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Discover the Witcher

Updated on January 27, 2014

Before 'The Witcher' game conquered the world, there was the book...

...or books, to be precise. You are quite likely to have heard of The Witcher game or its sequel The Witcher 2 - Assassins of Kings. But did you know that The Witcher was born as a book character? Andrzej Sapkowski wrote one of the greatest fantasy cycles of modern literature - and as he finally receives worldwide recognition, the game is being released and the books are slowly translated into English, I think it's high time you got to know him better.

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Witchers and witchers' world

Witchers are mutants. But not by birth. They are transformed when still children, in a process that smells of magic rather than genetics. They are turned into super quick, agile and resilient killing machines and their job is to kill monsters. For money.

Oh, because their world is full of monsters. Dragons, werewolves, vampires, dryads, basilisks, jinns, mermaids, you name it. It's actually quite a dangerous world.

But what if in difficult times humans prove more monstrous than monsters themselves?

War between nations explodes on top of conflict between races and altogether it makes a fascinating, vivid background for the witcher's story

They're turned to monsters in order to kill other monsters

Meet Geralt

Witchers are supposed to have their feelings removed in the process of transformation.

In this particular case something must have gone wrong. Geralt is suffering from scruples.

He is also deeply involved in a passionate romantic affair with a sorceress and in the course of events becomes a guardian of a royal and spirited orphaned girl.

All this adds up to an epic quest that takes you through seven books of the cycle and leaves you breathless.

Unofficially, let me also add that Geralt is the most hilariously sarcastic bastard you can imagine and this results in brilliant dialogues that will leave you rolling on the floor with laughter

Does this sound familiar?

Have you heard of The Witcher before?

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Books and reading order

Unfortunately, so far only two of witcher books have been translated to English. These are:

- The Last Wish

- Blood of Elves

The third, Times of Contempt, is scheduled for release in 2012.

Since getting all 7 books translated and published is clearly going to take some time, better start learning Polish (or smile nicely to your Polish friend), because once you sample Sapkowski's phenomenal language and sense of humour, you'll be dying to taste some more.

The whole collection consists of (in chronological order)

- two books of short stories: Sword of Destiny and The Last Wish

- five books of saga proper: Blood of Elves, Times of Contempt, Baptism of Fire, Swallow's Tower, Lady of the Lake

The Last Wish: Introducing The Witcher
The Last Wish: Introducing The Witcher

Quality of Sapkowski's prose is unbelievable. He manages to create a classic, quest-focused fantasy and in the same time conduct a deep study of human character. In such a way, that you laugh all the way through.

This collection of loosely connected short stories is a good introduction to witcher's world. There is no 'to be continued' compulsion, unless you choose to.

Blood of Elves
Blood of Elves

The first book of witcher saga. Here the big adventure begins, taking you to witchers' training fortress, elven woods and pagan shrines.

You can also find out how to irritate a sorceress, why the elves are losing their rebellion and what card game is favoured by dwarves.

A real treat for true fantasy lovers.

The Time of Contempt (The Witcher)
The Time of Contempt (The Witcher)

The second book of witcher saga, to be released in July 2013.

I know it's still a long wait, but believe me, the book is worth waiting for.


Witcher - the game

The Witcher was released as a PC game in 2007 and became an instant hit with RPG players worldwide.

Chronologically, the game happens after events described in books and is not a direct continuation.

I've spent many an hour playing it and it was an enjoyable experience all the way through.

The Witcher 2 has been released in May 2011 and so far has been getting only enthusiastic reviews.

Tasty bite: intro to The Witcher (1) was created by an Oscar-winning Polish graphic designer, Tomasz Baginski. The rumour has it that this 7-minute demo took him more than a year to finish. It seems ridiculously long, but once you watch it you will realise it's worth every second. I don't think I have ever seen more exquisite game intro

Intro to The Witcher by Tomasz Baginski

Unfortunately, the video is in Polish. But in this case it's not about the dialogue. Graphics are unbelievable. And there's no ads (which can't be said about the English version available on You Tube).

Warning: Witcher books and games include some adult content

Did I manage to hook you? Or maybe you are already hooked? Or you want to say something completely different? Go ahead :)

Your take on The Witcher

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      dannystaple 5 years ago

      I'd not known about these - but they definitely may jump the queue a couple of places for my reading list.

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      darkelfdice 6 years ago

      Excellent lens! I quite honestly didn't know much about the Witcher books but the information you've presented has piqued my curiosity. Need something to read this summer and definitely will check it out. Thanks!