Literature: Sword of Destiny

The second book in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski, originally in Polish. For whatever reason, the English translator decided to skip it and jump from the first book straight to the third (despite the small fact that it introduced Ciri, around whom much of the saga revolves) but a translation was finally released in the UK in 2015. The original Polish title was Miecz Przeznaczenia.

Like the original book, Sword of Destiny is a collection of six novellas (minus a Framing Device) that continue the trend of merrily deconstructing your favorite fairy tales, though the motif of You Can't Fight Fate comes across even stronger.

Tropes found in the book:

  • Amazon Brigade: The Dryads are this.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Nilfgaardians wears all black, invades Fantasy Poland, and are portrayed as completely evil but ruthlessly efficient. They are specifically contrasted against the 'normal' armies who rape, pillage, and plunder in the North.
    Dandelion: "Not this war, Geralt. After this war, no-one returns. There will be nothing to return to. Nilfgaard leaves behind it only rubble; its armies advance like lava from which no-one escapes. The roads are strewn, for miles, with gallows and pyres; the sky is cut with columns of smoke as long as the horizon. Since the beginning of the world, in fact, nothing of this sort has happened before. Since the world is our world... You must understand that the Nilfgaardians have descended from their mountains to destroy this world."
  • Armies Are Evil: Geralt thinks murder, plunder, and worse are just normal consequences of war. Dandelion says that Nilfgaard is worse.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Geralt doesn't believe in destiny. He's wrong.
    • More specifically, he refuses to claim Ciri to become a Witcher since the likely result is her grizzly death.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: The entire city of Cintra prefers this to capture by Nilfgaard.
  • Betty and Veronica: A rare male example. Yennefer is having difficulty choosing between the safe option of Istredd who is an adoring wizard in her profession and Geralt who is a mutant who has broken her heart before. She chooses Geralt
  • Boring but Practical: Townsfolk of The Bounds of Reason give us two examples when they deal with the dragons. The first time, they offer her a fake goat with any kind of poison they could come up with inside, only failing because they didn't have anything strong around and still it took a lot for the dragon to move again, and even then could barely fly to safety. Then facing a golden dragon, who easily survived wizards and skilled, expert warriors, they just zerg-rush him and try throw nets. They are able to pin it down and, were it not for Yennefer's sudden help, they'd have actually killed him.
  • Brick Joke: In The Last Wish anthology, Geralt complains about how many noblemen want to hire him to acquire nonhuman wives. In A Little Sacrifice he's hired to serve as a translator from a Duke to a mermaid.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Dudu is a magical creature who has lived his entire life in the foresters around Novigrad. He's also, without a doubt, the single-greatest venture capitalist the Continent has ever seen.
  • Bus Crash: Essi Daven, Geralt's Temporary Love Interest in A Little Sacrifice, is bluntly mentioned to have died of small pox four years later in Wyzima.
  • Character Death: Queen Calanthe of Cintra, introduced in The Last Wish dies here.
  • Corrupt Church: The Eternal Fire in Novigrad is one of these from top to bottom.
  • Crapsack World: Lampshaded in Something More, after a merchant begs Geralt for protection, and Geralt gets an almost lethal wound doing it. While recovering, he thanks the merchant for not letting him to die alone, and the merchant wonders how horrible the world should be, when you are thankful for the other not being a monster. Geralt agrees, but adds that it wouldn't have been the first time it happened to him.
    • The beginning of the first story sets it as one: some citizens are considering taking Geralt's properties, while Geralt himself is fighting the basilisk hunting their own town.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Eternal Flame involves a doppelgänger assuming the identity of a dead inquisitor. Nobody catches on, despite a rather radical shift in personality (they assume the man has changed due to a near-death experience and old age in general).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Yennefer uses the Snow Queen myth to talk about her relationship with Geralt.
  • Doomed Hometown: Cintra becomes this for Ciri.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: In Sword of Destiny, whenever Geralt gets fed up with Ciri's brattiness, he threatens her like this. Which shuts her up quick.
    • While Geralt mostly just threatens to spank Ciri, her grandmother and primary caretaker, queen Callanthe, was mentioned to be a firm believer that sparing the rod means spoiling the child, which is why Ciri tends to take those threats seriously. And of course Geralt himself did it to a corrupt burgher in The Last Wish, albeit under Yennefer's influence.
  • Fantastic Racism: As always, a major theme in the books. Geralt is loathed because he's a Witcher, nonhumans are loathed by humans, and humans are loathed by nonhumans.
    Dudu: "You've reached an accord with the dwarves, the halflings, the gnomes and elves; even," he continued, his lips stretching into Dandelion's insolent smile, "a modest degree of integration. What makes me worse than them? Why am I refused the right? What must I do to live in this city? Transform myself into a doe-eyed elf, with long legs and silken hair? Huh? How is an elf better than me? At the sight of an elf, you stare at her legs, but me, when you look at me, you want to vomit? You order me to clear off, you want to banish me, but I'll survive. I know how. In the wolf pack, I ran, howled and bit my confederates for a female's favors. As an inhabitant of Novigrad, I'll trade, weave wicker baskets, beg or steal. As part of your society, I'll do the ordinary things that people do in your society. Who knows, perhaps I'll be able to get married?"
  • Fish People: in A Little Sacrifice, later to reappear in the games.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Everyone knows who Yennefer will choose between Geralt and Istredd. She actually ends up choosing neither to keep them from murdering each other, and only comes back to Geralt in the novels.
  • Genocide Backfire: The Nilfgaardians are implied to be responsible for one of these with Cintra and Ciri. The truth is a trifle more complex.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Duén Canell, the Heart of Brokilon, the last sanctuary for the Dryads.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Where Istredd tries to lecture Geralt on why he, as a Witcher, doesn't have human emotions. What's terrible, though? It works. It also serves as a Breaking Speech.
  • Interspecies Romance: The mermaid and the prince from the A Little Sacrifice, which puts Geralt into the role of their translator. They are genuinely in love and each asks the other to magically transform into their species, which would solve problems with incompatibile biology. In the end the mermaid becomes a human, so they can be together.
    • And, of course, Geralt and Yennefer. Even if human by birth, they both became something quite different, and in-universe no one would consider Geralt human anymore.
  • Lighter and Softer: Eternal Flame might be the most optimistic and violence-free story set in the Witcherverse. It's mostly focused on finding out who, how and why robbed a halfling trader instead of climatic confrontation with some creature and the "monster-of-the-week" is intelligent and compassionate, with no intention of hurting anyone. A Little Sacrifice really tries to sell itself as pesimistic and crap-sack, but in the end remains a light-hearted love story with Happily Ever After ending (which can't be said about "The Little Mermaid" it's deconstructing).
    • Becomes Darker and Edgier with Sword of Destiny and Something More. Indeed, Something More is arguably the darkest Witcher story of all time.
  • Lovable Rogue: Dandelion, of course, as well as Dudu.
  • Mama Bear: Queen Calanthe is this for her daughter.
  • Mr. Seahorse: Played for laughts in A Little Sacrifice, when the mermaid points out she can't mate with the prince, since he as human can't carry her roe in any other way than in a hat.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: the green dragon in The Bounds of Reason.
  • Mood Whiplash: Some of the silliest and darkest stories in the Witcher canon.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Istredd and Geralt come to an agreement they need to do this in order to have no competition for Yennefer. Deconstructed as both of them know this will just make Yennefer hate them and neither wants to really hurt the other.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Queen Calanthe has a surreal conversation where she threatens Geralt with horrible death, torture, and murder to prevent him from claiming her granddaughter to be a Witcher. Geralt makes it abundantly clear he's not actually interested in claiming her and this does nothing to dissuade Calanthe from continuing her spiel.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The warning against the Nilfgaardians wouldn't be half as effective if not for the fact its Dandelion telling Geralt to shut up and be serious about things.
  • Only Sane Man: Much of the book's humor is derived from the fact Geralt occupies this role in the setting. Everyone is one shade of crazy or another.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: The fake inquisitor gives Geralt one of these when he is trying to hire him to find the doppleganger. Geralt doesn't want to because not only is Dudu not evil, there's no actual way to find a man who can shapechange in a city of 30,000 people.
  • Rebellious Princess: Ciri at age nine.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The king in the end of The Bounds of Reason. He wants a nearby kingdom, but local nobles don't want him to marry the princess, so he wants to use an ancient prophecy (saying someone bringing a dragon's head will become king) to his advantage. After spending some time with the mercenaries hired to slain said dragons, however, he decides that, since he has a bigger and better army than the other kingdom, he doesn't need it, and that the local nobles can't stop him they'll come out with some way to justify it.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Dude, as a doppler, of course possesses this ability.
  • The Wild Hunt: gets its first mention in A Shard of Ice. Its depiction there slightly differs from what we learn in the Saga, likely as being a personal opinion.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The Bounds of Reason introduces a whole host, taking part in a dragon hunt - a knight who thinks he's in a chivalric tale, a peasant who thinks he's in a folk legend, a wizard who is out to protect endangered species (the dragon), and a sorceress who thinks dragons are a threat to society. This being Witcherworld, none is right.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Dudu pulls off one of them by impersonating an dead Inquisitor then using the information he learns from his spy network in order to corner the commodities markets via inside-trading (which isn't illegal in this world since commodities trading is barely a thing to begin with). He kidnaps a halfling to steal his fortune to get the capital then pays him off with the profits.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Geralt gets an emotional gut punch when he discovers that Yennefer has been sleeping with another man the entirety of their relationship. Istredd, the other man, is less than pleased at this discovery himself.