The Witcher – Perfectly Imperfect
By Henry Haight
SNN Staff Writer
Fans of The Witcher series were ecstatic, to say the least, when popular streaming platform Netflix announced that a television adaptation of the series would air on their service starting Dec. 19.
The Witcher is a popular series of novels, short stories, video games and graphic novels that was started in 1993 with the release of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Last Wish, a collection of short stories that revolve around the titular Witcher: Geralt of Rivia. In the series, witchers are beast hunters who are mutated with strange magics and trained from childhood to fight the monsters of the world, both beasts and men, for coin.
The stories revolve around Geralt traveling the land with his partner, Yennefer of Vengerberg, slaying monsters and caring for his adopted daughter and protégé, Ciri, princess of the newly conquered nation of Cintra.
Though the series was started in Poland as a written work, it is nowadays widely known for the series of games produced about its characters by Polish game studio CD Projekt Red. Their games The Witcher, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are considered classics among gamers, their innovative gameplay and incredible stories bringing Sapkowski’s world to life beautifully. There also have been television adaptations of the books in the past in the form of 2002’s The Hexer.
The Netflix series follows Geralt (Henry Cavill) through stories inspired mainly by the first book in the series The Last Wish. Characters such as Ciri (Freya Allan), Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and Jaskier (Joey Batey) join Geralt and go through experiences of their own. Ciri escapes the downfall of Cintra and Geralt earns the moniker Butcher of Blaviken through a bloody conflict.
Episodes take place in a wealth of interesting, beautiful environments, ranging from swamplands, lush forests, welcoming hamlets and dense medieval cities. The cast portray their characters well. Cavill brings Geralt’s battle-hardened stoicism and solemn acceptance of his separation from the world to life, which is wonderfully contrasted by Betey’s performance as the playboy minstrel, Jasker, who happens to be one of Geralt’s closest friends. Allan and Chalotra’s adaptations of the complex characters of Ciri and Yennefer respectively are also top notch. The cast leaves little to be desired.
The soundtrack includes songs ranging from heart-wrenching orchestral compositions to the bard Jasker’s musical tale, Toss a Coin to Your Witcher, which has since become a viral hit with audiences. The action in the show does not disappoint either. Both sword and spell are interwoven into combat without making the scene difficult to understand on a first viewing.
While the show is far from perfect, the occasional delivery of a line can be cringe inducing, and it would be a lie to say the pacing was never too fast or too slow. However, it’s hardly enough to make it a hard watch. Already greenlit for a second season, there’s no doubt The Witcher will improve on its flaws in the episodes to come. If you’re looking for a bingeable fantasy-adventure filled with action, drama and well-developed characters, The Witcher is the series for you.