The Witcher

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For the video game based on the book series, see The Witcher (video game).
Red dust jacket, with a wolf-like creature
Cover of the American edition of the first Witcher book, The Last Wish

The Witcher (Polish: Wiedźmin, Polish pronunciation: [ˈvʲɛd͡ʑmʲin]), by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, is a fantasy series of short stories and novels about the witcher Geralt of Rivia. In Sapkowski's books, "Witchers" are monster hunters who (with training and body modification) develop supernatural abilities at a young age to battle deadly monsters. The books have been adapted into a film and television, video-game and graphic novel series, and the series of novels is known as the Witcher Saga. The short stories and novels have been translated into several languages, including English.


The Witcher short stories were first published in Fantastyka, a Polish science-fiction and fantasy magazine, 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 were originally featured in a 1990 short-story collection entitled Wiedźmin—now out of print—with "Droga, z której się nie wraca" ("The Road With No Return"), which is set in the world before the Witcher stories.

The second published short-story collection was Miecz przeznaczenia (Sword of Destiny). Although 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.

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 Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna, the other stories in that book are unconnected to the Witcher series. In some Polish editions, "Droga, z której się nie wraca" and "Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna" are added to The Last Wish or Miecz przeznaczenia.

The Witcher stories[edit]

  • Miecz Przeznaczenia (Sword of Destiny) (1992, English edition: 2015)
  • Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish) (1993, English edition: 2007). Note that, while The Last Wish was published after The Sword of Destiny, the stories contained in The Last Wish take place first chronologically, and many of the individual stories were published before The Sword of Destiny.


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.


Non-Witcher anthologies[edit]

  • Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna (Something Ends, Something Begins) (2000) – Stories by Sapkowski, including two Witcher stories
  • A Polish Book of Monsters (2010) – English anthology edited and translated by Michael Kandel, with a translation of "The Witcher" entitled "Spellmaker." The story also appears, with a different translation, in The Last Wish.



The stories are set on the Continent, 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.

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

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.


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.[1] CD Projekt created a map for The Witcher video game in consultation with Sapkowski.[citation needed]

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.


Sapkowski created a language for the series known as Elder Speech,[2][3] based on English, French, Welsh, Irish, Latin and other languages. An important dialect is spoken on the Skellige Islands.


The stories and novels have been translated into Czech, Portuguese, German, Russian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Finnish, French, Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Swedish, Hungarian, Dutch, Chinese, Georgian and English.[citation needed]

English translations[edit]

Title Publication date[4] Publisher
The Last Wish
(Ostanie życzenie)
2007 Gollancz
2008 Orbit
Sword of Destiny
(Miecz przeznaczenia)
May 2015[5] Gollancz
December 2015 Orbit
Blood of Elves
(Krew elfów)
2008 Gollancz
2009 Orbit
Time of Contempt
(Czas pogardy)
2013 Gollancz
Baptism of Fire
(Chrzest ognia)
2014 Gollancz
The Swallow's Tower
(Wieża jaskółki)
2016[5] Gollancz
TBA Orbit
Lady of the Lake
(Pani Jeziora)
2017[5] Gollancz
TBA Orbit

The name "Witcher"[edit]

See also: Vedmak

Although wiedźmin has been translated as "witcher", the translation preferred by Sapkowski was initially "hexer" (the title of the film adaptation). Hexe and hexer are the German words for "witch" and "warlock"; CD Projekt used "witcher" for the title of its video game,[6] and Danusia Stok used it in her translation of Ostanie życzenie. Sapkowski used the word "witcher" in his book Historia i Fantastyka, and Michael Kandel used "spellmaker" in his 2010 translation of "Wiedźmin".


Comic books[edit]

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

  • 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)
  • Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish)
  • Granica możliwości (Border of Ability) – Based on short stories with the same titles
  • Zdrada (Betrayal) – Based on an "unused idea for a short story"[citation needed]

On October 11, 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.[7] The first volume, The Witcher: House of Glass with a cover by Mike Mignola, was published in September 2014.[8] A second comic-book series, The Witcher: Fox Children, was published in 2015.[citation needed]

Film and television[edit]

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."[9] An American film adaptation of the novel series is planned for 2017.[10]


Tabletop role-playing games[edit]

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, is planned for release in 2016.[11]

Video games[edit]

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.[12]

In 2007 Polish video-game developer CD Projekt RED released The Witcher, a role-playing game based on Sapkowski's saga. The game was released in Europe on October 26 and in the US on October 30 for Windows and OS X. 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.[13] 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.

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;[14] two days later, CD Projekt RED confirmed that it was in development.[15] 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. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, an open world which is the third game in the series developed by CD Projekt RED, was released on May 19, 2015.[16]

As of July 11, 2012, the first two Witcher games sold a worldwide total of four million copies for Windows, Mac, and Xbox 360.[17] As of February 6, 2013, the total was over five million copies.[18] As of October 25 sales were at six million copies,[19] and the franchise has sold more than eight million copies.[20] CD Projekt Red announced The Witcher: Battle Arena, a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game for mobile devices, on July 1, 2014.[21]

Card games[edit]

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;[22] the other, Wiedźmin: Promocyjna Gra Karciana (The Witcher Promo Card Game) was added to the collector's edition of The Witcher in some countries.[23] Another card game, Gwent was planned for released with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as an in-game activity. Players can challenge for (or buy) Gwent cards from characters in the game.[24]

Board game[edit]

CD Projekt RED and Fantasy Flight Games released The Witcher Adventure Game, a board game, in 2014[25] in physical and digital forms.[26] The digital version is available on Windows, OS X, Android and iOS.

In popular culture[edit]

The books have been described as having a cult following[27] in Poland, Russia and other Eastern European countries.


  1. ^ ""Nie bądź, kurwa, taki Geralt" - interview on author's page" (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2007-12-15. 
  2. ^ Marek, Ruszkowski (2004). Wielojęzyczność w perspektywie stylistyki i poetyki. Wydawnictwo Akademii Swiętokrzyskiej. p. 98. ISBN 83-7133-232-7. 
  3. ^ "Projekt słownika Starszej Mowy". Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "superNOWA - Andrzej Sapkowski" (in Polish). 
  5. ^ a b c "Gollancz Acquire Three More Witcher Novels". Gollancz Blog. January 19, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2015. 
  6. ^ "The Witcher game that never was". Eurogamer. May 19, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  7. ^ "NYCC 2013: THE WITCHER COMES TO DARK HORSE". Dark Horse Comics. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Анджей Сапковский: "Мне пришлось искать свое русло. И я его нашел..."". 
  10. ^ Eddie, Makuch. "The Witcher Movie Coming in 2017 From The Mummy Producers". Gamespot. Retrieved 5 November 2015. 
  11. ^ "CD PROJEKT RED and R.TALSORIAN GAMES Announce The Witcher Role-Playing Game". July 29, 2015. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  12. ^ Purchese, Robert (16 June 2014). "The Witcher game that never was". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "The Witcher: Crimson Trail". GameBanshee. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  14. ^ The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings video leaked, possibly at Destructoid
  15. ^ The Witcher official Facebook page
  16. ^ "March Cover Revealed: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt". Game Informer. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  17. ^ "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt". Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  18. ^ "The Witcher Franchise Has Now Sold Over 5 Million, First Two Games Being Sold At A Discount". Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  19. ^ Purchese, Robert (25 October 2013). "CD Projekt Red announces 6 million The Witcher sales". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  20. ^ "CD Projekt Red sold 8 million copies of the Witcher". Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  21. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (1 July 2014). "The Witcher: Battle Arena is a F2P MOBA for mobile". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  22. ^ "Wiedźmin: Przygodowa Gra Karciana". 
  23. ^ "Gry na zamówienie. Kuźnia Gier. Produkcja i kreacja gier planszowych na zamówienie klienta!". 
  24. ^ "Gwent Card List and Locations in Witcher 3", Gwent Cards, retrieved November 17, 2015 
  25. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (8 January 2014). "The Witcher gets a board game spin-off". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  26. ^ Purchese, Robert (27 November 2014). "The Witcher Adventure Game has been released". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  27. ^ Ewa Mazierska (2007). Polish postcommunist cinema: from pavement level. Peter Lang. p. 17. ISBN 978-3-03910-529-8. 

External links[edit]

Witcher series