😲This is a really hard novel to review, partly because, while it is the first in the series to be written, it is not the first chronologically.
👉As per your suggestions, I've read The Witcher books in the chronological order, and the style shift between the first two books and this one is huge.
🤷♀️In the first two books we have a collection of short stories detailing and building the life of a Witcher, while throwing in little easter eggs which hint at a greater world conflict to come (with Geralt in the middle). Blood of Elves embraces a full-blown fantasy world setting and world-breaking plot. I found myself missing the short story format, which really suited the Witcher's life.
✅I enjoyed all the characters. They have complicated histories which intermingle with each other. They all feel like individuals with their own dreams, goals, histories and desires. Ciri, Yennefer, and Triss and fast becoming some of my favourite female character in fantasy (a genre which has historically botched the characterisation of females).
❌The writing style was weaker in this book (I found the descriptions much more beautiful and poetic int he first two books). There were also parts with seemingly endless conversation and dialogue which were not very engaging.
In one sentence
Slow-paced at times, but charming