Top critical review
An adventure before the saga
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 March 2021
Written almost a decade and a half after the other Witcher books and following the success of the videogame adaptions, ‘Season of Storms’ actually takes place chronologically some considerable time before the opening of the main Witcher Saga. Taking place at least before Geralt’s commission to vanquish the Striga, it appears to be set around the latter stages of ‘The Last Wish’, the first Witcher book of interrelated short stories.
This novel doesn’t really serve as any form of prequel to the greater Witcher Saga. Instead it is, for the most part, a wholly independent story. There is a bit of a tie in within the closing stages, but this does feel a tad forced and could easily be omitted without really effecting the story.
Thus, there is no Ciri, who was probably as much the lead character in the main saga as Geralt. Yennifer does feature, but only briefly as much of the sorceress and ‘love interest’ role is taken by Coral, a figure previously more known for being present at the Battle of Sodden Hill.
This is probably the most straightforwardly written of the Witcher books. Throughout the earlier works the author has had a tendency to experiment with his storytelling in terms of technique, approach and structure. Some of these have worked well and some not so much. This experimentation that characterised the other books is basically absent here aside from a couple of ‘interludes’ that don’t particularly add anything. Furthermore, the novel is nearly all from the perspective of Geralt so there is a lot less of the jumping around that typifies the other Witcher books.
Despite being more of a straightforward story, though, there is something still quite episodic about the way it is structured. It echoes the approach of the two short story collections that preceded the main saga in terms of the somewhat interrelated nature of their tales. It doesn’t, perhaps, work quite as well here. Although there is an overall plot running through things it does feel like it is broken into sections better suited for the structure of a television serial.
‘Season of Storms’ isn’t the most inspired or interesting of the Witcher books but it possesses a reasonable enough story and, although not hugely worthwhile, it is a pleasant return to the rich world inspired by central and northern European mythology and fairy tale.