The Witcher Books: Reading Order And Which Stories Inspired The Netflix Show
What order should you read the Witcher books in?
As many fans know, The Witcher isn't just a series of hit video games. Those games are actually sequels to a series of short stories and novels that were written decades ago by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. And it's those original books on which the Netflix show The Witcher is based.
Specifically, the show is mainly based on the books that are considered number one and two in the series: The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, respectively. However, these books are actually collections of loosely related short stories that, together, serve to introduce readers to the world and characters of the Witcher, while gradually bringing the main players together and setting up the story that would be told in the later novels.
That's largely the same purpose served by the first season of Netflix's version, which, despite its complex multiple timelines structure, many fans seem to be enjoying. With Season 2 already announced, now is the perfect time to experience the original stories. If you simply want to know what order to read the books in--something that can be slightly confusing, thanks to the fact that the second short stories collection hadn't actually been translated into English until recently--here's the ideal reading order:
The Last Wish (short stories 1)
Sword of Destiny (short stories 2)
Blood of Elves (novel 1)
Time of Contempt (novel 2)
Baptism of Fire (novel 3)
The Tower of the Swallow (novel 4)
The Lady of the Lake (novel 5)
Season of Storms (novel 6)
However, we wanted to dig a little bit deeper. For those who watched the Netflix show and enjoyed it, we thought it might be fun to break down exactly which original stories and books each episode draws from. Keep scrolling down for the breakdown, and let us know what you thought of Netflix's Witcher in the comments below.
1. Episode 1: The Lesser Evil
Episode 1, "The End's Beginning," is largely based on the short story from The Last Wish, "The Lesser Evil." In the story, Geralt must choose with whom to side in a battle between a violent princess and a paranoid old wizard. The show adapts it mostly faithfully, minus some changes to the final confrontation.
2. Episode 2: "The Edge of the World"
The show's second episode, "Four Marks," tackles the short story "The Edge of the World," also from The Last Wish. The show changes this to serve as the introduction between Geralt and Jaskier/Dandelion; in the original story, they already knew one another and were traveling companions.
3. Episode 3: "The Witcher"
Episode 3, "Betrayer Moon," pulls from the short story "The Witcher," also in The Last Wish. Like the episode, the story concerns Geralt's assignment from King Foltest to kill the Striga haunting his halls. (Note: Yennefer and Ciri's storylines up to this point have been largely made up for the show, or constructed from backstory that's described but not explicitly shown in the source material).
4. Episode 4: "A Question of Price" and "Sword of Destiny"
Episode 4, "Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials," borrows from two of the original stories. Geralt's storyline is from the Last Wish story "A Question of Price." It involves the feast in Cintra where he invokes the law of surprise, which causes his destiny to be tied with Ciri's. Ciri's storyline in this episode, which takes place years later, is a significantly altered version of her adventures in the forest Brokilon in the short story Sword of Destiny.
5. Episode 5: "The Last Wish"
The show's fifth episode, "Bottled Appetites," continues to draw a bit from "Sword of Destiny," but is mainly focused on the short story titled "The Last Wish," in which Geralt and Jaskier/Dandelion wrestle with a djinn and encounter Yennefer for the first time.
6. Episode 6: "The Bounds of Reason"
Episode 6, "Rare Species," sees Geralt, Yennefer, and Jaskier/Dandelion all on the same adventure for once. It's based on the short story "The Bounds of Reason" from the collection Sword of Destiny, which plays out nearly exactly the same as it does on the show.
7. Episode 7: "Something More"
The Netflix show's final two episodes, beginning with "Before a Fall," both draw mainly from the same short story: "Something More," from Sword of Destiny. In the story, Geralt lies injured and feverish in the back of a wagon, recalling important events, many of which are portrayed in Episode 7, including his journey to Cintra to claim his "child surprise" (although in the book version, this took place years earlier, not shortly before Nilfgaard's attack). Geralt also thinks about the aftermath of the Battle of Sodden Hill, which is teased in this episode and shown in the next.
8. Episode 8: "Something More"
Like the previous episode, Episode 8 is based mainly on "Something More," to which the episode title--"Much More"--alludes. We never saw the Battle of Sodden Hill in the books--only its aftermath. But the Geralt part of the story, in which he finally reunites with Ciri, is mostly the same.