The Witcher’s New Franchise Universe Is Kind of Making It Up as It Goes Along

The Witcher’s New Franchise Universe Is Kind of Making It Up as It Goes Along
Jaskier (Joey Batey), seen absolutely rocking the fuck out. (Photo: Susie Allnutt/Netflix)

If you’ve read more than a couple of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher novels, you know the Polish writer has created a rich and complex fantasy world for his monster-slaying hero Geralt, sorceress Yennefer, and Witcher-in-training Ciri to inhabit. But the masterminds behind Netflix’s Witcher TV series, the recent anime movie prequel Nightmare of the Wolf, and the three additional Witcher projects in the works clearly aren’t afraid to go off-book.

On one hand, this makes sense, because The Witcher franchise has grown so quickly — the show was given a second season before the first even aired, and two anime movies, a live-action prequel TV series, and a family-friendy animated show were all announced before that second season has arrived — that it feels like Netflix would need to look beyond the source material. But there are eight books in The Witcher series — so why look elsewhere? In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Netflix Vice President of International Originals Kelly Luegenbiehl explained, “Sapkowski created this very rich world, but in some ways only hinted at the potential of it.”

Case in point, the Conjunction of the Spheres — the ancient event that brought the worlds of elves, men, and monsters together that defines the series’ world and dictates much of The Witcher’s story. According to writer/producer Declan De Barra, “We were trying to understand what the world was like for elves right before the Conjunction of the Spheres. It’s very vague in the books as to what happened.” The result was the story that’s forming the basis of the live-action TV prequel series Blood Origin; according to Luegenbiehl, De Barra created it based on “a few lines in the books.”

Having read a few Witcher books, I can say… I get it? I do think the setting Sapkowski created feels fully realised, but I never felt like I was let into the world of The Witcher in the same was as series like Game of Thrones, The Kingkiller Chronicles, The Wheel of Time, and more. To put it another way, I felt like Geralt and other characters knew all the necessary context — like, all the things that happened during the Conjunction — and I was running alongside them, trying to figure it out without being allowed to ask any questions.

But that’s just me, and while it hampered my enjoyment of the books somewhat, it certainly didn’t impact how much I enjoyed the first season of The Witcher TV series. Happily, season two finally arrives on December 17 — more than enough time for Netflix to announce another TV series or movie (or both).