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A Guide To The World of ‘The Witcher’

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The Witcher is finally going to premiere its first season on December 20th on Netflix. It’s been a long wait for the fans of both the books and videogames since the news of Lauren Hissrich becoming the showrunner dropped, but it was made clear that the show will only adapt the books.

The Witcher is a series of novels and short stories written by Andrej Sapkowski. This saga is very famous and important in Poland, just like Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, is in Spain. The books have been adapted into a film and television series in Poland (The Hexer), but the saga entered its glorious new life when, in 2007, CD Projekt Red launched the first video game of the acclaimed trilogy.

The Books

Like Lauren Hissrich and the actors said, Netflix will only adapt the novels. The saga consists of 8 books, in this order:

1 – The Last Wish 
2 – Sword of Destiny
3 – Blood of Elves
4 – Time of Contempt
5 – Baptism of Fire
6 – The Tower of the Swallow
7 – The Lady of the Lake
8 – Season of Storms

Any newcomer interested in reading the books and entering the saga of Geralt of Rivia, should know that the first season will have 8 episodes and these episodes will mainly tackle the first two books (The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny), but just for what we´ve seen in the teaser and the trailers, it would be safe to say that they will also show stories from some of the chapters in the third book (Blood of Elves) and maybe the fourth book (Time of Contempt). Showrunner Lauren Hissrich said they also decided to show stories and the background of some characters (Yennefer of Vengerberg, Princess Cirilla) when in the books these are lightly mentioned. An interesting way of adding more and “new” material to the show.

The Games

These games were outstanding. They changed the landscape of open-world and RPGs in the video game industry while embracing The Witcher lore and essence from the books.

  • The Witcher.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

The books gained a lot of recognition outside Poland thanks to these games, but most people don’t know that this trilogy is a sequel of the novels that doesn’t follow some aspects of the canon previously established by Sapkowski. When you read the books you can notice those big changes just by seeing things in the games like, for example, Triss Merigold’s hair (which it’s not described as red in the books), letting you choose Geralt’s main love interest…etc. CD Projekt Red also launched they famous card game Gwent (for consoles, iPhone and, in the future, Android) and the video game Thronebreaker, a story set in the books.

The Guide

The important themes in the saga are destiny and family, something very well shown in the teaser and trailers that were released. In this ongoing guide, free from spoilers, you will get to know every character, place and aspect that surrounds this epic saga with a prophecy, where witchers hunt, sorcerers/sorceresses scheme and where monsters and humans sometimes are the same threat.

Concepts

The Conjunction of the Spheres:

A cataclysm that took place 1.500 years before the events in the novels and the Netflix series, where different worlds collided with the world of the Continent (inhabited by elves, gnomes, dwarfs, halflings…) causing the arrival of monsters and humans to this world.

Witchers:

They are taken as children to be subjected to alchemical processes in witchers schools like Kaer Morhen, where Geralt was trained. They train extensively to become monster slayers, accepting contracts.

Nilfgaard Empire:

It is the most powerful empire known in the history of the Continent. The empire has expanded throughout the years. Located in the southern part of the Continent.

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Characters

Geralt of Rivia:

A witcher that follows the path to hunt monsters and encounters destiny by meeting the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg and Princess Ciri.

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Yennefer of Vengerberg:

Sorceress with a difficult past who lived in Vengerberg and studied in Aretuza. Friend of Triss Merigold. She would meet Geralt and Ciri, becoming important factors in her life.

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Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon (Ciri):

The sole princess of Cintra and granddaughter of Queen Calanthe. Destiny would tie her to Geralt.

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Triss Merigold:

Legendary Temerian sorceress from Maribor. Friend of Yennefer of Vengerberg and member of King Foltest’s royal council.

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Jaskier:

A poet and bard who is friends with Geralt of Rivia and sometimes follows him on his witcher path.

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Fringilla Vigo:

Powerful sorceress from Nilfgaard.

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Sabrina Glevissig:

Sorceress from Ard Carraigh and student of Aretuza.

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Istredd:

Sorcerer with interest in archaeology. He is also an important person in Yennefer of Vengerberg’s past.

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Tissaia de Vries:

Sorceress and rector of the academy of Aretuza. She took Yennefer of Vengerberg under her wing.

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Renfri:

A girl with a dark and hard life, depicted as a brutal version of Snow White.

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Queen Calanthe:

The queen of Cintra, also known as the Lioness of Cintra. Grandmother of Ciri.

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Eist Tuirseach:

Former Jarl of the islands of Skellige. He became the King of Cintra via his impromptu marriage to Queen Calanthe.

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Cahir:

Intelligence officer of the Nilfgaardian Empire.

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Mousesack (Polish: Myszowór):

A druid advisor to Queen Calanthe of Cintra.

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Stregobor:

Master illusionist and wizard from Kovir who believes in the Curse of the Black Sun.

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Queen Kalis of Lyria:

The first we will see this character will be in the Netflix series, she didn’t appear in the books or games. Queen of Lyria in the early 13th century.

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Mages/Sorcerers and Sorceresses:

Practitioners of magical arts, very well skilled and educated to use them in schools of sorcery. In the world of The Witcher, they are heavily involved in politics, some of them are even the equals of rulers.

Brotherhood of Sorcerers:

The oldest organization of mages formed in the 8th century in the Northern Kingdoms. They united and have control over most of the magic users and magic academies like Aretuza and Band Ard.

 

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Elves:

A major part of the Elder Races, along with dwarfs and gnomes. Those known as Aen Seidhe came to the Continent on their white ships much earlier than humans, but later than the other Elder Races. Aside from Aen Seidhe, there exists another group of elves called Aen Elle that inhabits another world. Elves are persecuted by Nordlings (inhabitants from the Northern Kingdoms) like other non-humans. Most of them are part of gerrillas, named Scoia’tael, to fight back.

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Dryads:

Nymphs of the woods, concentrated in the forest of Brokilon. They are all female and similar to humans, born through sexual contacts with other races or transformed by Water of Brokilon when they drink it.

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Places

Aretuza:

Magical academy for young ladies to become sorceresses. The academy is situated on Thanedd Island.

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Band Ard:

Magical academy for boys. They achieve lower results than the girls from Aretuza.

Brokilon:

Ancient forest on the Continent and the only nonhuman state in the Northern Kingdoms, ruled by dryads. It hosts other races and species persecuted in the outside world. It is also known as The Forest of Death because, rarely, the dryads don’t let anyone in.

Netflix

Cintra:

Powerful kingdom in the times of Queen Calanthe. It is one of the Northern Kingdoms in the Continent.

Netflix

Lyria:

A small independent kingdom situated in the North.

These are the aspects to get a more clear idea of what the world of The Witcher is and what to expect for this first season. The Witcher is and will be nothing like Game of Thrones. It is a completely different fantasy world, where destiny, family, magic and racism are the very present themes in this saga.

Get ready to enter this new world on December 20th and stay tuned for the following parts of this guide in future reviews of the episodes.

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