The Witcher

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The Witcher
Andrzej Sapkowski - The Last Wish.jpg
Cover of the first book.

The Last Wish (1993)
Sword of Destiny (1992)
Blood of Elves (1994)
Time of Contempt (1995)
Baptism of Fire (1996)
The Tower of the Swallow (1997)
The Lady of the Lake (1999)
Season of Storms (2013)
Author Andrzej Sapkowski
Country Poland
Language Polish
Genre Fantasy
Publisher Gollancz, Orbit Books

The Witcher (Polish : Wiedźmin, Polish pronunciation:  [ˈvʲɛd͡ʑmʲin] ), is a fantasy series of novels and short stories written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The series centers around the eponymous "witcher", Geralt of Rivia. In Sapkowski's works, "witchers" are beast hunters who develop supernatural abilities at a young age to battle wild beasts and monsters. The books have been adapted into a film, a television series, video games, and a graphic novel series. The series of novels is known as the Witcher Saga. The short stories and novels have been translated into numerous languages, including English.

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish-language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

Fantasy Genre of literature, film, television and other artforms

Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often inspired by real world myth and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became literature and drama. From the twentieth century it has expanded further into various media, including film, television, graphic novels, manga and video games.

Andrzej Sapkowski Polish novelist

Andrzej Sapkowski is a Polish fantasy writer. He is best known for his book series, The Witcher. His books have been translated into about 20 languages.


The books have been described as having a cult following in Poland, and in other Central and Eastern European countries. [1] The video games have been very successful, and as of March 2018, they have sold over 33 million copies worldwide. [2]

Central and Eastern Europe Geographic region in Europe

Central and Eastern Europe, abbreviated CEE, is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe, the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Southeastern Europe (Balkans), usually meaning former communist states from the Eastern Bloc in Europe. Scholarly literature often uses the abbreviations CEE or CEEC for this term. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development also uses the term "Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs)" for a group comprising some of these countries.


The Witcher short stories by the author Andrzej Sapkowski were first published in Polish science fiction and fantasy magazine Fantastyka , beginning in the mid-1980s. The first short story, "Wiedźmin" ("The Witcher") (1986), was written for a contest held by the magazine and won third place. The first four stories dealing with the witcher Geralt of Rivia were originally featured in a 1990 short story collection titled Wiedźmin (The Witcher) — now out of print — with "Droga, z której się nie wraca" ("The Road with No Return"), which is set before the Witcher stories and features Geralt's mother to be.

Fantastyka is a Polish speculative fiction monthly fantasy and science fiction magazine.

Geralt of Rivia fictional character from the Witcher series

Geralt of Rivia is a fictional character, the protagonist of The Witcher series of short stories and novels by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, as well as its adaptations, which include film, TV series, comic books and video games. Geralt, one of the few remaining witchers on the Continent, is a traveling monster slayer for hire, mutated and trained from an early age to slay deadly beasts.

The second published short story collection was Miecz przeznaczenia ( Sword of Destiny ). Although Ostatnie życzenie ( The Last Wish ) was published after Sword of Destiny, it replaced The Witcher as the first book since it included all the stories in The Witcher, except "The Road with No Return" (the only story without Geralt). Although new short stories were added to The Last Wish, they took place before those in Sword of Destiny.

<i>Sword of Destiny</i> short story collection by Andrzej Sapkowski

Sword of Destiny, is the second of the two collections of short stories, both preceding the main Witcher Saga. The stories were written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The first Polish edition was published in 1992; the English edition was published in the UK by Gollancz in 2015.

<i>The Last Wish</i> (book) short story collection by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Last Wish is the first of the two collections of short stories preceding the main Witcher Saga, written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The first Polish edition was published in 1993 and the first English edition was first published in 2007. The book has also been translated into several other languages.

Although "The Road with No Return" and "Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna" ("Something Ends, Something Begins", an alternate ending of the Witcher saga about Geralt and Yennefer's wedding written as a wedding gift for Sapkowski's friends) were later published in 2000 in Something Ends, Something Begins and in 2012 in Maladie and Other Stories (Maladie i inne opowiadania) collections, the other stories in those books are unconnected to the Witcher series. In some Polish editions, "The Road with No Return" and "Something Ends, Something Begins" are added to The Last Wish or Sword of Destiny.

The Witcher stories


The saga focuses on Geralt of Rivia and Ciri, a child of destiny. Ciri, princess of a recently conquered country and a pawn of international politics, becomes a witcher-in-training. Geralt is drawn into a whirlwind of events in his attempts to protect her.

Standalone novel

Non-Witcher anthologies

In Polish:

In English:


In 2013, the Polish publishing house Solaris published a collection of eight short stories, Opowieści ze świata Wiedźmina, written by eight Russian and Ukrainian fantasy writers (including Andrei Belyanin and Vladimir Vasilyev) set in the world of The Witcher and/or featuring characters from the saga. [3] In 2017, a similar collection of eleven short stories by eleven authors, chosen through a competition organized in 2016 by the Polish magazine Nowa Fantastyka, was published by SuperNowa. [4] [5] [6]



The stories are set on an unnamed Continent, [7] which was settled several thousand years earlier by elves from overseas. When they arrived, the elves encountered gnomes and dwarves. After a period of war between the elves and dwarves, the dwarves retreated into the mountains and the elves settled in the plains and forests. Human colonists arrived about five hundred years before the events in the stories, igniting a series of wars. The humans were victorious, and became dominant; the non-human races, now considered second-class citizens, often live in small ghettos within human settlements. Those not confined to the ghettos live in wilderness regions not yet claimed by humans. Other races on the Continent are halflings and dryads; werewolves and vampires appeared after a magical event, known as the Conjunction of the Spheres.

During the centuries preceding the stories, most of the Continent's southern regions have been taken over by the Nilfgaard Empire; the north belongs to the fragmented Northern Kingdoms. The Witcher saga takes place in the aftermath of the first major war between the Nilfgaard Empire and the Northern Kingdoms, with a second war beginning in the middle of the series.

Major characters


Although no map of the universe created by Sapkowski has been released, several maps have been created by fans. According to Sapkowski, the existing maps are "mostly accurate" and he uses a version created by Czech translator Stanislav Komárek. [15]

Kovir&Poviss COA.svg
Kovir & Poviss
Caingorn COA.svg
Kaedwen COA.svg
Redania COA.svg
Mahakam COA.svg
Aedirn COA.svg
Cintra COA.svg
Temeria COA.svg
Lyria&Rivia COA.svg
Lyria & Rivia
Nilfgaard COA.svg

The Continent can be divided into four regions. The Northern Kingdoms (where most of the saga takes place) consists of Aedirn, Cidaris, Cintra, Hengfors League, Kaedwen, Kerack, Kovir and Poviss, Lyria and Rivia, Redania, Temeria and Verden and several minor duchies and principalities such as Bremervoord or Ellander. The Nilfgaard Empire occupies most of the area south of the Northern Kingdoms. The eastern part of the Continent, such as the Korath desert, Zerrikania, Hakland and the Fiery Mountains, is mostly unknown. The book series mentions overseas countries with whom the Northern Kingdoms trade, including Zangvebar, Ofir, Hannu and Barsa.[ citation needed ]


Sapkowski created a language for the series known as Elder Speech, [16] [17] based on Welsh, English, French, Irish, Latin and other languages. Dialects are spoken on the Skellige Islands and in Nilfgaard. In an interview Sapkowski explained that he wanted the language to be reasonably legible to a reader, to avoid footnotes. As he said: "In my book, I do not want for an orc telling to another orc 'Burbatuluk grabataluk!' to be supplied with a footnote: 'Shut the door, don't let the flies in!'" [18]


The stories and novels have been translated into various languages, including Slovak, Czech, Danish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Finnish, French, Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Swedish, Hungarian, Dutch, Chinese, Georgian, English and Persian. [19]

English translations

TitlePublication date [20] Publisher
The Last Wish
(Ostanie życzenie)

Translated by Danusia Stok

2007 Gollancz
2008 Orbit
Sword of Destiny
(Miecz przeznaczenia)

Translated by David French

2015 [21] Gollancz
Blood of Elves
(Krew elfów)

Translated by Danusia Stok

Time of Contempt (UK)
The Time of Contempt (US)
(Czas pogardy)

Translated by David French

Baptism of Fire
(Chrzest ognia)

Translated by David French

The Tower of the Swallow (UK)
The Tower of Swallows (US)
(Wieża jaskółki)

Translated by David French

2016 [21] [22] Gollancz
The Lady of the Lake
(Pani Jeziora)

Translated by David French

2017 [21] Gollancz
Season of Storms
(Sezon burz)

Translated by David French

2018 [23] Gollancz

The name "Witcher"

Sapkowski chose wiedźmin as the male equivalent of the Polish word for witch (wiedźma). [24] In his book 2005 book-interview Historia i Fantastyka Sapkowski noted that the word "witcher" is a natural male version of the English word "witch", and implied that the similarity between those two words, as well as between the German terms, was the inspiration coining wiedźmin as a new Polish word. [24] Polish video game designer Adrian Chmielarz claimed to have invented the translation of wiedźmin into English as witcher around 1996-1997. [25]

Although wiedźmin is now usually translated into English as "witcher", an earlier translation of the title was "hexer" (the title of the 2001 film adaptation and the first official English translation in the 2000 short story collection Chosen by Fate: Zajdel Award Winner Anthology); [26] Hexe and Hexer are the German words for "witch" and "warlock" respectively. [24] CD Projekt used "witcher" for the title of its 2007 English release of the video game, [25] and Danusia Stok used it in her translation of Ostanie życzenie that was published the same year. [27] [28] Michael Kandel however used "spellmaker" in his 2010 translation of "Wiedźmin" short story for A Book of Polish Monsters anthology. [29]


Comic books

From 1993 to 1995, Sapkowski's stories were adapted into six comic books by Maciej Parowski (story), Bogusław Polch (art) and Sapkowski: [30]

In 2013, Dark Horse Comics announced a comic book series called The Witcher, based on the video-game series and made in collaboration with CD Projekt Red. [31]


Story ArcIssueRelease DateStoryArtColorsCover
House of Glass#1March 19, 2014Paul TobinJoe QuerioCarlos BadillaDan Panosian & Dave Johnson
#2April 23, 2014Joe Querio
#3May 21, 2014
#4June 18, 2014
#5July 16, 2014
Fox Children#1April 1, 2015Paul TobinJoe QuerioCarlos BadillaJoe Querio
#2May 6, 2015
#3June 3, 2015
#4July 1, 2015
#5August 5, 2015
Killing Monsters (HC)May 19, 2015Paul TobinMax BertoliniCarlos BadillaJoe Querio
Curse of Crows#1August 31, 2016STORY:
Paul Tobin
with Borys Pugacz-Muraszkiewicz
& Karolina Stachyra
Travis Currit
Piotr KowalskiBrad SimpsonGrzesiek Przybyś
#2October 5, 2016
#3November 2, 2016
#4December 7, 2016
#5March 22, 2017
Of Flesh and Flame#1December 19, 2018Aleksandra MotykaMarianna StrychowskaMarianna Strychowska
#2January 23, 2019
#3February 20, 2019
#4April 3, 2019


TitleRelease DateCollectsCoverISBN
The Witcher – Volume 1: House of Glass [32] September 24, 2014
  • The Witcher: House of Glass #1–5
Mike Mignola 9781616554743
The Witcher – Volume 2: Fox Children [33] December 16, 2015
  • The Witcher: Fox Children #1–5
Julián Totino Tedesco 9781616557935
The Witcher – Volume 3: Curse of Crows [34] June 21, 2017
  • The Witcher: Curse of Crows #1–5
Grzesiek Przybyś 9781506701615
The Witcher – Library Edition Volume One [35] October 31, 2018
  • The Witcher: House of Glass #1–5
  • The Witcher: Fox Children #1–5
  • The Witcher: Killing Monsters
  • The Witcher: Curse of Crows #1–5
Mike Mignola 9781506706825

Film and television

The Hexer is the title of a 2001 film and a 2002 TV series, both directed by Marek Brodzki. Michał Żebrowski played Geralt in both. In several interviews, Sapkowski criticized the screen adaptations: "I can answer only with a single word, an obscene, albeit a short one." [36]

In 2015, Platige Image planned an American film adaptation of the novel series to arrive in 2017. [37] In May 2017 they announced that they would be producing a The Witcher TV series in cooperation with Netflix and Sean Daniel Company, with Tomasz Bagiński as one of the directors and Sapkowski as a creative consultant. [38] [39] [40] Henry Cavill will be portraying Geralt of Rivia in the Netflix adaptation. [41] [42] [43] [44] On October 10, 2018, it was announced that Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra had been cast as main female characters, Ciri and Yennefer. [45] Season one is expected to be released towards the end of 2019. [46]


Tabletop role-playing games

A tabletop role-playing game based on Sapkowski's books, Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni (The Witcher: A Game of Imagination) was published by MAG in 2001. Another tabletop game based on the video games, produced by R. Talsorian Games, was planned for release in 2016 [47] but was delayed and finally released in August 2018. [48]

Video games

In 1996 and 1997 a Witcher video game was being developed by Metropolis Software in Poland, but it was cancelled. The game's director was Adrian Chmielarz, former People Can Fly co-owner and creative director, who coined the translation "The Witcher" during its development. According to Chmielarz, the game would have been a 3D action-adventure game with role-playing elements such as moral choices and experience points. [49]

In 2003, Polish video-game developer CD Projekt Red negotiated with Sapkowski for rights to The Witcher, given the languishing work at Metropolis, [50] and released The Witcher , a role-playing game based on the saga in October 2007 for personal computers. It was well-publicized and, although it was the developer's first game, it received critical praise in Europe and North America. The Witcher was published in Poland by CD Projekt and worldwide by Atari. A console version, The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf with the same story and a different engine and combat system, was scheduled for release in fall 2009 but was cancelled that spring.

The Witcher: Crimson Trail (Polish: Wiedźmin: Krwawy Szlak), also known as The Witcher Mobile is a mobile-phone action game created by Breakpoint on license from CD Projekt in November 2007. [51] It features a young Geralt as a promising student who has completed his training to become a monster-slayer – a witcher.

The Witcher: Versus was a Flash-based multiplayer fighting browser game, developed for CD Projekt Red by one2tribe and released in 2008. In the game, which has been discontinued, players created a character from one of three classes and challenged other players in battle.[ citation needed ]

Promotional models dressed as Geralt and Triss at IgroMir 2010 Girls of Igromir 2010 (5149121746).jpg
Promotional models dressed as Geralt and Triss at IgroMir 2010

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is the sequel to The Witcher, developed by CD Projekt Red. On September 16, 2009, before Assassins of Kings was introduced, a video of the game was leaked; [52] two days later, CD Projekt Red confirmed that it was in development. [53] Assassins of Kings was published in Poland by CD Projekt, by Namco Bandai Games in Europe and by Atari in North America. The game was also distributed digitally through Steam and DRM-free on Good Old Games.

CD Projekt Red announced The Witcher: Battle Arena , a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game for mobile devices, on July 1, 2014. [54]

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was released on May 19, 2015, and has become considered one of the greatest games of all time, shipping over ten million copies by March 2016. [55] By March 2018, the series as a whole has sold over 33 million. [56]

Geralt appeared as a guest character in the 2018 fighting game, Soulcalibur VI . [57]

In October 2018, Sapkowski sent notice to CD Projekt demanding he be remunerated for sales of The Witcher video games, asking for more than 60 million Polish złoty (more than US$15 million) representing between about 5% and 15% of the game's revenues over the years. Sapkowski had originally provided the license to CD Projekt based on a lump sum payment, but now believes he is due more since the series has become much more successful than expected. CD Projekt stated that while they had met all obligations on the initial acquisition of the license, they will work amicably with Sapkowski's legal representatives to come to a fair outcome for all parties. [58] By February 2019, CD Projekt worked out a settlement agreement that would provide Sapkowski additional royalties for their video game series, though not as great that Sapkowski had asked for, as to maintain a working relationship with the author for future Witcher projects. [59]

Card games

Promotion of Gwent at IgroMir 2016 Igromir 2016 (29382654633).jpg
Promotion of Gwent at IgroMir 2016

In 2007, Kuźnia Gier developed two card games based on CD Projekt's The Witcher video game. One, Wiedźmin: Przygodowa Gra Karciana (The Witcher: Adventure Cardgame), was published by Kuźnia Gier; [60] the other, Wiedźmin: Promocyjna Gra Karciana (The Witcher Promo Card Game) was added to the collector's edition of The Witcher in some countries. [61] A card game, known as "Gwent", was included in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as an in-game activity. Two stand-alone games based on it, titled Gwent: The Witcher Card Game and Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales , were released in 2018. [62] [63]

Board game

CD Projekt Red and Fantasy Flight Games released The Witcher Adventure Game, a board game designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek, [64] in 2014 [65] in physical and digital forms. [66] The digital version is available on Windows, OS X, Android and iOS.

Related Research Articles

Witcher may refer to:

<i>Blood of Elves</i> novel by Andrzej Sapkowski

Blood of Elves is the first novel in the Witcher Saga written by the Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published in Poland in 1994. It is a sequel to the Witcher short stories collected in the books The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny and is followed by Time of Contempt. The book won the Janusz A. Zajdel Award and David Gemmell Legend Award awards. An English translation was published in the United Kingdom in 2008 (Gollancz) and in the United States in 2009 (Orbit).

Science fiction and fantasy in Poland

Science fiction and fantasy in Poland dates to the late 18th century. During the later years of the People's Republic of Poland, social science fiction was a very popular genre of science fiction. Afterwards, many others gained prominence. Currently there are many science fiction writers in Poland. Internationally, the best known Polish science fiction writer is Stanisław Lem. As elsewhere, Polish science fiction is closely related to the genres of fantasy, horror and others. Although many English language writers have been translated into Polish, relatively few Polish language science fiction has been translated into English.

<i>The Witcher</i> (video game) 2007 video game

The Witcher is an action role-playing game developed by CD Projekt Red and published by Atari, based on the novel series of The Witcher by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The story takes place in a medieval fantasy world and follows Geralt of Rivia, one of a few traveling monster hunters who have supernatural powers, known as Witchers. The game's system of moral choices as part of the storyline was noted for its time-delayed consequences and lack of black-and-white morality.

<i>The Hexer</i> 2001 film by Marek Brodzki

Wiedźmin is a 2001 Polish fantasy film directed by Marek Brodzki. It stars Michał Żebrowski as Geralt of Rivia. The story is based on the books and stories of The Witcher written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.

<i>Time of Contempt</i> novel by Andrzej Sapkowski

Time of Contempt is the second novel in the Witcher Saga written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published 1995 in Polish, and 2013 in English. It is a sequel to the first Witcher novel Blood of Elves and is followed by Baptism of Fire.

Wiedźmin is a Polish fantasy television series which aired in 2002.

<i>The Witcher</i> (TV series) upcoming Netflix series

The Witcher is an upcoming American-Polish fantasy drama TV series created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich for Netflix. It is based on the book series of the same name by Andrzej Sapkowski. The series will air in late 2019.

<i>The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings</i> 2011 video game

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is an action role-playing hack and slash video game developed by CD Projekt Red for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, OS X, and Linux. The game was released for Microsoft Windows in May 2011, for Xbox 360 and OS X in 2012, and for Linux in 2014.

<i>The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt</i> action role-playing video game developed by CD Projekt RED

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a 2015 action role-playing game developed and published by CD Projekt, based on The Witcher series of fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski. It is the sequel to the 2011 game The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Played in an open world with a third-person perspective, players control protagonist Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter known as a witcher, who is looking for his missing adopted daughter on the run from the Wild Hunt: an otherworldly force determined to capture and use her powers. Players battle the game's many dangers with weapons and magic, interact with non-player characters, and complete main-story and side quests to acquire experience points and gold, which are used to increase Geralt's abilities and purchase equipment. Its central story has several endings, determined by the player's choices at certain points in the game.

<i>Baptism of Fire</i> (novel) novel by Andrzej Sapkowski

Baptism of Fire is the third novel in the Witcher Saga written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published in 1996 in Polish and in English in 2014. It is a sequel to the second Witcher novel Time of Contempt and is followed by The Tower of Swallows.

The Tower of the Swallow, known as The Tower of Swallows in the United States is the fourth novel in the Witcher Saga written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published in Poland in 1997. It is a sequel to the third Witcher novel Baptism of Fire and is followed by the final entry in the series, The Lady of the Lake.

The Lady of the Lake is the fifth novel in the Witcher Saga written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published in Poland in 1999. It is a sequel to the fourth Witcher novel, The Swallow's Tower.

Season of Storms is the sixth novel and eighth overall book in the Witcher series written by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published in Poland in 2013. It is not a sequel to the original Witcher Saga, but rather is set between the short stories in the first book in the series, The Last Wish.

The Witcher is a fantasy series of short stories and novels by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski.


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Video game series