The Witcher Books: The Ultimate Reading Order Guide

The Witcher Netflix Books Reading Order

Thanks to the popularity of Netflix’s new Witcher series, a fresh new hoard of fans are wondering just how best to get into the franchise during the torturous wait for season 2. While CD Projekt Red’s franchise of Witcher games has long been popular, with sales of 2015’s The Witcher 3 comprising roughly 50% of the franchise’s total sales, the original source material has recently received a boost in popularity. For the week of December 29, 2019, The Witcher book, The Last Wish, became number one in the U.S. and U.K. Amazon charts.

This is likely due to a number of factors. To begin with, the popular series of games have always claimed to be only loosely based on the original novels, drawing ire from even the series author himself, Andrzej Sapkowski. While the Netflix series certainly does make an attempt to pay homage to the games, from Henry Cavill’s appearance as Geralt to the swinging sword sound effects and use of in-game music for the score, the series is actually more accurately based on the original book series. While the series does make some deviations and delves deeper into some storylines, such as Yennefer’s background and showing viewers the battle of Blaviken, it is more faithful to the books than the games as a whole.

Newfound fans of the series are rushing to the original books in order to fill their need for more Witcher until the second season of the Netflix show premieres but may have some questions regarding the perfect reading order. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the most comprehensive reading order for Witcher fans old and new.

1. The Last Wish

The Last Wish short story collection is the closest readers can get to reading a history of Geralt himself. This book will be most familiar to fans of the Netflix series as this book details a lot of the formative adventures experienced by Geralt throughout the series.

This collection includes the infamous battle of Blaviken which earned Geralt his Butcher nickname, as well as the adventure that led Geralt to claim Ciri as his child surprise, meeting the bard Dandelion (Jaskier is the original name in the original Polish versions), as well as Yennefer.

Fans of the show will find the short story format a less intimidating starting point and will enjoy the detailed introduction to the world of The Witcher. With so many familiar stories, this is a great place to start and recap what you already know as a fan of the show while gaining just a little more insight into the politics of the world.

2. Sword of Destiny

This next short story collection, Sword of Destiny, is the next logical installment in the series. After tying himself to Yennefer and Ciri, Geralt is forced to confront what destiny has in store for him and grapple with the changes in his life. Fans of the series will recognize the dragon hunt Geralt and Yennefer embark on and will likely not be surprised when the couple breaks up (knowing that thanks to destiny’s interference, they’ll be an on-again, off-again thing for the long haul).

Fans of the Netflix show will also be familiar with the story arc of Geralt coming to terms with Ciri being his destiny and finally stepping up to claim her as his destiny. As the series took a lot from these first two books, fans will likely enjoy the new or slightly altered adventures while getting some more backstory of the adventures featured in the series.

3. Blood of Elves

Blood of Elves introduces events more familiar to those who have played the games, although it is likely the second season will begin somewhere around the events of Blood of Elves. It will come as no shock to gamers that Geralt begins to train Ciri as a Witcher in Blood of Elves. Defying traditional roles and what is expected of her is what Yennefer does best, and she works to help train Ciri alongside Geralt.

Their domestic bliss is short-lived as many forces on the hunt for Ciri are introduced in this novel. Emperor Emhyr var Emreis of Nilfgaard seeks to find Ciri in order to marry her and obtain control of Cintra while another group wants her killed and a sorcerer, Rience, seems to have some other motives regarding Ciri’s magic.

Contrasting the family Geralt has somehow cobbled together for himself with the unsavory forces that work to find Ciri and use her for their own gain, Blood of Elves is a major turning point in Geralt’s path and should not be missed.

4. The Time of Contempt

Things are not well in the world of magic or politics in this installment in the series, The Time of Contempt. Political battles brew and a coup brews in the magical community while it seems Ciri herself may be caught in the middle of it.

Meanwhile, Ciri is about to enroll in Aretuza in order to explore her magic, a setting familiar to watchers of the series as the school where Yennefer developed her abilities and later rebelled against the status quo. Ciri is forced to join a group known as The Rats, starting Geralt’s hunt for Ciri, again familiar to fans of the game series.

Geralt and Yennefer find themselves caught up in the politics of witches and sorcerers as this addition to the series does well to further develop the lore of Geralt’s world and emphasize just what degree of danger Ciri finds herself in as the Northern Kings conspire to lead Nilfgaard into war.

5. Baptism of Fire

Geralt works hard to find Ciri in this novel, Baptism of Fire, which sequentially picks up where the last one has left off. The bard Dandelion returns. For all intents and purposes, Dandelion and his show counterpart, Jaskier, are one and the same. Also included in Geralt’s ragtag gang are a dwarf, vampire, and knight.

While Geralt gathers his team together in search of Ciri, the novel makes a point of following Ciri and The Rats as she learns to make her own way in the world. This novel is a turning point in both of these characters’ stories. Although they continue to drift further from one another, they are tied together by destiny.

Geralt falls deeper into his role as a father figure for Ciri while she must make use of her own faculties for the first time. The novel shows that Ciri is more than a political pawn, she is powerful and capable of taking care of herself. What’s more, Ciri becomes worldly through her adventures. Forced to make her own way as a bandit, it becomes clear to the reader that when she reunites with Geralt she will be more self-sufficient than she was when she left him.

Even more iconic, Geralt finally receives the “of Rivia” addition to his title. As Jaskier’s ballad already refers to Geralt as “Geralt of Rivia” in the series, it is unclear if this particular event has been retconned.

6. The Tower of the Swallow

The Tower of the Swallow follows the three main characters, Ciri, Geralt, and Yennefer as they all move separately. It is clear that things are about to come to a head as the novel progresses, as each character seemingly reaches a tipping point by the novel’s end.

Geralt continues searching for Ciri with his group as he makes the choice to renounce his Witcher title. While Yennefer looks for the sorcerer Vilgefortz in an effort to uncover the prophecy that surrounds Ciri, Triss Merigold continues to search for Yennefer.

Ciri herself confides in a hermit, telling tales of her recent adventures as she is gravely injured. It is revealed she has had a run-in with a bounty hunter from Nilfgaard, proving the suspicion that enemies are out to get her from all sides.

The walls seem to be closing in on each of the protagonists, and the reader is left unclear as to whether each character can get a happy ending without sacrificing that of the others.

7. The Lady of the Lake

War has officially broken out between the North and Nilfgaard and Ciri, Geralt, and Yennefer are desperate to be reunited. Ciri works to yield her awesome powers in order to be reunited with them.

The Lady of the Lake takes an interesting turn for a low fantasy novel as the Arthurian knight Sir Galahad is introduced. Galahad believes Ciri to be the Lady of Lake, famous in Arthurian literature. In a bold move, Sapkowski combines his carefully crafted world of The Witcher with that of preexisting Arthurian legend, something readers likely did not see coming.

Geralt works to rescue the captured Yennefer while Ciri recounts her time with the Wild Hunt, familiar to fans of The Witcher 3. Ciri spends the novel on the run, jumping between worlds in order to escape Eredin Breacc Glas in an attempt to reunite with Geralt and Yennefer, who she has come to think of as her true parents over the course of the novels, once and for all.

Optional: Season of Storms

Although the epilogue from Season of Storms features a setting after the events of the main storyline, the main events of this book seemingly exist out of any important timeline events. Fans of Geralt will enjoy the Sword of Destiny as it tells a tale in the vein of classic Geralt fashion.

Lost without his two swords, Geralt enters into a tumultuous relationship with a sorceress, as he tends to do often, named Coral. Geralt is then made to interfere in local politics, something the Witcher would also loathe to admit is a common occurrence throughout his adventures.

This one feels like a celebration of the character Geralt without adding much to the main story or necessarily having to be read in any specific order. It’s for that reason we’d recommend reading this one in any sequence, saving it for last, or really just reading it any time after Geralt’s introduction in The Last Wish.

Those looking for a purely sequential reading experience won’t be missing much by skipping this one altogether, but completionists won’t regret adding it to their To Be Read list.

The Witcher Expert Mode

While the above sequence is the most commonly recommended, there is an even more in-depth, chronologically accurate way to read these novels as two of the entries are short story collections and the Season of Storms epilogue takes place after the events of the novels are through.

The most technically correct, though perhaps not the most enjoyable or convenient way, to enjoy The Witcher installations are as follows:

1. “A Grain of Truth” (The Last Wish)
2. “The Lesser Evil” (The Last Wish)
3. “The Edge of the World” (The Last Wish)
4. “The Last Wish” (The Last Wish)
5. Season of Storms
6. “A Question of Price” (The Last Wish)
7. “The Witcher” (The Last Wish)
8. “The Voice of Reason” (The Last Wish)
9. “Bounds of Reason” (Sword of Destiny)
10. “A Shard of Ice” (Sword of Destiny)
11. “The Eternal Fire” (Sword of Destiny)
12. “A Little Sacrifice” (Sword of Destiny)
13. “The Sword of Destiny” (Sword of Destiny)
14. “Something More” (Sword of Destiny)
15. Blood of Elves
16. Time of Contempt
17. Baptism of Fire
18. The Tower of the Swallow
19. The Lady of the Lake
20. Season of Storms epilogue

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