Book Review: The Witcher Series and Saga

I first encountered Geralt of Rivia while playing “The Witcher” video game series a few months ago. There was a sale on Steam and I’d heard a lot about it. On learning that the video games were based on the books, I gave the series a try and was hooked! There are two main bodies of work – the short stories, and the Witcher Saga. The former deals exclusively with Geralt and hardly ever leaves his POV. The result is one of the mostĀ human fantasy protagonists I’ve ever come across.

Also, these works areĀ dark. And I don’t mean fake “Sword of Truth” kind of dark, but genuinely morally ambiguous where the situation often has no right answer. Geralt is fallible – supremely so. And yet he’s totally awesome. I wonder if he hasn’t ruined less nuanced fantasy for me forever. I’m not usually a fan of short stories, but I’ll make an exception here. Each story delicately peels away another layer from the complex personality of the Witcher Geralt.

The other 5 books or so deal with what is called the “Witcher Saga”. It builds upon one of the most important characters introduced in the short stories – Ciri. But I think the saga lost the plot. For one, there are significant departures from the core “Witcher” story, other characters are introduced, though they never become sprawling like the Song of Ice and Fire, or the Wheel of Time series.

But still…you can just read the short stories of Geralt and not really miss anything important. The few other characters are really very nicely fleshed out as well. Yennefer, Dandelion, Ciri, Calanthe, and Nenneke. If you’re looking for an original character in a fantasy series that you can root for, give Geralt a try. He won’t disappoint.

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