Which Witcher Bewitches you?
20th April, 2020
The Witcher has made us love again, after GoT ripped our hearts out. Set in an imaginary world called The Continent, this land is rife with elves, witches, mages, dragons, and of course witchers. It all began with the book series by Andrzej Sapkoswski, which later went on to become a massively successful gaming franchise by CD Projekt RED and now it’s a Netflix show. While we thank the TV gods and wait to see the golden-eyed, swashbuckling Geralt again, take a look at how the books, the show and the games are different from each other.
Queen Calanthe was known as the “Lioness of Cintra” and “Ard Rhena” which meant “High Queen.” She was well known for her bravery and beauty. Calanthe from the books In the books, Queen Calanthe is blonde with light eyes and pale skin. She’s a proud and intelligent woman and won her first war when she was only 15! She was left aghast when hedgehog-knight arrived to claim his Law of Surprise and refused to let her only daughter marry him, but as destiny would have it, she blesses their marriage and the curse that turned Duny to a hedgehog broke. Being the fierce warrior she was, when Nilfgaard arrives at her doors, she doesn’t bow down and goes raging into the battlefield to fight them.
Calanthe from the show
Jodhi May is the badass queen who bows down to no man. The Lioness of Cintra is ferocious and ruthless. When it comes to protecting her daughter and her granddaughter, she can go to any lengths. When the hedgehog knight Emhyr arrives to ask for Pavetta’s hand in marriage as per the Law of Surprise, she’s ready to slaughter everyone. When Geralt tries to invoke his Law of Surprise and comes looking for Ciri, she refuses to honor it and sends him away. The Law of Surprise didn’t do the queen much good, eh?
Istredd was a mage with connections to Yennefer and was her first romantic interest in the series. Istredd from the books He has been described in the books has a young man with dark hair, grey eyes, and a talented and intelligent sorcerer. He was one of Yennefer’s long-time lovers and didn’t like sharing her with Geralt. He even proposed marriage to her, but Yen never gave him a definite answer since she was in love with Geralt. Istredd even challenged Geralt to a fight but both resigned after receiving similar letters from Yennefer telling them that she’s leaving them.
Tissai is a powerful sorceress and Yen’s mentor. She’s loyal to her people and compassionate beneath her haughty exterior. Tissaia from the books The books describe Tissaia as a dark-haired powerful sorceress who mentors Yen and is one of the rectors of Aretuza. She comes across as vain at times but is quite protective of her people and does everything in her power to protect them from the attack by Nilfgaardians.
Tissaia from the show
MyAnna Buring plays Tissaia in Netflix’s The Witcher , and she arrives in her carriage to take Yen away from her miserable life. She tells the hunchbacked Yen that there are things more important than beauty. Tissaia is among the mages who were against yielding to the Nilfgaardians and tries to protect the people as long as she can. She convinces Yen to “be the chaos” instead of channeling it: a piece of advice that lets Yen unleash her repressed powers.
Vilgefortz De Roggeveen
Vilgefortz De Roggeveen is a powerful mage and serves as a warning to everyone that looks can be very deceiving in a very unnerving way. Vilgefortz from the books Vilgefortz has been described in the books as a “fiendishly handsome” mage and a member of the Chapter of Sorcerers. He is often called “young,” which, among mages, can mean up to 100 years, but he’s incredibly talented. He was abandoned by his parents and was raised by druids. When a mage offered to teach him magic after feeling his magical energy, he refused and traveled all over the world and became a mercenary, and later a spy. Although he assumes command over the mages from the Northern Kingdoms, he is secretly in league with Emhyr and helped him rise to the throne so that in exchange, he would get the North.
Vilgefortz from the show
Played by Mahesh Jadu, Vilgefortz first appears on the show when he approaches Yennefer to come back and help the mages protect the north. He has brown hair, brown eyes, and unlike his character in the book, he doesn’t have any scars (yet). Vilgefortz leads the battle against the Nilfgaardians and engages in a one-to-one sword fight with Cahir, only to be knocked down. His fate on the show remains unclear and you’ll have to wait for season 2 to see whether this righteous mage has some surprises up his sleeve.
Game of Thronesintroduced you to the Mother of Dragons. Not to be left behind, The Witcher brings to you the Father of Dragons. Villentretenmerth from the books Villentretenmerth is also known as Borch Three Jackdaws and is the Father of Dragons. Wait, it doesn’t end here! He’s a powerful golden dragon who travels the world in human form. His human version has chestnut hair, and unlike how you would expect a dragon to behave, he is merciful, humane, and protective. In his interactions with Geralt, he was pleased to learn of Geralt’s “no killing dragons” policy. Ironically, Villentretenmerth’s daughter Saskia is a dragonslayer.
Villentretenmerth from the show
Villentretenmerth, played by Ron Cook, arrives with two female warriors and requests Geralt’s help in getting to the dragon. He masquerades as Borch Three Jackdaws and feigns his demise while the group tries to get to the hill to capture the dragon. Once the motley crew reaches the hilltop, they see a dead dragon guarding her egg. Villentretenmerth arrives and reveals his true identity to Geralt, and takes his help to protect the egg from the others who are out to kill the dragon. He chooses Geralt because of his “no killing dragon” policy and reveals several unpleasant truths to Geralt and Yen.
Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach
This knight with a hard-to-pronounce name is a skilled and brave warrior, but Netflix’s version of Cahir varies from the one in the books. Cahir from the books Those who’ve read the books will know that Cahir was an intelligence officer for the Nilfgaardians. But he eventually sides with Geralt to help him look for Ciri. When the First Northern War takes place, Emhyr tells Cahir to locate and capture Ciri and bring her back unharmed. However, unknown to the King, Cahir pursues Ciri for a different reason and is shown to be a kind and soft-hearted man.
Cahir from the show
Enter the winged-helmet-sporting Cahir who brings chaos wherever he goes. The first prominent difference between the book Cahir and Netflix’s rendition of the character is the armor. Given that it has been described in so much detail in the books, you’ll think that the costume designers would spend a bit more time recreating it. The second glaring difference is the entire character’s history and goal. In the first season, we see Cahir as this menacing knight who embodies the zealous and destructive force of Nilfgaard. He pursues Ciri with not-so-good intentions and leads the attack on the Sodden Hill, whereas, in the books, he’s not even present at the battle.
Ermion, more popularly known as Mousesack, was a wise druid who served as a caretaker for Ciri and an advisor to Geralt. Mousesack from the books With flaxen hair and black eyes that radiated wisdom, Ermion, more commonly known as Mousesack, was an intelligent druid who swore to protect Princess Ciri and was loyal to Queen Calanthe till the end. He was quite intuitive and did his best to protect the kingdom and the young princess.
Mousesack from the games
The developers heeded the character’s description in the books and somewhat crafted Mousesack to bear the resemblance. He had grey hair and green eyes and had a robust appearance and bushy beard. He was a good friend to King Bran Tuirseach of Skellige and even served as his advisor. He even served Queen Calanthe of Cintra and prevented her from dishonoring her debt to Duny as per the Law of Surprise.
Mousesack from the show
Adam Levy was Netflix’s Mousesack and we aren’t complaining. Though his hair might not be what the Sapkowski or CD Projekt Red envisioned, he was every bit of the wise and intelligent druid the royals depended on. He plays a vital role in helping Ciri escape, he nudges Geralt to accept his destiny, and he is loyal to the extent that it is a flaw. He makes an honest attempt to dissuade Queen Calanthe from meddling with destiny, and the audience loved him even though he had brief screen time.
Fringilla was originally a member of the Lodge of Sorceresses and Geralt’s lover as well (what?!) and a rival to Yen and Triss. Fringilla from the books In the third book Baptism of Fire, Fringilla Vigo is described as “the youngest, friendly, with a natural grace and simple elegance, with green eyes and hair as black as Yennefer’s, but less abundant, shorter and combed smooth.” Unlike that in the games, Fringilla played a relatively important role in the books. She is also described as having “large lustrous eyes highlighted with green shadow.”
Fringilla from the games
Well, there’s nothing much to compare here since the developers obviously didn’t give Fringilla much thought. In the games, she was Nilfgaardian sorceress and a member of the Lodge of Sorcerers. Her physical appearance resembles that described in the books and she has quite a minor part to play in the games.
Fringilla from the show
Netflix’s version of Fringilla is somewhat based on the old saying “hell hath no fury than a woman scorned.” So, after the King chose Yennefer as his mage, Fringilla makes her way to Nilfgaard and embarks on her journey to acquire a power that no mage ever dared to explore. So, what did Netflix do differently with this character? Well, for a character that was canonically white in the books, Netflix made a bold casting choice and roped in British-Zimbabwean actor Mimi Ndiweni to play the menacing Fringilla. And boy, did she nail it!
We all know Duny to be Ciri’s father, but those who’ve read the books or played the games will know that Ciri’s father was known Emhyr var Emreis a.k.a. The White Flame. Emhyr from the books In the book series, Emhyr is the highly imperialistic emperor of Nilfgaard. He has black hair, brown eyes, and masquerades as Duny Urcheon of Erlenwald to marry Princess Pavetta. Known as The White Flame, he was looked upon as a Messiah by his people but was cursed by a sorcerer named Braathens, which turned him into a humanoid hedgehog. However, after marrying the princess, the curse is broken and he was helped by Geralt and Mousesack in claiming his Law of Surprise.
Emhyr from the games
The developers somewhat stuck to Emhyr’s storyline as described in the books. He was the emperor of the Nilfgaardian Empire, which was the strongest in the entire Continent. His rule was highly aggressive and he pursued expansionist policies, which resulted in the outbreak of two wars against the Northern Kingdoms. Emhyr once said “The North shall tuck tail and beg for mercy. That is its destiny.” But he lost both the wars.
Emhyr (Duny) from the series
The show established Emhyr as a fierce knight who appears in Queen Calanthe’s court to claim his Law of Surprise and ask for Princess Pavetta’s hand in marriage. Similar to his counterpart in the games, Duny is cursed and looks like a buffed-up, scarier version of Sonic the Hedgehog. He and Geralt fight the other suitors and Pavetta throws them all against the wall with one shriek! Bart Edwards portrays the young Duny who’s yet to turn into the menacing monarch that he is. So, let’s all wait for season 2 to decide how this Emhyr will turn out to be.
When it came to Triss Merigold, the book, the game, and the show had diverse takes on the character. But what remained the same was the character being a talented and brave sorceress. Triss from the books Those who are fond of the books, there will always remain the heated debate of Yennefer vs. Triss since both these characters are integral to the plot. In the books, the ginger sorceress has a rather minor role, but she has a better part to play in the third book Blood of Elves. The book describes her as having blue eyes and chestnut hair with “sheen of red.” Later on, she gets an ugly scar on her chest during a battle, and she says that this would prevent her from wearing a deep neckline again.
Triss from the games
Well, let’s just say that if it wasn’t for the developers who created a Triss Merigold that gamers came to love, the show wouldn’t have given Triss Merigold enough screen time. The gamers loved her and considered her to be the “default romance option” for Geralt. In the game, she is Geralt’s lover and close friend. Her appearance is quite captivating: bright red hair, brilliant green eyes, and freckles. The game developers seem to have chosen sides on the Yen vs Triss debate as they made changes to the storyline and pushed for Triss as a potential romance option for Geralt rather than Yen.
Triss from the show
When Anna Shaffer was cast as Triss Merigold, fans of the books and games weren’t too pleased with the choice. For starters, she looks nothing like what the books and game had made her out to be. Even after the show was released, the general consensus remained that Triss was miscast. The showmakers did try to make amends to their lapse of judgment and tried to appease the fans by including her in certain crucial story points (where she shouldn’t have been in the first place) and even slowly built up to the potential scar she gets during the war.
If you can’t stop humming to the song “Toss a coin to your Witcher,” you’ve probably met the flamboyant bard who serves as comic relief in the otherwise grim universe of The Witcher. Jaskier from the books Let’s start with how underrated he is. In the book, Jaskier has blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He’s quite extravagant, as you know, but is fiercely loyal to Geralt. In the books, he even challenged Geralt quite a few times, which forced the fearsome Witcher to introspect a little. You can say that Jaskier represented the side of Geralt that was human, and he tagged along with Geralt as a loyal friend who never judged him for what he was.
Jaskier (Dandelion) from the games
The game developers changed Jaskier’s name to Dandelion, maybe due to the rough translation. Even in the games, Dandelion serves as the narrator and accompanies Geralt on his numerous adventures. He is a flamboyant womanizer and is hopelessly optimistic. And although he does come across as selfish and a liar at times, he is one of the most liked characters.
Jaskier from the show
For Geralt’s every “hmm,” you had Joey Batey as Jaskier bursting into a song to fill in the silence. Although a lot of people had misgivings about Joey Batey being cast, he swooped in and stole the show. He is silly at times, and sort of cowardly, but he goes to great lengths to be a part of Geralt’s journey, chronicling it in his songs. Despite the fact that this unconventional friendship appears to be one-sided in the beginning, Jaskier gives the audience a glimpse into Geralt’s more humane side. Batey fits into the role of the bard so well that even the actor had to admit that it is the most annoyingly catchy song we have heard in a while.
Why Princess Ciri was so important for the Nilfgaardians and what made her so special weren’t really answered in the Netflix show, but we sure got a glimpse of how powerful she is. Ciri from the books The book isn’t very descriptive when it comes to Ciri’s appearance, but there’s always some mention of her ashen hair and emerald green eyes. Otherwise, all you get is mere details that are easily overlooked, such as slightly boyish built, pale skin, or a “common lass.” Ciri is 8 or 9 years old when she’s first introduced in the book, and over the course of the book, she grows into an agile and slender teenager owing to her witcher training. Her most distinguishing feature is a nasty scar on her cheek and her eyes that are often described as full of hatred and vengeance.
Ciri from the games
Sans the scar on her cheek, Ciri’s characterization in the games is similar to that in Sapkowski’s books. She’s a born troublemaker and sports ashen-gray hair and brilliant green eyes. A couple of years down the line, the game’s developers give her the scar. Although there’s no explanation about how she got the scar, the developers did leave a small clue on one of their Gwent cards in the form of a quote that reads “My mark scars the face of our future empress. That is my proudest achievement.”
Ciri from the show
Freya Allan was cast to play the “Lion Cub of Cintra,” and she bears quite a bit of resemblance to her character as portrayed in the books and the games. However, unlike her character in the book—dangerous, arrogant, and a little spoiled—the Netflix Ciri is relentless, brazen, and in the middle of figuring out her destiny. Also, she doesn’t have the scar across her face (yet) and sports the same ashen-gray hair, green eyes, and pale skin, as shown in the books and the games.
Yennefer of Vengerberg
Yennefer is a powerful sorceress who you wouldn’t want to mess with at all. She’s fiery, beautiful, and vain but also quite a kind person. Yennefer from the books Unlike Geralt in the book series, Yennefer of Vengerberg was already established as a beauty. Often described as one with raven-black hair that fell on her shoulders in curls, she also had piercing violet eyes, pale white skin, and sharp features. The foreboding beauty preferred black-and-white attire and wore a star obsidian necklace. The book often describes Yen as a witty, shrewd, proud, and short person. Although she looks beautiful, she has certain flaws that were visible to Geralt’s keen eyes, like slightly sloped shoulders, subtly irregular eyebrows, and a long nose. These imperfections allude to the character’s rough background (don’t look for spoilers here).
Yennefer from the games
Yennefer appears in the game only in the third installment of the game—Wild Hunt. Her appearance is similar to that described in the books: beautiful and menacing. The game makers decided to keep her raven black hair and gorgeous violet eyes, but they opted for slightly stronger features. Though the book Yen was a flawed beauty, the game Yen was perfect. She’s tall, has a mild British accent, and is highly untrusting. Her contradictory nature always left people wondering what she was going to do next.
Yennefer from the show
Anya Chalotra as Yennefer in the Netflix series wasn’t exactly how the book or game character looked; nonetheless, she did a spectacular job as the once clueless but now insanely powerful sorceress. Although she has softer features and a warmer undertone to her skin than what Yennefer was described as in the books and game, Charlota did very well in bringing the sorceress’ complex nature to life. Although Yennefer’s origin story is covered in the show, her quest from being absolutely powerless to becoming one of the strongest witches barely scratches the surface. We’re excitedly waiting for season 2 to know more about Yen’s fate.
Geralt of Rivia
Think Geralt of Rivia, an image of a ripped Henry Cavill with silver hair and deep golden eyes looking at you is what you can think of, then here’s something you ought to know. Sapkowski’s books, CD Projekt Red’s game, and Netflix’s version have different renditions of the badass monster hunter. Geralt from the books Gear up for the disappointment that’s coming your way! In the books, Geralt envisioned by Sapkowski as nothing like the drool-worthy Netflix character or the formidable hero in the game. He’s described as skinny with pale white hair and skin. Geralt’s scars in the Netflix show give him a mysterious demeanor, but his heavily scarred appearance in the book is a tad bit unsettling. The only similarity shared between the two Geralts is that they don’t sport beards. The book’s Geralt carries two swords, one on his back and one on his hip, is emotionally vulnerable, fierce, has dark eyes, and an ugly smile. He wears a nondescript wolf medallion and is realistically powerful, unlike the video game hunk who’s superhuman strength is quite overwhelming.
Geralt from the games
This Geralt might be closer to the heartthrob Netflix made Henry Cavill into (not that he wasn’t earlier!). You can say that Cavill’s character resembles the chiseled Geralt with a scar across his face that makes him formidable yet appealing. Unlike the one described in the books, this Geralt has a toned body and is handsome enough for you to wish him to be real. He has a deep, unsettling voice, a charming smile, and golden eyes. Although he’s stoic most of the time, he’s a bit of a Mr. Smartypants who carries two swords on his back.
Geralt from the show
Isn’t he the one you were waiting for? Well, with the superman-level buff and a chiseled face, this Geralt of Rivia is the perfect Witcher, hands down. Well, he’s handsome, his deep golden eyes harbor angst, tenderness, determination...the list is endless. His reverberating deep voice is one that you can’t stop yourself from listening to. He has one sword on his back and one on his beloved horse Roach. And although he’s not as strong as his counterpart in the game, he’s pretty fierce. Aren’t you glad that Netflix chose this version of Geralt and not the zombie-crossed-whimsical Witcher from the books?