Netflix's The Witcher Adapts These Key Stories


After months of waiting, a trailer for Netflix's upcoming fantasy adaptation The Witcher was finally released Friday at Comic-Con International. While decidedly reserved in monster battles, the footage showcases a lot for both newcomers and longtime fans of the franchise, especially those familiar with Andrzej Sapkowski's novels, on which the series is based. In fact, many of the scenes might seem familiar to readers, as they faithfully depict events described in the short stories, at least three of which are arguably the most important, as they will undoubtedly do the most to inform and shape how viewers perceive Geralt and his world.

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Fans will recognize the first story from shots of Henry Cavill's Geralt cautiously exploring a dark crypt, and a monstrous set of claws flexing in the shadows. It's likely drawn from "The Witcher" from Sapkowski's novel The Last Wish, in which Geralt is hired by King Foltest to rid Vizima of a monster that preys on the inhabitants of the old palace. However, Geralt is required to do so without killing creature, because the monster -- the Striga -- is in actuality King Foltest's own daughter, born of incest and cursed from birth.

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That short story, although published after the original novel, acts as a fitting introduction to Sapkowski's world, where not every battle can be won with the swing of a sword, and not every monster is a vicious beast. If done correctly in the Netflix adaptation, fans should be able to see Geralt confront a monster that requires as much thought as it does physical skill to vanquish.

The next glimpse at an adapted scene might seem like nothing more than a generic fight, but readers know better. The teaser depicts Geralt facing off against a group of warriors in the middle of a humble town. It's likely those are no ordinary warriors, but instead skilled bandits led by Shrike, and the town is none other than Blaviken from the short story "The Lesser Evil." It deals with the Curse of the Black Sun, and the tragic nature of evil born from self-fulfilling prophecies.

Fans of The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt may have heard Geralt referred to as the "Butcher of Blaviken." It was his encounter with Shrike, also known as Renfri, that earned him the moniker. Depending upon how much of "The Lesser Evil" the series adapts, those unfamiliar with Geralt's story will likely see how Sapkowski's world avoids dealing in absolutes, and instead explores the fragility of perception. Sometimes the villainous characters aren't always what they seem, and sometimes the victims aren't always clear. It's a theme that permeates many of the short stories. The story also serves as an example of how quick ordinary people are to distrust witchers.

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The last key story the show seems to adapt concerns Ciri and her first encounter with Geralt of Rivia. In the teaser, we see Ciri running from home, traveling across snow-covered lands and rich, green forests where she meets a mysterious race of beings. These scenes are likely taken from or at the very least inspired by "Sword of Destiny" from the novel of the same name, in which Ciri flees an arranged marriage and finds herself sought after by dryads and mercenaries.

One of the most important events in the story is Geralt's first meeting with young Ciri, who, in the novels, is not much older than 11. This is where Netflix's series may run into trouble, because Ciri appears to be much older in the adaptation (an understandable choice, all things considered), which might make her struggle slightly less impactful. "Sword of Destiny" introduces Ciri as a little girl -- a princess -- with a fiery personality and no shortage of wits, who finds herself facing the world without any real family to support her. She's an important part of Geralt's world because, despite the fact that the novels unfold from Geralt's perspective, it is very much a story of Ciri and the discovery of her destiny.

The Witcher stars Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg, Freya Allan as Ciri and Joey Batey as Jaskier. The series will arrive this fall on Netflix.

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