The Witcher is a fantasy series of novels and short stories written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The series revolves around the titular "witcher", Geralt of Rivia. In Sapkowski's works, "witchers" are beast hunters who develop supernatural abilities at a young age to battle wild beasts and monsters. The books have been adapted into a film, two television series, a trilogy of 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, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Chinese.
The books have been described as having a cult following in Poland and in Central and Eastern European countries. The video games have been very successful; as of 28 May 2020, The Witcher series has sold over 50 million copies worldwide.
''The Witcher'' storiesThe Witcher short stories by the author Andrzej Sapkowski were first published in Polish science fiction and fantasy magazine Fantastyka, beginning in the mid-1980s. The first short story, "Wiedźmin" , was written for a contest held by the magazine and won third place. The first four stories dealing with the witcher Geralt of Rivia were originally featured in a 1990 short story collection titled Wiedźmin — now out of print — with "Droga, z której się nie wraca", which is set 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". Although new short stories were added to The Last Wish, they took place before those in Sword of Destiny.
Although "The Road with No Return" and "Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna" were later published in 2000 in Something Ends, Something Begins and in 2012 in Maladie and Other Stories collections, the other stories in those books are unconnected to the Witcher series. In some Polish editions, "The Road with No Return" and "Something Ends, Something Begins" are added to The Last Wish or Sword of Destiny.
- Sword of Destiny
- The Last Wish – Note that while The Last Wish was published after Sword of Destiny, the stories contained in The Last Wish take place first chronologically, and many of the individual stories were published before Sword of Destiny.
- Blood of Elves
- Time of Contempt
- Baptism of Fire
- The Tower of the Swallow
- The Lady of the Lake
- Season of Storms – Set between short stories in The Last Wish.
- Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna – Stories by Sapkowski, including two Witcher stories: "The Road with No Return" and "Something Ends, Something Begins".
- Maladie i inne opowiadania – Stories by Sapkowski, also including "The Road with No Return" and "Something Ends, Something Begins".
- Chosen by Fate: Zajdel Award Winner Anthology - English anthology, by SuperNOVA in cooperation with the Silesian Club of Fantasy Literature, included a translation by Agnieszka Fulińska of "The Witcher" short story entitled "The Hexer". The story also appears, with a different translation, in The Last Wish as well as in A Polish Book of Monsters.
- A Polish Book of Monsters – English anthology edited and translated by Michael Kandel, with a translation of "The Witcher" short story entitled "Spellmaker".
- Maladie and Other Stories – English e-book sampler with a translation of "The Witcher" and "The Edge of the World" short stories, and also the first chapters of Blood of Elves and Baptism of Fire.
BackgroundThe stories are set on an unnamed Continent, which was settled several thousand years earlier by elves from overseas. When they arrived, the elves encountered gnomes and dwarves. After a period of war between the elves and dwarves, the dwarves retreated into the mountains and the elves settled in the plains and forests. Human colonists arrived about five hundred years before the events in the stories, igniting a series of wars. The humans were victorious, and became dominant; the non-human races, now considered second-class citizens, often live in small ghettos within human settlements. Those not confined to the ghettos live in wilderness regions not yet claimed by humans. Other races on the Continent are halflings and dryads; werewolves and vampires appeared after a magical event, known as the Conjunction of the Spheres.
During the centuries preceding the stories, most of the Continent's southern regions have been taken over by the Nilfgaard Empire; the north belongs to the fragmented Northern Kingdoms. The Witcher saga takes place in the aftermath of the first major war between the Nilfgaard Empire and the Northern Kingdoms, with a second war beginning in the middle of the series.
- Geralt of Rivia, known also as Gwynnbleid and the Butcher of Blaviken, is the protagonist of the series and its adaptations. A witcher, who travels the Continent and makes a living hunting monsters that plague the land. He is linked to Ciri by destiny. Péter Apor argues that he embodies the "neo-liberal anti-politics" spirit of the Polish popular culture of the 1990s.
- Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, also known as the Lion Cub of Cintra, Child of the Elder Blood, Falka, and the Lady of Time and Space, is the princess of Cintra, daughter of Pavetta and Duny and granddaughter of Queen Calanthe. She is also Geralt's destiny and 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. In Polish 2002 film and 2002 TV series she was played by.
- first appeared in the collection of short stories, The Last Wish, featuring in the short story of the same name. She is a powerful sorceress, is a mother figure to Ciri, and becomes Geralt's lover. In Polish 2002 film and 2002 TV series she was played by Grażyna Wolszczak.
- Dandelion is a poet, minstrel, bard and Geralt's best friend. The Polish word jaskier actually refers to the Buttercup flower. Some of his more famous ballads were about the relationship between Geralt and [|Yennefer]. By the time of the saga he is already in his 40s though it is said that he appears to be in his 30s and is sometimes mistaken for an elf. He accompanies Geralt in many of the short stories and ends up joining his hansa while searching for Ciri. He is played by Joey Batey in The Witcher TV series. In the 2001 Polish Wiedźmin he was played by Zbigniew Zamachowski.
- of Maribor, a sorceress and a friend of Geralt and Yennefer. She took care of Ciri for some time and is like an older sister to her. She was a member of the Lodge of Sorceresses. Triss is in love with Geralt. The image of Triss Merigold from appeared as cover girl in the Polish edition of Playboy in May 2011. She also appeared in a live model calendar for the game in Russia.
The Continent can be divided into four regions. The Northern Kingdoms 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.
LanguageSapkowski created a language for the series known as Elder Speech, based on Welsh, English, French, Irish, Latin and other languages. Dialects are spoken on the Skellige Islands and in Nilfgaard. In an interview 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!'"
TranslationsThe stories and novels have been translated into various languages, including Slovak, Czech, Danish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Finnish, French, Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Swedish, Turkish, Hungarian, Dutch, Chinese, Georgian, English, Croatian and Persian.
The name "Witcher"Sapkowski chose wiedźmin as the male equivalent of the Polish word for witch. In his book 2005 book-interview Historia i Fantastyka Sapkowski noted that the word "witcher" is a natural male version of the English word "witch", and implied that the similarity between those two words, as well as between the German terms, was the inspiration coining wiedźmin as a new Polish word. Polish video game designer Adrian Chmielarz claimed to have invented the translation of wiedźmin into English as witcher around 1996-1997.
Although wiedźmin is now usually translated into English as "witcher", an earlier translation of the title was "hexer" ; Hexe and Hexer are the German words for female and male 'witch' respectively. CD Projekt used "witcher" for the title of its 2007 English release of the video game, and Danusia Stok used it in her translation of Ostatnie życzenie that was published the same year. Michael Kandel however used "spellmaker" in his 2010 translation of "Wiedźmin" short story for A Book of Polish Monsters anthology.
Comic booksFrom 1993 to 1995, Sapkowski's stories were adapted into six comic books by Maciej Parowski, Bogusław Polch and Sapkowski:
- Droga bez powrotu – Based on the short story "Droga, z której się nie wraca"
- Geralt – Based on the short story "Wiedźmin"
- Mniejsze zło – Based on the short story with the same title
- Ostatnie życzenie – Based on the short story with the same title
- Granica możliwości – Based on the short story with the same title
- Zdrada – Based on an "unused idea for a short story"
Film and televisionThe Hexer is the title of a 2001 film and a 2002 TV series, both directed by Marek Brodzki. Michał Żebrowski played Geralt in both. In several interviews, Sapkowski criticized the screen adaptations: "I can answer only with a single word, an obscene, albeit a short one."
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 portrays Geralt in the Netflix adaptation. On 10 October 2018, it was announced that Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra had been cast as main female characters, Ciri and Yennefer. The first season released on 20 December 2019, with all eight episodes available. A second season was announced on 13 November 2019.
Netflix announced a new animated film The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf in development in January 2020, with the involvement of series showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and series writer BeAu DeMayo, and animation to be provided by Studio Mir.
A second live-action prequel series, The Witcher: Blood Origins was announced by Netflix in July 2020, set 1200 years before Geralt's time to show the origin of the Witchers. The prequel is also being developed by Hissrich.