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Literature / Lady of the Lake (Sapkowski)
aka: Lady Of The Lake

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The seventh and final book in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski, originally in Polish (original title: Pani Jeziora).

Through the actions of men like Redanian spymaster Sigismund Dijkstra, the Nordling kingdoms finally start to get their act together in war with Nilfgaard. However, these distant events bear little importance to the heroes. Geralt, in his search for the druidic coven that may have the knowledge of Ciri's location, finds his way into the mountainous kingdom of Toussaint. As it turns out, Dandelion is already well-known to the locals, who also have a need for a professional monster hunter. Meanwhile, Ciri is trapped in the oneirous world she's entered through the Tower of the Swallow. But, can any trap hold the Blood of Lara Dorren?

Tropes found in the book:

  • Alien Sky: During her jumps through random dimensions, Ciri finds a particularly beautiful location and is able to get back to it each time when she wants to. She notes how everything is peaceful and calming, but the fact there are few moons on the sky is an unnerving sight.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The book ends with Ciri agreeing to accompany Galahad to Camelot, and musing to herself there must be some kind of work a Witcher could do in that world.
  • Back for the Dead: After disappearing from the saga after about the first third of Blood of Elves, Coën the witcher shows up... as one of the casualties in the Battle of Brenna.
  • Back for the Finale: Yarpen and Zoltan show up in a bar to shoot the breeze with Geralt and Dandelion in the very last chapter of the book. Just before the fateful pogrom that takes Geralt's life begins.
  • Backstab Backfire: After seemingly convincing Ciri not to kill him on account of the fact he's beaten and unarmed, Bonhart pulls a knife and tries to attack her from behind. Ciri hears him coming, dodges his attack with ease and opens his throat with her sword before watching him bleed to death.
  • Badass Boast
    • This gem by Vilgefortz:
    You have a tendency to piss against the wind. Know, that here, [...] you have pissed against a hurricane.
    • Another one from Regis, drunk on blood, who at this point had to assure Geralt that no, actually he didn't mean it literally:
    I feel so much power within me, I could blast this whole castle to pieces!
    • Geralt has, curiously, a nonverbal equivalent of a boast when he unshackles Yennefer (who has a collar on her neck) with a single sword-strike.
  • Bath Suicide: Offered by Emhyr as a honorable way out to Geralt and Yennefer, because they know too much.
  • Because Destiny Says So: This works to bring all necessary actors to the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, mixed with Stable Time Loop in one case. Cahir even cites the trope name just before he bites it.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The battle of Brenna. Which in itself has nothing to do with the main characters, but is immensely important In-Universe.
  • Bittersweet Ending: After all the struggle Geralt finally rescues both Ciri and Yennefer and decides to quit his job and settle down, but all his friends who were helping him save for Dandelion die. He decides to defend victims of pogrom for the last time and is killed in the process. Yennefer tries to heal him but also dies of exhaustion. It all takes place before Ciri's eyes and she can't save her foster parents. On the bright side, Geralt and Yennefer are reunited in the afterlife while Ciri escapes her arranged marriage and gets a Maybe Ever After ending with Galahad.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    Regis: There are times you just can't refuse a drink.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Vilgefortz, despite having Geralt entirely at his mercy, thinks it's a wonderful idea to initiate armed combat rather than vaporizing him with a spell, resulting in his own death. However, the last time they met, he all but humiliatingly beat the witcher into a bloody pulp, providing a precedence.
  • Breather Episode: The hanse's stay at Beauclair. Which is more or less a lot of Padding. It's even lampshaded with a quote from Rudyard Kipling. Justified in-story as them needing time to recuperate from their adventures in the previous book, by winter almost completely blocking the mountain passes which connect that country to the rest of the world, and by Fringilla trying everything she can to keep Geralt there until spring on orders of the Lodge.
  • Breeding Cult: Emhyr explains to Geralt that he courted Ciri's mother Pavetta (as Duny) in the hopes of producing a child with elven blood, whose own child would be sufficiently powerful to stave off the impending apocalypse. He admits that Pavetta was just a Means To An End for him, but "regrets" that she was killed in the boating accident that was supposed to allow him to spirit her and their baby back to Nilfgaard.
  • Cannibal Larder: While travelling between worlds, Ciri is attacked by a lecherous old man called Gramps. After killing him, Ciri enters his house, finds the mutilated corpse of a child clearly cut up for consumption and realises she would have suffered the same fate had the guy not tried to rape her first instead of merely killing her.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The amulet Fingilla Vigo gives Geralt turns out to be not that great at detecting magical auras and warning of danger, which irritates Geralt slightly. He revises his opinion after it saves his life during his final fight with Vilgefortz by casting an illusion spell to prevent Vilgefortz's blows from landing long enough for Geralt to recover and make a fatal strike.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Five books of waiting, but Ciri's training on the Pendulum now pays off.
  • Consummate Liar: Elf sage Avallac'h. He spins the tale about how Aen Elle need Ciri's powers in order to save the inhabitants of her world from impending apocalypse. Turns out they are power-hungry conquerors just wanting an option to kill and enslave in every existing universe.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Everyone wants a piece of Ciri, because her elven blood happens to give her (or any future child of hers) awesome magical powers, even if she herself has only the barest grasp of them; the elves want her to help them restore their race to glory; Nilfgaard's Emperor believes she or her child is the only thing that will save the world from an impending apocalypse; and Vilgefortz can see no end of possibilities once he extracts her power from her.
  • A Degree in Useless: Jarre's abilities as a scribe turn out to be of little help when he enlists in the Temerian army, as the skills they want (archery, swordsmanship, horsemanship) aren't something he possesses. Therefore, he ends up in the Poor Fucking Infantry.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Yennefer burns through every bit of her magic power and all of her life energy in a futile effort to save Geralt's life.
  • Disney Death: Retroactively, thanks to a belated Word of God and the games, Geralt and Yennefer survived the events in Rivia.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Stefan Skellen and his men try to stop Geralt from leaving Stygga after Vilgefortz bites it.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The entire hanse - save Geralt and Dandelion (who stayed behind) - die very suddenly during the battle at Stygga. And then Geralt gets seemingly killed by a random guy with a pitchfork and Yennefer apparently dies failing to heal him. Additionally, Coën is killed off off-screen in the Battle of Brenna with his corpse being brought to the nearest hospital camp.
  • Dwindling Party: One by one, every member of the hanse dies. Milva engages in a Mutual Kill against an enemy archer, Cahir is slain in a personal duel by Leo Bonhart, Angouleme takes a deep stab to the thigh and bleeds out, and Regis is incinerated by Vilgefortz. Sometime after the battle, even Geralt and Yennefer die, leaving Ciri all by herself.
  • "End Is Nigh" Ending: Ciri cheerfully fails to fulfill her destiny of saving the world (or at least, its inhabitants) from the impending global glaciation.
  • Enemy Mine: The unicorns help Ciri escape from the Aen Elle, partially because she saved the life of Ihuarraquax during the events of The Time of Contempt, but mostly to spite the elves they detest and prevent them from achieving whatever goal they need Ciri to fulfill.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Geralt to Dandelion, near the end. Preceded by a Dwindling Party.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: And so Geralt knows now what to do, purely by accident... or destiny.
  • Feed the Mole: Geralt gives Fringilla false information on the location of Vilgefortz's lair, knowing she'll report it to the Lodge of Sorceresses. The Lodge promptly goes racing off to the location Fringilla provides, only to learn too late Geralt duped them with a false trail so he could get to Ciri and Vilgefortz without their interference.
  • Five-Man Band: Geralt's original troupe from Baptism of Fire is expanded with The Sixth Ranger Angouleme, Dandelion leaves the gang, and Regis gets briefly promoted to The Lancer, when he starts feeding on humans again and Cahir suffers a bad case of the dead.
  • Flash Step: Ciri does this unintentionally and for the first time when she runs into Bonhart in Castle Stygga. She meant to teleport to another world, but botched the attempt and only warped across the room.
  • Forced to Watch:
    • Bonhart suggests to Vilgefortz they make Yennefer watch Ciri be raped, impregnated and vivisected as part of their plans to get their hands on her powers.
    • Ciri forces Bonhart to look at her as she watches him bleed to death, so the sight of her unafraid of him is the last image Bonhart takes with him to hell.
  • Framing Device: The majority of the story is told by Ciri to a listening Galahad.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Jarre enlists in the army prior to the Battle of Brenna and is sent to a division known as the "Pee Eff Eye" due to his qualifications, or lack thereof, in terms of fighting. Turns out that PFI stands for Poor Fucking Infantry.
  • Gainax Ending: Geralt and Yen seemingly die... and they are on the island of Avalon at the same time? Or is it the afterlife? Avalon? And Ciri leaves for Camelot, with Galahad?. Lampshaded and foreshadowed at the very beginning of the book by an Audience Surrogate character, discussing in-universe legend about Geralt and Ciri some hundreds of years in the future — she grudges she hoped for Happily Ever After fairy-tale like ending, and was dampened by the real one.
  • Gave Up Too Soon: Relatively early on in her world-hopping adventure, Ciri actually does manage to return to her world at around the time she left it, winding up in Vizima of all places. Unfortunately, she never figures this out because the one fellow she grills for information is so shocked by her sudden appearance that all he can do is mumble indecipherably at her questions, prompting her to just storm off in frustration.
  • The Hero Dies: And his love interest, too.
  • Honey Trap: What the Lodge of Sorceresses wants Ciri to be: they want her to seduce Prince Tancred, the heir apparent of Kovir, becoming his lover and mother of his child, so that the Lodge can raise said child as a puppet.
  • Hope Spot: With Bonhart and Vilgefortz dead, Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer try to make their way out of Castle Stygga. Steffan Skellen and his thugs remain, but none of them stand a chance against the trio, despite their exhaustion. It seems like they're all about to leave the ruined castle and see the sky together just like they want to... only for the Nilfgaardians to march in.
  • Humiliation Conga: Bonhart gets a spectacular one at Yennefer's hands when he tries to rape her for deriding him as a coward: despite getting beaten in the process, Yennefer stabs him in the face with a stolen fork, only missing his eye by inches, breaks his nose and hits him in the balls with well placed kicks, and cuts his face to ribbons with the edges of her shackles. Her guards also refuse to help Bonhart get some payback on her because they don't want her to inform on them to the approaching Geralt.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Ciri has an unfortunate encounter with a hermit in one world who initially appears to be friendly and helpful, only to turn out to be a cannibal who intends to rape, kill, and eat her.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Ciri is reduced to this after the fight in Vilgefortz' tower when she realizes she's not only expected to go with Emhyr, but will never see Geralt and Yennefer again. Emhyr, who had been willing to - if not particularly looking forward to - have sex with his own daughter to get her pregnant, finds his resolve failing when he see this, and he not only gives up on that plan, but sends Ciri back to her 'parents'.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Leo Bonhart tries this. It fails, and Ciri finishes him off.
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: Beauclair for the heroes, but especially for Geralt. Dandelion stays, while Milva keeps regretting not staying.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Though he had his moments before, it's now that Regis shows what he can do in spectacular fashion.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: When it becomes abundantly clear that Ciri will not be able to escape Tir ná Lia, she reluctantly goes along with the elves' plan to bear a child with King Auberon just so that she can get back to her home world and reunite with Geralt. It ultimately doesn't amount to anything, because nothing about her is able to arouse the king even slightly.
  • Life Will Kill You: Geralt battles monsters, omnipotent sorcerers, leads an army to victory, survives a Suicide Mission... and is seemingly killed with a pitchfork by an angry mob. Just a moment later, Yennefer (who also duked it out with aforementioned omnipotent sorcerers and stood up to an entire coven of witches) apparently dies from magical overexertion while trying to heal him.
  • Lighter and Softer: The stay in Toussaint is notably more lighthearted than the rest of the book. Or the saga, for that matter.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: The Aen Elle just need one little thing out of Ciri; a child with their ruling monarch that will return the Elder Blood to their lineage. There's just one little problem: King Auberon isn't able to properly sleep with her, either due to his physical disgust of her human nature, or his own natural impotence brought about by age. And most likely a combination of both.
  • Lost in Translation: In-Universe example: During their last conversation, Emperor Emhyr bids Ciri farewell in the Elder Speech, addressing her as "luned". Ciri understands this word literally as "young girl". Its second meaning in the Elder Speech, however, is "daughter", which is what her biological father really meant.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: The battle is shown through the eyes of multiple minor characters (both appearing for the first time or having figured in the previous books) having their 15 minutes of fame one after another. And most of them die. Horribly.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Geralt and Fringilla have sex in a library atop a pile of books. The whole scene is humorously sprinkled with the titles of the various tomes surrounding them.
  • Medical Rape and Impregnate: Vilgefortz's plan for Ciri, which would be bad enough, but he makes it clear that after he terminates the resulting pregnancy and gets what he wants (blood from the placenta), he intends to beat and rape her. Then he'll let Bonhart have a turn doing the same.
  • The Multiverse: Ciri's powers allow her to travel through time and space. Turns out this power is the original goal of elven eugenic experiments that lead to Ciri's existence.
  • Mundane Utility: Once she gets a hang of her own powers, Ciri simply does a bit of sight-seeing and then finds herself a cosy, safe-spot to finally get some rest after being chased like an animal for past few years.
  • Near-Rape Experience: Happens to poor Ciri a second time after Kayleigh tried it in The Time of Contempt. Gramps gets further than he did and actually manages to pull her trousers down before Kelpie intervenes to save her mistress.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: During a pogrom, Geralt decides not to kill a terrified peasant that was trying to kill him (and some non-humans) a moment ago. Then, Geralt gets stuck in the crowd for a moment, and the peasant takes the opportunity to stab him, with seemingly fatal results, with a pitchfork.
  • No Sneak Attacks: What kills Bonhart: he was inches from stabbing Ciri in the back when he lets loose a shriek of rage, giving Ciri enough warning to dodge the attack and then kill him.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • Vilgefortz dies at Geralt's hand and sword.
    • Regis also rips the head off one of Vilgefortz's lackies while saving Ciri.
  • Out-Gambitted: Pretty much everyone who had their own plot regarding Ciri ends up being played one way or another, usually by random events they refuse or can't adjust toward. But in one particular case, it's a result of a deliberate action: the Lodge of Sorceresses gets not just mislead, but pranked, making them chase wind and making a laughstock of themselves for millenia to come.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Regis bursts into the lab in Stygga Castle where Ciri is being held captive and promptly disembowels, decapitates and devours the lab staff who were going to assist Vilgefortz in effectively raping and impregnating Ciri.
  • Peace Conference: A good chunk of the last chapters detail the events of the Peace of Cintra and the resulting consequences.
  • Pet the Dog: A major one from Emperor Emhyr. After explaining to Geralt that he intends to marry his biological daughter, Ciri, and sire an heir with her, and that the Witcher and Yennefer can't be allowed to live on account of knowing too much, he makes a promise to the latter that he will never make Ciri cry. He holds true to it; Ciri starts crying almost immediately upon hearing what will happen, prompting him to abandon his plan on the spot. He lets her go back to her parental figures and departs, leaving the three of them to live their lives however they see fit.
  • Post-Final Boss: After both Bonhart and Vilgefortz bite it; Geralt and Ciri have to fight through Stefan Skellen and his squad to make their way out of the castle. They barely even slow down much to Skellen's understandable frustration.
  • The Promise: Yennefer makes Emhyr promise to never make "her daughter" cry, as she and Geralt are about to commit suicide, and Ciri taken away to marry the Emperor. Guess what Ciri does the moment she is told that she has to part with Geralt and Yennefer again. It actually makes Emhyr abort all his plans for Ciri, turn around, and leave.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Leo Bonhart comes into her cell to brag about the fact he's killed three Witchers in his time and plans to do the same to Geralt, Yennefer dismisses his claims as utter lies, deriding Bonhart as a smug piece of shit and a opportunist who only picks fights he can win, and the only way he could have killed witchers was either in his dreams or by fighting dirty, and that Bonhart doesn't stand a chance against Geralt. A furious Bonhart tries to rape Yennefer in response, only to get utterly humiliated when Yennefer fights back.
  • Saharan Shipwreck: Castle Stygga is far, far away from any large body of water, yet is surrounded by scores of shipwrecks. About 16 years earlier Vilgefortz set up a teleport in the sea next to Cintran shore, used by Emhyr (who was back then pretending to be a knight named Duny) to fake his, Pavetta's and Ciri's death. Problem is, infant Ciri wasn't on board and Pavetta died for real when the teleport malfunctioned. Ever since, Vilgefortz had no reason or need to disable the teleport, so it's sucking any unfortunate ships passing over it and crashes them right next to the castle, getting less and less stable with each transport.
  • Ship Tease: There are brief romantic hints between Ciri and Cahir. Then he is killed.
  • Shout-Out: When discussing seating for a banquet in Toussaint, Geralt jokingly tells the duchess' chamberlain that Regis is a count.
    • Also, Regis' mule is named Draakul
  • Stable Time Loop: While Ciri travels The Multiverse in search of her home, she receives unexpected help from two sorceresses from her future. How exactly it worked is a bit complicated. Upon researching the Legend of the Unexpected Child, they realized that being lost between times and spaces, she can be practically anywhere - thus, she may appear to them just as well as anywhere else. By some effort on their side they summon her, and show her the way to her destiny - the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Storming the Castle: The final battle is Geralt and his hanse storming Castle Stygga to rescue Geralt's surrogate daughter who, incidentally, is also a princess. They succeed, but most of them die in the process.
  • Together in Death: Geralt dies when stabbed with a pitchfork and Yennefer dies trying to save him. There is one final scene afterwards where they get to be together on a secluded island. Of course, the three games and Word of God confirm that they came Back from the Dead.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Ciri inadvertently spreads a deadly plague that goes on to ravage the Northern Kingdoms when an infected flea from one world hitches a ride on her to her own.
  • Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The castle itself may look unassuming, but it's surrounded by scores of shipwrecks, not to mention being host to enough evil to make Ciri's powers fail. Almost every plot thread is resolved there.
  • Villain of Another Story: Eredin and the Aen Elle. They play a tremendous role in the saga's backstory, and they have plans for Ciri that will have enormous ramifications for both the Witcher world and multiverse, but at most, they only serve as the Arc Villains for a relatively small section of the book, and disappear from the story completely once she escapes them and returns to her world.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Vilgefortz has one when his attacks keep missing Geralt.
    • Bonhart also has one when in their final duel, Ciri seriously injures him for the first time.
  • Villains Want Mercy: After all the horrific abuse he's inflicted on her, when Ciri defeats and leaves him seriously injured, Leo Bonhart all but begs her for his life, insisting she's too noble to kill an unharmed man in cold blood.
  • The Wild Hunt: It finally turns out that it's the Aen Elle, elves living in another world (elves of the Witcherworld being known as Aen Seidhe), who travel between the dimensions to kidnap humans for later enslavement. Their leaders led the aforementioned eugenic experiments, until they were derailed by Lara Dorren's love affair with a human. When her powers resurfaced in her distant descendant - Ciri - they decided they want their results back in their hands.
  • Wretched Hive: The City of Rivia is, as always, a place of scum and villainy, which is furthered by the Second Nilfgaardian War. There's a lot of poverty going around and racial tensions are at an all-time high. It erupts in a bloody pogrom that claims the lives of both Geralt and Yennefer.
  • Written by the Victors: Already in motion after The Second Northern War ends. In particular, one prominent and racist scholar vows to scrub all dwarven contributions out of the history books as well as turn Dijkstra into an Un-person simply because he doesn't like the spy. Philippa foils his plans out of principle as a Take That!.
  • Your Other Left: Poor Fucking Infantry being what it is, gets mostly trained in marching. As the recruits almost entirely come from the lowest of low and rural bumpkins, they end up with the "hay-straw" routine to teach them left foot from the right onenote .

Alternative Title(s): Lady Of The Lake