When the first season of The Witcher showed up a couple of years ago on Netflix, I was slow to watch it. From a distance, it looked too much like a Game of Thrones ripoff. But numerous recommendations eventually drove me to check it out, and I discovered a rich world with compelling characters, all based on a set of novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. I didn’t make that mistake with season 2. It dropped Friday and I pretty much binged through it Friday evening and yesterday.
The world of The Witcher is Tolkieneque in many ways, including elves, dwarves, dragons, and a human civilization roughly equivalent to a high medieval society. But this world is far darker and grittier than Tolkien’s. Here, the elves are a subjugated class and actively persecuted. It’s not clear the other races fare much better. It’s a world dominated by humans, with all the ills humans tend to bring in.
The origins of this situation appear to be tied up in an ancient event called “the Conjunction of the Spheres”, where multiple realities collided with each other, resulting in humans and the other races and entities being thrown together on “the Continent”. The Conjunction also appears to have let in a large variety of monsters which prey on humans and the others.
At one point, facing extinction, humans created a class of mutated warriors called witchers. The mission of the witchers is to find and destroy these monsters. However, it’s not like the witchers work selflessly. Needing to eat, they demand payment for their services. But the witchers have come on hard times, having lost the raw ingredients needed to create new witchers. Despite living long lives, they are dying out.
As the title suggests, the show is about one witcher in particular, Geralt of Rivia. Geralt is just trying to do his own thing, but gets tangled up in the politics of the Continent when he accidentally becomes the godfather for princess Cirilla of Cintra, a responsibility he is forced to rise to when Cintra is taken over by an invading army. Matters are complicated by the fact that Ciri (Cirilla) appears to have powers and to be a child of destiny sought by many players on the Continent.
Season 2 carries the story forward. Ciri, who appeared to need protection in the first season, starts to grow in her own in this season, and seems to be in the process of becoming a formidable character in her own right, albeit not without a significant amount of grief. The series appears to be developing in a direction where Geralt and his lover and mage Yennefer will guide her in her journey.
These stories often explore the battle between good and evil that exist in every person, sometimes showing a character giving in to fear and selfishness in one scene, only to rally in a later scene and sacrifice themselves to save others. But these aren’t happy and light tales, so it sometimes goes in the other direction.
It also appears that the persecution of the elves is going to be a major plot element in the series. In this season, the situation begins to escalate in a pretty horrible fashion, adding fuel to an already growing fire of troubles on the Continent.
Obviously there’s a lot going on in this series, and this only scratches the surface. I’m enjoying it a great deal and highly recommend it if fantasy is your cup of tea and you don’t mind a fair amount of sex and violence mixed in.
Hopefully the two years between the first and second season was COVID related and we’ll see the third season next year. But it appears there’s going to be a good amount of spin off material to watch. Last year a prequel animated series: The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf came out, which I enjoyed, albeit not as much as the main show. And there’s another live action prequel series, this one set centuries before the main series, coming next year: The Witcher: Blood Origin. There are also rumors of more coming out, so this is turning into a major franchise. Hope they can keep the quality up throughout all of it.
Have you seen the show? If so, what did you think about it?