I was generally charmed by the Witcher stories compiled in The Last Wish (especially its “title track” concluding piece), which has a surprisingly cohesive narrative thread, engaging introduction of an Eastern European-flavored fantasy world and bestiary, and focus on the excellent character of Geralt, the eponymous Witcher.
Unfortunately Blood of Elves, the first Witcher novel, shares none of these positive attributes. It’s all exposition and (boring) world-building, presumably to set up the following novels, but lacks a compelling standalone story. The fantasy elements are downplayed almost to the vanishing point (apart from the idea of distinct races, of course in conflict). And maybe these books have been only retroactively named “The Witcher”, but a reader of Blood of Elves without any context would be hard-pressed to identify Geralt as important to the story, much less the protagonist. Geralt retains his enigmatic appeal in the few areas where he shows up, but on the whole Blood of Elves is a big step down from the short stories that now precede it.
Ends up a rather boring slog.