can bear a great deal, but a horse less. However, when it's time toget back in the saddle after resting, it's as though your arse were shouting,'Help! Murder!'
'But who needs mounted messengers now, Master Aplegatt?' young people wouldoccasionally ask in astonishment. 'Take Vengerberg to Vizima; no one could knockthat off in less than four–or even five–days, even on the swifteststeed. But how long does a sorcerer from Vengerberg need to send news to asorcerer from Vizima? Half an hour, or not even that. A messenger's horse may golame, but a sorcerer's message always arrives. It never loses its way. It neverarrives late or gets lost. What's the point of messengers, if there aresorcerers everywhere, at every kingly court? Messengers are no longer necessary,Master Aplegatt.'
For some time Aplegatt had also been thinking he was no longer of any use toanyone. He was thirty-six and small but strong and wiry, wasn't afraid of hardwork and had–naturally–a head of gold. He could have found otherwork to support himself and his wife, to put a bit of money by for the dowriesof his two as yet unmarried daughters and to continue helping the married onewhose husband, the sad loser, was always unlucky in his business ventures. ButAplegatt couldn't and didn't want to imagine any other job. He was a royalmounted messenger and that was that.
And then suddenly, after a long period of being forgotten and humiliatinglyidle, Aplegatt was once again needed. And the highways and forest tracks onceagain echoed to the sound of hooves. Just like the old days, messengers began totravel the land bearing news from town to town.
Aplegatt knew why. He saw a lot and heard even more. It was expected that hewould immediately erase each message from his memory once it had been given,that he would forget it so as to be unable to recall it even under torture. ButAplegatt remembered. He knew why kings had suddenly stopped communicating withthe help of magic and sorcerers. The news that the messengers were carrying wasmeant to remain a secret from them. Kings had suddenly stopped trustingsorcerers; stopped confiding their secrets in them.
Aplegatt didn't know what had caused this sudden cooling off in the friendshipbetween kings and sorcerers and wasn't overly concerned about it. He regardedboth kings and magic-users as incomprehensible creatures, unpredictable in theirdeeds–particularly when times were becoming hard. And the fact that timeswere now hard could not be ignored, not if one travelled across the land fromcastle to castle, from town to town, from kingdom to kingdom.
There were plenty of troops on the roads. With every step one came across aninfantry or cavalry column, and every commander you met was edgy, nervous, curtand as self-important as if the fate of the entire world rested on him alone.The cities and castles were also full of armed men, and a feverish bustle wenton there, day and night. The usually invisible burgraves and castellans nowceaselessly rushed along walls and through courtyards, angry as wasps before astorm, yelling, swearing and issuing orders and kicks. Day and night, lumberingcolumns of laden wagons rolled towards strongholds and garrisons, passing cartson their way back, moving quickly, unburdened and empty. Herds of frisky three-year-old mounts taken straight out of stables kicked dust up on the roads.Ponies not accustomed to bits nor armed riders cheerfully enjoyed their lastdays of freedom, giving stable boys plenty of extra work and other road users nosmall trouble.
To put it briefly, war hung in the hot, still air.
Aplegatt stood up in his stirrups and looked around. Down at the foot of thehill a river sparkled, meandering sharply among meadows and clusters of trees.Forests stretched out beyond it, to the south. The messenger urged his horse on.Time was running out.
He'd been on the road for two days. The royal order and mail had caught up withhim in Hagge, where he was resting after returning from Tretogor. He had leftthe stronghold by night, galloping along the highway following the left bank ofthe Pontar, crossed the border with Temeria before dawn, and now, at noon of thefollowing day, was already at the bank of the Ismena. Had King Foltest been inVizima, Aplegatt would have delivered him the message that night. Unfortunately,the king was not in the capital; he was residing in the south of the country, inMaribor, almost two hundred miles from Vizima. Aplegatt knew this, so in theregion of the White Bridge he left the westward-leading road and rode throughwoodland towards Ellander. He was taking a risk. The Scoia'tael1 continued toroam the forests, and woe betide anyone who fell into their hands or came withinarrowshot. But a royal messenger had to take risks. Such was his duty.
He crossed the river without difficulty–it hadn't rained since June andthe Ismena's waters had fallen considerably. Keeping to the edge of the forest,he reached the track leading south-east from Vizima, towards the dwarvenfoundries, forges and settlements in the Mahakam Mountains. There were plenty ofcarts along the track, often being overtaken by small mounted units. Aplegattsighed in relief. Where there were lots of humans, there weren't any Scoia'tael.The campaign against the guerrilla elves had endured in Temeria for a year and,being harried in the forests, the Scoia'tael commandos had divided up intosmaller groups. These smaller groups kept well away from well-used roads anddidn't set ambushes on them.
Before nightfall he was already on the western border of the duchy of Ellander,at a crossroads near the village of Zavada. From here he had a straight and saferoad to Maribor: forty-two miles of hard, well-frequented forest track, andthere was an inn at the crossroads. He decided to rest his horse and himselfthere. Were he to set off at daybreak he knew that, even without pushing hismount too hard, he would see the silver and black pennants on the red roofs ofMaribor Castle's towers before sundown.
He unsaddled his mare and groomed her himself, sending the stable boy away. Hewas a royal messenger, and a royal messenger never permits anyone to touch hishorse. He ate a goodly portion of scrambled eggs with sausage and a quarter of aloaf of rye bread, washed down with a quart of ale. He listened to the gossip.Of various kinds. Travellers from every corner of the world were dining at theinn.
Aplegatt learned there'd been more trouble in Dol Angra; a troop of Lyriancavalry had once again clashed with a mounted Nilfgaardian unit. Meve, the queenof Lyria, had loudly accused Nilfgaard of provocation–again–andcalled for help from King Demavend of Aedirn. Tretogor had seen the publicexecution of a Redanian baron who had secretly allied himself with emissaries ofthe Nilfgaardian emperor, Emhyr. In Kaedwen, Scoia'tael commandos, amassed intoa large unit, had orchestrated a massacre in Fort Leyda. To avenge the massacre,the people of Ard Carraigh had organised a pogrom, murdering almost four hundrednon-humans residing in the capital.
Meanwhile the merchants travelling from the south described the grief andmourning among the Cintran emigrants gathered in Temeria, under the standard ofMarshal Vissegerd. The dreadful news of the death of Princess Cirilla, the LionCub, the last of the bloodline of Queen Calanthe, had been confirmed.
Some even darker, more foreboding gossip was told. That in several villages inthe region of Aldersberg cows had suddenly begun to squirt blood from theirudders while being milked, and at dawn the Virgin Bane, harbinger of terribledestruction, had been seen in the fog. The Wild Hunt, a spectral army gallopingacross the firmament, had appeared in Brugge, in the region of Brokilon Forest,the forbidden kingdom of the forest dryads; and the Wild Hunt, as is generallyknown, always heralds war. And a spectral ship had been spotted off CapeBremervoord with a ghoul on board: a black knight in a helmet adorned with thewings of a bird of prey…
The messenger stopped listening; he was too tired. He went to the commonsleeping chamber, dropped onto his pallet and fell fast asleep.
He arose at daybreak and was a little surprised as he entered thecourtyard–he was not the first person preparing to leave, which wasunusual. A black gelding stood saddled by the well, while nearby a woman in maleclothing was washing her hands in the trough. Hearing Aplegatt's footsteps sheturned, gathered her luxuriant black hair in her wet hands, and tossed it back.The messenger bowed. The woman gave a faint nod.
As he entered the stable he almost ran into another early riser, a girl in avelvet beret who was just leading a dapple grey mare out into the courtyard. Thegirl rubbed her face and yawned, leaning against her horse's withers.
'Oh my,' she murmured, passing the messenger, 'I'll probably fall asleep on myhorse ... I'll just flake out ... Auuh ...'
'The cold'll wake you up when you give your mare free rein,' said Aplegattcourteously, pulling his saddle off the rack. 'Godspeed, miss.'
The girl turned and looked at him, as though she had only then noticed him. Hereyes were large and as green as emeralds. Aplegatt threw the saddlecloth overhis horse.
'I wished you a safe journey,' he said. He wasn't usually talkative or effusivebut now he felt the need to talk to someone, even if this someone was just asleepy teenager. Perhaps it was those long days of solitude on the road, orpossibly that the girl reminded him a little of his middle daughter.
'May the gods protect you,' he added, 'from accidents and foul weather. Thereare but two of you, and womenfolk at that ... And times are ill at present.Danger lurks everywhere on the highways.'
The girl opened her green eyes wider. The messenger felt his spine go cold, anda shudder passed through him.
'Danger ...' the girl said suddenly, in a strange, altered voice. 'Danger comessilently. You will not hear it when it swoops down on grey feathers. I had adream. The sand ... The sand was hot from the sun.'
'What?' Aplegatt froze with the saddle pressed against his belly. 'What say you,miss? What sand?'
The girl shuddered violently and rubbed her face. The dapple grey mare shook itshead.
'Ciri!' shouted the black-haired woman sharply from the courtyard, adjusting thegirth on her black stallion. 'Hurry up!'
The girl yawned, looked at Aplegatt and blinked, appearing surprised by hispresence in the stable. The messenger said nothing.
'Ciri,' repeated the woman, 'have you fallen asleep in there?'
'I'm coming, Madam Yennefer.'
By the time Aplegatt had finally saddled his horse and led it out into thecourtyard there was no sign of either woman or girl. A cock crowed long andhoarsely, a dog barked, and a cuckoo called from among the trees. The messengerleapt into the saddle. He suddenly recalled the sleepy girl's green eyes and herstrange words. Danger comes silently? Grey feathers? Hot sand? The maid wasprobably not right in the head, he thought. You come across a lot likethat these days; deranged girls spoiled by vagabonds or other ne'er-do-wells inthese times of war ... Yes, definitely deranged. Or possibly only sleepy, tornfrom her slumbers, not yet fully awake. It's amazing the poppycock people comeout with when they're roaming around at dawn, still caught between sleep andwakefulness ...
A second shudder passed through him, and he felt a pain between his shoulderblades. He massaged his back with a fist.
Weak at the knees, he spurred his horse on as soon as he was back on the Mariborroad, and rode away at a gallop. Time was running out.
The messenger did not rest for long in Maribor–not a day had passed beforethe wind was whistling in his ears again. His new horse, a roan gelding from theMaribor stable, ran hard, head forward and its tail flowing behind. Roadsidewillows flashed past. The satchel with the diplomatic mail pressed againstAplegatt's chest. His arse ached.
'Oi! I hope you break your neck, you blasted gadabout!' yelled a carter in hiswake, pulling in the halter of his team, startled by the galloping roan flashingby. 'See how he runs, like devils were licking his heels! Ride on, giddy-head,ride; you won't outrun Death himself!'
Aplegatt wiped an eye, which was watering from the speed.
The day before he had given King Foltest a letter, and then recited KingDemavend's secret message.
'Demavend to Foltest. All is prepared in Dol Angra. The disguised forces awaitthe order. Estimated date: the second night after the July new moon. The boatsare to beach on the far shore two days later.'
Flocks of crows flew over the highway, cawing loudly. They flew east, towardsMahakam and Dol Angra, towards Vengerberg. As he rode, the messenger silentlyrepeated the confidential message the king of Temeria had entrusted to him forthe king of Aedirn.
'Foltest to Demavend. Firstly: let us call off the campaign. The windbags havecalled a council. They are going to meet and debate on the Isle of Thanedd. Thiscouncil may change much. Secondly: the search for the Lion Cub can be calledoff. It is confirmed. The Lion Cub is dead.'
Aplegatt spurred on his horse. Time was running out.
The narrow forest track was blocked with wagons. Aplegatt slowed down andtrotted unhurriedly up to the last wagon in the long column. He saw he could notforce his way through the obstruction, but nor could he think about headingback; too much time would be lost. Venturing into the boggy thicket and ridingaround the obstruction was not an attractive alternative either, particularlysince darkness was falling.
'What's going on?' he asked the drivers of the last wagon in the column. Theywere two old men, one of whom seemed to be dozing and the other showing no signsof life. 'An attack? Scoia'tael? Speak up! I'm in a hurry ...'
Before either of the two old men had a chance to answer, screams could be heardfrom the head of the column, hidden amongst the trees. Drivers leapt onto theirwagons, lashing their horses and oxen to the accompaniment of choice oaths. Thecolumn moved off ponderously. The dozing old man awoke, moved his chin, cluckedat his mules and flicked the reins across their rumps. The moribund old man cameto life too, drew his straw hat back from his eyes and looked at Aplegatt.
'Mark him,' he said. 'A hasty one. Well, laddie, your luck's in. You've joinedthe company right on time.'
'Aye,' said the other old man, motioning with his chin and urging the mulesforward. 'You are timely. Had you come at noon, you'd have come to a stop likeus and waited for a clear passage. We're all in a hurry, but we had to wait. Howcan you ride on, when the way is closed?'
'The way closed? Why so?'
'There's a cruel man-eater in these parts, laddie. He fell on a knight ridingalong the road with nowt but a boy for company. They say the monster rent theknight's head right off–helmet and all–and spilt his horse'sgizzards. The boy made good his escape and said it was a fell beast, that theroad was crimson with gore—'
'What kind of monster is it?' asked Aplegatt, reining in his horse in order tocontinue talking to the wagoners as they drove on. 'A dragon?'
(Continues...)Excerpted from The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski. Copyright © 2013 Andrzej Sapkowski. Excerpted by permission of Orbit.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00BJ5ADLQ
- Publisher : Gollancz; 1st edition (24 Jun. 2013)
- Language : English
- File size : 1763 KB
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- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 337 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 17,536 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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1 - The Last Wish
2 - Sword of Destiny
3 - Blood of Elves (The Witcher Book 1)
Onto the review! Time of Contempt carries on straight off the back of the first book with a large war potentially brewing between the Nilfgaardian Empire and several other kingdoms while at the same time the humans and elves are fighting amongst themselves over years of bitter race hatred. In the midst of these growing tensions the Witcher Geralt and the sorceress Yennifer do their best to protect Ciri, a young girl who is the focus of a prophecy who is being chased by factions of all sides who want to use her for their own gain.
Time of Contempt is a relatively slow burn reading wise, much like Blood of Elves it takes it's time building up the world and characters. As a fan who got into the books through the video games I enjoy that a lot as I am getting a bit more of an in-depth view into relationships between the characters and the ever shifting world. Geralt is a great character but I have found the focus on both Ciri and Yennifer far more interesting thus far. This is not to say there is not a lot of action as there certainly are moments with some pretty good build up especially towards the latter half of the book, though I can't say much without spoiling anything but there are some interesting scenarios that happen as the story builds.
The entire book is very well written, though it feels occasionally a little stilted probably due to the nature of the translation from Polish it works very well with the content I have found. It's pretty easy to read and clear with a mixture of emotional and funny moments spread throughout. It has the same issue as Blood of Elves though that while being a full novel still feels at times like several short stories with an ongoing story stapled together. Some of the breaks between chapters or story arcs aren't as smooth as i'd like and it finishes just kind of randomly but it's a small gripe to an otherwise enjoyable read, I recommend the series thus far. Looking forward to the next book Baptism of Fire
+ Interesting characters.
+ Great setting and scenarios.
+ Well written.
- Ends kind of out of nowhere, some story arc breaks jump around a lot.
The narrative commences at what seems like a time of contempt indeed. The Kings aren't conversing with the Mages as they have previously, the Nilfgaardian army is still planning for war, and the Scoia'tael (Squirrels) are attacking humans in forests and villages. Many parties are all still looking for the elusive Lion Cub, the child of Destiny, Cirilla.
After an interesting and quite tragic point of view chapter following a King's messenger called Aplegatt, where the worrying and uneasy times that the world is currently facing are expressed, we are introduced back to Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer. Geralt is doing typical Witcher work and trying to find out more about the mysterious magician Rience. We are unfamiliar with the mage's motives or who his employer may be but it's clearly known he wants Ciri. Yennefer and Ciri are travelling to Thanedd which is where a conclave of mages and enchantresses is set to take place shortly to discuss these times of contempt and how it affects the magic-wielders of the world. Whilst here, it transpires that Ciri may be left with the enchantresses to study at the female magic school of Aretuza.
This is a difficult book to review, not because it is bad but because the book seems to be split into two distinctive styles of telling the story. One of these two styles generally features fan favourites such as Dandelion (although not as much as I would have liked), Geralt, Ciri, Triss, and Yennefer and includes some of the finest and well-crafted scenes that have been created in the series to date. Two of my favourites include a spectacular dual with someone who I'm sure is going to become a huge character in the saga, and also reading into the intrigue, politics, backstabbing, and agendas at the mages 'meet-and-greet' buffet prior to the conclave. A war is brewing and through unfamiliar point of view characters or slightly boring chapters where a member of the ensemble talks to another we are relaid complex political happenings that are occurring in all states across this world. These often include many complex and unfamiliar names of people, places, alliances, etc... It was difficult to keep track of who was supporting who. It also wasn't really obvious that some of the point of views were from the Nilfgaardian perspective until I was halfway through that segment and had to reevaluate what I'd just read. These later sections take up about 25% of the book. Honestly, I just forced myself through them knowing that I wouldn't follow every exact detail but it wasn't enough to truly affect my enjoyment when the scenes with less info dumping were reintroduced a few pages later. There are also a lot of names of mages to remember when the magicians' meeting arrives about forty percent through the story.
Of the scenes that aren't information dumps, I'd estimated that seventy-five percent follows the Witcher and Ciri although not necessarily following the same storyline, and the rest tracks the action of Yennefer, Dandelion, and others. Geralt and Ciri are my favourite characters so this was fine for me. Please be warned, that as well as typical fantasy violence presented in line with what has been presented previously, there is a potential/ implied rape scene towards the end of Time of Contempt. Although it is not graphic it is not for everyone so I thought I'd make you aware. This happens around the ninety-five percent mark and if you don't want to read that, it doesn't actually take that much away from the story to pass it by.
Ciri is still having her visions and nightmares, we meet the Wild Hunt for the first time, Geralt slays a few monsters, Yennefer is still beautiful, charming, powerful and manipulative, Dandelion is still a world-renowned poet. We are also introduced to some very interesting new characters including Vilgefortz and Nilfgaard's ruler. This book feels more like a progression than a full story in its self. Unlike some fantasy, I've found that these books don't really have gut-wrenchingly tragic or 'oh-my-god-I-did-not-see-that-twist-coming' endings. I believe that these should be read as one huge novel that same way that Stephen King thought of his The Dark Tower books. That being said, the ending does set up things nicely for Baptism of Fire and it looks like it might introduce a new dynamic for one of the main players.
So far this isn't my favourite fantasy series of all time yet, something does seem to click with me. I love the characters and the tales are utterly addictive. Every single one of the four entries I have read so far has only taken me two days apiece to complete. My original aim was to read this series before the Netflix show is released next year and I don't think I'll be the only person who has these thoughts. If you weren't sure whether to dive into the Witcher's world then I would personally recommend that you take the leap.