The Witcher

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The Witcher
Andrzej Sapkowski - The Last Wish.jpg
Cover of the first book

The Last Wish (1993)
Sword of Destiny
Blood of Elves
Time of Contempt
Baptism of Fire
The Tower of Swallows
Lady of the Lake
Season of Storms
Author Andrzej Sapkowski
Country Poland
Language Polish
Genre Fantasy
Publisher Gollancz, Orbit

The Witcher (Polish: Wiedźmin, Polish pronunciation: [ˈvʲɛd͡ʑmʲin]), by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, is a fantasy series of short stories and novels about the witcher Geralt of Rivia. In Sapkowski's books, "witchers" are monster hunters who (with training and body modification) develop supernatural abilities at a young age to battle deadly beasts. The books have been adapted into a film, a television series, 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.

The books have been described as having a cult following in Poland,[1] the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Serbia and other Central and Eastern European countries.[citation needed]


The Witcher short stories were first published in Fantastyka, a Polish science fiction and fantasy magazine, beginning in the mid-1980s. The first short story, "Wiedźmin" ("The Witcher") (1986), was written for a contest held by the magazine and won third place. The first four stories dealing with the witcher Geralt were originally featured in a 1990 short-story collection entitled Wiedźmin—now out of print—with "Droga, z której się nie wraca" ("The Road With No Return"), which is set in the world before the Witcher stories and features Geralt's mother to be.

The second published short-story collection was Miecz przeznaczenia (Sword of Destiny). Although Ostatnie życzenie (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" (the only story without Geralt). 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" ("Something Ends, Something Begins", an alternate ending of the Witcher saga about Geralt and Yennefer's wedding written as a wedding gift for Sapkowski's friends) were later published in Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna, the other stories in that book are unconnected to the Witcher series. In some Polish editions, "Droga, z której się nie wraca" and "Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna" are added to The Last Wish or Sword of Destiny.

In 2015, a video game compendium entitled "The World of the Witcher" was released to coincide with the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The book acts as a guide to the lore and histories of the universe as told by Dandelion and various other characters from the Continent.

The Witcher stories[edit]

  • Miecz Przeznaczenia (Sword of Destiny) (1992, English edition: 2015)
  • Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish) (1993, English edition: 2007). Note that, while The Last Wish was published after The Sword of Destiny, the stories contained in The Last Wish take place first chronologically, and many of the individual stories were published before The Sword of Destiny.


The saga focuses on Geralt of Rivia and Ciri, a child of destiny. Ciri, princess of a recently conquered country and a pawn of international politics, becomes a witcher-in-training. Geralt is drawn into a whirlwind of events in his attempts to protect her.

Standalone novel[edit]

  • Sezon burz (Season of Storms) (2013, English edition: 2018) – set between short stories in The Last Wish, but containing a few hints on events which follow the original pentalogy.

Non-Witcher anthologies[edit]

  • Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna (Something Ends, Something Begins) (2000) – Stories by Sapkowski, including two Witcher stories
  • A Polish Book of Monsters (2010) – English anthology edited and translated by Michael Kandel, with a translation of "The Witcher" entitled "Spellmaker." The story also appears, with a different translation, in The Last Wish.


In 2013, the Polish publishing house Solaris published a collection of eight short stories, Opowieści ze świata Wiedźmina, written by eight Russian and Ukrainian fantasy writers (including Andrei Belyanin and Vladimir Vasilyev) set in the world of The Witcher and/or featuring characters from the saga.[2] In 2017, a similar collection of eleven short stories by eleven authors chosen through a competition organized in 2016 by the Polish magazine Nowa Fantastyka was published by SuperNowa.[3][4][5]



The stories are set on the Continent,[6] 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.

Major characters[edit]

Geralt of Rivia[edit]

Geralt of Rivia (Polish: Geralt z Rivii), known also as Gwynnbleid (Elder Speech: "White Wolf") and the Butcher of Blaviken,[7] is the protagonist of the series and its adaptations. A witcher, he travels the Continent and makes a living hunting monsters that plague the land. He has been described as a character embodying "the neo-liberal anti-politics" spirit of the Polish popular culture of the 1990s.[8]

Yennefer of Vengerberg[edit]

Yennefer; a Witcher 3 cosplay

Yennefer of Vengerberg (Polish: Yennefer z Vengerbergu) first appeared in the collection of short stories, The Last Wish, featuring in both "The Last Wish" short story and "The Voice of Reason" frame story. She went on to appear in numerous other Witcher stories as the "soul mate" of Geralt and is one of the main characters of the Witcher saga.[citation needed]

Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon[edit]

Ciri; a Witcher 3 cosplay[9]

Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon (known as Ciri, from the name Zireael in the Elder Speech (meaning "Swallow"; Jaskółka in Polish original), also known as the Lion Cub of Cintra, Child of the Elder Blood, and the Lady of Time and Space), is the princess of Cintra, daughter of Pavetta and Duny (also known as the Urcheon of Erlenwald) and granddaughter of Queen Calanthe. She is also Geralt's and Yennefer's 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.[citation needed]

Triss Merigold[edit]

Triss Merigold of Maribor, a sorceress and a friend of Geralt and Yennefer. She took care of Ciri for some time. She was member of the Lodge of Sorceresses. Triss is in love with Geralt. The image of Triss Merigold from The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings appeared as cover girl in the Polish edition of Playboy in May 2011.[10] She also appeared in a live model calendar for the game in Russia.[11]


Dandelion (Polish: Jaskier) is a poet, minstrel, bard and Geralt's best friend. The Polish word jaskier actually refers to the Buttercup flower (Ranunculus). 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.[citation needed]


Although no map of the universe created by Sapkowski has been released, several maps have been created by fans. According to Sapkowski, the existing maps are "mostly accurate" and he uses a version created by Czech translator Stanislav Komárek.[12] CD Projekt created a map for The Witcher video game in consultation with Sapkowski.[citation needed]

Kovir&Poviss COA.svg
Kovir & Poviss
Caingorn COA.svg
Kaedwen COA.svg
Redania COA.svg
Mahakam COA.svg
Aedirn COA.svg
Cintra COA.svg
Temeria COA.svg
Lyria&Rivia COA.svg
Lyria & Rivia
Nilfgaard COA.svg

The Continent can be divided into four regions. The Northern Kingdoms (where most of the saga takes place) 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.


Sapkowski created a language for the series known as Elder Speech,[13][14] based on 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!'"[15]


The stories and novels have been translated into Slovak, Czech, Danish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Finnish, French, Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Swedish, Hungarian, Dutch, Chinese, Georgian, English and Farsi.[citation needed]

English translations[edit]

Title Publication date[16] Publisher
The Last Wish
(Ostanie życzenie)

Translated by Danusia Stok

2007 Gollancz
2008 Orbit
Sword of Destiny
(Miecz przeznaczenia)

Translated by David French

May 2015[17] Gollancz
December 2015 Orbit
Blood of Elves
(Krew elfów)

Translated by Danusia Stok

2008 Gollancz
2009 Orbit
Time of Contempt
(Czas pogardy)

Translated by David French

2013 Gollancz
Baptism of Fire
(Chrzest ognia)

Translated by David French

2014 Gollancz
The Tower of the Swallow (UK)
The Tower of Swallows (US)

(Wieża jaskółki)

Translated by David French

May 2016[17][18] Gollancz
Lady of the Lake
(Pani Jeziora)

Translated by David French

2017[17] Gollancz
Season of Storms
(Sezon burz)

Translated by David French

2018[19] Gollancz

The name "Witcher"[edit]

Although wiedźmin has been translated as "witcher", the translation preferred by Sapkowski[citation needed] was initially "hexer" (the title of the film adaptation). Hexe and Hexer are the German words for "witch" and "warlock" respectively; CD Projekt used "witcher" for the title of its video game,[20] and Danusia Stok used it in her translation of Ostanie życzenie. Sapkowski used the word "witcher" in his book Historia i Fantastyka, and Michael Kandel used "spellmaker" in his 2010 translation of "Wiedźmin".


Comic books[edit]

From 1993 to 1995, Sapkowski's stories were adapted into six comic books by Maciej Parowski (story), Bogusław Polch (art) and Sapkowski:

  • Droga bez powrotu (The Road with No Return) – Based on the short story "Droga, z której się nie wraca"
  • Geralt – Based on the short story "Wiedźmin"
  • Mniejsze zło (Lesser Evil)
  • Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish)
  • Granica możliwości (Border of Ability) – Based on short stories with the same titles
  • Zdrada (Betrayal) – Based on an "unused idea for a short story"[citation needed]

On October 11, 2013, Dark Horse Comics announced a comic book series called The Witcher, based on the video-game series and made in collaboration with CD Projekt Red.[21] The first volume, The Witcher: House of Glass with a cover by Mike Mignola, was published on September 24, 2014.[22] A second comic-book series, The Witcher: Fox Children, was published on December 16, 2015.[23] The third comic-book series The Witcher: Curse of Crows was released on June 21, 2017.[24]

Film and television[edit]

The 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."[25]

In 2015, Platige Image planned an American film adaptation of the novel series to arrive in 2017.[26] 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.[27][28][29]


Tabletop role-playing games[edit]

A tabletop role-playing game based on Sapkowski's books, Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni (The Witcher: A Game of Imagination) was published by MAG in 2001. Another tabletop game based on the video games, produced by R. Talsorian Games, was planned for release in 2016[30] but was still in development in October 2017.[31]

Video games[edit]

In 1996 and 1997 a Witcher video game was being developed by Metropolis Software in Poland, but it was cancelled. The game's director was Adrian Chmielarz, former People Can Fly co-owner and creative director, who coined the translation "The Witcher" during its development. According to Chmielarz, the game would have been a 3D action-adventure game with role-playing elements such as moral choices and experience points.[32]

In 2007 Polish video-game developer CD Projekt Red released The Witcher, a role-playing game based on Sapkowski's saga. The game was released in Europe on October 26 and in the US on October 30 for Windows and OS X. It was well-publicized and, although it was the developer's first game, it received critical praise in Europe and North America. The Witcher was published in Poland by CD Projekt and worldwide by Atari. A console version, The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf with the same story and a different engine and combat system, was scheduled for release in fall 2009 but was cancelled that spring.

The Witcher: Crimson Trail (Polish: Wiedźmin: Krwawy Szlak), also known as The Witcher Mobile is a mobile-phone action game created by Breakpoint on license from CD Projekt in November 2007.[33] It features a young Geralt as a promising student who has completed his training to become a monster-slayer – a witcher.

The Witcher: Versus was a Flash-based multiplayer fighting browser game, developed for CD Projekt Red by one2tribe and released in 2008. In the game (which has been discontinued), players created a character from one of three classes and challenged other players in battle.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is the sequel to The Witcher, developed by CD Projekt Red. On September 16, 2009, before Assassins of Kings was introduced, a video of the game was leaked;[34] two days later, CD Projekt Red confirmed that it was in development.[35] Assassins of Kings was published in Poland by CD Projekt, by Namco Bandai Games in Europe and by Atari in North America. The game was also distributed digitally through Steam and DRM-free on Good Old Games.

As of July 11, 2012, the first two Witcher games sold a worldwide total of four million copies for Windows, Mac, and Xbox 360.[36] As of February 6, 2013, the total was over five million copies.[37] As of October 25 sales were at six million copies,[38] and the franchise has sold more than eight million copies.[39] CD Projekt Red announced The Witcher: Battle Arena, a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game for mobile devices, on July 1, 2014.[40]

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was released on May 19, 2015[41] and has become one of the most awarded video games of all time. As of March 2016, the game has shipped nearly 10 million copies worldwide.[42]

Card games[edit]

In 2007, Kuźnia Gier developed two card games based on CD Projekt's The Witcher video game. One, Wiedźmin: Przygodowa Gra Karciana (The Witcher: Adventure Cardgame), was published by Kuźnia Gier;[43] the other, Wiedźmin: Promocyjna Gra Karciana (The Witcher Promo Card Game) was added to the collector's edition of The Witcher in some countries.[44] Another card game, Gwent was planned for released with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as an in-game activity. Players can challenge for (or buy) Gwent cards from characters in the game.[45] In 2016 a stand-alone Gwent online card game was announced and is currently in open beta.[46]

Board game[edit]

CD Projekt Red and Fantasy Flight Games released The Witcher Adventure Game, a board game designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek,[47] in 2014[48] in physical and digital forms.[49] The digital version is available on Windows, OS X, Android and iOS.


  1. ^ Ewa Mazierska (2007). Polish postcommunist cinema: from pavement level. Peter Lang. p. 17. ISBN 978-3-03910-529-8. 
  2. ^
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  6. ^ Maciej Nowak-Kreyer, Book of the Continent in Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni Handbook, p152, 2001, Wydawnictwo MAG, Warsaw, ISBN 83-87968-39-0
  7. ^ Sapkowski, Andrzej (May 2008 (paperback, hardback originally in Great Britain by Gollancz, 2007)). The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher (Original title (Polish): Ostatnie Zyczenie) (1st ed.). New York: Orbit. pp. 92, 149. ISBN 978-0-316-02918-6.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ Péter Apor (2008). Past for the eyes: East European representations of communism in cinema and museums after 1989. Central European University Press. p. 198. ISBN 978-963-9776-05-0. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
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  11. ^ "Russian Witcher 2 Calendar Bares All in the Name of Marketing". Kotaku. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  12. ^ ""Nie bądź, kurwa, taki Geralt" - interview on author's page" (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2007-12-15. 
  13. ^ Marek, Ruszkowski (2004). Wielojęzyczność w perspektywie stylistyki i poetyki. Wydawnictwo Akademii Swiętokrzyskiej. p. 98. ISBN 83-7133-232-7. 
  14. ^ "Projekt słownika Starszej Mowy". Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  15. ^ НО МЫ ЖЕ СЛАВЯНЕ! РАЗГОВОР С АНДЖЕЕМ САПКОВСКИМ, An interview with Sapkowski for Russian monthly magazine "World of Fatnastics"
  16. ^ "superNOWA - Andrzej Sapkowski" (in Polish). 
  17. ^ a b c "Gollancz Acquire Three More Witcher Novels". Gollancz Blog. January 19, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2015. 
  18. ^ Hall, Lindsey (2016-02-01). "Cover Launch: THE TOWER OF SWALLOWS". Orbit Books. Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
  19. ^ "Orbit and Gollancz to Publish Season of Storms by Award-Winning Polish Author Andrzej Sapkowski". Orbit Books. May 19, 2017. Retrieved May 30, 2017. 
  20. ^ "The Witcher game that never was". Eurogamer. May 19, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  21. ^ "NYCC 2013: THE WITCHER COMES TO DARK HORSE". Dark Horse Comics. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  22. ^ "The Witcher Volume 1 TPB :: Profile :: Dark Horse Comics". 
  23. ^ "The Witcher Volume 2". 
  24. ^ "The Witcher Volume 3". 
  25. ^ "Анджей Сапковский: "Мне пришлось искать свое русло. И я его нашел..."". 
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  33. ^ "The Witcher: Crimson Trail". GameBanshee. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  34. ^ The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings video leaked, possibly at Destructoid
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  39. ^ "CD Projekt Red sold 8 million copies of the Witcher". Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  40. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (1 July 2014). "The Witcher: Battle Arena is a F2P MOBA for mobile". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  41. ^ "March Cover Revealed: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt". Game Informer. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  42. ^ Makuch, Eddie. "Witcher 3 Ships Almost 10 Million Copies - Report". GameSpot. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
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  44. ^ "Gry na zamówienie. Kuźnia Gier. Produkcja i kreacja gier planszowych na zamówienie klienta!". 
  45. ^ "Gwent Card List and Locations in Witcher 3", Gwent Cards, retrieved November 17, 2015 
  46. ^ Newhouse, Alex. "PS4/Xbox One/PC Gwent: The Witcher Card Game Open Beta Coming Next Week". GameSpot. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  47. ^ "The Witcher Adventure Game - Board Game". BoardGameGeek. 
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  49. ^ Purchese, Robert (27 November 2014). "The Witcher Adventure Game has been released". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 

External links[edit]

Novel series
Video game series