Blood of Elves - Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher, #1)
Blood of Elves is methodical and languid, slowly building the picture of a dark world torn by war. I enjoyed this one, I completely see how it spawned a game series if the rest of the series is like this first book.
It has a feel of a world already in progress that doesn't really have the time to pause and catch you up on what's happening right away, but it balances this by giving just a few key events or people at a time. The exposition comes in the middle or end of various sequences rather than at the start, and it creates a feeling that you can just relax and not worry about all the picky details for a minute. We have a few obvious protagonists and then kind of a sea of shifting loyalties and petty players in some larger game that we'll hopefully understand more as the series progresses.
Overall I liked it and I'm going to keep reading these, but part of that is because I want to see where it goes, rather than there being anything particularly gripping or amazing in this book. Geralt's dynamic with Ciri is brusque but nice, and I'm looking forward to more of them.
There's a lot of frank discussion of sexuality, specifically sexual expectations and stereotypes for women and girls. I think this is balanced by the generally sex-positive angle of the series so far, but I'll be paying attention to this topic as I continue reading the series. It's a little too early for me to tell whether it's heading somewhere creepy, but so far it's good.
CW for sexism, violence, death.