The Witcher books, written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, have captivated readers with their thrilling fantasy world and complex characters. Fans of the series also had the pleasure of enjoying both the games and the Netflix series based on the highly-acclaimed books. But what happens to Geralt and his companions in the end? Does the White Wolf meet his demise, or does he live to see another day? The last book in the series Lady of the Lake offers some insight regarding the ending of Geralt’s journey, but as it turns out, it can be interpreted in numerous ways, depending on what you would like to believe. So, how do the Witcher books end, and does Geralt die?
Geralt dies during the Rivian Pogrom in the book the Lady of the Lake but what happens next is open to interpretation as the author intentionally left the ending open-ended. All we know is that Ciri transported both Yennefer and Geralt to the Isle of Avallach, where they recovered and lived in peace, far away from the affairs that plagued their lives so far. But whether the Isle of Avallach is simply a symbol of the afterlife or Geralt and Yennefer recovered in every sense of the word is up for debate.
It’s hard to convey why exactly the ending can be interpreted in a different way depending on your own life philosophy. This is why we decided to write down this post, to delve into the conclusion of the Witcher book series and explore the fate of its beloved protagonist in a bit more detail. If you’re interested, stay with us!
Lady of the Lake – short summary
Lady of the Lake is the last book in the series when it comes to chronological approach. The book was published in 1999. and it was the official ending of Geralt’s journey. The book starts off with Ciri bathing in a pond in a strange new world. She is found by Sir Galahad, who has mistaken her for the Lady of the Lake. Andrzej Sapkowski was heavily influenced by Arthurian Legends when he was creating the Witcher world, so it’s not surprising that those themes will be prevalent all across the final book, holding a specially important significance when it comes to the ending of the book itself.
During the events of the last book, Geralt is enjoying himself in the Beauclair city of Toussaint. There he starts his affair with Fringilla, whose only task is to distract Geralt, so he doesn’t figure out that Vilgefortz is holding Yennefer prisoner and actively looking for Ciri, who is once again missing. He eventually overhears a conversation about this and rushes to save Yennefer.
Ciri is missing because she is stuck in an Elven world. Avallac’h and Eredin Bréacc Glas are trying to talk her into having a child with their king Auberon, but this is not likely to happen as Auberon is not interested in Ciri. He is addicted to fisstech and completely unemotional. He eventually overdoses, and Ciri is forced to flee the Elven world because the all-out conflict between the elves and Unicorns breaks out.
She is saved by Ihuarraquax, a unicorn that helps her teleport out of the world in the midst of chaos. Ciri keeps jumping between the world until she lands in Vilgefortz’s castle. She attempts to trade herself for Yennefer, but Vilgerfortz instead outright traps Ciri.
Geralt soon reaches the castle after Ciri, and the conflict between his forces and Vilgerfortz’s forces quickly erupts. Geralt’s forces and Ciri are victorious, quickly dispatching the enemy forces, but not without their own losses. Cahir, Angeouleme, and Regis are killed in the conflict. Geralt fights with Vilgefortz and is victorious, but after getting rid of Skellen’s men, they realize that the courtyard is flooded by Nilfgaardian men. Among those men is the Emperor of Nilfgaard, Ciri’s father, who offers a hard choice to Geralt. He and Yennefer can commit suicide, and Ciri will be taken away to Nilfgaard in order to be his bride and bear him a powerful son that will rule all the world.
Geralt accepts this with no choice, and he and Yennefer decide to spend one last night together. Duny, the Emperor of Nilfgaard, seeing Ciri, decides to abandon the plan and regrets ever thinking about it. The Nilfgaardian army retreats, and Ciri recaps everything to Geralt and Yennefer.
Ciri, Yennefer, and Geralt return to Toussaint to save Dandelion from being executed. After that, Ciri and Yennefer go to meet the sorceress’s Lodge, and Geralt and Dandelion make their way to Rivia.
How does the Lady of the Lake, the last book in the Witcher series, end?
The Lady of the Lake ends with the Rivian Pogrom. The Pogrom erupted in 1268 in the Rivian market after a seemingly innocent fight between Nadia Esposito, a human, and some dwarves. The conflict at the marketplace turned into a slaughter with many casualties, and Geralt, in the midst of the chaos, got stabbed by a pitchfork in the chest.
Triss and Yennefer did their best to disperse the crowd with powerful hailstorm spells. When they reached Geralt, he was already well on his way to dying. Yennefer attempted a powerful spell in hopes of helping him, but she eventually passed out from exhaustion, and everyone knew that the spell would not work, not on Geralt. Ciri, in desperation, brings their bodies out onto a boat on a nearby lake, Ihuarraquax appears, and the lake transforms into a magical display of power.
The white light envelops everyone, and they can swear they can see the dead helping Ciri tend to Yennefer and Geralt. Ciri transports Geralt and Yennefer to the Isle of Avallach, where they can spend their days in peace.
Triss asks whether she will see Ciri again. Ciri says that she doesn’t plan on staying in this world when Geralt and Yennefer will not be here but promises that Triss will see her again. Triss knows deep in her heart that it’s not true.
In the next scene, Geralt and Yennefer wake up somewhere unknown. They pledge their souls to each other, although they aren’t exactly sure where they are.
Sir Galahad asks Ciri how the story ends, and she says that Geralt and Yennefer get married eventually, but she’s crying, which leads Galahad to second-guess Ciri’s story. We are ultimately left with an extremely open-ended ending that can be interpreted in several ways. There are arguments that support the theory that Geralt and Yennefer died, and they are arguments that support the theory that they lived. In the rest of this post, we’re going to analyze both.
Does Geralt die in the books?
Geralt is close to dying in the books but whether he truly died is a matter of discussion. There are arguments and exact quotes from the books that imply that Geralt and Yennefer were taken to the afterlife, such as this quote where Geralt’s companion can see the dead they met during their journey, helping Ciri while she tries to save Yennefer and Geralt.
“At first, no one knew what the girl wanted help with. The poet was the first to understand. Perhaps because he knew the legend that he frequently lectured on and sang its verses. In his arms, he picked up Yennefer. He marveled at how small and light she was. He would have sworn that someone helped him lift her. He would have sworn that he felt Cahir’s arms helping.The Lady of the Lake, Andrzej Sapkowski
That he caught a glimpse of Milva’s braid. He would have sworn that when he took the sorceress to the boat. He saw Angouleme’s little hand holding it steady. The dwarves picked up the witcher, and Triss helped them, holding his head.
Yarpen Zigrin blinked for a second because he saw the two Dahlberg brothers. Zoltan Chivay would have sworn that Caleb Stratton helped him lift the witcher into the boat. Triss Merigold was sure that she could smell the perfume of Lytta Neyd called Coral, and in a haze of yellow-green, her eyes saw Coen of Kaer Morhen. These tricks were brought to their minds by the dense fog around Loc Eskalott.”
There is also this quote where Ciri clearly states that she’s taking Geralt and Yennefer somewhere where she can’t follow:
“Ready, Ciri,’ the sorceress said dully. ‘Your boat is waiting.’ Ciri brushed the hair from her forehead and sniffed. ‘Apologies to the ladies at Montecalvo, Triss,’ she said. ‘But it can be no other way. I cannot stay if Geralt and Yennefer leave. I simply cannot. They must understand.’ ‘They must.’ ‘Goodbye, Triss Merigold. Take care, Dandelion. Take care all.’ ‘Ciri,’ Triss whispered. ‘Little sister… Let me sail with you…’The Lady of the Lake, Andrzej Sapkowski
‘You do not know what you ask, Triss.”
Yennefer and Geralt both aren’t sure where they are, and Yennefer states that it doesn’t even matter.
“Lay still, my love. Lay still. I’m with you. It does not matter what happened. It does not matter where we were. Now I’m with you. I will never leave you. Never.’ ‘I love you, Yen.’ ‘I know.’The Lady of the Lake, Andrzej Sapkowski
‘Nevertheless,’ he sighed. ‘I’d like to know where we are.’
‘Me too,’ Yennefer said quietly after a while.”
Ciri is also heartbroken by the way the story ended, and it seems like she came up with the generic “happy ending” on the spot. It seems like a better alternative than admitting that both Yennefer and Geralt perished.
“‘And that,’ Galahad asked, ‘is the end of the story?’ ‘Certainly not,’ said Ciri, rubbing one foot against the other, trying to get rid of the sandThe Lady of the Lake, Andrzej Sapkowski
sticking to her feet. ‘You want it to end? I do not!’ ‘So what happened next?’ ‘The normal,’ she snorted. ‘They got married.’ ‘Tell me.’
‘What’s to tell? They celebrated with a big wedding. They invited everyone – Dandelion, Mother Nenneke, Iola and Eurneid, Yarpen Zigrin, Vesemir, Eskel… Coen, Milva, Angouleme… And Mistle. I was there too, and we were drinking wine and mead. And they, Yennefer and Geralt built a house and lived there happily ever after. Like in a fairytale. Do you understand?’ ‘Why are you crying, Lady of the Lake?’
‘I’m not crying. The tears in my eyes are from the wind!’
The most logical explanation is that Geralt and Yennefer died in the “real” world, but Ciri transports them to some alternative reality where their memories will live on forever together. This is why Ciri claims that Triss cannot follow, and this is why they can never return to the Continent. It’s also why Ciri is crying, as everything left of her adoptive parents is her own imagination and hope for a better ending.
On the other hand, there are some arguments that support that Geralt and Yennefer are truly alive but living somewhere else. Mainly this quote from the book:
“Geralt opened his eyes, irritated by the play of light and shadow through his closed eyelids. He saw above him leaves, a kaleidoscope of leaves glistening in the sun. He also saw branches full of apples.The Lady of the Lake, Andrzej Sapkowski
He felt the delicate touch of fingers on his temple and his cheek. Fingers he knew. He loved her so much that it hurt. His stomach, chest, and ribs ache, and a corset of tight bandages convinced him completely that the pitchfork in the city of Rivia had not been a nightmare.”
Dead men do not need bandages and do not feel pain. This quote alone can be interpreted that Yennefer and Geralt are truly alive in every sense of the world, left alone to spend the rest of their days at the Isle of Avallach.
As you can see, the book’s ending can be interpreted in two ways. The ending was purposely open-ended because the author might wish in the future to simply “resurrect” Geralt and continue his adventures. If the book ended with Geralt’s confirmed death, continuing his story wouldn’t be nearly as easy. This ending was ultimately what CD Projekt Red used to continue Geralt’s, Ciri, and Yenefer’s stories.
Geralt awakens at Kaer Morhen, suffering from intense amnesia after the Pogrom at Rivia. He has no idea who he is and, over time, eventually figures out what happened and that Ciri and Yennefer need him. Of course, this isn’t confirmation that Geralt lived after the events of the Lady of the Lake since games are not canon.
Personally, it doesn’t matter whether Yennefer and Geralt live as long as they are at peace, unburdened by their previous troubles. No matter where they are or in what form.