Baptism of Fire
The Witcher Book Three
Written by Andrzej Sapkowski
Translated by David French
Trade Paperback: $16.00 /$11.34 Amazon
The numbering of the Witcher series confused me at first. The first book is the Last Wish and that makes this the fourth book.
But it's only the third book of the 'series' as the Last Wish is a collection of short stories. Nothing too complicated but it does throw the numbering off on different sites.
Baptism of Fire brings us Geralt, the White Wolf, the Witcher. He is a highly trained warrior of an order of monster slayers whose origins lie in the use of mutagenic potions to augment the human body past its normal limits.
His standard companion, Dandelion continues adventuring with him. In many ways, Dandelion is a good 'companion' style character, much like Monglum of Elric fame. He's not a great fighter, but can at least thrust a sword. His background and socialite ways give him a far different, perhaps more civilized outlook, to the Witcher's monster butchery.
There are other new companions along the way that join the Witcher in his 'Baptism of Fire', including a hunter, an old enemy, and one who should be an enemy. Other characters met along the way, like Zoltan Chivay, will be familiar to anyone who's played the video games.
The translation work is fairly done. It's not obvious that this is a translated work in terms of rough passages where you ponder what the author meant. There are times, however, when a lot of telling the audience what's going on instead of showing the audience what's going on happen.
On one hand, tell not show does save a ton of space. On the other, it's not as effective.
There's also some weirdness where a storyteller is telling children about the Witcher's tale. It's not badly done, just out of place compared to the previous chapters that didn't use a wandering storyteller.
Yennifer, the sorcerer who is at times the Witcher's lover and ally, has a brief spot in the book but it's more of a set up for future novels. Much of the material involves the Witcher save for a few brief spots on other characters just to see what they are doing.
Like previous novels in the series, this one ends not quite at a cliffhanger, but close enough that the reader is left eager to pick up the next novel.
In terms of stealing for a game of Dungeons and Dragons or other Fantasy RPGs, the game is ripe with ideas.
The Witcher in and of itself is a title bestowed upon those who pass a series of tests that make them more than human. Many die in the trying due to their bodies rejecting the potions that transform them. Others are changed in ways far more horrible than pale flesh and white hair.
The Witchers are supposed to be neutral, not serving any particular king or kingdom but instead, dedicated to the cause of killing monsters for profit.
It would make an excellent PrC or Paragon Path in 4th edition. The real trick is what do you bring in? In the novels, Geralt isn't that much of a showcase for Witcher power. Oh sure there are times when the author has the White Wolf cut through soldiers, but the novel starts with Geralt incapacitated due to wounds and it takes him a long time to recover. We also don't see any fancy spellcasting from Geralt in the novel nor even herb use or lore.