Netflix’s upcoming series The Witcher is based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s novel series, which began in 1992 with The Sword of Destiny and ended in 1999 with The Lady of the Lake. As the novels were only available in a select few languages, the reach of the series was limited. It wasn’t until the release of the video games, specifically The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (developed by CD Projekt Red) in 2015, that Sapkowski’s books began to rise in popularity. It’s understandable that fans are now divided between those who got to know Sapkowski’s world and characters through the video games and those who read the books.
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That divide grew more pronounced recently when Netflix released the first official images for The Witcher. Overall, fans seemed excited, but also in many cases confused and frustrated that some of the accessories, costumes and characters appeared to differ dramatically from what they expected. It’s mostly because the games — though faithful in many ways to Sapkowski’s world — made a few changes of their own, often out of necessity. The Netflix series will be faithful to the novels. What does that mean? We’re going to show you by diving into some of the recent points of confusion and clearing things up a bit for those unfamiliar with the original world of The Witcher.
GERALT ONLY CARRIES ONE SWORD
The first official poster featured Geralt with his back turned to the audience. Strapped to him was a single sword, presumably forged from steel. Upon seeing it, many fans of the video games were quick to point out that Geralt of Rivia has two swords: a steel sword for humans and a silver sword for monsters. Both blades were featured heavily in the video games and were strapped to Geralt’s back at all times.
This isn’t how the Witcher is depicted in the novels. He’s only ever seen carrying a single blade at a time for the sake of convenience, especially since not all monsters require the use of silver. Oftentimes, a steel sword is enough. On the off chance Geralt does require his silver sword, he draws it from a sheath strapped to Roach, his noble steed. Since we haven’t seen Roach yet in any of the official images, we can’t be sure, but it’s very likely that this will be the case in the upcoming series.
CIRI IS A YOUNG GIRL
If you hadn’t already heard that Freya Allan would be playing Ciri in the upcoming series, you might have noticed that in the photos released by Netflix, Ciri looks quite young, especially when compared to her depiction in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The game shows her to be a young woman and a well-trained warrior, but the games take place long after the events of the novels.
Princess Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon was first introduced in The Sword of Destiny. She met Geralt in the Forest of Brokilon, fleeing what amounted to an arranged marriage. Geralt found her and protected her from everything from Dryads to cruel soldiers, all because at the time she was only around 10- or 11-years-old. We see her grow throughout the novels and by the The Lady of the Lake, she’s shown to be in her late teens. Since showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich has stated in the past that the Netflix series will remain faithful to the novels, it makes sense for Ciri to appear as a young girl instead of the full grown woman gamers are likely to be more familiar with.
THE SCHOOL OF THE WOLF MEDALLION
There were a lot of things missing from that introductory clip released when production began on The Witcher. We saw Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, but he had no swords. We could barely see his armor and, of course, he didn’t have a medallion. The promotional images showcase all of those things and while fans praised the improved look, some pointed out that the medallion was nothing like that they expected. It lacked the dramatic appearance of its video game counterpart.
While the wolf head medallion in the video games is undoubtedly striking, it’s not exactly the simplistic accessory the novels describe. In the short story, “Something More” in The Sword of Destiny, Sapkowski describes the medallion as depicting “a wolf’s head with open jaws and armed with fangs,” which seems like a description the live-action adaptation seems to fit quite well.
IT’S NOT ALL FAITHFUL
Unlike the other visual items we’ve explored so far, this one isn’t based on official photos but leaked images and videos that began to circulate in May. The Nilfgaardian armor was shown to be drastically different from anything anyone has ever seen before and not in a good way. Assuming that the armor in the images showcases the completed design, it’s uncertain where the inspiration came from.
The books lack detailed descriptions of the armor, referring only to the color and the sigil of the golden sun they bear. That being said, there is nothing in the novels that would indicate anything remotely similar to the distinctly wrinkly design the Netflix series seems to have chosen for its depiction of Nilfgaardian soldiers. Nilfgaard itself is portrayed as being civilized, elegant and modern, none of these qualities are being reflected here. In this instance, the show seems to have strayed from the source material.
WHAT OTHER DIFFERENCES CAN WE EXPECT?
Beneath all the superficial elements, fans of the video games can expect certain characters to be different as well. Geralt, for example, will likely be far less talkative and more brooding, as he’s shown to be in the books. He’s also less likely to encounter monsters, as they are nowhere near as common in the novels as they are in the video game, which leaves a lot more time for thought and drama. A lot of Geralt’s journey involves everyday human beings struggling with one inner demon or another.
The Witcher’s faithful and ever so humble bard friend might also see a slight change in his name. In the English translations of the books as well as in the video games, he’s called Dandelion, like the flower. However, the name Sapkowski gave him was Jaskier, which directly translates to “buttercup,” which is also a flower. Given that Hissrich used the name Jaskier in her notes, it’s possible that this will be the character’s name in the show.
The Witcher stars Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg, Freya Allan as Ciri and Joey Batey as Jaskier. The series will be available to stream this fall.
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