Review: The Lady of the Lake (Witcher Book Series)

Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Fantasy

The following is the seventh in a series of eight reviews of the Witcher books. Because this review assumes reader familiarity with previous entries, there may be spoilers for the preceding texts.

We have finally arrived at the last tome of the mainline Witcher series—and just in time for the Netflix show! And even though The Lady of the Lake is the series’ conclusion, there is much it must accomplish—too much. Imminently, Yennefer remains in Vilgefortz’s prison, Ciri is stranded in dimensions unknown, and Geralt, bereft of leads concerning the whereabouts of his daughter, winters in Toussant with his company. With a war going on to boot, it is no wonder that The Lady of the Lake clocks in at a voluminous 531 pages. Thankfully, this text uses its word count more judiciously than The Tower of Swallows.

Content Guide

Readers sensitive to mature content should approach the literary Witcher series with caution equitable to the video games. This is literature for adults. As each book in the series is over 400 pages, an exhaustive content guide detailing what Christians might find offensive would be a novel itself. In this space, I will adhere to The Lady of the Lake. To supplement potential gaps, I recommend reading the content guides of our reviews of The Last WishThe Sword of DestinyBlood of ElvesTime of ContemptBaptism of FireThe Tower of SwallowsThe WitcherThe Witcher 2, and The Witcher 3 for additional insight concerning the mature nature of this franchise.

I do not believe that there is anything I could indicate here that would be different from what one should come to expect from a Sapkowski novel. At any rate, for posterity:

  • Because this is the series finale, expect violent imagery, for there are deaths aplenty.
  • There are two sex scenes, humorously depicted.
  • An attempted rape might be triggering to IRL survivors.
  • Racism as allegory resurfaces from earlier texts through a pogrom, resulting in the deaths of 184 humans and non-humans in Rivia (leading up to Merigold’s Hailstorm).

Review

The original UK version of The Lady of the Lake features a young Ciri, which I used for my review for Time of Contempt. Colucci painted a cover for the Spanish version of The Lady of the Lake seen here. Given what appears to be a dress exposing Triss Merigold’s bosom, it is clear that Colucci does not actually read the novels. 

A fundamental problem with The Lady of the Lake is that if the novel were separated by five acts, the first and third are tedious, which feels like an effect lingering from The Tower of Swallows. I wonder if Sapkowski’s editors advised him to divide his finale between two books. As the final novel in the Witcher saga, it features a riveting climax and a lugubrious conclusion, but Sapkowski takes his sweet time getting there. 

Rience as he appears in GWENT. I would have included this image in the previous book review, but that might have been spoiler-y. He dead now, lol.

Sapkowski doubles-down with the frame story structure that he fondly favors. The Lady of the Lake begins with Sir Galahad of King Arthur’s court  disrupting Ciri’s moment of tranquility as she bathes in a lake. Mistaking her for a nymph, the knight coyly propositions her. She declines, recounting how she arrived in this strange land to dispel suspicions that she is magical. Her efforts are unconvincing, of course.

The book shifts to Nimue, a sorceress in the future who recruits the talents of oneiromancer Condwiramurs Tilly to piece together the adventures of not only the Lion Cub of Cintra, but also and especially, the love story between Geralt of Rivia and Yennefer of Vengerberg. Lastly, there is the matter of resolving the Second Nilfgaardian War. Sapkowski finishes what he started with reviving Jarre (but strangely, not Iola) in The Tower of Swallows and his adventures with the Poor F***ing Infantry division. The three points of view that Sapkowski deploys can be confusing to the point of  being irksome. Notwithstanding, if readers are anything like me, they will just want to know what happens to the main characters; who has time for new ones?

A render of Geralt’s Hanza in Touissant by the_path_of_the_witcher: Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep CeallachJulian Alfred Pankratz AKA Dandelion, Angoulême, Geralt of Rivia, Maria “Milva” Barring, and Emiel Regis Rohellec Terzieff-Godefroy

Fans of the Witcher 3 will have recognized Avallac’h’s name even in The Tower of Swallows. But even among them, few may remember Auberon, though Eredin’s name should lift some eyebrows. The Aen Elle elves, the Lodge of Sorceresses, and Vilgefortz all want Ciri for their own selfish purposes. In this novel, she finally activates her some agency of her own, embracing rather than hiding from her destiny. Elsewhere, Geralt stumbles upon a lead on Yennefer’s and Vilgefortz’s whereabouts, spurning him into action.

Vilgefortz of Roggeveen by elenasamko. Because the book described him as handsome before a portal blew up in his face, I do not think the official GWENT card is accurate, because he looks sinister even without the disfigurement. At least here, he might have once been handsome.

The finer details of this novel are too sensitive to discuss. Anyone bold enough to try and read this novel out of order will not only be completely lost, but will spoil the payoff contained within. Of course, those who actually read the preceding novels will want to experience The Lady and the Lake, digressions included. I would even go as far to say that Sapkowski’s literature ends on such a satisfying note, that stopping there is reasonable. 

Without question, I highly recommend the video games too. After all, they are why I started reading the books in the first place. 

One more book left!

 

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Positives

+ Merigold's Hailstorm + Appropriate conclusion + Geralt is witchering again

Negatives

- Pogroms - Digressions such as Jarre - Interdimensional travel is wonky

The Bottom Line

The Lady of the Lake is an overall satisfying conclusion to a seven-book series.

 

Story/Plot 8

Writing 9.5

Editing 7.5

8.3

Maurice Pogue

Since picking up an NES controller in 1985 at the age of 2, Maurice and video games have been inseparable. While most children aspired to be lawyers, doctors, or engineers (at the behest of their parents), he aspired to write for publications such as EGM, PC Gamer, PC Accelerator, and Edge. After achieving ABD status in English at MSU, Maurice left academia and dedicated his writing to his lifelong passion. He is currently the Video Game Editor at Geeks Under Grace.

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