The Witcher or Wiedźmin (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 battle extremely dangerous monsters and survive. The books have been adapted into a movie and television series, a video game, a graphic novel series and others. The novel series (excluding the short stories) is also called the Witcher Saga (Saga o Wiedźminie) or the Blood of the Elves Saga. The Witcher short stories and novels have been translated into several languages.
Short story collections
- Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish) (1993, English edition: 2007)
- Miecz Przeznaczenia (The Sword of Destiny) (1992)
- Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna (Something Ends, Something Begins) (2000) (this collection contains various stories by Sapkowski, including two from the Witcher saga: an old one, seen as a prequel, and a joke - alternate ending to the saga).
Setting and story
Both short stories and novels are widely claimed by fans to be blockbusters of Polish fantasy. Geralt stories are appraised for slightly ironic sense of humor and subtle links to modern culture (e.g. one of the wizards taking part in the Gathering of the Wizards is constantly complaining about "ecological" issues). Moreover, quite contrary to the classical fantasy scheme, there is no black-white partitioning. On the other hand, Geralt's world is not a typical dark-fantasy (where all characters are more or less evil). Sapkowski tries to emphasize the scale of grays in everyone (e.g. one of the local rulers engaged in incestuous relation with his own sister is shown as a caring father - at least according to Geralt's world standards).
The Blood of the Elves series proper consists of the five novels about Geralt, in which Sapkowski links together the plotlines begun in the short stories, and adds new ones. Apart from Geralt himself, another central character is Princess Ciri. Their story is set against the background of the struggle of the Northern Kingdoms against the Nilfgaard Empire.
The Witcher series started as 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
. An English
translation of the Ostatnie życzenie
(The Last Wish
) short story collection, was published in the United Kingdom
and was published in the United States
by Orbit in 2008
. Krew Elfów
(Blood of Elves
) is being published by Gollancz in 2008, and Czas Pogardy
(Times of Anger
) is planned for fall 2009.
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 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
Alternatively, the word warlock has been used informally in English translations, while "witcher", being a neologism in English (as wiedźmin is in Polish) arguably describes better the spirit of Geralt's profession. Witcher is used by the makers of a computer game based on the books and it was chosen for the English translation of The Last Wish.
, Sapkowski's stories were adapted into six comic books
by Maciej Parowski
(story), Bogusław Polch
(art), and Sapkowski himself. They are:
- 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 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
is the international title of both a 2001 movie and a 2002 TV series, directed by Marek Brodzki
, and Michał Żebrowski
starring as Geralt
a role-playing game
called Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni
(The Witcher: A Game of Imagination
), based on Sapkowski's books, was published by MAG. A second edition of the game is currently in production.
A 2007 computer role-playing game
based on Sapkowski's saga called The Witcher
was developed by CD Projekt
, and was released in Europe on October 26th, and the US on October 30th. It was advertised far more than its predecessor, and although it was one of CDProjekt's first games, it was received very well by reviewers in both the EU and the US. The game contains mature content.
Mobile phone game
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. It features Geralt in his youth as a promising young student, has just completed his training to become an elite monster slayer – a witcher.
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.
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.