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Literature / Tower of the Swallow

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The sixth book in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski, originally in Polish (original title: Wieża Jaskółki). An English translation was released in May 2016.

Searching for clues that might lead them towards Ciri's whereabouts, Geralt and company head deeper into the Nilfgaard territory. However, as much as they try, they can avoid the attention of neither Nilfgaardian officials, nor more sinister forces — the latter of which have gained an unexpected ace up their sleeves. Further to the south, things turn for the worse for the Rats, when aristocrat father of one of their victims hires a bounty hunter to take them out. Leo Bonhart soon proves too much for the young outlaws, who are slaughtered wholesale — except for Ciri, whom he takes prisoner; although, she might have preferred otherwise. Realising she is not a mere robber Bonhart opts to find out the truth, which leads him into contact with other players in the game. As the war between Northern Kingdoms and the Empire rages on, the sorceresses of the Lodge weave their plots.


Tropes found in the book:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Despite having boasted about torturing Yennefer and his plans to do the same to Ciri, when Ciri has Rience at her mercy, he desperately begs her to spare him. She doesn't.
  • Anachronic Order: Parts of the story are told in retrospect, in alternating narrations of Ciri herself, Dandelion's diaries, and an eyewitness account at a Nilfgaard tribunal.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: The mercs ambushed in the mist instantly form a cluster, even before any sign of attacker. It didn't help them much.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: A subverted example. Cahir gets the party across a bridge closely guarded by the Nilfgaardians by pretending to be a Nilfgaardian officer and browbeating the sentry. The subversion is that Cahir is a Nilfgaardian officer. Just one who deserted.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Generally averted in the series but most notably, in this book, Ciri ends up with an extremely messy scar after catching Stefan Skellen's orion (a shuriken) with her face. Said scar plagues her well-being for the rest of the series, and she starts wearing Peek-a-Bangs to conceal it.
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  • Because Destiny Says So: Esterhazy the sword-merchant, who parted with the best sword in his shop for free, because he realised something bigger is going on.
  • Blessed with Suck: For saving Queen Meve and her army from the Nilgaardians in the previous book, Geralt is officially knighted and everyone in his hanse are promised cushy positions in the Rivian military and court. Unfortunately, this has the effect of compromising their quest to find Ciri as they're now all expected to work for Rivia. The hanse has no choice but to steal whatever they can carry from the palace and desert the ranks in the middle of the night, putting a black mark on their reputations in Rivia forever.
  • Bond One-Liner: Geralt, of all people, gets one. In the middle of a skirmish with a fisstech fiend of a bandit, the bandit stops suddenly to tweak out a bit, giving Geralt an opening to slice open his neck. Geralt then quips, "Well, who will tell me now that taking drugs isn't bad for your health?"
  • Bury Your Gays: Mistle is disfigured, Gutted Like a Fish and killed by Bonhart, slowly expires in front of Ciri, and then Bonhart saws off her head while Ciri is forced to watch.
  • Cool Sword: The Gnomish gwyhyr. Original gwyhyr blade — the best sword in the world, sharp as a razor and perforated to lower the weight, not produced anymore — given the traditional decoration and carving, and an anti-slippery handle of ray's skin.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Ciri pretty much mops the floor with Skellen's men. Even she is surprised how easy it was. Bonhart delivers one himself to the Rats while only half-dressed.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Wild Hunt showing up on the very last page.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Leo Bonhart's obsession with Ciri is so great, he's prepared to fight the Wild Hunt for her.
  • Dramatic Irony: Dandelion spends large part of the saga collecting together his notes and writing a personal diary, doing his very best to keep the tube with them safe and sound. Which, given this is Dandelion we are talking about, is an achievement all by itself. The tube miraculously survives and centuries later is found by future archeologists, all excited to get their hands on such a treasure... only for it to be stolen by three illiterate diggers and soon after burned down.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The Rats at the beginning of the book, with Ciri as the Sole Survivor.
  • Fantastic Drug: Fisstech (effectively, cocaine) is first introduced in this book and then retroactively spread across the world.
  • Fighting the Lancer: Geralt and Cahir get into a fight after some bad news cause the former to accuse the latter of betrayal and the latter getting fed up with the constant mistrust. Bonus points for Milva beating up both to separate them.
  • Fingore: Whatever Rience and Vilgefortz do to Yennefer's fingers, Ciri later describes her hands as a formless mass of clotted blood. She can use them again in book seven but only thanks to her sheer stubbornness.
    • And no, Ciri most definitely didn't cut off all of Rience's fingers in revenge for the above.
  • Fish Eyes: Bonhart is described as having eyes devoid of any emotions, just like a fish.
  • Forced to Watch: Bonhart does that to Ciri, prompting a No Dead Body Poops moment.
  • Gladiator Games: Bonhart — implicitly a fan and occasional participant — forces Ciri to take part. Includes a protester who finds animal fights immoral, but human against human a fair game.
  • Geo Effects: Only natural if you fight your battle on a frozen lake.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sound made by the ice-skates
    Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Fast. Rhythmically. More and more. Increasingly clear...
  • Hermit Guru: Vysogota of Corvo, a philosopher who was exiled for his views and had to settle down incognito on a swamp.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The final battle was still somewhat managable, until Rience decided to cast a spell. His fingers were too stiff from the cold to do that properly, ending with the ice breaking in a random pattern instead of a straight line.
  • How We Got Here: The novel begins with an old hermit discovering an injured and scarred girl and nursing her back to health before it's revealed that she's Ciri. The rest of the book then goes on to detail everything that happened to her since the events of Baptism of Fire.
  • I'm Not Afraid of You: Just in case you ever wondered, Bonhart has balls made of pure brass - not even the Wild Hunt directly threatening him made any impression on him. It's his horse that turns away panicked, while the guy was clear he will fight against a whole group of what is considered an Eldritch Abomination of the verse. Muggles Do It Better indeed.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Ciri. Despite her fighting prowess, she lacks the sheer power of will to end her own life, much to Bonhart's amusement.
  • Implacable Man: Leo Bonhart.
  • Just One Man:
    Stefan Skellen: Pull yourself together, men! It's only a girl! Only a little girl!
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • Bonhart to the Rats. In contrast to earlier books, the author really goes out of his way to paint the Rats in negative light here. Ciri still genuinely mourns them and Bonhart is even more of a monster, but they were not nice people.
    • Ciri to Rience. She's deliberately dragging out his death and making it as painful as she only can in given circumstances.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Rience's weapon of choice was using his fingers to magically torture people. Ciri kills him by slicing off said fingers with her ice skates, leaving him unable to cling onto the ice that his own misfired spell broke, causing him to drown.
  • Little Miss Badass: In the last chapter Ciri finally shows what she's made off - no more killing on pure reflex, no more running, no more trembling with fear.
  • Mook Horror Show: Twice
    • Picture you are a squad of thugs stationed off in some backwater inn in case your mark passes through. It's fantasy-Halloween, and you just spent half a night listening to an old storyteller's ghost stories. Then, against all logic, she turns up, on a witch's black horse, in warpaint, sword in hand, looking like a demon. Stone cold, she announces she's out for your blood.
    • Picture having chased a girl onto a frozen lake. The fog gets thicker and thicker and you can barely see what's ahead. You hear skates scraping against the ice. Suddenly, you remember she's wickedly good at killing. The whole fight on the frozen lake is written from mooks' perspective. In no time the squad of hardened mercs looses their cool and is completely terrified of that little girl hiding somewhere in the thick mist, only hearing her ice-skates and screams of suddenly slain comrades.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: If you are a descendant of a long line of Elven eugenic experiments, it's only natural.
    • On the other hand, Ciri's sudden proficiency in skating comes as just off. It's introduced exactly the moment she has to curb Skellen's squad, exactly while wearing ice-skates she suddenly acquired in the same sentence. Justification? Oh, if you really need one... A brief retrospection from her early childhood, clumsily plastered to the story.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: After mowing down half of her pursuers and constantly circling around the rest on her skates, Ciri suddenly stops, hidden in the mist, leaving only silence. The mooks promptly start to truly panic.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: During Ciri's attack on his forces, Rience tries to stop her by shattering the ice with a fire spell. The spell misfires, damaging the ice in a way more detrimental to Rience and his men than Ciri, and sets in motion the chain of events that leads to Rience's death.
  • Oh, Crap!: Everyone, the moment the ice starts to break.
  • Ominous Walk: Ciri takes her time when approaching what is left of the outfit chasing her. They can clearly hear her slow strolling with ice-skates, but everyone is too affected by hypothermia at this point to even move.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Boreas Mun, the tracker, who is a pretty decent guy hired by not-so-decent guys. That's the reason he is spared. In next book he shows Geralt the right way in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, going away unharmed. This is really rare thing, because till that point numerous times it was shown that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
  • Reality Ensues: Bonhart tries to charge at the Wild Hunt to get after Ciri. Unfortunately, his horse is terrified of the wraiths and flees, taking Bonhart with it.
  • Skilled, but Naïve: Ciri, kinda. Not so much naive as weak-willed, which Bonhart exploits: since the Witchers have drilled all their killing techniques into her, she kills others on pure reflex; however, when she has a chance of killing herself, she just can't. As Bonhart explains, killing oneself requires zero technique and a whole lot of willpower... which Ciri never had a reason to foster because she was already a perfect killing machine.
  • Tired of Running: After half of the book worth of escaping from her captors (or the whole saga till this point), Ciri finally snaps and turns the table on them, using all the advantages she can.
  • This Means Warpaint: Ciri applies it to herself when she's about to head out for the Tower of the Swallow.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Rats, after explicitly told they can receive amnesty if they keep their heads down and being aware of Leo Bonhart's reputation as someone who singlehandly wiped out entire gangs, decide to confront him in broad daylight.
  • Villain Team-Up: Involving Imperial black ops specialist gone rogue Stefan Skellen, bounty hunter Leo Bonhart, and wizard Vilgefortz acting through his agent Rience.


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