If you are a lover of Fantasy, you HAVE to check out The Witcher! I would have happily binged watched all 8 episodes on Netflix, in one sitting, if I had the time. But it sucks to be an adult sometimes and chores and work had me spacing it out over 3 days.
Full disclosure, I knew nothing of the fandom when I started the show. I have since learned that there is a PC game and a book series which I’m dying to check out as well. If you were a fan well before now, I invite you to give me the full 411!
So the show follows the story line of 3 main characters – Geralt of Rivia (played by Henry Cavill), Yennefer of Vengerberg (played by Anya Chalotra), and Princess Cirilla (or Ciri) of Cintra (played by Freya Allan). Again, since I haven’t read the books, I can’t comment on how close the Netflix series is to the original canon. I also want to mention that since this a streaming service and not an American cable company, there are elements of sex, nudity, profanity, abuse, incest, and murder. It’s not quite Game of Thrones but still a little racy for the younger crowd. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under the age of 17.
Anyway, I was a little confused at first and you may be too, so here’s another little PSA… The show’s timeline jumps around without warning or clear “marker” to designate when we are in time. If you think you’re going to get a date or something to keep yourself straight, think again! For example, even though in the first episode we’re introduced to the 3 main characters, they are not at the same point in time physically. So try to mentally follow each character on their own journey and don’t place everyone’s story on a linear trajectory to that one.
I know that sounds really messed up but let me try and make it clearer… Geralt’s story begins before he has met Yennefer, agrees to the Law of Surprise, or even knows about Ciri and his entwined destiny with her. We meet Yennefer well before her transformation and follow her through her ascension as a sorceress. At points, hers and Geralt’s stories cross paths (after he’s years into his cinematic timeline) then diverge and come together again. Finally, we have Ciri. If we’re looking at linear timeline, her story would start about half to two-thirds into Geralt’s but we’re shown it at the very beginning of the Netflix series. Her storyline is separate for the most part and doesn’t become mixed with Geralt and by extension, Yennefer’s, until the last 3 episodes or so. Clear as mud, right? Honestly, it didn’t all click for me either until Episode 7.
Moving on, I really like Geralt’s character. I don’t want to say he’s a dying breed because apparently Witchers are sterile, but there’s not many Witchers left on the Continent. Feared for their strength and ruthlessness, Witchers are shunned by society as a whole. Treated more like a wild animal than human. Transformed by magic into a Witcher, we learn that unlike most others, it wasn’t Geralt’s choice. He was more or less sold into the group that created him by his mother. Now he travels the lands, dispatching monsters for coin. He allows people to believe that he can’t feel human emotions but I got the impression that that wasn’t the case at all. Without any friends, he briefly picks up a bard that follows him around in order to gain fodder for his profession. That lasts until Geralt goes off on him. Twice.
Yennefer is another well created character. Born severely misshapen, she’s also treated no better than an animal. It’s not until a sorceress comes along and offers to purchase her from her family (for less than the price of a hog!) that things change for Yennefer. Unfortunately it’s not completely for the better. The rectoress that saved her learns of Yennefer’s elven blood and uses the information for personal gain. Yennefer gets caught between the woman and a rival wizard, each vying to put their pupil forward as the magical advisor to the throne and thus, gaining control of the country. Used as a spy and mainly for her extraordinary magical abilities, Yennefer eventually gets tired of the games and desires real power of her own. Upsetting the established norms, she leaves her fellow mages and becomes a loner. It’s as a loner that she meets Geralt. They have an instant and tumultuous connection but we’re left wondering if it’s doomed.
Princess Cirilla, or Ciri, rounds out the trio. At times I felt for her and others I wanted to smack her. She is, as most princesses are, coddled to the point of being entitled. Bratty and rude sometimes, she has no idea what it’s like to be on her own and completely incapable of fending for herself. But once her kingdom is attacked and she’s forced to flee for her life, she learns these lessons and also that not everyone can or should be trusted. She see that life among the peasants isn’t as golden as the nobles had believed either. Ciri really is a “fish out of water”. Over time she learns to hide who she is and steal to feed herself. Constantly on the run and afraid, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that she discovers she has a deadly magical power that she can’t control. Armed with this and nothing other than explicit instructions to find Geralt, Ciri stumbles through the Continent getting constantly captured and escaping.
I don’t want to say much about the ending because I don’t want to give it away but it’s really good! Trully, the whole story and world building was awesome. From the shape-shifter to golden dragon to the bard (“toss a coin to your Witcher”). The special effects on that last battle were especially amazing in my uneducated opinion too! Like I said, the show has definitely made me want to check out the book series. Oh, and keep an eye on when Season 2 is going to come out!