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The Witcher, or Polish: Wiedźmin, by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski is a series of fantasy short stories (collected in two books, except for two stories) and five novels about the witcher Geralt of Rivia. In Sapkowski's books, witchers are monster-hunters who receive special training and have their bodies modified at an early age to provide them with supernatural abilities so they can cope with dangerous monsters. The books have been adapted into a movie and television series, a video game series, and a graphic novel series. The novel series (excluding the short stories) is also called the Witcher Saga (Polish: Saga o Wiedźminie). The Witcher short stories and novels have been translated into several languages. Regarding English translations of the series, The Last Wish and Blood of the Elves book have been officially translated into English, while the other books are freely available at the Witcher Forum Community Fan Translations.
The books 
The Witcher Stories 
- Miecz Przeznaczenia (The Sword of Destiny) (1992) (Fan Translation available at the Witcher Forum Community Fan Translations)
- Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish) (1993, English edition: 2008)
The Saga 
Saga of Ciri, called Child Of Destiny by The Witcher's Right. By this Right, claimed from one of The Kings by Geralt Of Rivia, to become a Witcher. The Witchers Right is based on a promise to save one's life, in return for "The unexpected thing one discovers when he returns home, but wasn't there when he left".
- Krew elfów (Blood of Elves) (1994, English edition: 2008)
- Czas pogardy (Times of Contempt) (1995, English edition: Planned 2013 (Fan Translation available at the Witcher Forum Community Fan Translations)
- Chrzest ognia (Baptism of Fire) (1996) (Fan Translation available at the Witcher Forum Community Fan Translations)
- Wieża Jaskółki (The Swallow's Tower) (1997)(Fan Translation available at the Witcher Forum Community Fan Translations)
- Pani Jeziora (Lady of the Lake) (1999) (Fan Translation available at the Witcher Forum Community Fan Translations)
In non-Witcher anthologies 
- Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna (Something Ends, Something Begins) (2000) (this collection contains various stories by Sapkowski, including two from the Witcher saga). (Fan Translation available at the Witcher Forum Community Fan Translations)
- A Polish Book of Monsters, an English anthology edited and translated by Michael Kandel, contains a unique translation of "The Witcher" short story, translated as "Spellmaker". The same story is found in The Last Wish but a different translation was used. (2010)
Sapkowski's short stories and novels are appraised for their ironic sense of humor and subtle anachronisms (e.g. one of the wizards taking part in the Gathering of the Wizards is constantly complaining about "ecological" issues). Sapkowski tries to emphasize the shades of gray in everyone (e.g. one of the local rulers engaged in an incestuous relation with his own sister is shown as a caring father – at least according to the standards of Sapkowski's world).
The universe was never officially named by the writer; the largest entity – the continent – is simply called The Continent, and Polish fans have labeled the universe Wiedźminland ('Witcherland').
History and races 
The Continent was settled a few thousand years ago by the elves who came from overseas, meeting the gnomes and the dwarves. After a period of elven-dwarven wars, the dwarves retreated to the mountainous regions, and the elves settled in plains and forests. The story repeated itself about five hundred years ago, when human colonists arrived. The humans defeated the older races, and are now the dominant race; the others are considered second-class and often are forced to live in small ghettos inside human settlements, or in the most inhospitable regions of wilderness, not yet claimed by the humans. In addition to elves, gnomes and dwarfs, other notable races on The Continent are the halflings and the dryads. Some other races – such as werewolves or vampires – appeared on The Continent due to a magical event known as the Conjunction of the Spheres.
Over the past several centuries most of the south-west and south-center of The Continent has been taken over by the growing Nilfgaard Empire. The north belongs to the fragmented Northern Kingdoms. The Witcher saga takes places in the aftermath of a major war between the Nilfgaard Empire and the alliance of Northern Kingdoms, and the second war begins in the middle of the series.
Sapkowski created a special language for the series, called Starsza Mowa (Polish for Older Speech). It is based on English, French, Welsh, Irish, Latin and other languages. One of the most important dialects is the one from the Skellige islands.
No official map of the universe created by Sapkowski has been released, but several fan-made maps have been created. Sapkowski has refused to create a map, having stated that the existing maps are 'mostly accurate'. Most recently, a new map has been created by CD Projekt for The Witcher computer game and Sapkowski himself was consulted on it. See external links for maps.
The Continent can be divided into four regions. The Northern Kingdoms are the area where most of the Saga takes place, they are Aedirn, Cintra, Kaedwen, Kovir, Poviss, Lyria, Rivia, Redania and Temeria. South of the Northern Kingdom lies the Nilfgaard Empire. East of both of them are mostly unknown territories, such as the Korath desert, Zerrikania, Haakland and Zangwebar.
Powers and abilities 
Witchers are taken in as children and subjected to potions and martial training for most of their young life. Ultimately, only about 40% of the children survive the final trial and potion.
The process gives a witcher special powers, such as the use of low-level magical abilities based on the four elements, faster movement, rapid healing, quicker reflexes, and the ability to drink toxic potions that would harm normal people. The only downside is that Witchers become infertile when they pass the trials.
Witchers also wear a magical medallion that will vibrate when magical creatures are nearby.
Witchers typically carry two swords. The first is a steel sword used against humans, and the second is a silver sword used against creatures like werewolves and vampires.
Publishing history 
Short stories 
The Witcher series is a series of short stories, at first published in Fantastyka, a Polish science fiction and fantasy magazine. The first short story, "Wiedźmin" ("The Witcher") (1986), was written for a contest held by the magazine, where it won third place. The first four stories of the witcher Geralt – and the story "Droga, z której się nie wraca" ("The Road with No Return"), which took place in the same world, but dozens of years before the witcher stories – were originally collected in a short story collection titled Wiedźmin (out of print and now obsolete; all fifteen short stories were later collected in three books published by superNOWA.)
The second short story collection to be published was Miecz przeznaczenia (Sword of Destiny). While The Last Wish collection was published after Miecz przeznaczenia, it replaced Wiedźmin as the first book, as it included all of the stories collected in Wiedźmin except "Droga, z ktorej się nie wraca" (the only one not featuring Geralt). Although new short stories were added in The Last Wish, they took place before the ones in Miecz przeznaczenia.
"Droga, z której się nie wraca", along with "Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna", a non-canon story/alternative ending of the Witcher saga about Geralt and Yennefer's wedding, written as a wedding gift for Sapkowski's friends, were later published in the book Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna. The rest of the stories in this book are not connected to the Witcher series in any way. In some Polish editions, "Droga, z której się nie wraca" and "Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna" are added to either The Last Wish or Miecz przeznaczenia.
The stories and novels have been translated into Czech, Portuguese, German, Russian, Lithuanian, Finnish, French, Spanish, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Swedish, Hungarian and Chinese. An English translation of the Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish) short story collection, was published in the United Kingdom by Gollancz in 2007 and was published in the United States by Orbit in 2008. Krew elfów (Blood of Elves) was published by Gollancz in 2008 and in the US by Orbit in 2009, and Czas pogardy (Times of Contempt) will be published by Gollancz in the UK in 2012. Also, Fan Translations of all Witcher Books excluding Blood of Elves and The Last Wish are freely available at the Witcher Forum Communiy Fan Translations
The name "witcher" 
The original Polish name for "witcher" is wiedźmin. The English translation preferred by Andrzej Sapkowski was initially "hexer" and is the name used in the international version of the film adaptation. "Hexe" and "Hexer" are the German terms for "witch" and "warlock". However, CD Projekt chose to translate "Hexer" literally to "witcher" in The Witcher computer game, and this version was subsequently used by Danusia Stok in her translation of the book The Last Wish, as well as by Sapkowski himself in the book Historia i fantastyka. Michael Kandel, in his translation of the story "Wiedźmin" (2010) used the word "Spellmaker".
Alternatively, the word warlock has been used informally in English translations, while "witcher", being a neologism in English (as wiedźmin is in Polish – derived from wiedźma – "witch") arguably describes the uniqueness of Geralt's profession better.
Comic books 
- Droga bez powrotu (The Road with No Return, based on the short story "Droga, z której się nie wraca")
- Geralt (based on the short story "Wiedźmin")
- Mniejsze zło (Lesser Evil, based on a short story of the same title)
- Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish, based on a short story of the same title)
- Granica możliwości (Border of ability, based on a short story of the same title)
- Zdrada (Betrayal, based on an "unused idea for a short story")
Currently[when?] Przemysław Truściński (art), Maciej Parowski (story) and Sapkowski are preparing another comic book series, based on the three most important short stories: Kwestia ceny (A Matter of Price), Miecz przeznaczenia (Sword of Destiny) and Coś więcej (Something More) – and the novels.
Film and television 
The Hexer is the international title of both a 2001 movie and a 2002 TV series, directed by Marek Brodzki, and Michał Żebrowski starring as Geralt. Both the movie and the TV series got very negative opinions from the critics and the audience.
Tabletop role-playing game 
In 2001 a tabletop role-playing game called Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni (The Witcher: A Game of Imagination), based on Sapkowski's books, was published by MAG.
Video games 
A 2007 role-playing video game based on Sapkowski's saga called The Witcher was developed by CD Projekt, and was released in Europe on October 26, and the US on October 30. It was advertised far more than its predecessor, and although it was one of CD Projekt's first games, it was received very well by reviewers in both Europe and North America. The game contains mature content. The game is published by CD Projekt itself in Poland, and worldwide by Atari, Inc. (Atari, SA subsidiary). The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf, using the same story, but a different engine and combat system was to be released in Fall 2009 for video game consoles. On the 29th of April 2009 the production of the console game was announced to have been halted.
The Witcher: Crimson Trail (Polish: Wiedźmin: Krwawy Szlak), also known as The Witcher Mobile is a mobile phone action game created developed by Breakpoint on the license from CD Projekt in November 2007. It features Geralt in his youth as a promising young student, has just completed his training to become an elite monster slayer – a witcher.
The Witcher: Versus is a Flash-based multiplayer fighting browser game, developed for CD Projekt RED by one2tribe and launched in 2008. The game has you create a character from one of three classes and challenge other players to deadly battles. When you first sign up for Versus, which is tied into your thewitcher.com forum account if you have one, you choose from one of three character classes: Witcher, Sorceress and Frightener. This game has been discontinued.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is the sequel to The Witcher, developed by CD Projekt RED. Before Assassins of Kings was officially announced, a video showing the game was leaked on 16 September 2009. On 18 September 2009, CD Projekt RED officially confirmed that the game is in development. The game is published by CD Projekt itself in Poland, by Namco Bandai Games in Europe and by Atari, Inc. (Atari, SA subsidiary) in North America. The Witcher 2 is also distributed digitally through Steam and DRM-free on Good Old Games.
CD Projekt Red announced in February 2013 that that over 5,000,000 copies of The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings have been sold worldwide since the series debuted in 2007.
Card games 
Two card games based on CD Projekt's The Witcher computer game have been designed by Kuźnia Gier. One, Wiedźmin: Przygodowa Gra Karciana (The Witcher: Adventure Cardgame) has been published by Kuźnia Gier and is being sold in Polish gaming stores, while the other, Wiedźmin: Promocyjna Gra Karciana (The Witcher Promo Card Game) is a simpler game added to the collector's edition of The Witcher in some countries.
Influences on popular culture 
Andrzej Sapkowski's saga has had widespread influence on the popular culture, predominantly in Russia and Poland. Many bands in Russia and Poland name songs or themselves after things in the saga. Russian band Династия (Dinastiya, 'Dynasty'), for example, has produced the song "Yennefer" about Geralt and Yennefer's love.
A New York-based metal band also took the name "Gwynbleidd", after the name that was given to Geralt of Rivia by the Dryads of Brokilon, meaning "White Wolf".
- Marek, Ruszkowski (2004). Wielojęzyczność w perspektywie stylistyki i poetyki. Wydawnictwo Akademii Swiętokrzyskiej. p. 98. ISBN 83-7133-232-7.
- "Projekt słownika Starszej Mowy". Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- "The Witcher: Crimson Trail". GameBanshee. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
- The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings video leaked, possibly at Destructoid
- The Witcher official Facebook page
- "March Cover Revealed: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt". Game Informer. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "CD Projekt sprzedał 5 mln egz. Wiedźmina 1 i 2; zapowiada premierę Wiedźmina 3 na '14" [CD Projekt sold 5 million copies of Witcher 1 and 2; announces Witcher 3 for 2014] (in Polish). Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Ewa Mazierska (2007). Polish postcommunist cinema: from pavement level. Peter Lang. p. 17. ISBN 978-3-03910-529-8. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: The Witcher|
Witcher series 
- Official website of Andrzej Sapkowski (Polish)
- Witcher Wiki at Wikia
- English Fan Translations of the Witcher Saga.
- Official website of the computer game
- Official website of the role-playing game (Polish)
- Metacritic score of 86%
- review by Wired magazine
- Penny Arcade commentary on the appropriateness of witcher as an English translation of wiedźmin