You Might Need This Crash Course On The Witcher Books

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Netflix is jumping headfirst into the fantasy world with its brand new series, The Witcher. It’s got beasts and monsters and monster hunters and a hunky star, which certainly makes it look like the streaming service is trying to capture some of that post-Game of Thrones magic. Honestly, it just might work, as just like the HBO series, The Witcher is based on a series of books by the same name. 
Also to note, The Witcher books were then turned into a video game that is based on the books but also dives into some of its own plots. The Netflix show is based on the books, and not connected to the video games. This means if you’re looking for a quick crash course in the show, you’ve got to turn to the original source material. 
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As for The Witcher, it’s actually a series of short stories written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, and tell the story of Geralt of Rivia in the Witcher Saga. Geralt is a witcher, which means he is a beast hunter who developed supernatural abilities to battle wild beasts and monsters. Originally, the stories were published sort-of out of order, so let’s just jump to how they are now: There are two volumes, The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny (though The Last Wish was published after Sword of Destiny) which tell the story of Geralt, but then there are more Saga volumes, and stand-alone novels… it’s very confusing.
So let’s make this easy. If you’re looking for what the Netflix show will probably include, here’s a quick crash course on what you need to know.

Where Does The Witcher Take Place?

The whole Witcher saga takes place in a fictional location called the Continent, which could easily be parts of Europe. The most powerful empire here is the Nilfgaardian Empire, and they believe that only those born within their borders are really inhabitants and not those in conquered areas. The Nilfgaardian Empire later invades Cintra, which is a major part of The Witcher story, as they’re genuinely seen as the bad guys with much opposition throughout the Continent.

What Happens In The Witcher Book, The Last Wish?

Though coming in publication second, The Last Wish is actually our first introduction to Geralt. After being wounded in a recent battle, he heads into the Temple of Melitele to rest and heal before continuing on again. While inside the temple, he has flashbacks to some of his previous travels and adventures and tells a mute servant at Melitele, Iola, about his history as a witcher. 
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He also tells Iola about his other lover, Yennefer, and how they first came to be together. After healing, and before he leaves the temple, he accidentally enters into a trance with Iola which shows him a bloody glimpse into his future. 

What Happens In The Witcher Book, Sword of Destiny?

Geralt is tasked with killing a dragon and has Yennefer to accompany him on this quest. However, he doesn’t want to kill the dragon as it goes against his witcher “code.” After some convincing, he at least agrees to help and eventually, the two can stop the dragon (who turns out to be a knight named Borch). But Borch warns that their relationship is ill-fated, and Geralt later finds himself prepping for a duel with another one of Yennefer’s lovers (which he doesn’t go through with). The two have an incredibly up and down relationship, and it’s also mentioned that Yennefer wants to have children but is infertile.  

Who Is Yennefer?

In the books, Yennefer actually starts out with a hump on her back, something that Geralt knows but doesn’t really dive into (by the time they meet she’s already a beautiful sorceress). This is one way the show is going to drastically differ from the books, as Yennefer’s backstory isn’t fully fleshed out on the page.

Who Is Princess Ciri? 

Young Princess Ciri had been sent out to meet her suitor, and instead, she ran away. Geralt finds her and seeing the young girl all alone, takes her along with him. The two quickly form a friendship, but eventually, Geralt must leave her behind and continue on without her, much to Ciri’s displeasure. Eventually, they are reunited towards the end of the second book, but it sure looks like Netflix is going to jump ahead and condense a lot of this, so Geralt and Ciri are together for much longer. 
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Ciri is also Geralt’s “law of surprise” which means — deep breath — when a man is saved by another man, the latter is expected to offer to his savior a boon which ends up being a “surprise.” This ends up being Ciri, from her parents Duny and Pavetta. Her mother, Pavetta, knew she existed but Duny did not. When invoking this law of surprise, Geralt asked Duny for, “that which you already have but do not know” — aka a child. 

Who Is The Bard?

The series features a troublemaking/bard/minstrel/poet friend of Geralt, Dandelion. However, that name appears nowhere in the show whatsoever. But, that doesn’t mean the character has been cut. Instead, the show is reverting back to an original name from the books, Jaskier, and he’ll take on the mantle of Dandelion. 

What Is The Conjunction of The Spheres?

Previews for the show have called attention to the Conjunction of Spheres, suggesting that we’ll learn more about it during the series. In the books, it’s described as an event that took place well before the start of our story and introduced mythical creatures into the world. Humans also appeared after this event. The Conjunction of Spheres places a big role in The Witcher video games, so it’ll be interesting to see if anything is adapted from those to the show.
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