The Lady of the Lake (Sapkowski novel)
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The Lady of the Lake (Polish original title: Pani Jeziora) is the fifth novel in the Witcher Saga written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published in Poland in 1999. It is a sequel to the fourth Witcher novel, The Swallow's Tower (Wieża Jaskółki).
|Original title||Pani Jeziora|
|Preceded by||Wieża Jaskółki (The Tower of Swallows)|
|Followed by||Season of Storms|
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The story opens with Ciri bathing in a pond in an unknown world. As she does so, Sir Galahad of the Arthurian legend stumbles upon her. After mistaking her for the Lady of the Lake, they then talk and Ciri recounts her story.
The story cuts to a distant point in time that takes place after the story, where a young maiden, Condwiramurs, meets Nimue, the Lady of the Lake to study the legend of Geralt and Ciri. They do so through intense study of the pictures portraying the characters and events from the story, which they then dream of. Eventually Condwiramurs starts to dream of the events at the behest of the Lady of the Lake. Her first dream is that of Stefan Skellen, who is revealed to be working with Vilgefortz and have imprisoned Yennefer in some unknown castle.
The dream ends and a new dream starts, this time dealing with the adventures of Geralt. Geralt has been completing monster contracts in the duchy of Toussaint while the rest of the group, Dandelion, Regis, Milva, Angoulême, and Cahir, have been exploring and relaxing. Geralt eventually starts a relationship with the castle sorceress, Fringilla Vigo. Fringilla is one of the few members of the Lodge, a group of sorceresses that wish to control the political world, and is assigned the task of delaying him to seek out Yennefer and Ciri. Geralt eventually receives a contract to investigate and potentially kill several monsters which live in an abandoned cellar near the city of Toussaint. While accomplishing the task, he overhears Skellen and several other associates talk about where Vilgefortz and Yennefer are located and how Ciri is missing. Geralt rushes back to Toussaint in order to gather his group and leave to save Yennefer. Dandelion, enjoying the company of his lover, the Duchess Anna Henrietta, decided to stay in Toussaint and not join the rest of the group in their rescue mission.
Ciri is shown to have arrived in a foreign world after entering the portal at the Tower of the Swallow. This world (also known as Aen Elle) appears to be ruled by elves, who live in peace except for occasional fights with the unicorns. She meets with several elves, notably Avallac'h and Eredin Breacc Glas, who is the leader of a cavalry unit called Dearg Ruadhri (The Red Riders, known as the Wild Hunt in Ciri's world) and reveals that the unicorns have become restless since she entered their world. She is told she must bear the child of their king, Auberon, who is over 6 centuries old, mostly cold and calculated. Despite her disgruntlement with the situation, she agrees. After several fruitless nights, she confronts Avallac'h, demanding he let her go as it appears their king is not interested in her, and that she wants to return to her friends. She is told that time happens differently in this world, and that once her task is accomplished she will be returned to her time. She is then confronted by Eredin who makes a point of telling her she'll never be free of their grasp and that she essentially means nothing. Yet, she has to bear the child of their king. He then proceeds in trying to give her a vial with unknown liquid in it, claiming it's a much stronger and effective aphrodisiac, guaranteed to work when she next tries to have sex with the king, who thus far fails to perform, hence cannot impregnate her and fulfill the terms of the deal.
In a bout of frustration, she rides her horse, Kelpie, as far away as possible from the palace, despite the warnings that the barrier prevent her from leaving the place. As she is riding she is cornered by several unicorns, who threaten her, fearing her power. She is spared, as she had saved one of the unicorns, Ihuarraquax, from death earlier in the saga. The unicorns then tell her that she needs to escape from this world and reveal how she can bypass the barrier. Ciri returns to the castle to see Auberon die from the vial of liquid given by Eredin (it is open for interpretation whether the liquid was poison, or the king overdosed on the otherwise harmless substance). She steals a boat for herself and Kelpie, which is revealed to be the only way to pass the barrier. She is confronted by Eredin Breacc Glas, enraged by her runaway. A brief battle ensues, in which she injures Eredin and escapes to join Ihuarraquax and other unicorns waiting for her. Eredin and his riders soon chase her, and a battle between the Dearg Ruadhri (Eredin's Red Riders) and the unicorns ensues. Ciri, in the midst of chaos, teleports out of the world at the assistance of Ihuarraquax.
The story then follows Jarre, Melitele's temple scribe who chooses to join the army which has formed due to the alliance between all of the Northern Kingdoms to repel the invading Nilfgaardian army. He meets up with several individuals, including characters seen earlier in the story, and joins a unit called the PFI, or "Poor Fucking Infantry."
Ciri's story continues, where she is jumping between worlds and times trying to find her own, still running from Eredin and the Dearg Ruadhri. She eventually appears before Nimue, the Lady of the Lake and Condwiramurs, who wish her luck on her journey and provide a portal to the right place and time.
We continue with Jarre, while the armies of the Northern alliance and Nilfgaard have collided in a valley near the village of Brenna. The battle lasts several hours, teetering on the brink of victory and defeat. Elven units, led by Yaevinn, attack the flanks of the Northern army, going so far as to slaughter the injured in medical tents. As the Northern army finally starts to rout, a contingent of Redanian infantry charge over a hill that was not scouted properly by the elves. This causes panic amongst the Nilfgaardian forces, which soon are abruptly slaughtered. The commander of the Nilfgaardians, Coehoorn, is killed in an attempted escape. The battle is referred to as the Miracle at Brenna soon after. The Northern alliance soon pushes all Nilfgaardian forces south of the Yaruga, which served as the border, and a ceasefire is declared in order to make peace.
Ciri is soon revealed to have gone to Vilgefortz's castle in order to save Yennefer herself, unable to find Geralt and knowing that Yennefer would die without her help. Ciri asks that Yennefer be released in exchange for herself, but Vilgefortz laughs in turn and imprisons her anyway. Geralt arrives at the castle quickly after Ciri, not knowing that she arrived earlier. Geralt and his group storm the castle, killing many of Skellen's men before eventually Milva dies from an enemy arrow. Geralt and Regis go to find Yennefer, whereas Cahir and Angoulême go to save Ciri once they learn she is here. Yennefer is saved by Geralt, who indiscriminately kills to save her. Bonhart ambushes Ciri, desiring to kill her in a fair fight, but she flees and encounters Cahir, who wants to fight Bonhart himself to save Ciri. Cahir is killed outright, and soon after Angoulême dies from her wounds. Ciri and Bonhart soon fight, with Ciri finally winning by using the environment to her advantage. She takes the three witcher medallions that Bonhart claimed to have taken off the corpses of witchers previously. Ciri runs to find Geralt and Yennefer.
Meanwhile, Geralt, Regis, and Yennefer seek and fight Vilgefortz. Regis is obliterated in the fight by Vilgefortz, turning into a molten mass of dust. Geralt and Vilgefortz fight, with Geralt being victorious (using the help of a magical medallion Fringilla Vigo gave him back in Toussaint). Ciri eventually finds Geralt and Yennefer, who chose to go outside. On their way to the courtyard, they kill more of Skellen's men. As they reach the courtyard, they find the Emperor of Nilfgaard's men taking the castle and imprisoning everyone. The Emperor is revealed to be Ciri's father, who faked his death years ago. The emperor turns out to be a firm believer in a prophecy, in which he must impregnate his own daughter and make her empress to ensure the safety of the world in the generations to come (given Ciri's special abilities/blood). After a long conversation with Emhyr (the emperor), Geralt understands the latter will issue him and Yennefer a death sentence as they are witnesses and now know sensitive information. Emhyr grants Geralt and Yennefer the option to commit suicide in a bath instead on their own leisure as an act of goodwill, while Ciri is taken to the capital of Nilfgaard to be married to the Emperor. Geralt, without much of a choice, accepts, and Yennefer and Geralt take a bath together, preparing to die. When they ask the guards for the dagger to finally put an end to their lives, Ciri eventually enters the room, saying that the Emperor and his men left without a word. The three soon leave, with Ciri leading the way to all of the places during her adventures earlier in the story in order to take revenge/pay her respect to those who have helped her during her journey. Yennefer is soon contacted by the Lodge of Sorceresses and is summoned to Montecalvo castle along with Ciri. Yennefer, having no choice, accepts, departs from Geralt and Ciri and takes off, telling Geralt she will have to summon Ciri as well in a few days as they have to solve this matter. Geralt and Ciri continue traveling, he then takes her to Touissant, they arrive just in time to watch Dandelion being executed. Dandelion is saved by a last moment whim of Duchess Anna Henrietta, who decided not to execute him after all (it is later revealed he caught cheating on the Duchess, and that the execution ceremony Geralt and Ciri witnessed was not the first he was spared from, given the Duchess's flaky personality and frequent change of heart). The trio exits Touissant in a hurry, afraid the Duchess will change her mind, after which Ciri departs to Montecalvo while Geralt and Dandelion are heading to Rivia.
In the meantime, the Lodge meets Ciri for the first time, revealing their plans to Ciri, as they mean to marry her off to Prince Tankred, the Kovirian heir. They make a point of telling her she's only meant to be his lover and bear his child, as they cannot guarantee marriage simply because she's no longer in possession of her birthright titles (notably the only heir of Cintrian throne, as the emperor of Nilfgaard married a young girl known in the series as Fake-Ciri, thus making her the de facto ruler of Cintra and stripping the real Cirilla of any titles she had). Ciri, grown tired of all the plots to marry her off, impregnate her or just make plain use of her womb for a "greater cause", agrees to think about it and return to the Lodge after she's decided. She then asks to go with Yennefer and meet Geralt in Rivia, as planned. The Lodge votes (half against and half for), with Phillipa having the decisive vote in favor of letting Ciri go and see Geralt, arguing it's Ciri's destiny, thus tipping the scales.
During Geralt's time in Rivia, meeting with his old friends - Yarpen Zigren and Zoltan Chivay, a riot erupts, in which humans are killing non-humans indiscriminately. Geralt, in order to defend his dwarven friends he was in a pub with, enters the fray and kills several individuals before being impaled on a pitchfork. Ciri, Yennefer, and Triss Merigold arrive in Rivia shortly after the rioting starts, and they eventually find Geralt on the verge of death. Before doing so, the two sorceresses manage to conjure up a spell that causes a brief storm, in which hail drops from the sky, dispersing the rioting mob. Yennefer, in an attempt to revive Geralt, dies herself. Ihuarraquax the unicorn shortly appears and channels his power through Ciri to heal Geralt and Yennefer. Ciri then asks her friends to help her and put the bodies of the two on a nearby boat. While Triss, Dandelion, and their dwarven friends say their goodbyes, Ciri takes off into the lake which erupts into a light and the three disappear. Geralt and Yennefer awake in an unknown location, (hinted to be the isle of Avalon from the Arthurian Legends) comforting each other.
Ciri ends recounting her tale to Galahad, who has been listening intently the entire time. Ciri sarcastically says that the tale ends with Yennefer and Geralt getting married, and that a celebration ensued between all the different dead and alive characters of the saga. Galahad eventually invites her to the court at Camelot, which she accepts. The saga ends with Ciri and Galahad riding side by side, holding hands.
It was published in Czech (Leonardo, 2000), Russian (AST, 2000), Spanish (Bibliopolis, 2006), Lithuanian (Eridanas, 2007), French (Bragelonne, 2011), German (DTV, 2011), Italian (Editrice_Nord, 2015), Finnish (WSOY, 2016) and Dutch (Luitingh-Sijthoff 2016). The English translation was released by Victor Gollancz on March 14, 2017 (Orbit/US) and March 16, 2017 (Orion/UK).
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