Fourteen years after completing his multi-book Witcher Saga with The Lady of the Lake, Andzej Sapkowski returned to the world of Geralt of Rivia, not to continue the story but to add in some adventures from his hero’s early years. It’s an odd way to end the series and, perhaps, his writing career, as I do not see that he has published a book since.
The alarums and excursion in Season of Storms are perfectly cromulent, but taken together they do not add much to a reader’s understanding of Geralt or the world around him. Toward the end, there are hints that Geralt will become a figure in a myth of eternal return, as was also implied in The Lady of the Lake, but other than that there is little of larger significance going on in the novel. Which is not to say that it isn’t fun — some of the close encounters with gruesome monsters are good outings for Geralt, Dandelion gets to show off both the society connections that Geralt cannot match and his poetic ego nearly getting both of them into trouble. Maybe after the multi-volume saga, Sapkowski wanted to return to simpler tales, with just a little bit of entanglement connecting them to later events.
The novel begins with Geralt rescuing part of a group of travelers from an attack by a particularly vicious lurking beast. Readers soon learn that Geralt knew they would likely be attacked and did not warn them away so that he would have a better chance of luring the monster out of its hiding places and then killing it. The tactic weighs on him; he is a killer, but not without conscience. He also tries to avoid some petty graft when settling up the contract for eliminating this particular beast, but eventually gives in. That bending of his moral code will land him in trouble not long after, although it is clear that the powers-that-be would have probably trumped up something else if they did not have this incident of corruption to harass him with.
Geralt is then in and out of jail, in and out of the employ of the local rulers, in and out of the bed of a sorceress who is not his long-time love Yennefer, in and out of a plot among wizards, and numerous other things as well. If the book does not add up to a significant addition to the Witcher canon, at least it’s enjoyable on its own terms. Season of Storms is the eighth book concerning the Witcher, and definitely not a good place to start.