The Witcher series 1 is over. Here's how to enjoy more Witcher goodness
It can be intimidating diving into any massive fantasy property for the first time.
Where does one begin with a franchise that involves prequels, sequels, games, and many decades of auxiliary content? It's the learning curve anyone feels trying to enjoy Game of Thrones or Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or the Marvel movies for the first time.
Late last year, Netflix dropped its own answer to Game of Thrones, The Witcher, a fantasy epic series based on stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski that follow a monster hunter named Geralt of Rivia. The show is more Lord of the Rings than Game of Thrones—a high fantasy concept with elves and mages and magic. And it's a story that involves multiple timelines, ancient customs, and even some medieval bard bangers.
Once you've finished those eight episodes, and are waiting for Season Two, there's a lot more material to dig into. The Witcher universe also includes books, short stories, games, graphic novels and more. Here's a complete guide to how to dig into all of it, once Netflix's hit series has you hooked on all happenings on The Continent.
Where Do I Start With the Witcher Books?
Originally published in Poland in 1993, then translated into English in 2007, The Last Wish is the best place to start with the books. These short stories introduce our main character Geralt and some of the supporting cast (Yennifer and a bard named Dandelion, who Jaskier is based on) from the show. This collection is where most of the main plot points from Netflix's TV show were adapted from. The Last Wish will give you all the background and fill in some of the gaps of this vast fantasy world that the series simply wasn't able to tackle.
Here's the order to read the books in:
- The Last Wish
- Sword of Destiny
- Blood of Elves
- Time of Contempt
- Baptism of Fire
- The Tower of the Swallow
- The Lady of the Lake
The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny are both short story collections. The Netflix series pulls a lot of the material from these two books. While The Last Wish provides a basis of Geralt's character and the Continent, Sword of Destiny gets more into his relationship with Ciri.
From there, the rest of the books are full novels that further expand this universe. As The Witcher showrunners have made clear, Season Two of the series is likely to move forward through these works continuing with the story told in Blood of Elves. There's also a book called Season of Storms published in 2013 that takes place during the events of The Last Wish, but this isn't necessary reading, as it doesn't directly impact the main storyline.
What's crazy is that since the popularity of the show, the Witcher books have been on backorder for weeks. The Last Wish has also become a New York Times bestseller 27 years after it was originally published.
What About the Games, Should I Play Those?
So, there have been three Witcher games: 2007's The Witcher, 2011's The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, and 2015's The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. And while the first two you could absolutely skip—they're obsolete now by 2020 standards—the third game is considered a masterpiece of a role playing game. It's been named one of the best games of the 2010s.
Like the Netflix series, The Witcher 3 is an adaptation of the Sapkowski short story collections. While there are some subtle differences between the books, the show, and the game, The Witcher 3 is an excellent way to immerse yourself in this universe.
If you're a gamer—or just really love The Witcher and want more of it—the game can really help you understand the factions and personalities and geography of this fantasy world.