The magical worlds inside books

I need to admit that I started to read the series after The Witcher Netflix series.

There’s been a lot of hype in 2017 when Netflix announced they would turn the book series into TV series with its author, Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, served as creative consultant for the show. In 2018, Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, U.N.C.L.E) was officially cast as the main protagonist of the show – Geralt of Rivia, all thanks to him being “really annoying” in lobbying himself to be cast. He was an avid fan of the role-playing video game, The Witcher, and he was really passionate about the project and the character, he did all he could to be part of it.

The show went on to be Netflix’s Most-Viewed Season One Ever, by its own internal count, 76 million subscribers checked out The Witcher during its first four weeks on the platform. And the rest is history.

So after binge-watching the series over the weekend, I decided to check out the book series, because I need some magic and fantasy in life. I always come to book when I need to make an escape and to feel lost, yet motivated and inspired. So, what’s better than a series of 8 books that can bring you on a journey, from one end of the world to the others, lots of monsters-slashing, political scheming, friendships, heroism and intimate scenes in between?

The Witcher books: Reading Order

The Witcher is a fantasy series of novels and short stories written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The series revolves around the titular “witcher”, Geralt of Rivia.

Andrzej Sapkowski, before turning to writing, he had worked as a senior sales representative for a foreign trade company. He wrote his first short story, “The Witcher” (“Wiedźmin”, also translated “The Hexer” or “Spellmaker”) on a whim, in order to enter a contest by Polish science fiction and fantasy magazine Fantastyka. Thanks to his knowledge in sales and marketing, he won 3rd prize. Sapkowski has created a cycle of tales based on the world of “The Witcher”, comprising three collections of short stories and five novels. This cycle and his other works have made him one of the best-known fantasy authors in Poland in the 1990s.

The series revolves around the titular “witcher”, Geralt of Rivia. The main character of “The Witcher” is Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter – a mutant, trained for this since childhood. Over the course of his adventures across lands, Destiny has led him to meet with many people and thus, his fate and many are bound together.

Where do we start?

PCGamer has a comprehensive beginner’s guide to dive in the World of Witcher. You can also check out this comprehensive review from Reality is Overrated.

The published orders of the books are:

Short story collections:

  • Sword of Destiny (original Polish version: 1992/English: 2015)
  • The Last Wish (Polish: 1993/English: 2007)

The Witcher Saga

  • Blood of Elves (Polish: 1994/English: 2008)
  • Time of Contempt (Polish: 1995/English: 2013)
  • Baptism of Fire (Polish: 1996/English: 2014)
  • The Tower of the Swallow (Polish: 1997/English: 2016)
  • The Lady of the Lake (Polish: 1999/English: 2017)

Standalone novel

  • Season of Storms (Polish: 2013/English: 2018)

[You can visit Book Depository to get the entire series]

I followed the order recommended by PCGamer, so my orders of reading was:

  • The Last Wish (1993)
  • Sword of Destiny (1992)
  • Season of Storms (2013)
  • Blood of Elves (1994)
  • Time of Contempt (1995)
  • Baptism of Fire (1996)
  • The Tower of the Swallow (1997)
  • The Lady of the Lake (1999)
  • Season of Storms (2013) – I’ll explain later

The short stories of The Last Wish come first in the chronology of The Witcher universe, as it’s the introduction to Geralt of Rivia, sorceresses Yennefer of Vengerberg, and singing bard Dandelion (renamed Jaskier in Netflix’s The Witcher TV series) through various adventures. You will be pleasantly surprise in the characters – ‘side quests’ – that Geralt encountered with along the way. If the stories seem vaguely familiar to you, it’s because author Sapkowski tends to toy with the reader by hinting that the story they are reading is somehow related to the fairy tales . We will also see the origin of the ‘Law of Surprise’ that ties him to Princess Ciri.

Sword of Destiny provides the backstory of young Ciri, and how the relationship between Geralt and Yennefer evolves over times.

Season of Storms can be read right after Sword of Destiny, because the stories take place within the stories of The Last Wish. It’s not essential to the overall story arc, many hints of things that will later come to pass in the main saga are given. That’s why after you have finished the last book, Lady of the Lake, you can return to Season of Storms while your memory is still fresh. You will many moments of Aha.

Rereading The Season of Storms remind me of the symbol Ouroboros – the serpent that catches its own tails in its teeth that mentioned in the book. The past, the present and future lurk in every moment of time. It’s the Universe’s eternally cyclic nature, which creates life out of destruction Something ends, something begins.

Overall, this has been one hell of an escape from the real world. I read these books none stops for a few months, reliving the feelings I had the first time I read Harry Potter – personally, The Witcher series gives me the same vibe of magical world, but with more adult issues. This has been a joyride and I can’t wait to see what Netflix can do to bring the characters to live again.

Time is like the ancient Ouroboros. Time is fleeting moments, grains of sand passing through an hourglass. Time is the moments and events we so readily try to measure. But the ancient Ouroboros reminds us that in every moment, in every instant, in every event, is hidden the past, the present, and the future. Eternity is hidden in every moment. Every departure is at once a return, every farewell is a greeting, every return is a parting. Everything is simultaneously a beginning and an end.

The Lady of the Lake

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