The Witcher is set to hit Netflix at some point this year, though an official release date remains to be given for the series. At one point, a now-deleted tweet from Netflix stated that the show would be making its grand debut on December 17. Unfortunately, the streaming service has since confirmed that this is not the case, but the show will still be premiering at some point in the last three months of the year. Despite the lack of release date, the Henry Cavill-led fantasy series remains one of the most highly-anticipated shows of 2019.
Many people have already started searching for a new series to fill that Game of Thrones-sized hole in their hearts, and it appears that The Witcher may be just the right fit. The upcoming series has already been likened to the epic HBO series based on George R.R. Martin’s books, mainly for its incredibly detailed storytelling and unbelievable world-building. The Witcher has already been adapted numerous times as well, originally starting off as a series of short stories before transitioning into a renowned video game franchise. So, before Netflix drops a finalized release date on eagerly awaiting fans, we’ve put together a guide to fill you in on everything you need to know about Netflix’s The Witcher series.
The Witcher started off as a series of short stories that were written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and centered on a Witcher named Geralt of Rivia. “Witchers” are individuals who are gifted with supernatural abilities and trained at a young age to battle various beasts and monsters in the world known as the Continent. The first short story was titled “Wiedźmin”, or The Witcher, and was written by Sapkowski for a magazine contest in 1986. It went on to win third place in the contest and was eventually published in the fantasy magazine titled Fantastyka. Three stories followed suit and were all put together as a short story collection in 1990 titled The Witcher. A second short story collection was released in 1992 in Poland titled Sword of Destiny, and The Last Wish was the third collection released not long after. The latter, chronologically, serves as the first book in the series over The Witcher since many of the stories within it were published before Sword of Destiny.
Following the success of the short stories, Sapkowski began writing The Witcher saga, which was a series of 5 books that focused on Geralt and Ciri, a princess from Cintra who Geralt attempts to protect in the midst of political upheaval. The saga started off with Blood of Elves, which released in 1994 in Poland and 2008 in the United States, then was followed by Time of Contempt, Baptism of Fire, The Tower of the Swallow, and The Lady of the Lake in the years following. A novel set between the short stories in The Last Wish titled Season of Storms was also released after the saga, with various spin-offs from other authors being released later on as well.
Similar to Game of Thrones, the series is filled with plenty of epic battles, mythical creatures, and intriguing political plotlines. The books continue to see monumental amounts of success and have helped spawn some other very successful properties, such as…
Video Game Franchise
Similar to the books, the video game franchise centered on Geralt of Rivia, the monsters he tracks down, and the political events happening around him. The first game, titled The Witcher, was a 3D action-adventure and role-playing game for PC that was developed by CD Projekt Red and published by Atari. It was released in 2007 with an Enhanced Edition to follow in 2008. The series was met with mostly positive reviews and CD Projekt Red quickly began working on The Witcher 2 and The Witcher 3.
The Witcher 2, which was officially titled The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, took half the amount of time to finish than the first and was met with even more success. The game was released in 2011 for Windows and went on to win over 50 awards for best graphics, best adaptation, best story, best PC game, best RPG, and Game of the Year. It was later released in 2012 for Xbox 360 and OS X and sold over 1.7 million copies. With two successful games from The Witcher universe now under their belt, CD Projekt Red decided to push forward with an even more ambitious installment.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was released in 2015 and was a triumph for CD Projekt Red. It was a very detailed open-world game with an impressively immersive narrative that was widely acclaimed by critics. It’s even considered one of the greatest video games of all time. As of this year, the series as a whole has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt accounting for over half of those sales. Unfortunately, no information has been released yet about a fourth game, so fans can only keep their fingers crossed that there’s something in the works.
Spinoff Comic Books
Turning back the clock a few years, amidst the wild success of Sapkowski’s short stories, a series of comic books were also released between 1993 and 1995 in Poland. Written by Maciej Parowski and illustrated by Boguslaw Polch, the graphic novels were based on Sapkowski’s short stories The Witcher, The Lesser Evil, The Last Wish, The Bounds of Reason, along with a sixth that was based on an outline Sapkowski wrote titled The Betrayal. These comics were eventually collected and put into two hardcover volumes in 2001 based on their chronological order.
These comics were just the beginning, though, as more debuted later on alongside CD Projekt Red’s video game franchise. These comics have no relation to Parowski and Polch’s series, but they follow new adventures with Geralt that weren’t previously explored in the video games. Egmont Group took to releasing a comic in 2011 called Reasons of State, and in 2015 CD Projekt released their own separate comic that continued the storyline from The Witcher 2.
Dark Horse Comics also released its own set of comics in 2015 that continued CD Projekt Red’s video game narrative. The first set contained four comics that were written by Paul Tobin and illustrated by Joe Querio and contained three original stories along with an adaptation of Sapkowski’s Season of Storms novel. In 2018, another four-part comic was released from Dark Horse, written by Aleksandra Motyka and illustrated by Marianna Strychowska, and the 4th and final part was just released this past April. Just in time to catch you up on the world of The Witcher before the series!
Netflix Series Plot Details & Characters
Initially, The Witcher was pitched as a standalone Netflix film. At the time, Vice President of International Originals at Netflix, Kelly Luegenbiehl, dissuaded the producers from pursuing this idea. Considering the amount of source material, it felt like too much to crunch into one film. It wasn’t until May 2017 that Netflix made the official announcement that production was starting on a television series instead that would be based on the original book series instead of the video games.
Writer and producer Lauren Hissrich (Daredevil) is serving as the series’ showrunner and executive producer. The first season is set to be eight episodes long and was filmed in Central Europe. Sapkowski is also serving on the creative team for the upcoming fantasy series, helping to ensure that his source material is adapted properly.
As for casting, Superman himself, Henry Cavill, is playing the lead role of Geralt of Rivia. Despite an initial camera test that left many fans unsure as to how he’d fit into the role, the first trailer from San Diego Comic-Con proved that Cavill is more than ready to step into the monster hunter’s bloodied boots. Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra were announced not long after as Princess Ciri and Yennefer of Vengerberg, respectively, helping to round out the show’s main cast.
Although the Netflix series is filled with plenty of interesting characters, the plot will focus on Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer as the three characters work together to navigate the Continent and the various beasts that reside in it. Not only did the first trailer give fans a first look at the series’ cast in action, but it also briefly dug into the intriguing politics at its center that increasingly boil up as the story goes on. It also looks like The Witcher will be taking a route similar to Game of Thrones and not holding back on the brutal content that lies within its source material. Only time will truly tell how the series will turn out, but if Sapkowski has given his seal of approval, it’s sure to be a faithful and successful adaptation.