Literature: Blood of Elves

The third book in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski, originally in Polish but translated to English. It is the first full-size novel in the series, as well as the first installment of the "Blood of the Elves Saga"/"Geralt and Ciri Saga".

After The Kingdom of Cintra was razed by The Empire of Nilfgaard in the previous book, the orphaned Cintran princess Cirilla is picked up by Geralt, her destined guardian. Safe at the witchers' stronghold Kaer Morhen, she receives combat training from the witchers. However, Ciri turns out to be even less ordinary.

The witchers call upon the sorceress Triss Merigold for help, who soon realises the cause of the problem: Ciri is a latent magician, a Source. As such, she has to be tutored by someone more competent — like Yennefer, Geralt's former lover. Meanwhile, prophecies emerge that link the lost Cintran princess to unimaginable destruction, so everyone starts searching for Ciri really hard.

Tropes found in the book:

  • Admiring the Abomination: Done by a biologist during a river cruise. Geralt tells him to name the creature after an annoying brat that traveled with them.
    "What a specimen, what a specimen," Pitt quickly noted, thrilled no end. "Prehensile cephalic limbs, four pairs of chelae... Strong tail-fan... Sharp claws..."
  • Academy of Adventure: How Kaer Morhen is treated despite the fact it's an empty ruin devoid of other students.
  • A-Cup Angst: Triss throws something of a What the Hell, Hero? fit over the fear that Witcher training will prevent Ciri from developing womanly curves. May verge either on Narm depending on whether she has point.
    Triss Merigold: "The mushrooms whose secrets you guard so carefully,” she explained, “do, indeed, keep the girl wonderfully fit and strengthen her muscles. The herbs guarantee an ideal metabolic rate and hasten her development. All this taken together and helped along by grueling training causes certain changes in her build, in her adipose tissue. She’s a woman, and as you haven’t crippled her hormonal system, do not cripple her physically now. She might hold it against you later if you so ruthlessly deprive her of her womanly… attributes. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
    • The implications are that the witcher herbs function somewhat like anabolic steroids and can seriously screw up someone undergoing a puberty, which is a fairly serious matter.
  • All for Nothing: Yarpen goes to extraordinary lengths to prove his loyalty to King Henselt and that not all nonhumans want to wage war against humanity like the Scoia'tael. A military commander assumes Yarpen is a traitor and thus sets up an ambush to kill him—only to have the convoy hit by the Scoia'tael and Yarpen fight with them against them. His men still kill Yarpens and they're left with the horrifying realization they killed a bunch of innocent men willing to stand against their own people out of a belief in peace.
  • All Men Are Perverts: All three Witchers take Triss' speech on A-Cup Angst very seriously with Lambert eyeing Triss' cleavage the entire time.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Emhyr var Emreis, the Emperor of Nilfgaard, is hunting Ciri in hopes of taking her as a wife to legitimize his conquest of Cintra. At least, that's what the rulers of the Northern Kingdoms think, and they plan to have her assassinated or married off in order to foil it. In Lady of the Lake Geralt discovers that Duny was an alias: Ciri is Emhyr's daughter.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The aforementioned biologist also dislikes the idea of killing rare animals (including rare animals that routinely eat people), which is pretty much a witcher's trade.
  • Artistic License – History: Played with In-Universe. Dandelion's epic about Cintra, Geralt, and Ciri is subject to a real-time debate which almost turns into a riot after its performance. Everyone loves the debate but its actual meaning is subject to intense disagreement. Everyone also thinks Dandelion took liberties with the story but no one can agree WHAT were the liberties taken.
  • Bait And Switch Umbridge: Yennefer. The old trope name fits better, given her role as a teacher.
  • Bi the Way: Triss is revealed to be this in a paragraph.
  • Bullying a Dragon: On a simply pragmatic point, the Scoia'tael are doing this. Geralt and Yarpen both know if all of the nonhumans in the world gathered together into a single military force, it would just mean humanity would kill them all.
  • Category Traitor: Yarpen is considered this by his fellow dwarves as well as other nonhumans.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Ciri gets a diet of mushrooms and special leaves by the Witchers which don't give her super-strength but make her insanely strong and fast for a teenager. They also exacerbate her menstrual symptoms, and Triss worries about their effect on Ciri's "womanly attributes".
  • Coitus Ensues: Geralt and Shani had to be alone for an hour, tops, before they were in bed together.
  • Cool Big Sis: Triss takes this role with Ciri, who desperately needs it after a year with the slobbish Witchers.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The opening meeting is divided between Elven, Dwarven, Human, Commoner, and Nobleman listeners who all have something to say about each other. Many of them also hate Nilfgaard for various reasons relating to their mixed half-human/half-elven heritage.
    • The Witchers were subject to this due to a Expy of the Malleus Maleficarum.
    • And gets taken to a whole new level with the introduction of the Scoia'tael, who have made things so much worse for everyone.
  • Kick the Dog: The Kings of the North decide to liberate Cintra from Nilfgaard. Then they decide to find Ciri and kill her, lest she prevent them from dividing the country between them.
  • Loose Lips: Dandelion unwittingly reveals the survival of Ciri (who has many enemies) due to incorporating it into a ballad.
  • Mugging the Monster: A team of Siblings in Crime is hired to off Geralt. Three of them promptly get killed, and the maimed fourth gets a Coup de Grâce. It wasn't genre-blindness on their part, they just didn't know the target would turn out to be a witcher (although one of them realized when they were given the job that the one who hired them agreed to an increase in price way too quickly)
  • My God, What Have I Done?: King Henselt's men after the ambush on Yarpen's caravan. The realization they killed a bunch of people genuinely loyal to the cause of peaceful coexistence rather than collaborators shocks them out of their Fantastic Racism and leaves them aware of their own status as murderers as well as traitors.
  • No Periods, Period: Ciri suffers her first one, to Triss' outrage given the witchers weren't even aware of it. Triss also notes that the witchers were feeding Ciri their usual childrens' diet, which includes herbs that are known to promote muscle growth, but seem to be making Ciri's menstrual symptoms worse as a side effect. (This wasn't known before Ciri, since no one had ever tried to create a female witcher before.)
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The Witchers lost all of their experts on creating new Witchers with the attack on Kaer Morhen.
  • The Purge: The Witchers suffered one of these due to rumors about them and their evils. It, effectively, destroyed them as a force and caused them to stop taking in new students.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: A surprising number of them throughout the book like Dijsktra, the Customs Official, and Phillipa Eilhart. However, they're not the ones who really matter.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Triss Merigold suffers from this and has some truly terrible memories from the battle of Sodden Hill.
  • The Spymaster: Dijkstra of Redania is one of these.
  • Survivor's Guilt: Triss and Ciri are both suffering from this to various degrees.
  • Thicker Than Water: the local kings' favourite saying, apparently. Also applies in the case of Crach an Craite, for whom this is a reason to keep waging war on Nilfgaard: his cousin Eist Tuirseach was married to Queen Calanthe of Cintra, both of whom died in the Nilfgaard conquest.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Triss and Ciri have this kind of relationship despite their age difference.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Dandelion telling a grand ballad about the survival of the Princess of Cintra after her nation is subject to a genocide attempt is dangerous enough. It gets worse when he says who has her in their custody and they're close friends.
  • Training from Hell: Not only was a witcher's training meant for boys, not girls, but it was meant for mutation-enhanced boys who were tough enough to survive the mutation process. Ciri undergoes it only because that's the only way of raising children witchers know. It will be insanely useful later.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Triss gives a pretty big one to the Witchers when she finds out they've been raising Ciri like one of their own despite the fact that said training is brutal to the extreme. The irony? Ciri actually enjoys it a great deal except for the No Periods, Period problems which have recently arose.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters:
    • More or less the balliwick of the Scoia'tael. Geralt has a very unsympathetic view of them, believing that the only way to survive is live in peace with humanity.
    • Yarpen has similar sentiments. Not that they help him.