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Literature / Season of Storms

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Sezon burz is the latest entry in The Witcher saga. A self-contained story, set between Splinter of Ice and The Witcher, the story details Geralt's adventures in a small kingdom of Kerack, his romance with sorceress Lytta Neyd, experiences with mutants and experimenting wizards, and his search for his two stolen swords.

Tropes found in the book:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Ortolan, leader of a wizarding research complex is ancient, renowned and utterly out-of-touch. Most of his inventions don't work about because he quickly loses interest once he gets distracted by a different field of study.
  • Affably Evil: Ortolan wants to remove Geralt's eyes—he needs a sample of a witcher's eyeball cells for his transhuman research, and it has to be gathered from a live specimen. However, he is perfectly willing to let Geralt go after that, and even offers to help Geralt regenerate his eyes in two or three years, when he hopefully perfects the procedure.
    • Faux Affably Evil: On the other hand, the wizard tasked with catching Geralt—Sorel Degerlund—at first seems quite casual about the whole affair, but almost immediately starts gloating that his hench-ogres will catch blind Geralt afterwards, and that Sorel will vivisect him mostly just For the Evulz.
  • All for Nothing: The whole excursion to the Borsodi Auction House. Geralt tries to make haste there so he can get his swords before they're sold off, and to that end, he hitches a ride on a ship. Unfortunately, the ship happens to have the dead child of an Aguara aboard (or at least one that appeared to be dead), making everyone aboard it a target for its very angry mother. In the end, despite his best efforts, Geralt's not able to save anyone on the ship, and the whole adventure delays him long enough that he misses the deadline and has no choice but to return to Kerack empty-handed.
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  • Amazon Brigade: The prison Geralt is locked up in early on is guarded by an all-female staff. They're all described as a bunch of ugly Brawn Hildas with a penchant for farting all the time due to their rations consisting almost entirely of beans.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The last chapter before the Distant Epilogue ends with Geralt and Dandelion getting on their horses and riding off with no particular destination in mind.
  • Ape Shall Not Kill Ape: Part of the Witchers' Code is that Witchers should not draw steel on each other, something that Geralt uses to get a Cat School Witcher to back down.
  • Ascended Extra: Lytta Neyd. She was mentioned in the Saga as a sorceress involved in a week-long affair with Geralt, now this story is portrayed in details. The circumstances of her death also get a Continuity Nod.
  • Asian Fox-Spirit: Aguaras or vixen spirits appear to be this.
    • Homage: Illusion-casting vixens are adapted from Victor Pelevin's "The Sacred Book of the Werewolf".
  • Asshole Victim:
    • This story shows Lytta Neyd to be a horrible and manipulative person who punishes her assistant for the smallest of infractions (that oftentimes aren't even her fault) and has Geralt imprisoned so she can use him to do her bidding. So the fact that she canonically dies a gruesome and painful death years later in the Battle of Sodden Hill garners her little sympathy.
    • King Belohun is a pompous and smug monarch who has had four wives, all of whom died mysteriously after he grew bored of them. He treats all his sons with contempt, banished his eldest for petty reasons, and only seems interested in maintaining his rule for as long as possible than in actually securing a stable future for his kingdom. He is killed and overthrown in a coup enacted by his firstborn son.
    • Ortolan dies of grief when he hears news of the death of his lover, Sorel. While he is well-intentioned, he's so out of touch that he cares more about the death of the creatures he creates through his experiments than of the death and destruction they cause. Furthermore, he arranged for Geralt to be caught in a trap so he could take the Witcher's eyes without his permission (though he did intend to regenerate them later), and was more than willing to look the other way when Sorel was revealed to be the "demon" terrorizing the countryside.
  • Audience Surrogate: Nimue is an obvious stand-in for the reader. She's shown to have greatly enjoyed the stories of Geralt, she claims to knows the names of all the signs witchers employ, and refuses to believe that Geralt actually died. Her demeanor towards the mysterious Witcher she meets in the book's Distant Epilogue is best described as a groupie meeting her favorite rock star.
  • Bag of Spilling: It's pretty much a Running Gag that Geralt keeps losing swords in this book. He gets his original set back at the end of the book.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In a backwards way - major events of this story are briefly mentioned in the stories that happen latter in-universe, but of course were written earlier. This involves Lytta Neyd, as well as border dispute between Temeria and Redania.
    • At one point someone mentions that the king of Temeria looks for someone to disenchant his daughter...
    • It's mentioned that in two or three years wizards should be able to regenerate lost eyes. It's exactly what Vilgefortz does in Tower of the Swallow and Lady of the Lake.
    • Dandelion is repeatedly referred to by his real name — Julian de Lettenhove, which is actually an anachronism, as canonically everyone (including Geralt) only learn of his name in Toussaint, quite late into the Saga, while the novel is set during the short stories time.
  • Cool Sword: Geralt's get stolen and we get a ridiculously detailed description of them. He also receives a couple of a famous Nilfgaardian type along the way — one a substandard fake, bought for him by Dandelion, and the other the real deal.
  • Depraved Dwarf: Pastor is a hideous and deformed little man with dwarfism and a hunchback who serves as one of Degerlund's minions and joins him in his tortures, experiments, and serial murders.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Subverted in the Sapkowski's usual sarcastic way of messing with his audience — Ortolan is gay, back in his youth he was known as a flirt, and results of his research are often horrific, but these facts aren't connected in the slightest: the horror is simply because he's too out of touch with reality and too much into For Science!.
  • Distant Epilogue: It involves one of the minor characters from the Saga and, pretty much, is there to play with the minds of fans debating Geralt's post-Saga fate. A girl named Nimue, while getting to the Aretuza, is saved by an unnamed witcher, assuming him to be Geralt. He, however, denies this, claiming that Geralt died almost a hundred years ago.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Lampshaded. The very first story of the franchise, The Witcher is about a princess turned into a striga by a curse. When Geralt first hears that story in this book, he dismisses it as a tall tale, saying it's not how the magic works.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: It is mentioned that Geralt attended the Oxenfurt Academy as a guest student, and actually knows half of the people in the story (especially wizards) back from his school days.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Geralt has to deal with a sorcerer who dabbled in goetia (daemon summoning) and lost control over his summons. Subverted in that it's a ruse, and the wizard is just a sick sadist pretending to be Ditzy Genius.
  • Finger in the Mail: Sorel plots to vivisect Geralt and send his body parts to Rissberg as a warning. Except for his penis because Sorel intend to mail it to Yennefer.
  • For Science!: The grossmeister Ortolan is a reasonably kind and nice man, especially for a wizard, but his morality holds a very distant second place after his magical research. Add to this his general "for the greater good" attitude, and some of the results can be rather unpleasant.
    • He angrily berates Geralt for killing some of the monsters created by their research team and their predecessors, accusing the witcher of disresect towards science and knowledge. The fact that these "masterpieces" were killing people by the dozen flies over his head completely.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Geralt meets a society of magicians working on improvement of mankind. Their results aren't always nice, given there's like no more than two who don't think "For Science!" is reason enough.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Discussed. King Belohun is firmly against abortions and denounces Lytta Neyd's practice as immoral. He's however meant to be a Straw Misogynist who want women to stay subservient.
  • Humiliation Conga: Pretty much the whole book is this for Geralt. He's falsely accused of a crime and imprisoned, then when he gets out on bail has his swords stolen, nearly gets his ass kicked by a group of Boisterous Bruiser women, gets kidnapped and tortured by an insane sorcerer, and for a grand finale, fails to receive the summons for a civil suit in time to attend the trial and all the money in his bank account is seized in the judgement.
  • Improvised Weapon: Because of all the problems with swords he has in the novel, Geralt defeats several opponents with a broom or a wooden plank.
  • Insistent Terminology: Speaking with mages, Geralt calls the daemon summoning "magic" several times. Each time he is corrected: it's not magic, it's goetia.
  • Just Between You and Me: Lampshaded as Geralt muses the villain clearly belongs to people who just like the sound of their own voice.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The story takes a very dark turn whenever Sorel Degerlund appears once he is revealed to be the one behind the murders in the Rissberg countryside. His scenes are always associated with vivid descriptions of his victims' mutilated bodies, it's shown repeatedly that even children are not safe from his cruelty, and his capture of Geralt marks the first point in the story where the Witcher is in very serious danger.
  • Master of Illusion: An aguara is a foxwere with some major illusion and beast-controlling powers. She uses her illusions rather smartly, too: for example, she changes the visible position of the compass' needle to get a ship off course.
  • Mad Scientist: Most of the wizards described in the novel. It is implied that it's pretty normal for the wizarding folk.
  • Mama Bear: Aguaras are fiercely protective of their children, and will do anything to get them back if they are kidnapped. Which the crew of the Prophet Lebioda ship find out the hard way when they capture a young one and inadvertently kill her. Though it turns out that was just an illusion and the child was perfectly fine.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Dussart is a werewolf who manages to retain control of himself during his transformation, and whom Geralt spared in a previous contract. The Witcher enlists the werewolf's help in tracking down Degerlund for some much-needed payback.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Apparently Geralt always knew the Somni Sign, but just never used it on-screen. Lampshaded in that a witcher (who very well might be Geralt himself) pretty much tells so to a minor character in the epilogue.
  • Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: Apart from more exotic monsters, the research wizards also create these. Two ogre-trolls feature in the story prominently, and also there's one ogre-dwarf. They couldn't be made the natural way, and are created only via magic.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Geralt meets a dwarf, who works in a mine — as a musician. He plays in the mine's marching band. The songs, on the other hand...
    • This trope is lampshaded multiple times. Addario Bach insists he's not a typical dwarf, which means Geralt/narrator will take every opportunity to point it out when he does something that's very dwarflike.
  • Overly Long Name: Being called Astrid Lyttneyd Ásgeirrfinnbjornsdottir is a good reason not to use your birth name.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": A rare fantasy example. When Geralt comes across a magical sealed door, he is quickly able to open it simply by saying "friend." Apparently, this is the default password for most magical doors and many people are simply too lazy to change it.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Geralt's original intention is just to find a few jobs around Kerack so he can indulge in some of the local cuisine and comforts. From the moment he gets arrested, he ends up being manipulated by pretty much everyone until the book's end. Even the money he makes from the mages ends up being seized by the new king of Kerack at the end. But, he at least gets his swords back thanks to Yennefer.
  • Random Events Plot: There's no singular central conflict or antagonist in this novel. It's mostly a bunch of loosely connected (mis)adventures Geralt gets into while he tries to get his stolen swords back.
  • Really Gets Around: Geralt, who at the start of the book has a short-lived but torrid affair with Lytta, and toward the end of the book, beds her assistant Mosaik, with an implication from Lytta that the younger woman may have been a virgin. In the closing chapters he also spends a night with Tiziana Frevi, another sorceress.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Antea Derris, the person responsible for the theft of Geralt's swords (and who later conned Dandelion into buying a lousy replacement) dies in the storm saving a child from drowning.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Once Geralt gets himself a proper sword and finds out what became of Sorel since escaping the mad wizard's clutches, the Witcher ignores all warnings to just let things be and sets off to make sure Sorel doesn't harm another soul and get some retribution in the process.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Magical doors are protected by a standard password by default, and many careless users never bother to change it. The standard password is "Friend", of course.
    • Dandelion complains that Geralt never asks him to repeat a ballad: he never says, for example, 'Play it again, Dandelion. Play "As Time Goes by"'.
    • The Cat School witcher who confronts Geralt in the book's ending tells him that "Winter is coming."
  • Smug Snake: Degerlund is a very narcissistic wizard who spends a lot of his time gloating to Geralt about his superiority and magical knowledge while he has the Witcher at his mercy with a paralyzing poison, unaware that Geralt's mutations are able to neutralize the toxins very quickly. He's notably less impressive once Geralt comes after him fully prepared, his sorcery proving to be no match for the monster hunter's speed and martial experience.
  • Stopped Caring: After all the crap he puts up with over the course of the novel, Geralt just can't be bothered to challenge the courts for seizing the money he made from the Rissburg mages. He instead makes a point to put as much distance between him and Kerack as possible and put everything about it out of his mind.
  • Take That!: Plenty, in typical sarcastic fashion of Sapkowski, aimed mostly at lawyers and politicians.
    • Fandom Nod: Geralt (or maybe Vesemir, it's a bit unclear) explains to a stand-in for the fans that there will always be something they don't know about the witchers.
  • Toilet Humor:
    • The prison guards eat a lot of beans, which leaves very flatulent. So much so, that it's difficult for Geralt to even breathe while he's around them.
    • Nikefor Muus suffers a particularly hilarious, if very disgusting, fate. First, all the money he made auctioning off Geralt's swords is turned into dung, courtesy of a spell cast by Yennefer. Then when he attempts to spend his "fortune" at a wealthy inn, all the shit he unknowingly brings in causes a scene and infuriates the proprietor, who punishes Muus by having him tossed into a latrine.
  • Tragic Dropout: The fate of those from wizarding schools (which have quite a selective curriculums) is discussed at some lengths, as even those dropouts may know enough magic to become a problem if not somehow dealt with. It is mentioned that the male failed wizards usually find employment as clerks, soldiers and other middle-class positions by themselves, as their skillset is actually in some demand, but the female ones are usually sent to study law by the Conclave, as one of the rare suitable occupations for middle-to-upper-class women.
  • Troll: When Lytta is hosting Yennefer for tea, she laments that it will be another two months before her morning sickness passes. She's lying, of course (sorceresses in The Witcher are all barren for various reasons), but is highly amused by the look on Yennefer's face when she hears that.