The Witcher, by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, is a fantasy series of short stories and novels about the witcher Geralt of Rivia. In Sapkowski’s books, “witchers” are monster hunters who (with training and body modification) develop supernatural abilities at a young age to battle deadly beasts. The books have been adapted into a film, a television series, video games, and a graphic novel series. The series of novels is known as the Witcher Saga. The short stories and novels have been translated into numerous languages, including English.
The books have been described as having a cult following in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria and other Central and Eastern European countries. The video games have been very successful, and as of March 2018, they have sold over 33 million copies worldwide.
The Witcher short stories were first published in Fantastyka, a Polish science fiction and fantasy magazine, beginning in the mid-1980s. The first short story, “Wiedźmin” (“The Witcher”) (1986), was written for a contest held by the magazine and won third place. The first four stories dealing with the witcher Geralt were originally featured in a 1990 short story collection entitled Wiedźmin — now out of print — with “Droga, z której się nie wraca” (“The Road with No Return”), which is set in the world before the Witcher stories and features Geralt’s mother to be.
The second published short story collection was Sword of Destiny. Although The Last Wish was published after Sword of Destiny, it replaced The Witcher as the first book since it included all the stories in The Witcher, except “The Road with No Return” (the only story without Geralt). Although new short stories were added to The Last Wish, they took place before those in Sword of Destiny.
“Something Ends, Something Begins” gives an alternate ending of the Witcher saga about Geralt and Yennefer’s wedding written as a wedding gift for Sapkowski’s friends) were later published in 2000.
Sorted in chronological order (the way you should read them) the books that make up the series are:
- Season Of Storms
- The Last Wish (short story collection)
- Sword of Destiny (short story collection)
- Blood of Elves (beginning of novels)
- Time of Contempt
- Baptism of Fire
- The Tower of Swallows
- Lady of the Lake
The books are written extremely skillfully. In Poland, The Witcher was to the people like Harry Potter to the rest of the world. A whole generation up reading the stories of Geralt of Rivia. The books received their well-deserved fame long after being published since they were in
Geralt of Rivia, known also as Gwynnbleid (Elder Speech: “White Wolf”) and the Butcher of Blaviken, is the protagonist of the series and its adaptations. A witcher, he travels the Continent and makes a living hunting monsters that plague the land.
Yennefer of Vengerberg first appeared in the collection of short stories, The Last Wish, featuring in both “The Last Wish” short story and “The Voice of Reason” frame story. She went on to appear in numerous other Witcher stories as the “soul mate” of Geralt and is one of the main characters of the Witcher saga.
Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon (known as Ciri, from the name Zireael in the Elder Speech (meaning “Swallow”), also known as the Lion Cub of Cintra, Child of the Elder Blood, and the Lady of Time and Space), is the princess of Cintra, daughter of Pavetta and Duny (also known as the Urcheon of Erlenwald) and granddaughter of Queen Calanthe. She is also Geralt’s and Yennefer’s adopted daughter, around whom much of the plot is centered. Ciri is a descendant of Lara Dorren and has the Elder blood which gives her access to powers that allow her to cross space and time. Ciri has ashen grey hair and green emerald eyes, a trait that runs in her family.
The Witcher Universe:
The world of the Witcher series is set in a fantasy “continent”. The Continent is divided into four regions. The Northern Kingdoms (where most of the saga takes place) consists of Aedirn, Cidaris, Cintra, Hengfors League, Kaedwen, Kerack, Kovir and Poviss, Lyria and Rivia, Redania, Temeria and Verden and several minor duchies and principalities such as Bremervoord or Ellander. The Nilfgaard Empire occupies most of the area south of the Northern Kingdoms. The eastern part of the Continent, such as the Korath desert, Zerrikania, Hakland and the Fiery Mountains, is mostly unknown. The book series mentions overseas countries with whom the Northern Kingdoms trade, including Zangvebar, Ofir, Hannu and Barsa
It is quite an amazing thing, how the author created a complete living world with such intricate details that one can do naught but praise the books. In fact, he created a whole new language, The Elder Speech. Sapkowski explained that he wanted the language to be reasonably legible to a reader, to avoid footnotes. As he said: “In my book, I do not want for an orc telling to another orc ‘Burbatuluk grabataluk!’ to be supplied with a footnote: ‘Shut the door, don’t let the flies in!'”
In 2015, Platige Image planned an American film adaptation of the novel series to arrive in 2017. In May 2017 they announced that they would be producing a The Witcher TV series in cooperation with Netflix and Sean Daniel Company, with Tomasz Bagiński as one of the directors and Sapkowski as a creative consultant. Henry Cavill will be portraying Geralt of Rivia in the Netflix adaptation. On October 10, 2018, it was announced that Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra had been cast as main female characters, Ciri and Yennefer.
In 2003, Polish video-game developer CD Projekt Red negotiated with Sapkowski for rights to The Witcher, given the languishing work at Metropolis, and released The Witcher, a role-playing game based on the saga in October 2007 for personal computers. It was well-publicized and, although it was the developer’s first game, it received critical praise in Europe and North America. The Witcher was published in Poland by CD Projekt and worldwide by Atari.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is the sequel to The Witcher, developed by CD Projekt Red. Assassins of Kings was published in Poland by CD Projekt, by Namco Bandai Games in Europe and by Atari in North America. The game was also distributed digitally through Steam and DRM-free on Good Old Games. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was released on May 19, 2015, and has become one of the highest-selling games of all time, shipping over ten million copies by March 2016. By March 2018, the series as a whole has sold over 33 million.
The Witcher 3 was a huge success. The game was loved by many and is still considered an unparalleled master piece. It was the turning point for Sapkowski’s books. People turned towards the books and the previous games as well in order to understand the story better. The books were translated into many languages. And frankly, they did not disappoint anyone. A whole fanbase similar to that of Harry Potter sprang up around the globe.