Literature: Baptism of Fire

The fifth book in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski, originally in Polish (original title: Chrzest ognia).

While Geralt recuperates from the injuries he sustained at Thanedd, the Nilfgaard Empire conquers half of the Northern lands and scares the rest into submission. As soon as he can, he goes out searching for the disappeared Ciri and is joined by a pregnant archer girl Milva, Dandelion the Spoony Bard, Cahir the Nilfgaardian knight who saved Ciri in Cintra, and a Vegetarian Vampire scholar and healer named Regis. Along the way, they are accompanied by dwarf Zoltan Chivay and his gang. Yennefer is nowhere to be seen; as such, she is presumed to be one of the ringleaders of the Thanedd coup. The truth, however, is more complicated, being related to the machinations of a freshly started sorcerous secret society. Meanwhile, stranded in unfamiliar land, Ciri unexpectedly finds love and family within a gang of teenage highwaymen, Rats.

Tropes found in the book:

  • Accidental Hero: Geralt's hanse saves the Queen of Rivia and, quite possibly, prevents Nilfgaard from winning the war. How did they do this? By getting attacked by Nilfgaard's soldiers nearby her when they stumble on a battle and slaughtering them all. They being, Dandelion exempted, a Badass Crew.
  • Action Girl: Milva, Ciri, Mistle
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: in description of Geralt's actions during the Thanedd coup. In loose transcription:
    "He [Geralt] killed a dozen Squirrels, slaughtered Artaud Terranova and caused unhealthy arousal of Keira Metz."
    • To avoind confusion for those unfamiliar with the saga: Squirrel is a term for dwarf/elven terrorists.
  • Ax-Crazy: Ciri starts becoming this more and more, to the point she's begun frightening the other rats.
  • Badass Crew: Geralt's hanse is, quite possibly, the most dangerous group ever assembled on the Continent given they're all peers of him in combat ...except for Dandelion.
  • Blind Jump: a magical variety, involving teleportation to the place of origin of a random item.
  • Broken Bird: Ciri has become one of these in short order.
  • Burn the Witch!: the party stumbles upon a very burn-happy cleric just about to burn a woman for witchcraft.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: from this book, the cycle starts getting but darker and darker.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The hanse are a collection of, quite possibly, some of the most dangerous people in the world and they arrive together purely by chance before agreeing to help Geralt in his quest because they're bored.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Milva has one of these just a few days after deciding to have her child.
  • Cool Sword: the Dwarven sihill.
  • Cooperation Gambit: Yennefer and Fringilla Vigo, who have a history of being on opposing sides in a battle. Fringilla notices Yen preparing escape, and provides support under the premise that she would never lead into something so deadly and foolhardy anyone that she does not hate.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Regis' description of blood addiction is an extremely accurate account of alcoholism.
    • Regis goes to elaborate lengths to explain that vampires are hated because they remind people of their own mortality and, of all things, oral sex.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: Regis in his hut serves the crew a concoction he was just brewing of mandrake and belladonna. Which is mildly psychedelic.
  • Five-Man Band: Geralt's hanse gets a start in here.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Played with as Ciri is still someone Geralt desperately intends to rescue but she is engaged in some truly despicable character.
  • Friendly Enemy: Fringella and Yennefer form this relationship given both make it abundantly clear they hate the other for their role at Sodden Hill. They do, however, share goals of opposing the Lodge's plans.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Regis is this and indicates that it's mostly prejudice that makes higher vampires treated this way. Geralt is aware this a lies due to The Last Wish. However, it seems that vampires are certainly no worse than humanity.
  • Gray and Gray Morality: The entirety of the war is portrayed as a pointless waste of lives.
  • Hates Being Alone: Ciri's entire reason for being with the Rats.
  • Hates Being Touched: Ciri becomes this, which interferes with her relationship with Mistle, which is already a farce as far as she's concerned.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: ...liquid... ichor... hemoglobin...
  • Kick the Dog: Ciri finds out that a highwayman's life offers a plenty of ways to vent off her issues.
  • Knighting: Geralt has this happen to him due to his Accidental Hero actions. Made absurd by the fact the Queen of Rivia has her two front teeth knocked out and is whistling the entire time.
  • Lima Syndrome: Mistle has fallen in love with Ciri, despite their first encounter being rape.
  • Nobody Here But Us Birds: played for laughs. When Zoltan Chivay tells the gang he'll signal them by making a sparrowhawk's call, they call him on not even knowing how a sparrowhawk sounds. So he points out that if they hear a weird, unidentifiable noise, they'll know it's him.
  • Overly Long Name: as revealed in this book, Geralt wanted to initially call himself Geralt Roger Eric du Haute-Bellegarde, but Vesemir explained to him how awful it sounds, so he picked a random city, becoming Geralt Of Rivia. He mentions that in the presence of Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach and Emiel Regis Rohellec Terzieff-Godefroy, who both felt insulted and start explaining the origins of their names.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Geralt's new crew. Also, the Rats. The concept of True Companions is discussed in here; aen hanse is a Nilfgaardian word for an armed company whose members are friends.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Subverted with Ciri who has started to view the Rats contemptuously and lets Mistle know, in no uncertain terms, she's only a convenience to make her feel less lonely.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: It turns out this is actually possible for most higher vampires because they don't actually drink blood for food but because it has an effect on them similar to alcohol. Geralt says that humans being a tap for vampires is actually worse than being food.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Philippa Eilhart has one of these involving marrying Ciri to the ruler of Kovir to create a magocracy across the North.