While Andrzej Sapkowski published his first Witcher short story in 1986, the series certainly did not end there. After a couple years and two collections of short stories later, Sapkowski introduced the world to what would come to be his magnum opus; the saga. Beginning with the first fill novel set in the Witcher universe, Blood of Elves, the saga would occur across a series of five lengthy novels, all following the adventures of Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer of Vengerberg, and Ciri as they navigated a dangerous world. While introduced in the short stories, we spend much more time with these characters in the novels and see new sides of them. Hinted in the final two short stories, Sword of Destiny and Something More, the saga confirms that the tale belonged to Ciri all along, and she shares equal page time as Geralt.
In honor of the recent release of Netflix’s new fantasy series, The Witcher, I have decided to revisit one of my favorite fantasy series and its amazing stories. The Witcher franchise began in 1986 when Andrzej Sapkowski released a short story titled Wiedźmin, or, The Witcher. This story introduced audiences to Geralt of Rivia, the world of the Continent, the monster hunters called witchers, and the monsters they face. After publishing several more short stories expanding the world and characters, Sapkowski released the tales in three collections. This led into a five-novel saga, a standalone novel, a trilogy of video games set after the books, multiple comic books, one movie, two television adaptations, a card game, a tabletop roleplaying game, a board game, and more. What was once a local Polish series has now become a worldwide phenomenon.
Once upon a time, the stories we told were different. Meant to frighten children and teach important life lessons, these stories took on the shape of fairy tales. Stories warning us away from the monsters in the woods or training us to be wary of strangers riding into town with ill intent. These stories flourished in the darker reaches of Europe, where civilization was small and the lands were relatively lawless. But then, something happened. Time progressed, civilization grew. Suddenly, the forests were not quite so dark. The wolves were tamed and caged. The strangers could be identified with a picture or a fingerprint. Fairy tales faded and became sanitized, even if their essence remains relevant to this day.
The Witcher world, created by Andrzej Sapkowski, spans two collections of short stories, a five novel series, and a trilogy of video games. To even the most avid reader and gamer, this is a lot of story to consume. The series follows Geralt of Rivia. Geralt is a witcher, a type of human mutant, enhanced through magic and medicine to fight the monsters that plague the continent on which the tales take place. He is friends with a world-renowned poet and bar, the lover of a powerful sorceress, and adopted father of a princess without a kingdom.