The Time of Contempt is Book 2 of the Witcher Series written by Andrzej Sapkowski and translated into English. To get the most out of this book, you'll really need to read Book 1, Blood of Elves. Other books featuring Geralt exist, but they are only short stories and not really a part of this series directly. And of course, millions discovered Geralt through the Witcher Video Game Series, which is awesome!
The Witcher Universe:
Witchers are a mysterious organization of monster hunters that protect the innocent for a price. The Witcher Universe is a well-written fantasy world that springs from mythology and folklore. There are Elves, Dwarves, Dryads, Druids, Wizards, Trolls... There are warring kingdoms, treachery, diplomacy, monsters, and bands of rebel fighters. It's an epic Universe and the ties to European Folklore make the Universe feel more credible.
Ciri, a child of prophecy with a huge bounty on her head and is being chased by bounty hunters. Yennifer, a powerful sorceress who is engaged in wizard's guild politics is escorting Ciri to safety. Geralt, a professional monster hunter, works behind the scenes to keep them safe. Dandelion, a bard / spy, provides the main characters with information. There a quite a few twists and turns as Ciri travels from place to place, dodging evils of many kind.
The characters are all multi-dimensional and interesting and they all have good dialogue. The story mostly follows Ciri and the politics within the mage's guild, with Geralt, Yennifer, and Dandelion having supporting roles.
You can't tell that the book was translated from Polish. It flows naturally, so that's good! There is no narrator who has an over-arching view of the story. Instead, the political battle between kingdoms is told in bits through the characters, similar to the Game of Thrones Series. Nobody has a complete view of what is going on, so you put the state of the realm together in your head from what you hear. You really need to pay attention to this book and follow the actions of the spies and mages. There is also no big build up or payoff. The story just flows. It does feel more organic that way, but it does lack that big payoff that most books deliver.
I'm a HUGE fan of the Witcher video games. I love it when Geralt ventures into the forest and slays creatures spawned from folklore and nightmares. It's also great when Geralt finds humans who are more like the proverbial monsters, than the monsters themselves and slays them, too. With that said, this book does have plenty of action, but Geralt isn't involved in most of it. Unfortunately, Geralt slays a wyvern and we hear about it second hand from a peasant. It would have been great to read about that. Geralt also battles 3 bounty hunters offscreen, so we only hear what is going on from a peasant's point of view inside a tavern. It would have been great to read these fights from Geralt's perspective. When there is action, it's quite good. There are magic duels, skirmishes, sword fights, etc... But there should be much more.
It's pretty adult oriented. There's violence, gore, swearing, and sexual situations.
I enjoyed the book, but I'm a bit disappointed. The cover features Geralt as if he just killed some giant creature and crawled out of its slime covered maw. Geralt only kills one monster in the book and it happens offscreen. He spends most of the book stuck in political intrigue, and most of what goes on is over his head. Ciri actually has more pages dedicated to her than Geralt, and she's interesting as the story unfolds around her. A huge portion of the book is dedicated to the political squabbles of the mages guild, and you really need to follow it closely. So, this is a pretty good book, but it's not what you'd expect if you're a fan of the videogame series, the Witcher/Hexer TV Series, or a fan of the original Witcher short stories.
If you like medieval fantasy with political intrigue, read The Game of Thrones Series by George RR Martin. It's much better than the intrigue here.
If you want to see Geralt battle monsters, definitely pick up the Witcher Game Series. It's incredibly well written and grounded in folklore. If you're not into games, you should at least watch the cinematics on youtube. You'll love `em.