Both The Witcher video game series and Nextflix TV series are inspired by the same novels and short stories written by Andrzej Sapkowski. While each interpretation features mostly the same cast of characters and some similar objectives, significant differences between the games and the TV series can’t be ignored.
Some of the changes the Netflix series made to the original story have long-term effects that deviate so severely from the game canon that they almost become parallel universes that reflect one another with some glaring differences. Whether fans have followed the video games to Netflix, or vice-versa, it’s important to recognize how the two differ in ways there’s no coming back from.
Triss Merigold’s Romance With Geralt
Triss Merigold played a major role in all three of CD Projekt Red‘s video games, which were always meant to take place in The Witcher timeline after the events of Sapkowski’s stories. She was there when Geralt was found with amnesia in the woods outside Kaer Morhen, and it was her magic that helped restore him to health. There was a romantic tie between them that, due to his amnesia, Triss took advantage of, tugging at his heartstrings across the three core games in the series.,
What those who have not read the books before diving into the games or the Netflix show might not know is that for Geralt, it’s always been about Yennefer. They were fated, and nothing trumps fate, as Witcher lore demonstrates time and again. However, there was a time when Geralt and Yen were on the outs that he gave into temptation with Yen’s friend and fellow sorceress, Triss, sometime before the Battle of Sodden Hill. Given the tumultuousness of his relationship with Yennefer, it’s very likely that he slept with one of her friends to hurt her deliberately.
When Triss later came to Kaer Morhen to help the Witchers understand the nature of Ciri‘s magical abilities, the sorceress still pined for Geralt. In the books, he politely but forcefully told her no when she tried to seduce him again. This scene was cut out of the TV series, potentially negating Geralt’s romantic entanglement with Triss throughout the Witcher games.
In addition to the romantic differences, in the novel, Triss didn’t run back to the Lodge crying out about the danger Ciri posed to the known universe, as she did in the TV series. She was like an older sister to Ciri, a point reflected upon in the games, and stayed with her at Kaer Morhen until she realized she could no longer help the girl. She then recommended Geralt turn to Yennefer, who was much more powerful (perhaps because of her natural ties to Elven magic).
Yennefer Never Lost Her Magic
At times, it’s impossible to compare the TV series with the video games. Events in both the novels and TV series occur years before the games, so when drawing from the lore to create the games, CD Projekt relied solely on Sapkowski’s work. That would mean that Yennefer never actually lost her magic after the Battle at Sodden Hill in the games because it didn’t happen in Sapkowski’s story.
There was no Deathless Mother in the video games that stole Yennefer’s power and convinced her to take Ciri for her own selfish purposes, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have a few designs of her own. In Sapkowski’s story, Yennefer spent time with and trained Ciri to control her magic to the best of her ability, but it was still not enough. She eventually came to understand both the nature of Ciri’s power and how useful it could be to the Lodge of Sorceresses if she could get it under control. During this time, Ciri began to fill the void Yen felt inside her to become a mother, and a powerful mother/daughter bond formed between the two.
She did plan to take Ciri to the Lodge, however, so she could be properly trained, but Geralt didn’t agree and felt she wouldn’t be safe there. He turned out to be right, and it was from there they both lost Ciri, who escaped through a portal to avoid being kidnapped.
The Tragic Death of Eskel
In a world so dangerous it needs witchers to drive back the monsters, there is bound to be a lot of death and suffering, but one unprecedented death that occurred in the Netflix series breaks from the video games entirely. Geralt’s fellow witcher, Eskel, played a vital role in the video games. The two were raised together at Kaer Morhen and took the trial of the grasses. They trained under Vesemir and had a bond as close as brothers. Eskel even had his own Child Surprise, according to video game canon, and he was there fighting side by side with Geralt and the others when the Wild Hunt attacked Kaer Morhen. Eskel nearly lost his life in that battle, but he survived thanks to his former pupil, Ciri.
Eskel’s death in the Netflix series seems unprecedented, and his characterization certainly didn’t live up to what players knew of Eskel from the games. He was Geralt’s equal as a witcher, though not nearly as famous, and it’s unlikely he would have been so easily duped by the Deathless Mother, who robbed him of his life. Lambert and Coen went on instead to train Ciri, and while Coen was certainly a part of the story, he died long before The Witcher games, which begs the question: why not kill off Coen instead and keep Eskel alive to do all the things that made him an important part of the story later on?
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