If wild fantasy, fantastical beasts, devilish sorcery, and vastly imaginative storylines are your thing, then The Witcher book series has it all. And in this article, you will see the definitive guide to reading all The Witcher books in order!
The tales follow the adventures of the legendary “Witcher,” Geralt of Rivia, as he navigates through deadly beasts, love, loss, and the rise and fall of kingdoms. Torn from their families as children, witchers are chemically mutated and brutally trained to become the ultimate beast-hunting warriors. From their home at Kaer Morhen, the witchers, led by Vesemir, lead nomadic lifestyles, hunting all manners of murderous beasts across the ‘Continent.’
Geralt, bound by destiny to the mysterious Ciri of Cintra and forging a precarious alliance with the powerful sorceress Yennefer of Vengerburg, battles to defeat the arch-antagonist of the series, Eredin Breacc Glas.
Leader of the ‘Wild Hunt,’ Eredin relentlessly hunts Ciri as the destined ‘Daughter of Chaos.’ Eredin believes her immense power can break ‘the Conjunction’ and allow the Wild Hunt to resume their trans-dimensional rampage across the world. With seemingly half the continent, sorcerers, kings, and elves hunting her, Geralt must enlist the aid of his fellow witchers and the sorcerers of Aretuza to protect his adopted daughter from capture and the fall of the world as they know it.
That’s the gist of The Witcher book series, considered one of the best fantasy series of all time. If you are a big fantasy nerd, you must have watched the Netflix show based on the books and even played the games.
If you now want to focus on the book series, which served as the source material for the TV adaptation and the video games, then you are on the right page. In this article, I will tell you about the best order to read The Witcher book series this year!
The Witcher Books in Order:
The book series was originally written and published in the Polish language, with the first work in the series released in 1992 and the final book in the series released in 1999.
A standalone novel, Season of Storms, was released in 2013. It wasn’t until 2007 that the first Witcher book was translated and published in English. And fast-forward to 2023, all the books in the series have been released in English, and the series has solidified its place among the best fantasy reads of all time!
The Witcher book series consists of 6 full-length novels and 2 short story collections. Out of the 6 novels, one is a standalone novel. Below is the list of all the books according to their release order:
- Sword of Destiny (1992) – Short Story Collection
- The Last Wish (1993) – Short Story Collection
- Blood of Elves (1994)
- The Time of Contempt (1995)
- Baptism of Fire (1996)
- The Tower of the Swallow (1997)
- The Lady of the Lake (1999)
- Season of Storms (2013) – Standalone Novel
The Witcher Book Series Summary:
1. Sword of Destiny (1992) – Short Story Collection
The Sword of Destiny, first published in 1992, is a collection of six short stories detailing the adventures of Geralt.
- ‘The Bounds of Reason’ tells the story of the golden dragon Villentretenmerth, the mercy of Geralt, and the treachery of Yennefer.
- ‘A Shard of Ice’ features the battle of the defeat of a zeugl outside the town of Aedd Gynvael before Geralt finds himself at the center of a lover’s triangle involving Yennefer and fellow sorcerer, Istredd. Istredd is desperate to duel Geralt for Yennefer’s hand, but the intervention of thieves disrupts his plan.
- ‘Eternal Flame’ is set in the capital Novigrad with Geralt and his friend, Dandelion the Bard (who has been kicked out of the city by his enraged lover Vespula). The pair meet a doppler – a creature that can transform into and mimic others – nicknamed ‘Dudu.’ The city, protected by the Eternal Fire, is eager to rid the streets of dopplers, and Dudu is forced to transform into Geralt and battle him.
- ‘A Little Sacrifice’ is the tale of Geralt acting as a translator to help a Duke propose to his mermaid lover Sh’eenaz. The proposal is rejected, and the story moves underwater to the City of Ys as Sh’eenaz saves Geralt in battle with underwater creatures.
- ‘The Sword of Destiny’ is a story of dryads, the last forest of Brokilon and a message he must deliver to the queen, Eithne.
- The final story is ‘Something More.’ Geralt saves the merchant Yurga from monsters but is critically wounded. Unconscious, Geralt dreams of memories, his mother Visenna, Cintra, and the Law of Surprise.
2. The Last Wish (1993) – Short Story Collection
The Last Wish is a collection of seven short stories detailing the flashbacks of Geralt of Rivia as he lies in a temple, healing from wounds in battle. Each short story forms the basis of each of his flashbacks.
‘The Witcher,’ ‘A Grain of Truth,’ The Lesser Evil,’ ‘A Question of Price,’ ‘The Edge of the World,’ ‘The Last Wish,’ and ‘The Voice of Reason’ make up the collection.
These tales tell of Striga, Bruxa, Wizards, Queens, Elves, Genies, and unwinnable duels for Geralt. The legendary Witcher battles beasts, lies, betrayal, and old friendships in his adventures to secure Cintra, love, and life as the future of the Continent unfolds before him.
‘The Lesser Evil’ tells of how Geralt gains one of his aliases as he aids the assassin, Renfri, against the wizard, Stregobor. After massacring mercenaries in the town square, Geralt earns the nickname ‘The Butcher of Blaviken.’
3. Blood of Elves (1994)
Blood of Elves focuses on the aftermath of the attempted conquering of Cintra by the Empire of Nilfgaard. This tale first highlights the importance of Ciri, as her grandmother, Queen Calanthe of Cintra, is mortally wounded and killed.
An alliance of Northern Kingdoms defeats Nilfgaard, and an uneasy armistice begins. Eventually, the northern kingdom’s economy becomes ruined by Nilfgaards’ continued wealth, and the Kings decide to start a war to reclaim Cintra before the Empire of Nilfgaard gains any more strength.
The Emperor of Nilfgaard is searching for Ciri to marry her and legitimize the Empire’s hold on Cintra. Knowing this, the northern kings set out to find and kill Ciri, ending any chance of Nilfgaard building further strength in Cintra.
Meanwhile, Ciri is under the protection of Geralt, who has taken her to Kaer Morhen to begin training with the last remaining Witchers. Ciris’ training is aided by the sorceress Triss, an old friend of Yennefer, who advises Geralt to reach out to her in order to help Ciri control her immense magical power.
Unbeknownst to the trio, Ciri is also being hunted by the powerful mage Rience, who captures Geralts’ friend Dandelion to draw him out of Kaer Morhen. Geralt tracks Rience and forces him to flee through a portal before he can kill him.
4. The Time of Contempt (1995)
The next novel in The Witcher books in order is titled, The Time of Contempt, which was released in 1995. Following their meeting in the Blood of Elves, the northern kings are warmongering with Nilfgaard, whose Emperor has his own plans for the war.
Geralt attempts to learn the identity of a mysterious sorcerer hunting Ciri, who Yennefer plans to enroll at the sorcerers’ school at Aretuza. Geralt becomes entangled between the mage Vilgefortz and Dijkstra, the spymaster of the Kingdom of Redania, and battles to remain neutral as both sides attempt to recruit him to their cause.
Tissaia, a senior mage, discovers that her ‘neutral’ mages have taken sides and that a coup in the Kingdom of Redania has begun with the assassination of its king. In the ensuing chaos, Vilgefortz defeats Geralt, who is severely wounded, and Ciri escapes Aretuza through an unstable portal. Geralt takes shelter with the dryads in Brokilon forest to recover from his wounds.
5. Baptism of Fire (1996)
In the fallout of the chaos at Aretuza, the war between Nilfgaard and the Northern Kingdoms rages on. An elf sorceress is installed as queen of Dol Blathanna but is forced to withhold aid from the elves as the Northern Kingdoms fight back.
After Geralt recovers with the dryads, he becomes aware of Cahir, ‘The Black Knight,’ following his every move until he joins them with the help of Milva. Cahir and Geralt discover they have had the same dreams about Ciri, prompting them to question whether they are also bound by destiny.
Meanwhile, Ciri lives under the alias ‘Falka’ and has built an existence with the young outlaws ‘The Rats.’ After the collapse of Aretuza, the queen of Dol Blathanna, Francesca Findabair, gathers sorcerers, including Yennefer, to propose a new order of mages, The Lodge of Sorceresses.
6. The Tower of the Swallow (1997)
While living a life of contentment among ‘The Rats’, Ciri hears that a young girl with her name has been presented to the Emperor of Nilfgaard with the intention of becoming his bride. Hearing this, Ciri reclaims her title and exposes the lie of the Emperor.
Meanwhile, ‘The Rats’ are the target of the legendary bounty hunter, Leo Bonhart. Upon discovering the bounty of their heads, Ciri rides to find them but discovers that they have been slaughtered. She is then defeated by Bonhart and captured.
Geralt rides with the Queen of Rivia with his entourage Milva, Regis, and Cahir. While searching for a group of druids believed to be capable of locating Ciri, the group learns that a bounty has been placed on her head by a mysterious half-elf known as the Nightingale. After stumbling across the Nightingale, Schirru, Cahir is injured in battle, forcing both him and Geralt into hiding. The pair reconcile their past and differences and remain committed to rescuing Ciri from Bonhart.
7. The Lady of the Lake (1999)
The next entry in The Witcher books in order is The Lady of the Lake, where Sir Galahad, a knight of King Arthur, stumbles upon Ciri.
The coroner of Nilfgaard, Stefan Skellen, has allied himself to Vilgefortz and imprisoned the sorceress Yennefer. Geralt is preoccupied with hunting beasts and his affair with the sorceress Fringilla. Geralt takes a contract to eavesdrop on Skellen and the nobles of the rebellion. He hears of the plot to overthrow the Emperor, the location of Vilgefortz, and the location of Yennefer.
Ciri, trapped in a foreign world, is told of her power by Auberon and asked to bear the king’s child to stop the world’s cataclysm. Ciri agrees reluctantly, but Auberon fails to gift her with a child. Ciri is promised passage back to her time after she has given birth, but Eredin warns her that she will never escape.
Ciri escapes with the help of unicorns and arrives at the castle of Vilgefortz before offering to trade places with Yennefer. Meanwhile, the battle between Nilfgaard and the Northern Kingdoms continues to rage, Skellen is arrested for treason, and Emperor Emhyr reveals a troubling secret.
8. Season of Storms (2013) – Standalone Novel
Season of Storms is set between the short stories featured in ‘The Last Wish.’ Geralt of Rivia is contracted to fight a monster intent only on killing as many people as possible. During the course of this contract, Geralt is arrested and suffers the loss of his two witcher swords.
He enlists the help of Dandelion, his trusted bard friend, to retrieve his weapons when he becomes involved with Lytta Neyd, a sorceress. Subsequently, Geralt becomes entangled in the influential figures and society of Kerack – the land where he believes his witcher swords are being kept.
As he grows in stature within society, the Witcher finds himself trapped between two deadly plots involving a group of mages and the jealous sons of King Belohun.
Geralt is suddenly in an impossible position and is forced to make difficult decisions that could risk his and his companions’ lives.
Who is Andrzej Sapkowski?
Andrzej Sapkowski is the 74-year-old Polish author of the world-famous The Witcher book series. After graduating from the University of Lodz, his hometown, Sapkowski became an essayist and trained economist.
The first success of the Witcher came when he won a short story competition in 1986 held by the Polish magazine ‘Fantastyka.’ Sapkowski has published 10 novels and 8 short stories, selling over 30 million copies globally. He has been described as the ‘Polish Tolkien,’ a tribute to his fantastical creation of Witchers, beasts, sorcerers, and the enormous fictional world of Geralt of Rivia.
First published in 1992, Sapkowski’s most recent work, Season of Storms, was published in 2013. His work has been translated from Polish into 37 languages, a testament to the global success of his stories. He has been awarded Poland’s most prestigious science fiction award, the Zajdel Award, five times, along with numerous other accolades.
In summary, The Witcher series is one of the widest-reaching creative works of fiction ever written. Indeed, it rivals the work of George RR Martin (Game of Thrones) and JRR Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings).
The Witcher book series brings a more modern element to its’ tales, which has made its transition from paper to the screen hugely popular among fans. Few works written can hold a candle to the enormous world, the vast number of storylines, and the sheer complexity of the tales of Geralt.
For those readers wanting a fix of the magical, fantastical, thrilling, blood-soaked, romantically charged world of science fantasy fiction, they can do little better than to immerse themselves in the world of the Witcher.
Readers will find themselves emotionally attached to characters in a way few authors can manage and even come to view Ciri as an adopted daughter of their own. Geralt becomes the protective uncle they wish wouldn’t leave, and Yennefer confounds emotion like a lover you can not stop returning to. The Witcher truly is a fantasy fiction masterpiece and should be on every avid reader’s bucket list.
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