The series The Witcher, the Netflix debuted with great expectations, some controversial casting choices, timelines that can confuse, but in general please even the most skeptical. The following guide will help you understand the differences between the versions of the books, games and the TV series itself.
It should be noted that Netflix’s The Witcher adapted the literary work of Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. In total there are eight books, with the first (“The Last Wish”) published in 1993. The three games, developed by CD Projekt, have already been inspired by the saga of Geralt de Rivia.
As a result, the TV adaptation – produced and written by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich – brings a “poetic license” slightly larger than games to modify some things, to the delight or disappointment of the wizard’s fans.
Starring Henry Cavill (as Geralt of Rivia), The Witcher also stars Anya Chalotra (Yennefer of Vengerberg), Freya Allan (Princess Cirilla of Cintra, or just “Ciri”), Joey Batey (Jaskier), Anna Shaffer (Triss Merigold), among others. The first season is also adapted from the first book.
Warning: there are spoilers for the following books, games and series!
1. What is in the series that is not in the books
As said before, the first season of The Witcher adapts the first book “The Last Wish”. Those who read and watched the series may notice some differences in the presentation of some characters and stories of origin, as well as “out of order” timelines in relation to the written work.
Both “The Last Wish” and Sapkowski’s other books are narrated in Geralt’s point of view. He is practically the main character in almost every passage of the literary work. On TV, other characters also gain their place in the sun with the chance to tell their own stories, as in the case of Ciri and Yennefer.
The origin story of the witch Yennefer, for example, is one of the highlights of the first season – showing all the suffering that she went through as a young woman (being sold by her stepfather for being physically disabled) up to the salon scene, where she enters stunning, transformed and beautiful (after suffering another good time).
In the books, Yen’s story is not as well detailed in that way, nor is it told by the witch herself. Being a beloved character of the fans, the poetic license taken by the producer Hissrich until it fell well.
2. What is in the series that is not in games
Apart from the visual part of some actors, who many stamped their feet because “it was not as they imagined” (I will skip this part because it has already happened), one of the main points that the TV series disagrees with the games is the presence of the witch Triss Merigold.
She has stood out as Geralt’s “potential love interest” since the first game, released in 2007. Triss even appears in the next two titles – also as Witcher’s “little girlfriend” (for lack of a more appropriate term). The difference is that in Wild Hunt (third game) she gains a strong competitor: Yennefer.
Another curious point is that, in games, Geralt always carries two swords on his back: one silver (to kill monsters) and the other steel (to defend against other threats). In the TV series, the wizard wears only a sword on his back. He also doesn’t use all of his signals (the powers of a Witcher).
In general, the Netflix series has a more sober tone for colors, compared to games, and some things were left out. They are different media, after all.
3. At what time does everything happen
The first book in the saga, used as the basis for the series, is the compilation of seven stories involving Geralt de Rivia. Each of them focuses on a different period of their life and this difference can be decades. Witchers have a much longer life expectancy than normal humans, as they are mutants.
What can be confusing about these epoch changes in the TV series is that these jumps in the timeline happen for both Geralt and other characters (not written in the books) and then mixed with the wizard’s narrative.
One example is the history of Yennefer, which takes place in different periods. As a witch, she is much older than she looks. Everything seen in the series, before she met Geralt, happens well before the wizard’s own timeline.
On TV, Geralt’s timeline unfolds over 30 years; Yennefer well before (and then follows the Witcher narrative). As the key characters, due to adverse mystical situations, do not age, it is really confusing to say when what is happening. Even the bard Jaskier, who has been with Geralt for a few years now, doesn’t even have a white hair to help.
— NX (@NXOnNetflix) January 7, 2020
The salvation of this time travel is Ciri. Your entire timeline takes place in the present, in a space of about a week. His story begins just before Nilfgaard’s invasion of Cintra, in the very first episode. As the princess’ ordeal on the run is told in a more linear way, it becomes clearer to see the other timelines as flashbacks.
4. Brief profile and differences between the main characters
The following is a summary of the profiles of some of the most prominent characters in this first season, and their visual differences in the books, games and Netflix series.
Geralt of Rivia
The protagonist. Geralt is a Witcher, a monster hunter who works for money. Although, theoretically, devoid of emotions due to all the mutations suffered, it is clear that the wizard has a certain code of honor and is capable of feeling affection (even if in a discreet way). Usually, he is very mocking and usually mumbles more than talking.
Yengerfer of Vengerberg
A very powerful witch who doesn’t take shit home. She’s not the friendliest person in the world, but she’s not usually bad – especially with those who don’t deserve it. She lived hell in her youth and sacrificed a lot to be who she is. She tries to find a way to be a mother, after having to offer her own uterus in a magical ritual to repair the body. In the future, she may come to see Ciri as the daughter she always wanted to have.
Princess Cirilla of Cintra
Ciri, for the intimate. From a noble family, she is linked to Geralt by fate and (still) has no idea how powerful her lineage, and herself, is. In the series, she is still portrayed as a teenager. If things go according to the books, Ciri will be trained as a Witcher and will be a skilled fighter when she grows up. Not that your life will get any easier with that.
The comic relief of the series. Known in games by the name of Dandelion. The bard is Geralt’s unlikely friend and one who most helps him get involved in trouble. Lover of all, Jaskier is extremely talkative and a loyal friend. Ah, he is also responsible for putting a chewing gum song on people’s heads (“Toss a coin to your Witcher…”).
To the relief of those lost in the timelines, producer and writer Lauren Hissrich promised a more linear and focused story for the second season.
There is still no prediction of when we will continue to follow the saga of Geralt de Rivia on Netflix, but the production of the new season should start as early as 2020. With that, we can expect some date for the end of this year, or already in 2021.