Geralt of Rivia

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Geralt of Rivia
The Witcher character
First appearance The Witcher (1986)
Last appearance The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Created by Andrzej Sapkowski
Portrayed by Michał Żebrowski
(film and TV series)
Jacek Rozenek
(Polish voice acting)
Doug Cockle
(English voice acting)
Aliases White Wolf
Butcher of Blaviken
Gender Male
Occupation Witcher

Geralt of Rivia (Polish: Geralt z Rivii) is a fictional character and protagonist of The Witcher series of short stories and novels by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, as well as its video game adaptations.

Fictional biography[edit]

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 kill extremely dangerous monsters and survive the encounter. These modifications (which involve herbal preparations, magic potions and virus inoculations) leave them with superhuman strength, reflexes, dexterity, healing and the ability to open and contract their pupils at will (giving them improved night-vision). These modifications also leave them sterile, as well as immune to disease and poisons, and they are said to be completely devoid of human emotions (this is later discovered to be false).

In the stories, Geralt, the central character, is said to be one of the world's best witchers. He is said to have resisted the "changes" during his childhood better than most, which encouraged his makers to perform even more dangerous experimental procedures on him. Because of these additional procedures, Geralt lost all body pigmentation. Because of his pale skin and white hair, he is also known in the Elder Speech as "Gwynbleidd", the White Wolf.

Representation of Geralt of Rivia by Alexandr Stepchenkov (Ukrainian: Александр Степченков)

Despite his name, Geralt does not really come from Rivia (although he learned how to mimic Rivian accent), but young witchers were encouraged to make up surnames for themselves by master Vesemir, to make their names sound more trustworthy. His first choice was Geralt Roger Eric du Haute-Bellegarde, but was dismissed by Vesemir as silly and pretentious.

Geralt lives in an ambiguous moral universe, yet manages to maintain his own coherent code of ethics. At once cynical and noble, Geralt has been compared to Raymond Chandler's signature character Philip Marlowe. The fantasy world in which these adventures take place owes much to Polish history and Slavic mythology.

Geralt was the son of sorceress Visenna and (presumably) a warrior called Korin. Shortly after being born, Geralt was abandoned by his mother at Kaer Morhen — the witchers' stronghold. Geralt survived numerous mutations during the Trial of Grass, thanks to which he gained practically superhuman physical and mental abilities (including enhanced speed, strength, reflexes, endurance, heightened senses and regenerative abilities) with minimal side effects. Because of that, he was one of the few selected for additional experiments, which he alone survived, albeit at the cost of losing all pigmentation in his body. After completing his witcher training, he received his Wolf medallion (the symbol of Kaer Morhen) and embarked into the world on his horse called Płotka - The Roach (he gave the same name to every horse he owned) to become a monster slayer for hire.

Even though Geralt did not believe in destiny, he (unknowingly, calling for "the Law of Surprise") demanded the unborn child of princess Pavetta and her husband Duny as a reward for his services. As the child turned out to be a girl, he did not take her. However, fate or blind chance caused Geralt and Ciri, the daughter of Duny and Pavetta to cross their paths thrice, and after the death of her grandmother, queen Calanthe, Geralt ends up taking care of the girl and loving her as his own daughter. His best friend was Dandelion the bard (Polish: Jaskier), while his lover and the love of his life was Yennefer.

After seemingly being killed by a mob during a slaughter of non-humans at the end of the Witcher saga, Geralt's story continues in more recent computer games (The Witcher, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt). Geralt returns to life with no recollection of the details of his sudden reappearance. He is rescued by the last remaining witchers in the world and taken back to Kaer Morhen. It is hinted that in the game, he will reluctantly uncover a conspiracy concerning the Witchers. Note that the story of the game series is considered to be non-canon by Andrzej Sapkowski.[1]

In the film (2001) and the subsequent television series (2002) he was portrayed by Michał Żebrowski. Geralt is also the protagonist of several comic books.

Literary analysis and reception[edit]

Geralt is described as being emblematic of Polish popular culture's spirit of "neo-liberal anti-politics" in the 1990s.[2] He is a professional, carrying out his duties and unwilling to become involved in the "petty quarrels" of the contemporary politics.[2] Marek Oramus compared Geralt to Raymond Chandler's signature character Philip Marlowe.[3] In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as the 50th best hero in video game history.[4]

See also[edit]