Sylvans and Dragons and Djinns, Oh My!
There’s a dragon in one of the episodes, but dragons don’t play as big a role in The Witcher as in Game of Thrones. There are a whole host of other monsters, though. It’s hard to tell if many of these are made up just for this world, or if the more obscure ones would be familiar to those familiar with Polish fairy tales. There is a kikimora, a striga, a hirikka (they’re pretty rare), and a djinn, which is the same as a genie, complete with the lamp and three wishes. And there are undead, complete with a bite that can be deadly (but their eyes don’t have a bluish glow).
And there is magic, and there are Elves, and Dryads. Full-blood Elves have pointy ears, but I’m not entirely clear what their powers are. Witchers seem to travel around — we don’t meet any others besides Geralt, so I’m not completely sure that’s true. Mages, once they’re trained, are placed in a particular kingdom, to serve the king or queen of that realm. There’s a whole Brotherhood of Sorcerers and rules for how magic can be used, and academies (sorcerers and mages are the same thing). There is also a Prophecy that figures rather prominently into the entire series, but we only get a hint of that in season 1.
Another detail that might help you, which I learned from having the closed captions on: when you hear another language spoken, it’s the Elder language. This was the language of the Elves, but it’s also the language used for magic, apparently.
Locations in The Witcher Season 1
The locations in The Witcher can be a source of confusion, especially since there is no map to follow. The books’ author never included a map; there are maps associated with some of the video games, and you can find maps on the Internet, which may or may not be exactly accurate. Another thing that confuses things is that there are cities that have the same name as Kingdoms, so then you’re a little unclear which is meant. And then the wars that happen over time can change things. If Nilfgaard invades Cintra, is Cintra still a place? It might depend on whether you mean Cintra the City or Cintra the kingdom.
Here’s a very brief and possibly not completely accurate geography lesson. There are Northern Kingdoms and there is Nilfgaard to the south. There are probably other places, too, but these are enough for The Witcher season 1. The northern kingdoms include:
- Rivia, where Geralt is from;
- Aedirn, with Vengerberg as its capital, where Yennefer is from;
- Cintra (the name of a kingdom and also its capital city), where Ciri is from;
- Redania, further north, where there is a town called Blaviken, where the events involving Geralt in episode 1 occur;
- Temeria, which is on the coast north of Cintra and south of Redania. Aretuza is on an island off the coast of Temeria.
- Brokilon forest is where the Dryads live. Magic seems to keep this forest from experiencing winter, even when immediately adjacent regions are cold and snow-covered. I’m very interested to know more about this kind of magic!
- Sodden, which is near Cintra, and where there is a battle toward the end of the season.
Nilfgaard is to the south, and they are the enemy. Though it seems that mages from both regions train together.
Should You Watch The Witcher?
I’ve given you lots of details to help you decide if The Witcher is for you. I enjoyed it, and I plan to re-watch The Witcher season 1 right before season 2 comes out. I think some of the details I’ve included will help you sort out the confusing parts. I think you’ll like it if you like fantasy shows, and if you like shows that are centered around characters. But if you’re not familiar with the source material, you have to be willing to pay attention and remember details. Much of The Witcher season 1 is based on a book of short stories, but the rest of the seasons will most likely be based on full novels, so they may not have the natural episodic quality this season has, with Geralt confronting a different monster in a different town in each episode.
From what I understand, the source material is very rich, and this should be a very interesting story. Netflix has given the green light for season 2, so here’s hoping we get to ride along to the end of it.
Another couple of things to consider: though the series is named for a male character, and Henry Cavill is undoubtedly the best-known of the actors, there are several strong female roles here who have major parts to play. Not just Ciri and Yennefer, but Tissaia de Vries and Queen Calanthe are strong leaders in their respective realms. However, it’s been noted that the gratuitous nudity seems to be all of the female side of things. This show has boobs in scenes where there is really no context for them (similar to Game of Thrones), but if you thought you might get to see Henry Cavill’s bare bottom, you’ll be disappointed. Like Game of Thrones, this show has much going for it, and doesn’t need to use sex as an appeal to get viewers to watch.
Stay connected with So Many Shows: