Netflix’s Witcher vs. The Games vs. The Books

Player number 3 has entered the game. Most of us know the story of The Witcher (at least The Wild Hunt). Some of us may have even read the books. We’ve compared which is better for the past couple of years and seemingly exhausted all points. But we’re not done yet. Dust off the books and reload your save game because we have a new iteration of The Witcher to pick apart.

January 15, 2020

We all have our dream cast in our mind. When we imagined The Witcher coming to life on the small screen, it took us around a minute to know who we wanted. Let’s get this out of the way: Mads Mikkelsen as Geralt and Eva Green as Yennefer. I know.

We were all clamoring for the Hannibal actor to play Geralt and the fan artwork just made us all the more convinced he was a perfect choice. The same goes for Eva Green: the eyes, the hair, the bone structure, the attitude, all fit perfectly with how the game shows these great characters.

Other popular choices (but not necessarily a consensus) were Evan Rachel Wood, Jessica Chastain, or Deborah Ann Woll for Triss and Emma Watson or Natalie Dormer for Ciri. We can argue about the perfect choices forever, and people on Reddit have, feel free to look it up. However, they’re not happening and it’s time we accept it and look at Netflix’s Witcher series with an open mind.

THE WITCHER NETFLIX VS. GAME VS. BOOKS

So, let’s focus on what did happen and who we know from the Witcher Netflix series that just aired on Netflix. More importantly, we’re going to compare it all, from Sapkowski’s books, CD Projekt Red’s game, and Netflix’s newly released show.

Warning: This article contains spoilers from the Witcher games and Netflix adaptation. 

GERALT OF RIVIA

Protagonist. Skilled fighter. Clever. More than meets the eye. Overall badass monster hunter.

BOOKS
Skinny
Overall unsettling appearance
Pale white hair
Pale skin
Unpleasant voice
Heavily scarred
Ugly smile
No beard
“Dark” eyes
Nondescript wolf medallion
Back sword & hip sword
Sulky
Emotionally vulnerable
Realistically powerful
Fierce

Artwork by Afternoon63

VIDEOGAME
Toned
Handsome
Grizzled hair
Pale skin
Deep voice
Scarred
Charming smile
Beard (usually)
Emphasis on golden eyes
Complex wolf medallion
Two back swords
Stoic
Smartass
Too powerful
Confident
NETFLIX
Superman-level of buff
Handsome
> Grizzled hair
Pale skin
> Deep voice
Potentially scarred
Hollywood smile
No beard
Emphasis on golden eyes
Practical wolf medallion
One sword on back, one on Roach
Stoic
Circumspect
Balanced
Fierce

Actor: Henry Cavill
Official description: Twitter

BOOK GERALT

Presented as “lanky”, “skinny”, no beard, and full of scar tissue (basically “made of sinews”). Geralt’s voice was described as “unpleasant” and had an ugly, “malicious” smile. Book Geralt might’ve not precisely had the ruggedly good looks that had all the sorceresses swooning. In fact, his appearance, with pale skin, milk-white, loose hair and “odd”, “dark” eyes frightened some people.

However, that doesn’t mean he was doing badly at all when it came to the opposite sex. In fact, without giving spoilers, I’ll just say he was doing much better among the sorceresses than the game showed. It just means he wasn’t the “metrosexual fruitcake” Reddit loves to call him. The first game got it a bit closer to the description in the books. A couple of scars here and there and he would’ve been even closer.

GAME GERALT

A buff, but still lean physique, handsome face, charming smile, and definitely not scary. Honestly, I have no idea why NPCs referred to his looks as weird or scary when you walked around towns, especially those darn kids and hissing cats. The game did not insist on his “monster” appearance too much, except the cat eyes. Granted, he had the scars but only to make him look more interesting and hint at his experience.

CD Projekt Red did say that it wasn’t their intention to make Geralt much more handsome than the books but that simply went with their vision.

Regardless, the developers seem aware of the change, since he was called “pretty boy” several times throughout the story. In addition, his voice was deep, a little husky, recognizable, and overall pleasant.

There are definitely attempts to make Geralt much cooler than he is in the Witcher books. We can’t blame them. They found the perfect middle between the typical-looking gruff protagonist that’s popular in the industry and the more grounded description from Sapkowski’s books.

 

NETFLIX GERALT

Even buffer. Before I start: I have no major issues with Henry Cavill as Geralt, even if he wasn’t my first, second, or third choice. I waited and hoped he would be good, especially after hearing how passionate Cavill is about the role at The Witcher Panel at San Diego Comic Con 2019.

The British actor was included in the Netflix Witcher cast and managed to beat 200 others for the part. Lauren Hissrich saw something that made him a perfect Geralt of Rivia. Some would argue that she saw it before the rest of the world did or at least most of it.

Anyone can see that Cavill maintained his Superman form that doesn’t quite match the “lanky” and “skinny” witcher described in the books. It was a cause of worry and a lot of memes online. Geralt is certainly supposed to be athletic, but the Netflix Witcher series does present him as a bit more intimidating in that respect.

*Updated after Netflix Witcher show released

I saw it. I loved it. Along with the rest of the fandom, I sighed in relief seeing his hair get toned down from the disastrous first impression wig that made even Christopher Lambert’s Rayden giggle. They have toned down the laughable plastic-looking wig and created believable grizzled-looking hair, often covered by dirt and blood.

Once again, the emphasis was placed on the golden eyes, also prevalent in the games, but not quite in the books. It could be considered a change inspired by CD Projekt Red’s work, but a good one.

Even if Sapkowski’s doesn’t fully describe them, it might’ve been too alienating to fans to show Geralt without his famous golden cat eyes. As a matter of fact, Sapkowski stated that he is more than happy with Cavill’s performance in the show:

 “I was more than happy with Henry Cavill’s appearance as The Witcher,” Sapkowski told People. “He’s a real professional. Just as Viggo Mortensen gave his face to Aragorn [in The Lord of the Rings], so Henry gave his to Geralt — and it shall be forever so.”

Now, let’s get into the things the Witcher Netflix show nailed through Cavill’s performance: voice. In the Witcher 3 – The Wild Hunt, Geralt has a distinguishable, rough, deep voice as portrayed beautifully by Doug Cockle. You can’t see him without that voice and Cavill did it justice. More importantly, he embodied the stoicism and gruff behavior with a few smartass replies thrown in there for charm.

Cavill’s performance showed the passion he has for the series and the character himself. You can tell he’s played the games and read the books. It wasn’t just for PR. He did his research and he trained. Honestly, I see more passion in him playing Geralt than his Superman role.

(NETFLIX SHOW SPOILER INCOMING) One big change from books is similar to what the games did. Geralt is mostly a good guy. In the books, he does have his “oh, this guy’s kinda of a jerk” moments. While some of them showed when discussing Yen’s wish to have a child, one of the most important ones was during the banquet when the Law of Surprise is put into play with Pavetta and Duny’s child. In the series, it seems like a throwaway comment from Geralt and he appeared to be as surprised as anyone to learn she was pregnant. I believe the word “fuck” was used. In the books, however, it was a calculated decision. Geralt could sense the life in Pavetta’s womb and purposefully invoked the Law of Surprise, knowing that she would have to give up her child to him. Why? Because witchers were a dying breed and he wanted to train one himself. Kind of a dick move, though.

YENNEFER OF VENGERBERG

Powerful sorceress with a don’t-mess-with-me attitude, vain and she knows it, but ultimately kind.

BOOKS
Black, wavy hair
Violet eyes
Pale white skin
Sharp features
Short
Flawed beauty
Deep voice
Star obsidian necklace
Black & white
Fiery
Proud
Shrewd
Witty
VIDEOGAME
Black, straight hair
Violet eyes
Pale white skin
Strong features
Tall
Flawlessly beautiful
Slightly British
Star obsidian necklace
Black & white
Fiery
Proud
Untrusting
Contradictory
NETFLIX
Black, straight hair
Violet eyes
Warm undertone
Soft features
Average height
Realistically beautiful
Actually British
Star obsidian necklace
Black attire
Fiery
Proud
Shrewd
Contradictory

Actress: Anya Chalotra
Official description: Twitter

BOOK YENNEFER

Even in the books, Yennefer was famed for her beauty. She was often described as having “raven black hair” that fell down her shoulders in “curls”, and piercing “violet eyes”. Words such as “ravishing” and “menacing” (“Sword of Destiny” by Andrzej Sapkowski) were used to present the sorceress. However, the books do emphasize on a few flaws, caught only by Geralt’s sharp senses.

Through Geralt’s eyes, we know Yennefer has slightly sloped shoulders, subtly irregular eyebrows, and a long nose. These are mere hints to a rougher background that I will not go into for fear of spoilers.

In addition, book Yennefer does seem to favor black and white clothing as well to go with her trademark accessory: the obsidian star on black velvet hanging on around her neck.

GAME YENNEFER

In the Wild Hunt, the only game of the Witcher series where she is present, Yennefer stays true to the description in the books: beautiful and menacing. The developers kept the raven black hair and spectacular violet eyes. Her beauty was mentioned even by those who despised her or felt intimidated.

However, CD Projekt Red opted for slightly stronger features. This made fans of the series instantly imagine Eva Green as the sorceress.

yennefer alternative costume

Yennefer’s Alternative Look from Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Unlike the books, though, which mentioned Yen’s flaws through a witcher’s sharp eyes, the game did not. Outside of the quick tidbit in the cinematic at the beginning of the game that hints at her past, the raven-haired sorceress is nothing short of flawlessly beautiful.

The same black and white attire remained her favored style, emphasized by both her Alternative look and Geralt’s quip at the beginning of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.

 

NETFLIX YENNEFER

There’s no doubt that no one thought of Anya Chalotra when making their dream cast for the Witcher on Netflix. The showrunner has kept to the source material and taken some liberties where Yennefer is concerned. One of the biggest concerns was, obviously, her appearance. Chalotra didn’t look intimidating enough to play Yen, has softer features, and a warm undertone to her skin. The sorceress is a complicated character and a majority of the fandom will judge harshly.

*Updated after Netflix Witcher show released

Anya Chalotra stole the show, in my opinion. In fact, I will go as far as to say she had the best acting performance in Netflix’s Witcher series. Perhaps it was not the most accurate character portrayal (I believe Cavill’s Geralt was closer), but she dominated every scene. As someone who loves Yennefer as a character, I was prepared to pick it apart and find flaws. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see this raw and passionate dedication to a role that’s paramount to this complex story.

The focus on her origins was wonderful, showing us a side of Yen that we barely read about in the books and hinted in the games. It tied incredibly well with who she has become. Yen’s arch is about the powerless becoming powerful, both in beauty and magic, and how that changes only the surface, but not the scars left on the inside. I found myself forgiving any differences in her appearance. I’m now happy that she only maintained the stark purple color of her eyes that was iconic to Yen. Most other complaints were lost in how good the show’s producers and actress handled this character.

CIRI

A girl of noble background, tied by destiny, and who belongs to a very powerful bloodline. Also, OP in the game.

BOOKS
Ashen-gray hair
Green eyes
Pale skin
Scar on her cheek (later)
Resilient
Dangerous
Arrogant
A little spoiled

Artwork by JustAnor

VIDEOGAME
Ashen-gray hair
Green eyes
Pale skin
Scar on her cheek (later)
Resilient
Troublemaker
Brazen
Eager to learn
NETFLIX
Ashen-gray hair
Green eyes
Pale skin
No scar yet
Resilient
Relentless
Brazen
Growing

Actress: Freya Allan
Official description: Twitter

BOOK CIRI

The Witcher books don’t go too heavily into Ciri’s appearance, mostly referring to her ashen hair and emerald green eyes. The rest are mere details that can be glossed over, such as slightly boyish build, pale skin, and otherwise a “common lass” in appearance, perhaps even “pretty”.

When we first meet her, Ciri is around 8 to 9 years old, growing into a teenager over the course of the books who’s very agile and slender due to her witcher training.

Ciri’s most distinguishing feature remains the “nasty” scar on her cheek, acquired a little later in life. In addition, the books do venture further into the effect her past has on her personality, describing her eyes as full of hatred and hungry for vengeance.

GAME CIRI

We briefly meet Ciri as a teenager at the beginning of the game as she’s undergoing witcher training. She’s missing the “nasty” scar on her cheek but maintains all other features mentioned in Sapkowski’s books. Ciri is a born troublemaker with ashen-gray hair and brilliant green eyes.

A couple of years down the line, the developers give her the deep scar often mentioned over the course of the books. However, they don’t explain how she got it. Once again, I will not mention it due to potential spoilers.

The developers did leave a small clue on one of their Gwent cards, though. It’s in the form of a quote “My mark scars the face of our future empress. That is my proudest achievement.”.

 

NETFLIX CIRI

Let’s just skip over the controversy that surrounded Ciri’s casting in the beginning. The showrunner of The Witcher Netflix adaptation, Lauren Hissrich, cast Freya Allan as the powerful witcher-in-training-at-the-time. Within the descriptions offered and appearance throughout the series, the actress seems to fit the role of young Ciri just fine.

It now remains to be seen how far the Witcher Netflix series will go with her story. Will we jump in time? Does that mean a recasting of Ciri as she grows older? We can’t say much on this choice until future seasons. Hopefully, the quality of the Netflix Witcher show will be high enough to maintain good ratings and we’ll get to dive deeper into the rich world of The Witcher books.

*Updated after Netflix Witcher show released

Like most, I too consider Ciri’s arch to be the weakest out of the three protagonists, but I also know it’s for a good reason. There was not much for her to do, and I highly expected a bit more out of her visit to the dryads. There was not much to work with for Freya Allan and there aren’t any complaints in regards to her performance as beloved Cirilla. There aren’t any praises either, but let’s face it, there wasn’t much for her to do.

We got a hint of her powers and perhaps a taste of her naivety before the tragedy unfolded. I fully expect Allan to be given much more to work in the second season. Hopefully, we’ll see the same passion for the character as Cavill and Chalotra show for theirs.

TRISS MERIGOLD

Young sorceress, like a sister to Ciri, skilled healer. Horrible person.

BOOKS
Chestnut-red hair
Cornflower blue eyes
Unspecified
Scar on chest (later)
Cheerful
Idealistic
Naive
Manipulative

Artwork by JustAnor

VIDEOGAME
Ginger hair
Green eyes
Pale skin
No scars
Outgoing
Idealistic
Insecure
Conflicted
NETFLIX
Brown hair
Brown eyes
Warm undertone
No scars (early on)
Spunky
Idealistic
Insecure
Conflicted

Actress: Anna Shaffer
Official description: Twitter

BOOK TRISS

I know fans will always be in a heated debate of Yennefer vs. Triss, and that both are important characters in the Witcher game series. Triss appears in all three games and Yen in just the Wild Hunt.

However, in the books, everyone’s favorite ginger sorceress is not that prominent. Or that ginger for that matter. Triss Merigold has a minor role in Sapkowski’s books, a slightly bigger one in Blood of Elves (the third chronological book), but that’s about it.

Her presence in the Netflix Witcher series might be one of the elements inserted for the sake of the fans of the game. If not for CD Projekt Red’s work, I doubt we would’ve gotten Triss in the Netflix show outside of being a minor character.

That’s why there are not a lot of descriptions of the young sorceress in the books, outside of her having blue eyes and chestnut hair with “sheen of red”. We assume the rest.

In addition, Triss acquires a potentially ugly scar on her chest during a battle. She says she will never be able to wear a deep neckline again, which was definitely not the case in the game. The Triss Alternative Look was not subtle about it.

GAME TRISS

triss alternative costume

Triss’ Alternative Look in Witcher 3: Wild Hunt showing the lack of scar on her chest.

Triss Merigold has gained favor from the fans in the Witcher games. She’s by Geralt’s side from the first one and has much more screen time than a Witcher series book reader would’ve thought. In fact, she’s the “default romance option,” as horrible as that sounds. The games basically start with her as Geralt’s lover and close friend.

Her bright red hair and freckles have become a trademark for the sorceress, along with her bright green eyes. One would think these features would’ve made her much easier to find by the Eternal Flame, along with being incredibly beautiful, but alas.

The developers took a lot of liberties with Triss as a character and her looks. Once again, I can’t help but agree with the changes CD Projekt Red made to make the story more interesting and the character more memorable.

In fact, it has been noted by fans that the developers did push Triss a bit too much as a romance option for Geralt rather than Yen. It’s debatable and I can never bring myself to pick her, but that’s just me. Looking forward to seeing what the Netflix Witcher series does with Triss as a character and if they take her further than Geralt’s fleeting romantic interest.

 

NETFLIX TRISS

Here we go, possibly the most controversial casting choice for the Netflix Witcher series. The showrunner cast Anna Shaffer and people are not pleased. The hair, the eyes, the skin color, everything seems to not match the image fans have in mind.

Admittedly, Netflix appears to have distanced themselves a little bit from the Triss we know in the books and game in terms of appearance. I agree. It’s not quite how I imagined the sorceress, even while reading the books.

*Updated after Netflix Witcher show released

The general consensus remains that Triss was miscast, and I tend to agree with that. However, I do believe it’s being made into a bigger issue than it is, considering her very minor role in the story. There was nothing memorable about Triss in the Netflix show through no one’s fault. It’s a matter of game-bias mostly, as her role is mostly insignificant in the books.

In fact, the showrunners seemed to have understood how important Triss is to the fandom and included her in places she shouldn’t even have been, such as by Foltest’s side during the Striga crisis. Even so, they are inserting the character in the first season more than she should be. However, I do understand people wanting to see her as the beautiful redhead who accompanied Geralt everywhere. Sadly for them, I also know that if they follow the books, her part in the story will be bigger in the following seasons but still smaller than fans of the games are used to.

I do commend the showrunners for including the tidbit of her wound at the Battle of Sodden. That scar on her chest will be there as a mark of her bravery, something the game didn’t show.

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DANDELION / JASKIER

The Bard of every D&D party: flamboyant, the comedic relief, valuable in surprising ways, rarely knows when to shut up.

BOOKS
Jaskier
Blond hair
Blue eyes
Pale skin
Extravagant
Caddish
Practical
Loyal

Artwork by JustAnor

VIDEOGAME
Dandelion
Brown hair
Blue eyes
Pale skin
Extravagant
A little cowardly
Foolish
Loyal
NETFLIX
Jaskier
Light brown hair
Blue eyes
Pale skin
Extravagant
Caddish
Loose-lipped
Loyal

Actor: Joey Batey
Official description: Twitter

BOOK JASKIER

Presented as Jaskier, you’d be surprised to know that the bard was much more useful in the books than he was in the games. While he remains an extravagant character, often serving as the comical relief, he also challenged Geralt, nearly forcing moments of self-reflection. I consider him to be vastly underrated. Jaskier often seemed like Geralt’s human side, a loyal friend who never judged him for what he was. In fears of spoilers, I will stop there. There was always more to him than met the eye.

“A peal of laughter and the strumming of a lute resounded in the corridor and there, on the threshold of the library stood Dandelion in a lilac jerkin with lace cuffs, his hat askew. The troubadour bowed exaggeratedly at the sight of Nenneke, the heron feather pinned to his hat sweeping on the floor.” – The Last Wish

GAME DANDELION

Perhaps due to rough translation or simply a matter of making it easier, CD Projekt Red changed Jaskier’s name into the now better-known Dandelion. As a narrator throughout the Witcher games, he has been a near-constant partner and friend to Geralt. We get to know him as a flamboyant womanizer, hopelessly optimistic, but perhaps one of the most loyal companions. While quite a liar and a bit selfish at times, Dandelion is easily one of the most liked characters in the series. And, in small moments, we catch a glimpse of how truly caring and brave he actually is, risking himself to help Ciri and going as far as he needs to protect the people he loves.

NETFLIX JASKIER

*Updated after Netflix Witcher show released
If you kept up with Netflix’s Witcher casting, you would know how many people complained about Joey Batey taking the role of beloved Jaskier. I’m happy to say that it seems all those worries melted away. Jaskier was another scene thief, throwing his flamboyant personality and loud nature onto the screen with the perfect amount of charm to make it funny. We watch him struggle and push himself into Geralt’s life, craving a life of adventure and stories to tell.

It’s wonderful to see the beginning of this friendship. Granted, for most of the show, it seems one-sided. However, it’s a testament to both Jaskier’s lust for adventure and his ability to see that there’s a good heart inside the disgruntled witcher. Now I want to see the show tackle his philosophical personality a bit more. And more catchy songs. “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” was in my head for days on end, on a loop. Even the actor agrees that it’s the most annoyingly catchy song we’ve heard on a show for a while.

EMHYR

Emperor. Father of Ciri. Usually the source of tension. If you know him, you saw him.

BOOKS
Black hair
Brown eyes
Imperialistic
Practical
Monarchical
Masquerader
VIDEOGAME
Black hair
Brown eyes
Imperialistic
Rigid
Monarchical
Masquerader
NETFLIX
Black hair
Brown eyes
Imperialistic
Ruthless
Monarchical
Masquerader

Actor: Bart Edwards (young)
Official description: Twitter

FRINGILLA VIGO

Member of the Lodge of Sorceresses. Geralt’s lover and a bit of a rival to Yen and Triss.

BOOKS
Dark, short hair
Green eyes
Pale skin
Relatively important role

Artwork by CloudsDevourer

VIDEOGAME
Dark, short hair
Green eyes
Pale skin
Minor role
NETFLIX
Dark, short hair
Brown eyes
Darker skin tone
Season 1 villain

Actress: Mimi Ndiweni

BOOK FRINGILLA

“And Fringilla Vigo, the youngest, friendly, with a natural grace and simple elegance, with green eyes and hair as black as Yennefer’s, but less abundant, shorter and combed smooth” – Baptism of Fire

The book continues to describe Fringilla as having “large lustrous eyes highlighted with green shadow.” She is also often described as wearing her hair cropped short in a lace cap. Now, here’s where it gets controversial. At the ending of Lady of the Lake (page 411), the author specifically says:

“And Fringilla Vigo. Dejected. Sad. And pale with a truly deathly, morbid, utterly ghastly paleness.” 

Before this moment, Fringilla’s complexion was never described.

GAME FRINGILLA

Fringilla Vigo is a Nilfgaardian sorceress and a member of the Lodge of Sorcerers. She is also the second cousin of Anna Henrietta of Toussaint. In the game, Fringilla remains mostly true to her description in the book.

 

NETFLIX FRINGILLA

Although she is canonically white in the books, the Netflix showrunner preferred to go with a different type of cast. While it’s easy to see why it’s a controversial choice, it’s hardly a matter to say the character is ruined. There are other, more unsettling differences. Like the fact that her allegiance to Nilfgaard and much of her story has been changed for unclear purposes. We’ll see how this plays out in future seasons, or if her family heritage will even be mentioned. All in all, Mimi Ndiweni did a good job at portraying the sorceress in the Netflix Series. 

MOUSESACK / ERMION

Wise druid. A caretaker for Ciri and an advisor for Geralt.

BOOKS
Flaxen hair
Black eyes
Wise
Intelligent

Artwork by CD Projekt Red

VIDEOGAME
Grey hair
Green eyes
Wise
Intelligent
NETFLIX
Brown/ graying hair
Green eyes
Wise
Intelligent

Actor: Adam Levy

KING FOLTEST

King of Temeria with a “controversial” family.

BOOKS
Red hair
Unspecified
Pale skin
Decisive
Hot-headed
Controversial

Artwork by Witcher Fandom

VIDEOGAME
Brown hair
Brown eyes
Pale skin
Decisive
Hot-headed
Likeable
NETFLIX
Light brown hair
Blue eyes
Pale skin
Incestuous
Hot-headed
Scared, Unkingly

Actor: Shaun Dooley

REGIS

An eloquent vampire who proves that not all powerful monsters are cruel.

BOOKS
Grey hair
Black eyes
Inhumanly pale
Eloquent
Selfless
Wordly
Haunted

Artwork by Afternoon63

VIDEOGAME
Grey hair
Black eyes
Inhumanly pale
Eloquent
Wise
Wordly
Haunted
NETFLIX
Unknown yet
Unknown yet
Unknown yet
Eloquent
Ensconced
Wordly
Haunted

Actor: Unknown
Official description: Twitter

CAHIR

A brave, skilled, and charming warrior with a ridiculously tough name to pronounce. Or spell. Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach. Go ahead. Give it a shot.

BOOKS
Dark brown
Blue eyes
Pale skin
Conflicted
Charismatic
Haunted
Pure of heart
VIDEOGAME
Did not appear
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
NETFLIX
Light brown
Blue eyes
Pale skin
Conflicted
Zealot
Haunted
Menacing

Actor: Eamon Farren
Official description: Twitter

BOOK CAHIR

In the books, Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach was an intelligence officer for the Nilfgaardian Empire, who eventually teamed up with Geralt to aid him in his search for Ciri. During the First Northern War, he was tasked by Emhyr to locate and capture Cirilla and bring her back unharmed. We quickly find out that Cahir is pursuing Ciri for completely different reasons and also that he is a soft and kind man. 

 

NETFLIX CAHIR

There are two major differences between book Cahir and Netflix Cahir. One is his armor. In the books, Cahir’s armor is the thing that Ciri remembers most. She is constantly described waking up from her nightmares, in which she is haunted by Cahir’s visage, with his winged helmet. You’d think they’d spend a little more time re-creating an armor piece that is so thoroughly described in the books.

The second difference is Cahir’s whole character, past his history and goal. While in the books he does not mean Ciri any harm and proves a valuable companion to Geralt, in the series he is portrayed as nothing but a zealous face of Nilfgaard. Cahir is also given a more important role in the Netflix adaptation. In the books, he is not even present during the Battle of Sodden Hill, while in the series he actually leads the attack.

VILGEFORTZ DE ROGGEVEEN

An incredibly powerful mage who shows looks can be deceiving in the worst way possible.

BOOKS
Brown hair
Unspecified eye color
Scarred eye
Power-hungry
Ambitious
Sadistic
Mysterious

Artwork by Elenasamko

VIDEOGAME
Did not appear
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
NETFLIX
Brown hair
Brown eyes
Unknown if scarred
Power-hungry
Conspiratorial
Ruthless
Mercenary

Actor: Mahesh Jadu
Official description: Twitter

LEO BONHART

Bounty hunter. Think Ramsay Bolton, but with less clear intentions.

BOOKS
Grey hair
Pale eyes
Very tall, but thin
Grey moustache
Sadistic
Fearless
Cruelest man alive
Hedonistic

Artwork by Dmitry Skvortsov

VIDEOGAME
Did not appear
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
NETFLIX
Unknown hair color
Unknown eye color
Unknown height
Unknown facial features
Sadistic
Ghoulish
Ruthlessly efficient
Hedonistic

Actor: Unknown
Official description: Twitter

MILVA

Friend of Dryads. Relatable. Just imagine she’s wearing sunglasses whenever she talks.

BOOKS
Golden brown hair
Witty
Savage
Straight-shooter
Common sense
VIDEOGAME
Only mentioned
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
NETFLIX
Unknown hair color
Saucy
Savage
Conciliatory
Common sense

Actress: Unknown
Official description: Twitter

VILLENTRETENMERTH

Otherwise known as Borch Three Jackdaws. Father of dragons, take that as you will.

Villentretenmerth is a powerful golden dragon that enjoyed traveling the world in human form. He is the father of Saskia the Dragonslayer, a major character in The Witcher 2. We meet him in the Netflix Series, while he is masquerading as Borch Three Jackdaws. In both source material and Netflix Series, Borch approves of Geralt’s policy to not kill dragons.

BOOKS
Chestnut hair
A golden dragon
Perceptive
Protective
Merciful
Humane

Artwork by Witcher Fandom

VIDEOGAME
Only mentioned
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
NETFLIX
Graying brown
Golden dragon
Perceptive
Protective
Merciful
The most beautiful

Actor: Ron Cook
Official description: Twitter

TISSAIA

Powerful sorceress. Yennefer’s mentor. Loyal to her people. One of the rectors of Aretuza.

BOOKS
Dark hair
Unspecified eye color
Vain
Protective
VIDEOGAME
Only mentioned
N/A
N/A
N/A
NETFLIX
Dark hair
Blue eyes
Strong Ideals
Protective

Actress: MyAnna Buring

ISTREDD

A powerful sorcerer with connections to Yennefer. Yen’s first romantic interest in the series. 

BOOKS
Dark hair
Grey eyes
Talented
Intelligent

Artwork by Pau Ulises Serrano

VIDEOGAME
Did not appear
N/A
N/A
N/A
NETFLIX
Dark hair
Brown eyes
Safe, predictable
Duplicitous

QUEEN CALANTHE

Grandmother of Ciri. Proud. Unapologetic mocker.

BOOKS
Blond hair
Light eyes
Pale skin
Proud
Clever

Artwork by Pauline Voß

VIDEOGAME
Did not appear
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
NETFLIX
Brown hair
Brown eyes
Pale skin
Proud
Powerful

Actress: Jodhi May

ROACH

The best.

BOOKS
Bay hair
Brown eyes
More
than
just
one
VIDEOGAME
Bay hair
Brown eyes
Always behind Geralt
Seas do not stop her
Gravity-defying
A Pheonix in disguise
NETFLIX
Bay hair
Brown eyes
Ladylike
Faithful
Extrasensory
Steady

You played the game, but didn’t read the books?

Here’s what to look forward to in the first season (SPOILER FREE).

  • How Geralt became the Butcher of Blaviken
  • How Ciri came into Geralt’s care and training
  • A deeper story on Ciri’s bloodline and parents
  • Yennefer’s origin story that was not fully tackled in the books either
  • The first meeting between Geralt and Yennefer
  • The genie wish that bonded Geralt and Yennefer (which you undo in the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt on a mission called “The Last Wish”)

The problem here is that even though the books are deemed as better by fans of both CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher games and Sapkowski’s Witcher series, the Netflix show still seems to suffer the most from comparisons to the Wild Hunt. As Sapkowski himself admitted in an interview (translation on Reddit), the success of the game did harm the books, and that may just transfer to the upcoming series as well.

NETFLIX WITCHER EPISODE TITLES

Here’s the list of episodes for the upcoming series:

  • The End’s Beginning
  • Four Marks
  • Betrayer Moon
  • Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials
  • Bottled Appetites
  • Rare Species
  • Before a Fall
  • Much More

Also, I love the fact that you can form a poem by their description:

A monster slain, a butcher named
We look at a sorceress’s earlier days
A picky eater, a family shamed
The Law of Surprise is how one repays
A fateful meeting, a bard is maimed
The hunt for a dragon is underway
A return to before a kingdom is flamed
The Witcher Family as you all like to say

I hope the poem is the definitive proof that the Netflix Witcher writing will be on par with the books and video games.

CONCLUSION

Before people get mad about casting choices and plot points, keep in mind: the games are inspired by the books while the show will be an adaptation. However, we can see the series will definitely take some inspiration from the games, probably to not completely alienate those who only played them. It will be a challenge to get all the fans of the Witcher franchise behind one TV series and please everyone. Good luck, Netflix.

Tania Preda

Tania Preda

Contributor

I pride myself with an awesome gaming rig and probably spend way too much money on peripherals. I’m still keeping my tastes varied, either heading into competitive Overwatch, doing every single side quest of Red Dead Redemption 2 or Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, sometimes indulging in a bit city building with Anno 1800 or Frostpunk, enjoying the bloodshed in Mortal Kombat XI, and getting excited about most upcoming open-world, story-driven RPGs.

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