The machine behind The Witcher books seems to have trouble sequencing them and integrating them under a single umbrella – The Time of Contempt was once numbered as 3, after the short story collection titled The Last Wish and a first novel called Blood of Elves. As of this writing, The Time of Contempt seems to be #4, still the sequel to the earlier novel, but also following another collection of short stories?
In any case, The Time of Contempt is a slight improvement on Blood of Elves, with slightly deeper exploration of some interesting characters and (finally) some actual action. But for a book so focused on describing large-scale political maneuvering across disparate races and factions, there’s precious little believable description of how the faction leaders communicate their goals or interact with each other – just a vague dark force taking over certain areas with no meaningful explanation.
The Time of Contempt is very much a continuation of the exposition from its predecessor Blood of Elves – it doesn’t stand on its own and shouldn’t be read that way.
But it probably shouldn’t be read at all. Stick with The Last Wish as the best way to encounter Geralt the Witcher and his engaging fantasy world.