“Toss a coin to your Witcher, oh valley of plenty, oh valley of plenty,” is a line from a song from Netflix’s new series “The Witcher.” I can’t really get it out of my head, and neither can many others who have watched the newest fantasy series to create ripples in the post-“Game of Thrones” landscape.
“The Witcher” is a fantasy drama series, based on the book series of the same name by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The series has been adapted before, most notably in a popular video game series, and has found an even wider audience since the series was dropped on Dec. 20.
The series is set in a medieval world and follows the story of three main characters: the monster hunter Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavil), sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra), and the Cintran princess Ciri (Freya Allan). The first season is based on “The Last Wish” and “Sword of Destiny,” a collection of short stories that take place prior to the events of the main Witcher saga.
Over eight episodes, the first season explores formative events that help shape the three lead characters prior to their paths crossing. The season also deals with the concept of destiny, and future seasons will explore the intertwined fates of Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri.
The first season shows the beginnings of Geralt’s work as a notorious Witcher. Witchers are men who, as children, were subjected to a series of trials that cause mutations and awake superhuman abilities. As such, Witchers are excellent monster slayers, but are oftentimes considered monsters themselves. Through his story, you see how he meets Jaskier, a bard who wishes to follow Geralt and tell tales of his exploits. He is also responsible for the jingle I cannot shake from my mind.
Yennefer’s story follows her from her humble beginnings on a farm, where she was sold to the sorceress Tissaia de Vries by her father. The first season explores Yennefer’s time at The Tower of the Gull, where she learns to practice magic and eventually finds herself involved in the political intrigue of the continent.
Ciri’s story begins as her kingdom, Cintra, is attacked by its southern neighbor, Nilfgaard. Ciri is sent away by her grandmother, Queen Calanthe, who implores her to find the Withcher known as Geralt of Rivia, who is bound to her through destiny. Ciri finds herself fleeing Nilfgaard forces and meeting various groups along the way as she and all three characters inch closer to their destinies.
The series is excellently executed, and the entire cast give incredible performances. Cavil, perhaps best known for his role as Superman, has been highly praised by critics and fans alike for his portrayal of Geralt. Having played the third of the video game series, I have found the Netflix series a personal treat, and have enjoyed learning more about the beginnings of many of these characters.
The series also features some very exciting sword work, and plenty of eerie monsters that Geralt encounters on his journey. It should also be noted that the first season jumps around in time, and can seem a bit confusing until later episodes bring everything together. That being said, the first season is one that I will be rewatching, just to make sure everything sticks.
The series has already been renewed for a second season, with a release expected some time in 2021. So, toss a coin to your Witcher, and give the series a shot if you happen to have Netflix.