Welcome to Part 16 of The Daily Fandom’s retrospective on The Witcher Saga. In this Q&A session, Kyle and Claudia discuss the last book in The Witcher Saga, Season of Storms. While a prequel to the other books, it also serves as a sequel due to a chapter dealing with Nimue. It was also written fourteen years after The Lady of the Lake was published. Keeping all of this in mind, this is sure to be a fascinating discussion.
Convening The Conclave On Season of Storms
CLAUDIA: I want my opening statement to be that I take away everything I said about the previous books, I enjoyed this one the least.
KYLE: I agree with you. I enjoy this one the least. I still enjoy it, but it is the least interesting overall.
CLAUDIA: It was unnecessary. I will revise that statement. I enjoyed it the least with the exception of literally the last little tidbit chapter.
KYLE: You want to know why it’s unnecessary? It was written 15 years later.
CLAUDIA: Yeah. It’s written 15 years later. Yen doesn’t even show up that much, Ciri is not even part of the equation, and all the characters, I know they are not all new, but they all feel like randos. Like here’s Geralt and here’s a bunch of random people you don’t care about. It is just frustrating to read because of that. You’re just sitting there like “Dude!”
I will say one thing I liked is that it was sort of Geralt goes to a place and does some things. And in terms of formats, I don’t hate that format, I just hated the time, place, and people involved.
KYLE: My biggest issue with is that because of its weird publication time frame. The Lady of the Lake comes out in 1998.
CLAUDIA: And is a phenomenal, perfect book.
KYLE: Yes, I fucking love Lady of the Lake! Now, the games start coming out with The Witcher 1 in 2007. Then The Witcher 2 comes out in 2011. Witcher 1 was sort of a cult hit. Witcher 2 was an insane success, no one expected it to be as successful as it was. Which led to The Witcher 3 being an insane global phenomenon in 2015. This comes out in 2013 and seems like a way to cash in on the success of the games.
The Style Of Season of Storms Compared To The Rest Of The Witcher Saga
KYLE: Because you mentioned you liked this the least, Season of Storms is done in a very different style than the rest of The Witcher Saga. I have heard it described, and I agree, that it feels very episodic. What did you think of the different storytelling style in Season of Storms? Did you at least enjoy it and what is your overall opinion on the change of pace and style?
CLAUDIA: So I think we have established that I think Sapkowski has become a better writer as we have gone through the books. He’s still a better writer her then he was in previous books. I think we also established that I really liked the short stories. I’m not opposed at all to episodic storytelling and the way he did it was kind of one of the highlights for me considering how much I kind of did not enjoy it. This reads as sort of a loose D&D adventure.
Like “Oh, I’m wandering along the path and I encounter this obstacle which leads me to the next obstacle, which leads me to the next obstacle.” It’s structured very much like a starter D&D campaign. I enjoyed the episodic nature of it, and it did occur to me as I was reading it that they could have split this up into like three different short stories and that would have been fine.
I enjoy it but I do think it’s a shame because the dramatic pacing of his novels was getting really good. So, he could have delivered something I was a little more invested in if he had stuck to novel format. But it’s really a toss-up because I am predisposed to liking episodic style storytelling, I read comics, I watch TV. You give me something episodic, I will be more likely to stick with you through to the end to just kind of see it out.
Whereas I’m going be more hyper-critical of poor novel pacing. I don’t know, I’m having mixed feeling about it. I don’t think he did anything wrong on an execution level. He’s become such a good writer, he’s stuff is well detailed, his dialogue is less clunky, he knows what he is doing now, and it shows. And it’s a pity that the characters were not the character I wanted to see. But I enjoyed it especially with the vixen, which was just a thinly veiled kitsune.
KYLE: Well, it’s called an aguara.
CLAUDIA: I didn’t want to say Iguana by accident.
KYLE: Aguara’s are part of Guaraní folklore.
CLAUDIA: Still a thinly veiled kitsune.
KYLE: Don’t know what a kitsune is.
CLAUDIA: Oh, cause you are not a weeb. Kitsune is just the Japanese word for fox. But basically, in Japan, there is a folktale about shapeshifting female foxes and they will sometimes transform into women and trick men. That’s their general M.O.
KYLE: Oh, I’ve heard about that.
CLAUDIA: So, a lot of the aguara reads a lot like a kitsune just because of that. The fox is a very popular folktale creature all over the place. Now that I’m thinking about it a lot of subcultures in Africa have a folktale featuring a fox character as well, almost always a trickster. That particular plot thread seemed the most suitable to the short story format and was kind of the only part where I was like “Man, I wish he had gone full short story here!”
KYLE: You can read it like that. The aguara bit was cut of Season of Storms and made into a 5-issue miniseries by Dark Horse Comics called The Witcher: Fox Children.
CLAUDIA: Honestly, it works well as a standalone story.
KYLE: This once again ties into what we find interesting compared to each other. You connected to the Aguara plot. The plot I was most interested in was the entire mage plot with Sorel Degerlund, Ortolan, Pinety, and all of them.
CLAUDIA: Yeah, the names I can’t say.
KYLE: I know them.
CLAUDIA: Oh, I can tell you do.
KYLE: The entire analysis of with power comes privilege and using privilege to mask horrible, horrible sins. How someone on the outside can view that and go that’s morally wrong. But once you look at it from their perspective and realize that power enables and therefore they are allowed to get away with it simply because it provides results. Which means yeah, everything is kind of fucked-up. I love his social commentary.
And how demons and monsters are not what you think they are. There was no demon of the story, it was actually a horrible human being called Sorel Degerlund. I love that. It felt very The Lesser Evil, which I love that short story, but I know you didn’t care for it as much. When Sapkowski gets very philosophical and very heavy on his social commentary, I think that’s when he’s at his best. Which is what that plot was all about. You are more into the fairy tale stuff, which he does excellently.
CLAUDIA: I think the fairy tale stuff feels more real to me.
Potential Queer-Coding In The Witcher Saga
CLAUDIA: He made, once more, the evil characters gay or queer in some form. I think it’s time we talked about that. I know we talked about this before, but I personally feel that it’s a bit of a problem. Now it’s recurring. Because before it was just Philippa and you can kind of brush that off. Yeah it was Ciri and her girlfriend, but you can brush that off. Now it’s the third time and it’s a little bit disconcerting that he keeps doing this.
Especially because in a lot of media queer-coding a character was shorthand for making them evil. And I don’t think that “Oh, all the characters are morally grey” is a good argument anymore. If only because we haven’t met a morally grey but more on the side of good kind of character. We have met several characters that we like, the dwarves, all of Geralt’s little family, so there is no reason for us to not have met a queer character that we are fond of. I guess you can count Ciri, but her relationship to not being straight is tainted by being raped. Which kind of makes it a bummer. What are your thoughts on that?
KYLE: I did not notice. Ortolan is in this weird position where he is an awful person. But he was trying to provide to the common folk. Everyone has been lying to him and saying it’s going to the common folk but it’s not. They keep it for themselves. He lives in his own little bubble. I love that bit where it mentions that he all humans are long-lived now because he created the longevity serum, cause he doesn’t know that no one besides mages takes the serum. He’s gay, but he is also morally bankrupt. And then Sorel Degerlund to get on the good side of Ortolan so that he could continue his fucked-up experiments. There is only one gay character, but I guess you can kind of count Sorel in there.
CLAUDIA: He’s queer in some way.
KYLE: Yeah, he was willing to sleep with Ortolan to get on his good side.
CLAUDIA: He couldn’t have been that straight.
KYLE: Obviously there was something there. Until you pointed out the queer-coding, I never thought about it. I definitely see it as an issue. When one of your three main characters is bisexual, to me Ciri is a good person. We have had some debates about her morality and there are bits where we diverge on that. But ultimately, she is one of the good characters.
CLAUDIA: True, but her sexuality was all wrapped up in what was initially a rape. Then honestly in the books, I can’t recall another point where she expresses interest in a woman quite as freely. So, I don’t know how to read that. As much as I love the idea of her being bi, based on what we have in the books, it feels a little bit like she could have just been raped.
KYLE: Her being bi was being hinted at all the way back in Blood of Elves. There are mentions of her looking at men and women, specifically when she is in Ellander studying with both Yen and Nenneke there are mentions of that. And there are mentions of it again when she goes to Gors Velen with Yen. He had been sort of hinting at the fact that she was bisexual for a while.
CLAUDIA: Okay, I can see that now that you mentioned it. If I’m being totally honest, that perspective of being a little kid and look around at all the pretty people, to me, it read more like childhood innocence, but now I kind of see it. It may just be a difference of that he is writing a female character and doesn’t maybe realize fully how girls work. But like we do pay attention to other pretty girls and pretty men. I think just more so then men do in general. So, I didn’t read into it the way I think I was intended to. But I can see it now that you brought it up.
KYLE: When you are thinking about it from the perspective that she is a young teenager by the time we get to Time of Contempt. She has gone through some changes and still going through others. So, obviously, her hormones are off the wall. If you think back to how you were during that time, you were probably noticing those you found attractive more than you do now.
CLAUDIA: The thing about that is that I was not a very traditional child. So, in some ways, I wasn’t actually, I was pretty oblivious.
KYLE: Fair enough.
CLAUDIA: Because I was, and still am to a degree, “Well, why should I care about this person? Are they useful?” That sort of mentality and attitude. Which is maybe why I like Ciri so much. In terms of characters in The Witcher Saga, Ciri is the character I relate to the most. I was not keen or interested in people in general, let alone the opposite gender. Like I didn’t find people attractive for a very long time if that makes sense.
KYLE: Yeah, it does. I have friends from various different sexualities, so I’ve had similar things described to me. I’m ageneric guy, I’m a straight white guy. So, I can only speak from my perspective. But from that perspective, I know I was far more noticeable of women I found attractive than I am now. Now, I will see someone I find attractive. But I won’t dwell on it like I did when I was a young teenager. I will just go “Okay, she’s pretty. Moving on.”
When you are a young teenager your hormones are insane, so you often end up dwelling on it, that’s just the mentality of a teenager. So that’s the way I see it and I think that’s the way he was intending it to be read.
CLAUDIA: Well, it would make sense cause then I would have missed it and that wouldn’t have been a flaw in his writing. It would have been just a difference of person; I have never been in that person’s head. I do find that now that you have said that. And I will give it to him, I think you are right, I do think he was hinting at it beforehand.
KYLE: The entire thing of queer-coding, I never noticed. I will say that it is a problem. I don’t know how I feel about it or how I would fix it because I really like the mage plot.
CLAUDIA: No, like the plot was really good, those characters were kind of downright terrifying. It’s not that I would necessarily have him change his story as much as I would think about overall where we could have put someone that would have negated that bad vibe, so to speak.
KYLE: It is a problem and I agree. I never noticed because as I have mentioned before. I see things from my perspective and often have to have things like that pointed out to me. We have spoken before how one of my stories could accidentally be read as “burying your gays” even though that was never my intention. I don’t know how I feel about this issue right now. I do think that by having Ciri as one of the main characters in The Witcher Saga, we do manage to have an LBGTQ+ character that is shown in a positive light. One could make an argument for every sorcerer and sorceress, as it is implied that they are pansexual as they’re willing to sleep with many different kinds of people. I don’t know if you remember that?
CLAUDIA: I do remember that, but I don’t think it was something that is brought up too much.
Season of Storms Is Both A Sequel And A Prequel
KYLE: This is a prequel but it’s also a sequel. Sapkowski doesn’t call Season of Storms a prequel but instead calls it a sidequel specifically. The way he sees it is that it’s a standalone tell that just so happens to take place before the main events, he himself has a distaste for prequels. While this does have references and setups to events that will happen later, to me anyway, it does not feel like it is overburdened with what I call prequel-itis. Which is the necessity to explain events specifically because we know that those events will be important in the future of the series instead of just trying to tell a story. This very much tells its own story while also featuring things that do or will happen in the future. What is your take on it? Do you agree with the sentiment that it is a sidequel?
CLAUDIA: Well, I’ll say this. A well-written prequel is still a prequel. It’s okay if he doesn’t want to call it that but it is, in fact, a story that takes place before the rest of the stories. Now, I will give him this, I would argue that given the characters that show up in this book, this could be argued as not being part of The Witcher Saga in that regard.
But it does kind of tie right into The Witcher and so turns into more of a prequel because of his use of framing devices and small references to the short stories. If you had cut some of that out, I would be less inclined to think of it as a prequel. But it does kind of come off as one. And something that was really prominent in the books was the references to Geralt as an adventurer and a famed witcher who goes around slaying monsters, and you know what this book gave us?
CLAUDIA: Exactly! Something we got in the short stories was some of that, but ultimately you forget it. If you started at the first novel instead of the short story collection, you wouldn’t have gotten that exposure. So this book feels like the novelization of the Geralt that we all kind of knew existed. That is referenced almost throughout the entire Saga, so in that sense, it also feels like a prequel. It’s like “Oh, yes, here are the adventures everyone was referring to, except not exactly.”
I do agree with you that it doesn’t really suffer from prequel-itis. And sometimes that is to its detriment like there are places where I don’t care because it’s not connected to characters I care about. However, he is a good writer and I can’t really fault him for not wanting to drag those characters into the story. Part of the reason it doesn’t suffer from prequel-itis is that he made the decision not to do that. There is no real winning with me apparently.
To answer your question, no it doesn’t suffer from prequel-itis. Yes, I do think it is still kind of a prequel, just a fairly well written one. I will begrudgingly give him sidequel, if that’s what he wants to call it, as technically speaking it does take place between The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny.
KYLE: It fills in a lot of continuity stuff, things we had heard about but not seen.
KYLE: For instance, one of the great continuity nods besides the entire thing with Lytta, we have the mention way back in The Witcher about a war fought between King Foltest of Temeria and King Vizimir II of Redania over border posts. We get a nice little interlude here in Season of Storms, where we get to see the border posts being moved. It’s great because it’s like “If you are paying attention, this is what’s going on. It doesn’t really matter, but this is what’s going on.”
CLAUDIA: And those are the parts where I’m like it’s a little bit like a prequel tie in. That is not something he had to do. We would have accepted not getting an explanation of that, but he gave it to us.
KYLE: To me it feels unburdened by the prequel thing. This feels very much just another day in the life of Geralt that just so happens to be set between certain short stories. Because of the fact that anything done because of future knowledge is done in a way that doesn’t hold your hand, in a way that a lot of prequels do, it feels unburdened. I tried not to mention as we have been going through The Witcher Saga because I know I have the habit of spoiling.
CLAUDIA: You do.
KYLE: We have had mentions of Lytta Neyd all the way back in Sword of Destiny. There were lots of things mentioned about events that happened in this book and implications of things that were much bigger than they initially seemed. This is a quote from Something More when Geralt visits the memorial on Sodden Hill:
Lytta Neyd, known as Coral. Her nickname derived from the colour of the lipstick she used. Lytta had once denounced him to King Belohun, so he went to the dungeon for a week. After being released he went to ask her why. When, still without knowing the reason, he had ended up in her bed, he spent another week there.Sword of Destiny pg. 359
Her death is also described in detail by Triss in Blood of Elves. She was also present at the Battle of Sodden Hill:
‘…There was a din and flames, there were flaming arrows and exploding balls of fire, there were screams of charred smoking rags and I realised that the pile of rags was Yoël and that thing next to her, that awful thing, that trunk with no arms and no legs which was screaming so horrifically was Coral.’Blood of Elves pg. 107
KYLE: Yeah, he had been talking about this character for fucking forever, and we are just now seeing her. When I read The Witcher Saga initially, I never noticed her.
CLAUDIA: Yeah, I never noticed her at all.
KYLE: But going back through it with the knowledge of Season of Storms, now that it has finally been translated to English, I started going “Shit, he has been talking about Lytta for a very long time.” Obviously, he had an idea of this story thirty some odd years ago. I’m starting to wonder if this is actually a prequel or is this just a novel he never got to publish?
CLAUDIA: Have you read the quote from him that said he wrote this to piss off people who had fanon, game fans, and also to make some money. I don’t blame him.
KYLE: It is about money; I’m not going to deny that. He has admitted in interviews that he likes money; I mean who doesn’t and I agree with him. He has never made any bare bones about the fact that ultimately, he is here to make money, but he is also going to tell a good story while doing it.
CLAUDIA: I think he made some decisions on purpose because he was aware of the games.
KYLE: Oh, yes! I am wondering if this was an idea, he had that he never finished and then he grafted it onto the success of the games. Cause there are a lot of almost lore breaking concepts that come entirely from the games that are not from the books but are central to this book. Geralt carrying both his swords on his back for instance, that was never a thing until the games.
Then all of a sudden, they get stolen because he was carrying both of them, and I was like, “He has never done that except in the games!” That change was made for gameplay reasons so that you don’t have to run back to Roach all the time. It was a reaction to the games that he included that. There are also bits and pieces of this plot that are very reminiscent of Witcher 1’s plot which we are covering next month. The entire stealing witcher mutations is one of the core points of Witcher 1’s story.
KYLE: Yep. That entire concept feels like it was borrowed from the games, cause we know he worked as a consultant on at least the first game. We know he read a synopsis of the plot and gave them approval. He maintains that the games take place in a different universe where things happened a little differently. So, this seems like an idea he had for thirty years grafted onto a rewrite of certain sections of Witcher 1 in order to make a novel. Obviously, we don’t know and there are very few interviews with him in English. It’s worth noting by the way that he is very sarcastic in interviews so often his answers when talking about the games are not serious and he is just joking around, but people misinterpret it as dislike.
Kyle Ranks The Books In The Witcher Saga
CLAUDIA: I thought The Lady of the Lake was perfect and Season of Storms was the weakest. So, where does this book fall in the overall Saga for you? It’s hard because it’s a prequel and it’s written so much later.
KYLE: I think it is probably the weakest. Blood of Elves, I have pacing issues with it and it’s very clearly his first attempt to write a novel as he had only written short stories up until then. You can very clearly see him struggling in Blood of Elves, this is a much more confident Sapkowski. But I think because a lot of the stuff I love about The Witcher Saga don’t actually come until the main Saga, like a lot of people love the short stories, which is fair.
I like the short stories, but they are not what I love about the series. What I love does start with Blood of Elves, it’s the entire story of Ciri, Yen, and Geralt. This feels much more in line with the short stories, which means it’s really good but it’s not what I want out of The Witcher, so that makes it the weakest overall. Plus, my favourite main character only features pretty much as a cameo. However, Yen does say one of her sickest burns ever in that cameo.
I enjoy the book, I have nothing but a good time when I’m reading it, it is unquestionably really good. I think if I were to rate them it would go Time of Contempt > The Lady of the Lake > Baptism of Fire > The Tower of Swallows > The Last Wish > Sword of Destiny > Blood of Elves > Season of Storms. Considering it’s going against some amazing books; it has some pretty big shoes to fill. Overall, it’s good but not great.
Lore Changes And Additions
KYLE: He adds in some additional lore in this book and in some cases incorporates game lore such as carrying the two swords at all times. In particular, he changes the way witcher swords work and goes into a few different kinds of witchers with the introduction of the Cats, which has been hinted at before. What did you think about these additions to the lore?
CLAUDIA: I think default just not care. Like it added more to the D&D-ish feel of the world, I’m not necessarily sure that’s a good thing. But because of the happy go lucky adventure-y feel, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing either. It comes down to what I was saying about the format. On the one hand, I like these elements and on the other hand, I’m not sure it was the strongest addition. I could have done without the details on the witcher stuff. I mean listening to a villain go on about transhumanism was not what I was expecting when I started the books. He has always had this way about going into the medical side of some of the stuff, I’m not surprised we got more details.
KYLE: I mean, he has always been philosophical. The reason I like his dialogue is because his characters talk in long rambles, much like I do. At times he will have a character get on a soapbox and start waxing philosophical. That is one of the strengths of these books, they are essentially really well written fictional essays about a topic Sapkowski has researched and cares a great deal about. I find it fascinating, some people may not.
One of the first short stories we read was The Road With No Return, you remember that?
CLAUDIA: Yes, that was with his mom, right?
KYLE: Yep, that was with Visenna. There was a lot of worldbuilding in that, but we know that he never intended that story to be a part of The Witcher Saga. When people asked him to write more stories featuring Visenna, so he decided to fold that into continuity by making her Geralt’s mother. Alzur, the sorcerer that created witchers, if you remember part of the plot of The Road with No Return was Visenna trying to get his notebook. So, he is using the opportunity to expand the existing lore but also repurpose lore he created in another world that ended up becoming part of The Witcher Saga.
CLAUDIA: I’m going to have to reread these, aren’t I?
KYLE: There is so much continuity, it’s all one story just told over eight books. I think my focus on the additions to the lore is the fact that I started with the games. The Cats or the Cat School witchers, the games go into far more detail about them and the different schools of witchers. The schools were hinted at in the books, the different shaped medallions that Leo Bonhart had such as a gryphon and a cat. The addition of the Cats and the other schools of witchers become integral to the plot of The Witcher 2 and a side quest in The Witcher 3.
CLAUDIA: Okay, interesting.
KYLE: Also, the changes made to the way witcher swords work almost feels like a reaction to The Witcher 1. You start the game with a Meteorite Steel sword, obviously. Because they were trying to be “lore-friendly”, there is no gear swapping. There is only one upgrade possible near the end of the game. And in an RPG, gear swapping is important to gameplay. In The Witcher 2, it’s entirely different and you change gear all the time based on what you loot.
Obviously, we don’t know what happened, but there could have been a complaint on behalf of the developers, and he decided to create a workaround in his own story. So, in lore, Meteorite Steel swords are not fully made out of meteorite and are not of this amazing quality or have special abilities, they are just made in Mahakam in a particular style. Witchers, much like the no emotions thing, they kind of feed into that legend in order to scare people. They don’t have these amazing swords with all these special powers, they are just ordinary. That’s my perspective on it.
CLAUDIA: It would be, personally, very shitty of CD Projekt Red to have asked him to do anything in regards to that. But I don’t know. He could have just been messing with them.
KYLE: Obviously, we don’t know behind the scenes stuff. But all feedback creates an idea in a writer’s head, speaking from personal experience, so that’s potentially where this lore change came from.
CLAUDIA: It also made the entire book hilarious, just as a side note. He’s lost his swords before. It’s such a Geralt on the road having adventures kind of book. It’s a very Geralt thing to lie about the swords being special.
KYLE: Because everything is an illusion, as the aguara says at the end.
CLAUDIA: Yes, that’s our very on the nose theme of the book.
KYLE: Like I said, he gets preachy. But I love it when he gets preachy, so I don’t mind.
CLAUDIA: There was a lot of high adventure magic going on in this book then the core of The Witcher Saga, but it felt part of the atmosphere he was building because he was building something intentionally contrarian.
Kyle’s Opinion Of Lytta Neyd
CLAUDIA: So, in this book, Geralt spends a lot of time with Coral, who is kind of a bitch.
KYLE: Oh, yes!
CLAUDIA: I generally know where your thoughts will land on this, but this is after he and Yen split up for the first time from my understanding. It’s interesting to watch as Yennefer continues to plague his existence, even when he is amidst this relationship. She even gives him his swords back, so he is still useless without her. I was wondering what your opinion of Lytta? Because in part your hatred of Triss is so strong and she never comes close to the level of involvement that Lytta gets with Geralt. I’m interested to see if your hatred of other characters will ever be as strong as your hated of Triss.
KYLE: The hatred of Triss comes primarily from the games. The fact that they even let you choose between Yen and Triss is abhorrent to me. That should not be a choice, it’s a choice that is not a choice in my opinion. There is only one option and its Yen. Once Geralt gets his memories back, the only option is Yen, no question. Triss is a far bigger part of the games then she is in the books.
The fans of the games only got introduced to Yen through The Witcher 3, and I have noticed a large majority call her a bitch. They don’t understand the character and claim that Triss is the correct option. Anyone that remotely understands Yen’s character or has read the books know that Yen is the only true option. So, my hatred of Triss comes from what the games do with its story in relation to Triss and Yen and the fans, the Triss shipers, that I find online. Yen is my favourite character and I am protective of my favourites.
The thing about Lytta is that she is an absolute ass, she is a bitch through and through. I don’t have a severe hatred of her. Her biggest sin, to me anyway, is that she attempts to lie to Yen’s face and claim that she is pregnant. That bit, I wanted to reach through the book and strangle her, so much! I literally screamed the first time I read it “You bitch!” It’s the scene where Lytta, Mozaïk, and Yen are meeting. Lytta attempts to imply that she is late on her period and that she is pregnant with Geralt’s child.
Yen during this time, of course, is desperately trying to have a child which she will eventually find in Ciri. This means that it was an intentional jab at Yen, implying that Geralt couldn’t impregnate Yen but could impregnate her. It was intentionally targeted at hurting Yen. Of course, Yen has an amazing comeback later in that scene, which is one of her sickest burns of all time. No one truly knows Geralt outside of Yen and Ciri. That’s very clear in the way Mozaïk and Lytta react to Geralt leaving them.
CLAUDIA: This is the scene where she is like “Did he leave you a flower?”
CLAUDIA: Okay I remember this.
KYLE: When she inquires about the flower and Lytta is confused why he would do this, Yen comes in with one of her sickest burns:
‘Because you didn’t know him, Coral.’ Yennefer replied calmly. ‘You didn’t know him at all.’Season of Storms pg. 333
Lytta cannot comprehend why Geralt left the flower, Yen understand perfectly. Geralt pretends he doesn’t care but deep down he cares, that’s what got him killed. It’s his biggest flaw and his biggest strength. He is a big soft-hearted man that pretends that he is cold and callous. So, when he leaves someone, he feels bad about leaving, so he tries to make it better by leaving a flower because he doesn’t understand that won’t ease their pain.
But he thinks it will because he is a flawed human being. He even tells Mozaïk to go back to Lytta because Mozaïk has been abused throughout her entire life and doesn’t know how to live on her own and Lytta needs someone to give her perspective. He doesn’t think about the problematic implications of this, but from his perspective he thinks he is helping, and only Yen understands that. That scene is one of my favourites in this book just because Yen gives Lytta exactly what she deserves. Lytta is awful, she breaks Mozaïk arm just to get Geralt’s attention.
CLAUDIA: I know that was so horrifying!
KYLE: And it’s implied that he began sleeping with her in order to prevent Lytta from hurting Mozaïk.
CLAUDIA: That entire relationship between Geralt and Mozaïk was weirdly sweet. That was probably one of the few interpersonal relationships that I was really fond of.
KYLE: Something I have talked about previously is the entitlement that comes with being a mage in this setting, the superiority that breeds. That is literally the theme of the mage plot of this book, power and privilege enable and the warped mentality that power and privilege combine to create. That is what Lytta is, she thinks she can have anything or anyone she wants.
She thinks she is better than Yen, she even ran a betting pool about how long the Geralt/Yen relationship would last, not understanding that it was true love. She even misunderstands Yen and Geralt’s relationship by thinking that Geralt is nothing but a trophy for Yen and not actual love. She’s jealous, she wants that trophy, she wants that big prize. She is literally a stuck-up rich schoolgirl that thinks she is entitled to everything. She is incredibly well written, but I hate her guts.
Claudia’s Opinion On Lytta Neyd
KYLE: What is your opinion on Lytta?
CLAUDIA: Well, Sapkowski writes some really bitchy female characters. For the world and the setting, he has created, she is a perfectly serviceable character. I would love to see more complex female characters as right now, Yen and Ciri are kind of the most developed. But most of the female characters tend to behave in this type of morality which is sort of do anything to get ahead and their options are very limited. And I get it that is just the world he is writing but he has a type and he has a type he likes writing.
That said, the relationship it created between Geralt and Mozaïk was the most heart-warming part of the book, even when it was kind of stupid and sad. Geralt is just a big dumb man that just wants to live his life with Yen on the beach somewhere, he’s not really good at this whole playing the game thing and it shows. I can’t say I hated her because she wasn’t the bit of the book that I paid the most attention to, but strong dislike is a good word for it.
And I want to judge Geralt, but we are well before he and Yen get back together. It was interesting, but she was definitely a placeholder for characters that he will love later. We spend a lot of the time going “Okay, we get it, you’re a bitch. You can’t last that long because there is a whole set of other books, and you don’t show up in them.”
KYLE: And she dies at Sodden Hill, so she doesn’t even make it past the short stories.
CLAUDIA: Exactly, so there is an element of that happening there too. If they had turned her into a bit more of a supervillain, she was pretty fucking scary. Like the whole broken hand thing really wigged me out in a way that is hard to describe. That was pretty brutal.
KYLE: I read that moment on a train and I audibly gasped. So, I had to explain to people that looked at me questioningly that I was reading a book and it just shocked me.
CLAUDIA: Yeah, it’s really rough.
KYLE: She also has the precarious position of being the rebound girl.
KYLE: Everyone knows she is the rebound girl except for Geralt. Even Dandelions says it. Dandelion mentions that he knows that Geralt is only with her because Geralt finds her attractive and that’s it. You have nothing in common, you don’t get along, you are using each other for sex and that’s very clear.
CLAUDIA: You don’t even have bare minimum morals in common. It’s pretty bad.
KYLE: It’s kind of nebulous where this is set. Obviously, it’s before The Witcher. It could potentially be after A Shard of Ice, which means Yen broke off the relationship because he refused to say, “I love you.”
CLAUDIA: That’s what I got out of it.
KYLE: However, it is implied that Geralt and Yen were on again and off again for several years between The Last Wish and The Bounds of Reason. So, it could be in-between those two short stories. But I read it as after A Shard of Ice because of the way Yen acts during her scenes.
The Epilogue With Nimue
CLAUDIA: Do you think Geralt is alive and how do you believe that plays with the original ending of The Witcher Saga? I think that the ending was perfect, and when looking at this book, if you cut the bits with Nimue out, you have this cute epilogue. But I don’t need the rest of the book for that. On the other hand, there might be implications of that final scene that I might not be okay with. The Arthurian tie ins with The Witcher Saga is interesting but also odd to me because Arthurian lore is very Celtic and The Witcher is very Polish.
KYLE: In a way, yes and no. He pulls a lot from several different cultures.
CLAUDIA: He does, but Arthurian lore feels very Celtic and The Witcher doesn’t feel Celtic to me. It pulls a lot from Polish, Finish, Russian, and Eastern European folklore in general. Which for me, as a fan of fairy tales, it’s noticeably jarring that the Arthurian stuff is getting so interwoven in here. I just want your take on the interplay of The Witcher and Arthurian legend culturally, and the overall fit of this epilogue up against the ending we already had? The ending that was basically the best written ending in anything I have seen in a very long time.
KYLE: The Lady of the Lake is very precious and is a phenomenal ending to The Witcher Saga. It’s one of the best endings I can think of and in my opinion should be studied in classes as an example of how to end a serialized narrative. He intentionally leaves the epilogue ambiguous.
CLAUDIA: He does.
KYLE: He never outright says it’s Geralt, but it very clearly is him. He sure as hell acts exactly like Geralt and talks the way Geralt talks. The thing there is that Arthurian legend always comes with the prerequisite that King Arthur will be back. When he is most needed, he will be back, he is the once and future king. King Arthur within of itself is a legend cobbled together from various different folktales and religions from Germany, England, France and so forth.
Him doing a wink and a nod and going “Geralt might be back. He could be, who knows?” is very fitting. It is said in all but name that Geralt and Yen were taken to Avalon, another dimension which represents the afterlife in Celtic folklore. But you can move between Avalon and the real world, implying that someday in the future they could come back.
I much prefer this resurrection to the game resurrection. And I mean he is interacting with Nimue, the literal Lady of the Lake herself, you can’t get more Arthurian than that. I can see where for some it would ruin the beauty of The Lady of the Lake’s ending, but it is keeping in line with everything he has done throughout The Witcher Saga meaning that I have no problem with it. I also like how he ends that epilogue with the line:
The story goes on, she thought. The story never ends.Season of Storms pg. 357
We have talked about the theme of circles that have run through The Witcher Saga and how something ends, something begins. We know he is writing another book, so this is him getting metafictional with his own creation and it works perfectly.
Claudia’s Overall Thoughts On The Witcher Books By Andrzej Sapkowski
We have reached the end of Andrzej Sapkowski’s vision of The Witcher Saga, we are about to transition to other writers creating stories in this world with these characters in a different medium. What is your overall opinion on these eight books and this world as envisioned by one person?
CLAUDIA: I think overall, this series has been very interesting to me. The Witcher isn’t the type of book I normally pick up and I’m super into fantasy and super into weird. But I’m into classical things like Lord of the Rings or Dune or that sort of thing, and the other thing I lean into are very modern, very bizarre books. So, The Witcher with its very modern, contemporary fantasy style of story isn’t something I sort of gravitate to, it’s not the sort of thing I would pick up.
I found the short stories enjoyable, cause I like short stories and I like fairy tales and there something about the mix really worked for me. And when we jumped into the novels, I was stuck by his inexperience at writing novels, there was a lot of pacing issues and a lot of floating dialogue. And then he started really hitting his stride around the third or fourth novel.
KYLE: I noticed that your opinion switched from “This is alright.” to “This is great!” around Baptism of Fire. That would be the third novel but the fifth book overall.
CLAUDIA: That was because he finally figured out novel pacing, dialogue and how to handle an ensemble cast which I’m partial to. He really figured out how to tell a story about characters I cared about without dragging it out, which was important because I was reading it in such a quick clip because of this retrospective. The thing that really sets The Witcher Saga apart is The Lady of the Lake. I can’t say I loved any of the other books the way I loved The Lady of the Lake.
And that’s because, for all the flaws of all the previous storytelling, he just fucking blew it out of the water with that final book. It’s really hard for me, I’m not someone that attaches quickly to made-up words or cities or cultures or places. I’m more likely to give a writer more room to run if they use the world elf instead of a made-up word. And he’s introducing lots of stuff that is just foreign to me in terms of concept and tons of fake names I have to remember from politicians to places, it makes it difficult.
And then The Lady of the Lake took all of that stuff, presented in such a way that I could follow that was happening, was able to convey genuine emotion that I didn’t think was ridiculous or over the top. The execution and the emotional arcs of the characters were just phenomenal. The first time they were all together, it felt real and you genuinely felt their exhaustion. I guess what I’m getting at is that I really loved that book and I don’t see too many endings that make me rave about a series. And it’s really hard to go for an entire series going “I really like this I guess.”
And to suddenly go “Oh, no, this ending makes the entire thing worth it!” For me, Season of Storms falls short because I got the ending I wanted. I do like the bits with Nimue because, in a sense, I like the idea that Geralt is still out there. Because at the end of The Witcher Saga, Ciri is still out there, so the idea that any of them still being out there just kind of works thematically. He could have tacked on that epilogue to the end of The Lady of the Lake and it wouldn’t have felt out of place.
This Conclave Is Adjourned But The Witcher Saga Continues On
And there you have it, Kyle and Claudia have officially finished all eight books in The Witcher Saga written by Andrzej Sapkowski. Now the collaborating duo turn their attention to the next section of this year-long retrospective, the games. Next month, they will cover The Witcher by CD Projekt Red.