When the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones premiered in 2011 on HBO, it presented viewers with something undeniably unique. It flaunted its fantasy elements without sacrificing its ability to explore human nature against a quasi-medieval backdrop. Unlike many other shows, it’s unafraid to kill off beloved characters, as it’s demonstrated again and again. Unfortunately, the often-heart-wrenching epic will come to a close in 2019, and so far, there are few contenders to assume its place.
Oh, sure, HBO is developing multiple potential prequels, the first of which won’t debut until at least 2020, but those projects will be placed in the unenviable position of being compared directly to their insanely popular, and critically acclaimed, predecessor. HBO’s sci-fi Western Westworld could of course fill some of the void — Martin himself proposed the show introduce a Westerosworld — but there’s one series in the pipeline that seems like the perfect successor to Game of Thrones: Netflix’s The Witcher, based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novels and short stories.
The inspiration for the popular role-playing video games, Sapkowski’s stories revolve around Geralt of Rivia, one of the monster hunters known as “witchesr” whose genes were chemically and mystically mutated in order to make them faster, stronger and better-equipped to fight the deadly supernatural beasts that wander the medieval fantasy world known as the Continent. More often than not, however, Geralt finds himself in the middle of conflicts involving more than peasants and vicious beasts; he encounters powerful sorceresses of great beauty, conniving kings and queens vying for more power, and cursed princesses and princes.
Already, fans may note a few similarities between The Witcher and Game of Thrones. Obviously, they’re both based on popular fantasy series, and revolve around political intrigue and human nature, but they share many themes and habits as well. The Witcher stories, for example, are known for exploring the concept of lesser and greater evils, a theme that runs throughout Game of Thrones, although nowhere near as prominently. Both of these sagas also heavily feature magic and monsters, but tend to draw focus on stories that have a basis somewhere in reality. For example, Martin was inspired by historical events, like the War of the Roses, while Sapkowski based parts of his tales on the actions of the Catholic Church in Europe during Reformation, as well as Slavic mythology.
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