So for those of you who have been living under a rock or aren't too up-to-date with new TV releases, there's a new Netflix Original series called the Witcher. The series stars Henry Cavil as our protagonist Geralt of Rivia, Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg, Freya Allen as Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon (aka Ciri) and Joey Batey as Julian Alfred Pankratz (aka Jaskier).
The series is based on short stories by author Andrzej Sapkowski. The short stories then inspired a series of novels which then spawned a video game series, and that leads us back to the Netflix series. It's a lot I know but just goes to show you it's worth giving it a look - now back to the show. To start off, there are a lot of details and storylines throughout the series so it's important you pay attention to what's going on.
For those wondering what type of show this is, I can tell you with absolute confidence that this is not a show suitable for a young audience. The Witcher is a graphic gore-filled fantasy series with swear words being dropped left and right. Not to mention the equally graphic sex scenes I advise watching with people you know can watch and enjoy this or watch in the privacy of your bedroom. To give you a feel for what the show is like, The Witcher has the backstory and intricate character designs like GOT. In fact for the die-hard fans who are struggling to cope with the series ending, this is a great way to fill that void. It also has the magic and expansive fantasy elements of Lord of the Rings. A keynote to keep in mind is that the timeline is a bit all over the place so paying attention is important. When our story starts off, we are in the present and throughout the series and episodes, the story jumps between different points in time. Without spoiling too much at the end of the first season, we catch up with the events set in motion during the first episode.
First things first - let's learn more about our main character. Geralt of Rivia is the witcher from the show's title. To sum it up, a witcher is a monster hunter for hire. They are the result of young boys chosen to undergo extreme training and they receive painful mutations to enhance their abilities at Kaer Mountain (one of the witcher factions). Few survive the trials and those that do may find themselves facing a gruesome death, so being a witcher isn't for everyone. As I mentioned earlier, being a witcher comes with enhanced abilities like quicker healing, increased stamina, speed and agility and more. Our main guy Geralt is known for his striking white hair and glowing orange cat-like eyes. He can be seen carrying two swords with him, a steel sword for regular battles against men and silver for monsters. Geralt can be seen riding his trusty mare named Roach.
Along his journey, Geralt is accompanied by a singing bard name Jaskier. Jaskier is lovable and energetic, he is constantly coming up with songs about their journeys, two of which quickly became popular and huge hits with fans of the show. Jaskier is always talking and flirting with others which have a habit of getting him in trouble and needing someone to bail him out. (Hence his initial friendship with Geralt)
Ciri is the Princess of the kingdom of Cindra. She is the granddaughter of Queen Calanthe, both of whom we are introduced to in the first episode. Why is some random princess important? Well, later on, we learn that her destiny is intertwined very closely with Geralt. (Fans of the show or books will know the details of this). Ciri inherits magical abilities form her mother that we don't know much about. All we know is that she's very important in the course of the war against Nilfgaard.
Yennefer of Vengerberg is a powerful sorceress who we get to know in episode two. Her backstory isn't pretty and neither are the circumstances in which she came upon her powers. Her story quickly is pushed to the forefront by episode three, and she will definitely be someone you want to pay attention to throughout the series.
Now that we've learned a bit more about the more important characters, let's go over what we've known about the world itself. The Continent (aptly named) is the country in which the world of the Witcher resides. To keep from getting too complicated or into the intricate details of the world, let's go over the key places you want to know about. The geography of everything is very complicated and hard to understand, so let's just gloss over that for now.
Cintra is the kingdom we are introduced to in the first episode. Cintra is a major location in the series. Ruled by Queen Calanthe, Cintra plays a huge part in the story progression right off the bat. Skellige is a neighboring country that comes up every now and then in relation to the vast kingdom.
The Nilfgaardian Empire lies just west of Cintra and is essentially the most powerful nation on the Continent. They are our bad guys for the series as they continue their mission to conquer everyone and rule overall. Those that resist, well let's just say they don't meet a very pleasant fate.
Last but not least, we have the magic that inhabits the world - 15,000 years ago the Conjunction occurred which essentially merged several dimensions together. During this occurrence, humans entered the realm of the elves and like most fantasy shows that mix humans and magical creatures, the humans rose to power by slaughtering and dominating the existing races until they became the majority. They also changed the records to reflect that humans were the original rulers. Back to the magic which appeared with the conjunction. Magic, of course, can't be wielded by anyone - it's only for those who are born with an affinity for it; hence the witchers, mages, and sorcerers. The power of magic is commonly referred to as chaos and only the chosen and strong will be able to conquer it.
Well, that's it - everything you should know about the Witcher. Don't worry if this seems overwhelming, the series does a pretty good job of explaining everything and serving it to you in chunks so you can absorb it well enough. For those who aren't familiar with the games or books, don't worry because you can easily follow along without feeling like they've been thrown into the middle of a show. Stayed tuned for part two of my review to see what I thought about the show.