Netflix has done a great job at delivering storylines that have proven source materials, such as books and video games. Of course, we know that The Witcher is one of the most popular book/video game adaptations that you can find in the streaming giant’s library. And there are many people who enjoy the storyline and visuals of The Witcher series adaptation, as not a lot of people are willing to play the games or read the books to understand what this story is all about.
Based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, The Witcher is a vast fantasy adventure storyline with a darker narrative compared to other books. Of course, a good part of the storyline is also based on European folklore, and that’s why it is so relatable. But the thing is that live-action adaptations aren’t always accurate when you compare them to their source materials. So, with that said, let’s look at just how accurate The Witcher is when compared to the books.
Is The Witcher Series Faithful To The Books?
When it comes to adapting storylines that have already been established in books and video games, Netflix seems to be the leader in the streaming industry, as a lot of the different Netflix Originals have storylines and lore that were taken from clear source materials. Of course, The Witcher is one of the most popular shows on Netflix that were taken directly from a clear source material, which is the book series by Andrzej Sapkowski.
The Witcher is one of the most captivating series in terms of its storyline and world-building. Based on a world called the Continent and following a storyline that focuses on a monster-hunting Witcher named Geralt, The Witcher has a good combination of action, lore, and storytelling. Of course, when we’re talking about its storytelling, there is no doubt that what we know about its story comes from Sapkowski’s books. But is The Witcher series actually faithful to the books?
In truth, it can be quite difficult for a live-action adaptation to be truly faithful to its source material. And the thing about The Witcher is that while the characters and events are indeed from the books, the events aren’t totally faithful to the books.
The Witcher series is still quite faithful to the books when it comes to the lore and the characters that were taken from the source material. But the thing is that the events in the series were changed to produce a live-action adaptation that could better translate to our screens for multiple seasons. In that regard, book readers would instantly recognize the differences between the two, especially when it comes to the flow of the storyline in the live-action adaptation.
Still, while there are clear differences between the live-action version of The Witcher and its book source material, the show still tries to stay as faithful as possible by using the same lore, events, and characters. The difference usually lies in how the series introduced new characters and how there are some events that don’t line up with the series of events in the books.
How Accurate Is The Witcher Series Compared To The Books?
To truly tell how accurate The Witcher show is compared to the books, let’s look at some of the biggest differences between the two different versions of the same storyline.
Kaer Morhen’s Witchers
In the live-action version, Geralt and Ciri arrive at Kaer Morhen, which is the stronghold of the remaining Witchers in the world. This is similar to the books because one of the first places Geralt took Ciri when they finally met was the stronghold of the Witchers, as it was the safest place for her to be at that time. Of course, like in the books, Ciri trains to try to become a Witcher while she was staying in Kaer Morhen, and the remaining Witchers actually welcome her and allowed her to train with them.
The difference here lies in the fact that there are a good number of Witchers that were still in Kaer Morhen during the events of the live-action series. It did seem like a dozen Witchers were there, despite the fact that The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf had decreased their numbers. Of course, the fact that the Witchers lost the mutagen that would allow them to increase their numbers was a factor as well.
But, in the books, the Witchers that were in the stronghold didn’t even reach half a dozen. There were only four Witchers in Kaer Morhen in the books. After that, Coën joined their ranks for the number to reach five. In that regard, while the number of Witchers still decreased in the series due to Voleth Meir’s attack, it still is surprising to see that there were more Witchers in the live-action adaptation compared to the books.
One of the most notable Witchers that we met in The Witcher series was Eskel, who arrived at the scene quite late because he had to fight a leshy while he was away from the stronghold. However, in the series, he died when he turned into a leshy after getting infected by the tree-like monster while he was away. As such, Geralt and the others had to defend the keep from the leshy, as the Witchers had to kill Eskel.
However, in the book, Eskel survived long enough as the leshy didn’t even exist in the books but only in the games and the series. Eskel wasn’t as hostile to Ciri as well because he and the other Witchers welcomed her warmly when she and Geralt arrived in Kaer Morhen. In fact, he even lived long enough in the books and the games.
The Nivellen Visit
Right off the bat, we already saw a lot of changes in The Witcher and its book counterpart, and most of these changes happened in the second season. Of course, the first season also had changes of its own, but they were mostly minor compared to the changes we saw in the second season. And Geralt and Ciri’s visit to Nivellen was one of the biggest changes we saw in the series.
Nivellen is basically a “beauty and the beast” kind of character that was cursed to become a beast-like creature that resembles a boar. During the first episode, Geralt and Ciri visited him while they were on their way to Kaer Morhen, as they went to his mansion on purpose instead of simply stumbling into it. Basically, this storyline in Sapkowski’s writings isn’t part of the main books but is actually one of the short stories about Geralt and Cir’s journeys.
In the short story, instead of going to the mansion on purpose, Geralt merely stumbled upon it on purpose after they learned that a monster had been killing people nearby. He wasn’t even with Ciri at that point. And unlike the series, wherein the bruxa was a surprise, Geralt was actually tracking the monster before he stumbled upon Nivellen’s mansion.
The biggest plot during the second season of The Witcher is the Deathless Mother, who is named Voleth Meir. While there were a lot of plotlines during The Witcher and a lot of different enemies that Geralt and Ciri had to try to defeat, Voleth Meir was the first true antagonist of the series. She first appeared in the dreams of Yennefer, Fringilla, and Francesca as they discovered her together while Yen was trying to find a way to get her magic back. However, what they didn’t know was that the Deathless Mother was a demonic entity that fed on the pain of people.
In the past, Voleth Meir was a dangerous entity that the Witchers had to lock up, and now she was on her way to freedom due to the actions of the mages, who wanted something in return from her. The goal of Voleth Meir wasn’t only to escape but also to find a way to get her hands on Ciri due to her Elder Blood. As such, she made use of Yen, who was desperate enough to get her magic back after losing it when she used fire magic at the end of season 1.
However, in the books, she didn’t exist at all because she was only added in the series as a placeholder villain before the introduction of the Wild Hunt, which we all know are the main enemies of The Witcher. In that regard, the writers of the series only found a way to include Voleth Meir into the storyline so that the characters would have someone to fight against at the end of season 2.
We know for a fact that Yennefer lost her magic at the end of the first season when she opted to use fire magic, which was always known to be very dangerous and risky for a mage to use. In that regard, the second season began with her being powerless. Of course, this was something that we know didn’t happen in the book, as something different happened to her after the Battle of Sodden Hill.
In the book, Yennefer was blinded in the middle of the Battle of Sodden Hill, and it took a while for her to get her sight back. We also know that she was never a prisoner of Nilfgaard in the book and never lost her magic at all. In that regard, the fact that she lost her magic in the series was a way for the storyline to introduce her involvement with Voleth Meir, who we know was someone that Yen was willing to work with out of desperation because she wanted her magical powers back. And she eventually got her powers restored at the end of the season when she, Geralt, and Ciri were transported into a different world.