Andrzej Sapkowski’s high fantasy book series has gained so much allure it’s spawned not one but two gaming franchises, The Witcher and Gwent, in addition to a massively successful Netflix series. Given the second season of the show is a ways out from even filming — let alone its projected 2021 release — why not catch up on all the upcoming action by reading Geralt’s epic story in full?
After exploring the entire Witcher narrative in chronological order, dive into the events that take place after the books with CD Projekt Red’s acclaimed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. A new adventure awaits Geralt following Cyberpunk 2077, and if that wasn’t enough to excite fans into reading his amazing story, there are also a few Netflix animated Witcher films in the works. Geralt of Rivia isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Despite being published a year following its predecessor in the main timeline, The Last Wish is the first few adventures in Geralt’s story. It tells of a complicated monster hunter, bouncing between both moral dilemmas and action-packed fight sequences at the drop of a hat. Although the Netflix series did a better job of weaving Ciri and Yennefer into the overarching story of the Continent itself, Sword of Destiny is still packed with expressive themes. Main among them is the difference between humanity and monsters, showcased best in the short story The Lesser Evil, wherein Geralt attains the title “Butcher of Blaviken.”
Weirdest and most out of order in the lot, Season of Storms takes place in between short stories recorded in The Last Wish. These first few entries, provided by the fact that they are short story collections rather than full-blown narratives, allows them to be read practically in any order without mulling the overarching timeline. In Season of Storms, various instances bring Geralt face to face with monsters of all shapes and sizes. Readers will follow along as the white-haired Witcher gets imprisoned, falls head over heels for a new sorceress after leaving Yennefer to her own devilish ways, and sniffs out a specter on a haunted ship.
Akin to The Last Wish and Season of Storms, Sword of Destiny is a compilation of short stories, two of which even made it into The Witcher Netflix TV series. The culminating story in The Last Wish ties Geralt and Yennefer’s relationship into a knot, whereas Sword of Destiny delves further into their adventures together, along with many more appearances from the beloved Jaskier. Provided via Henry Cavill teasing Season 2, it’s to be expected that much of the forthcoming narrative will be loosely tied to the events in this and the following two books.
Technically this is the first novel in The Witcher book series. The previous three are more like supplemental reading, despite still being very fun reads and fleshing out more of Geralt’s backstory. Blood of Elves, on the other hand, is an epic thrill-ride, wherein Geralt learns of his true destiny. The title itself is a reference to Cirila, who’s ancestry and elven blood play an important plot in the books, show, and even video games. Much of the story takes place following the Nilfgaardian Empire’s overthrow of Cintra, with the various northern monarchs seeking to find and kill Ciri before the Emporer can marry her and claim rights to Cintra.
Second in the ongoing narrative conflict taking place throughout the Continent, The Time of Contempt takes place not a mere few months after Blood of Elves. Showcasing the relationship shared now between Yeneffer and Ciri, this followup in the epic Witcher saga delves more into this world’s school of magic. It’s far from any Harry Potter book, yet still portrays in great detail how Ciri learns the abilities she later shows to be proficient in as the saga progresses. Time of Contempt also introduces Djkistra, a spy for the King of Redania, who later holds a pivotal role in the games.
Following Geralt’s escape from the Thanedd Coup, which refers to the events wrought by Dijkstra and the sorceress Philippa Eilhart, the monster hunter awakens in the forest of Brokilon. Baptism of Fire is the only book to not feature the beloved character of Vesemir, one of Geralt’s oldest friends and mentors, yet introduces its own compelling cast of newcomers. Zoltan Chivay, a dwarf with an unreplicable personality, Milva, an archer that could give Legolas a run for his money, and Cahir, a persistent yet annoying Nilfgaardian knight, accompany Geralt and Dandelion on a quest to reunite with Ciri and save her from her own devices.
Coming in at the fourth slot of the epic Witcher saga, The Tower of Swallows is the most global yet in showcasing the berth of the Continent. While Geralt continues to evoke Fellowship of the Ring vibes as he treks fleetingly on with his merry troupe, Yennefer hides away on the isles of Skellige, and Ciri tends to her wounds in the swampland of Pereplut. Much of the narrative even follows Dijkstra as he fortifies the Redanian army by raising enough coin in preparation for the oncoming Nilfgaardian attack.
Much like her very roots in medieval literature as an enchantress in the story of King Arthur and the fabled Excalibur, the Lady of the Lake in the Witcher saga is actually a powerful being, who later even rewards Geralt with arguably one of the most powerful swords in The Witcher 3, Aerondight. Given its namesake, in addition to the way the overall narrative is itself structured, the story and themes in The Lady of The Lake spend most of its time delving into Ciri’s character and her escape from the strange world of Aen Elle.
As it is a nail in the coffin of the Witcher’s story, The Lady of the Lake succeeds in culminating the intense saga, rounding out even the trifold nature of Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer’s seemingly lifelong relationship. It’s one of the longest novels in the series, interweaving every character into the narrative with intriguing action and a surprise return to Geralt’s hometown of Rivia.
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