Netflixing: The Witcher – Season 1

I’ve been missing a good dark fantasy for a while and this certainly fulfilled it! It was better than I thought it would be, also, the soundtrack rocks!

I can say now with confidence if you play Dungeons & Dragons, enjoy BBC’s Merlin, Game of Thrones (Season 1-4), anything Polish or just love fantasy, powerful women, bromances or grey morality this is the series for you!

Summary:

In fantasy Medieval continent full of magic, mages, corruption, royalty and a lot of monsters is The Witcher named Gerald of Rivia. Kingdoms battle one another and Destiny tries to veer things to their proper place. In the past Yennefer of Vengerbergs journey to her power and Ciri, closer to the future Crown Princess of Cintra is destined to mee Gerald of Rivia. But when machinations and missteps lead the continent close to war none of them are truly safe.

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Based on the best selling book series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski whose Medieval Fantasy world he has written since the 1980s till today (the last book was 2013) has spawned countless games from cards to boardgames. They have become a hit in Eastern Europe and because of the video games (more about them below) and this series they are now a hit all around the world.

The Witcher books in chronological order:

  • The Last Wish (2007) Collection of short stories
  • Sword of Destiny (2015) Collection of short stories
  • Blood of Elves (2008)
  • Time of Contempt (2013)
  • Baptism of Fire (2014)
  • The Tower of the Swallow (2016)
  • Lady of the Lake (2016)
  • Season of Storms (2018)

The Witcher books in publication order:

  • The Last Wish (2007) Collection of short stories
  • Blood of Elves (2008)
  • Time of Contempt (2013)
  • Baptism of Fire (2014)
  • Sword of Destiny (2015) Collection of short stories
  • The Tower of the Swallow (2016)
  • Lady of the Lake (2016)
  • Season of Storms (2018)

And that is not to mention the famous video games that are well regarded. With the third The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt being considered the best game of 2015 if not all time, but that is up for one’s own preferences in the end. Anyway, if magic battles, emotional stories and a father-daughter duo is for you then go ahead.

The video game story is set after the initial series of books and short stories. But it is a great way to spend some time with the world and the characters if you feel so inclined.

Now to the show. I really, really, really enjoyed it! It is unashamedly fantasy all the way, magic is prominent and there are enough politics between all shown to stab at with a knife. It is dark fantasy with moral ambiguities, dark lighting, but you can see what is going on and it is gorgeously shot, presented and edited. The three timelines are thematically connected going to the same ending point, but just starting from different points in time. Yennefer is first, then Gerald and finally Ciri. All meet at the end (I hardly think it’s a spoiler since it’s so clear).

Henry Cavill as Gerald of Rivia is excellent as the gruff, no nonsense Witcher. A confessed fan of both the books and the series he was made for this role and I can’t imagine anyone else doing the part. His mad skills with a sword, seducing both sexes just by his presence (#JaskierGerald4Ever) and quipping dry humour that will give you a chuckle. Also he has wonderful chemistry with Jaskier, the bard, played by Joey Batey who is like a ray of sunshine daisies with a wonderful voice and whose banter with Gerald is the height of married couples doing the same.

Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg is both beautiful and frail, complicated yet understandably simple in her motivations. She is human in the worse ways, but also a Sorceress in the best of ways. There are those that hate her or don’t like her. I personally understand why she does what she does, but there is no denying she is still someone who makes mistakes in a body that might be new, but inside she is still the same girl from a pig farm.

Freya Allen as Cirilla or “Ciri” is our third protagonist with power others want to control. She is awfully smart and resourceful and though her situation is one of a Damsel she is certainly not one who has to be saved all the time.

A special mention must be given to Jodhi May as Queen Calanthe, ruler of the Kingdom of Cintra and grandmother of Princess Cirilla. Her acting is splendid in portraying a woman who ultimately does bad things, but who is strong, enjoyed battle and is confident – if not blinded by prejudice and racism. She is the kind of a villain one can love just for how badass she is while not condoning her actions.

This show is ultimately one that might reach a lot of people and I hope it does. It is fresh, though it does have it’s share of cliché’s here and there, but it is done so enjoyably it hardly matters. It is essentially a world with darkness in it, but it doesn’t make it gratuitous, the nudity is hardly shocking anymore since GOT and the characters and their interactions are the kind that I love personally above all.

If you are not ready to watch or read this kind of Dark Fantasy but like the Polish setting and culture that is the books then I suggest picking up Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver. Both medieval fantasy set in a Poland kind of land, except women are main POV characters and like The Witcher books take some gleeful reinterpretation and motifs from classic fairy tales!

Also this video helped me clear things out before watching the show. Goes a bit in to the further episodes, but doesn’t show or tell anything in any major spoiler way! I mean, it’s not hard to guess where things will go, but the WAY they go is another thing all together. 

Thank you for reading! 

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