Monsters, Magic, and All Things “The Witcher”

Lucy Samuels, Staff Writer

“Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter,” “Narnia,” and “Game of Thrones”: all incredible, and incredibly recognizable fantasy titles loved by millions. But have you heard of Andrzej Sapkowski’s “The Witcher?” You have probably heard of or even watched Henry Cavill slash through some funny-sounding monsters on Netflix in “The Witcher” TV show, but it’s no random fantasy world Netflix made up on a whim. “The Witcher” is an amazing, intricate, and expansive fantasy universe, complete with eight books, three video triple-A video games, and a two-season show (as of now) on Netflix. I am currently consuming all three and loving every second I get to look through the eyes of Geralt, the Witcher. 

Originally written by Andrzej Sapkowski, a Polish author known for his antics and humor, “The Witcher” Universe was created in 1986. I have yet to read the books so I have just started with the first book, a collection of short stories, “The Last Wish.” If you’re looking to start your own journey through The Continent (the overall setting of The Witcher), here is a list of all the books. 

With lore deeper than the Mariana Trench, “The Witcher” offers a thoroughly written story with extremely satisfying and fulfilling lore, making it perfect for adaptations. Out of the books, video games, and shows, there are a couple of concrete details and plot points that make up the core of the franchise. The main character, Geralt of Rivia, is a monster-fighting mercenary called a witcher, hence the name of the franchise. Out of all the adaptations and the books, Geralt is sworn to a girl named Cirilla, princesses of Cintra, by destiny. While the reasons why differ, Geralt and Ciri’s fates are entwined by the “law of surprise,” a sort of IOU in “The Witcher” universe. Geralt is also affiliated with master sorceress and lover, Yennefer of Vengerberg, a dark-haired, purple-eyed beauty.

The Video Game

So far, my favorite depiction of “The Witcher” story is the video game, “The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.” It is my perfect video game with a massive amount of quests and intricate storytelling and RPG elements. The game has hundreds of hours of content and with the two DLC’s adding about 100 hours each to the game, there is no boredom playing this game. There are indeed Witcher one and two but both are extremely dated and hard to find so I’ve chosen to just play the third which is considered the best in the series. I already have about 50 hours accumulated only in the “first act” of the game (there being three acts + two DLCs). Fifty hours is already more than half of most video game campaigns and I am absolutely thrilled to follow Geralt on his hunt for Ciri. With Ciri missing after training with Geralt to be a Witcher, Geralt is sent to find her which is the main plot of the game. Your hunt takes you through the regions of The Continent as you visit all types of cities, towns, and castles completing compelling quests along the way. “The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt ” is at the peak for games and narrative design for video games, making it my second favorite video game of all time. 

Netflix Show

I have been thoroughly entertained by “The Witcher” Netflix series. Already, all of the first three short stories from “The Last Wish” have been transformed to the screen, making it more book accurate. Although they contain parts from the book, they are changed up to match with the Netflix-specific plot. Because it is a Netflix show, everything is pretty over the top and can get a little cheesy at times, but most recently written fantasy is (unlike the books). The dialogue and quips are hit or miss, but the acting is solid. Henry Cavill carries this show on his back, delivering lines and punching blows, equally skilled. The characters are funny and even more compelling, which was a pleasant surprise. Being based on such amazing books and one of the best video games ever made, Netflix’s “The Witcher” had a good blueprint set out for it and earned a solid 85%, in my opinion. 

The Book(s)

So far, I have only read the first book, “The Last Wish,” and can already see some differences from each of the adaptations. I can’t offer too much analysis, but I do have some thoughts. One is that the books are much, much more influenced by fairy tales. Already in the first couple of chapters, there have been umpteen references to classic fairy tales like Rapunzel, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast, all part of major plot points and stories. I have been thoroughly enjoying this. Although hard-core, violent fantasy with an extremely complicated canon, the books seem amusingly familiar. The juxtaposition of childlike stories with a rugged, political, and monster-ridden battlefield of the setting is authentically compelling, something the game and show lack. But still, the video game reigns supreme in my mind because of how overtly raw it is in being a pure fantasy game without any gimmicks. The game has hundreds of independently written quests and stories, with no other basis other than the basic plot and characters from the book. Whereas the book relies a lot on previously written stories, making the game seem more “fresh.” But, both of which are amazingly fun and well written. 

I still have hours of content from all three, and I could not be more excited to explore even more. After finishing Game Of Thrones, a fantasy world-sized hole was left in my heart and now, is full of the fantastical world of “The Witcher!”