HomeNewsNetflix’s ‘The Witcher’ S1: The 10 biggest differences to the books

Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ S1: The 10 biggest differences to the books

Here are the 10 differences between Netflix's adaptation and the 'The Witcher' books. Toss in a coin and let’s begin.

Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ S1: The 10 biggest differences to the books

Toss a coin to your writer, o valley of plenty. Or, well, we’re just stealing the banger of a song from Netflix’s The Witcher. Either way, if you want to know more about the key differences between the Netflix series and the books of the same name by Andrzej Sapkowski, then we have the differences between The Witcher books and series right here. 

After all, The Witcher is an adaptation of the books (and a little bit of the popular video game series), and, as we all know, adaptations change things. 

Here are the 10 differences of The Witcher. Toss in a coin and let’s begin.

Yennefer’s past

Rather than The Witcher solely being the story of Geralt (Henry Cavill), as it is in the books, the Netflix series makes the intriguing decisions to split the focus between Geralt, Ciri (Freya Allan), and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra). In the show, we see Yennefer’s transformation from hunchback misfit to powerful sorceress with each step detailed. 

The book, however, only gave bits and pieces of Yennefer’s background. It was enough to give fans a general sort of idea, but not as detailed as it is in the television series. This allowed The Witcher to make Yennefer feel more fleshed out to the audience. When Geralt meets Yennefer, the audience knows Yennefer. Speaking of Geralt and Yennefer. . .

The timeline of Geralt and Yennefer’s relationship

When we meet Yennefer in The Witcher (books), she and Geralt already have a tumultuous relationship. They are drawn to each other, but always leave each other due to some notoriously messy fights. There is a history in the books that the audience learns in bits and pieces.

The Witcher (Netflix), however, decides to start fresh with Geralt and Yennefer’s relationship. It takes most of the first season for the pair to meet, but it is the start of something rather than a continuation. So fans can track this ship until their heart’s content. They do, however, also seem to have the hook-up and break-up dynamic of their book counterparts.

Queen Calanthe

Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May), the Lioness of Cintra, definitely has a fierce streak within her. She will ride out to the front lines to defend her country from the invasion of Nilfgaard, fighting with a ferocity to protect her lands. Even in defeat, she saves Ciri from the oncoming invasion of her borders following defeat.

The main difference for the character between The Witcher (books) and The Witcher (Netflix) comes down to an inherent ruthlessness to Calanthe. It showcases in a, for lack of a better word, racist attitude toward people with elf blood. In fact, in The Witcher (Netflix), she orders a purge of anyone with elvish blood in her kingdom. The genocidal purge will surprise those who read The Witcher (books) because, in them, Queen Calanthe has elvish blood and never orders a purge.

Tissaia de Vries

Another character who suffered a radical personality shift from book to screen is Tissaia de Vries (MyAnna Buring). Tissaia is the one who mentors Yennefer in the Brotherhood of Sorcerers, saying her from a miserable life of abuse and shaping her into one of the most powerful sorceresses the world over. 

The main difference between The Witcher (books) and The Witcher (Netflix) comes down to her personality and attitude. In The Witcher (books), Tissaia is one of the nicest characters in the series, who has little time for machinations or politics that sorcerers play. The Witcher (Netflix), however, made Tissaia in someone much more colder and calculating, playing the political games her book counterpart so despised. 

The Sorceress Ritual

This is one of the more graphic and bloody changes from The Witcher (books) to The Witcher (Netflix). Before a sorceress is sent off to court, she undergoes a magic ritual that changes her body. A hunchback can become the most stunning of beauties through it. In order for the ritual to work, the uterus of the sorceress must be removed.

The Witcher (Netflix) shows these process in bloody, graphic detail. Maybe it’s to make more Game of Thrones, but you will feel almost uncomfortable watching it. The book version, however, is not quite as graphic. A sorceress is rendered infertile, but it is not because of physical removal of the uterus. So…why the series wanted to make it more graphic is unknown.

The Fall of Cintra

This one of those changes that makes sense due to The Witcher (Netflix) decision to consolidate timelines and make the story a little more nonlinear than the book series. The Fall of Cintra, in The Witcher (books), doesn’t happen until the last story in Sword of Destiny. Even then, we don’t see the fall in the books. Geralt learns about it through the tales that Jaskier tells him.

The Witcher (Netflix) actually showcases the Fall of Cintra to Nilfgaard. This allows audiences to latch onto Ciri all the more. Given how brutal the Fall of Cintra is shown to be, makes audiences more concerned than ever for the young girl’s safety. Another change is that Geralt is there, locked in a cell by Queen Calanthe. He escapes, however, before she decides to release him to protect Ciri. 

Battle of Sodden Hill

Another major event in The Witcher (Netflix) that readers of The Witcher (books) only heard after the fact is the Battle of Sodden Hill. Unlike the books, the series’ first season finale focuses on the Battle of Sodden Hill. Audiences see the mages fight against the forces of Nilfgaard, even as they are slaughtered and sacrificing their lives to stop the invaders.

In the books, Geralt visits Sodden Hill after the fact, scared of seeing Yennefer’s name on the memorial obelisk. During this trip, he also has a visit from Death. The Witcher (Netflix) does its own spin on this by giving Geralt horrible nightmares of searching Sodden Hill for Yennefer. 

Triss Merigold 

It’s unsurprising that Triss (Anna Shaffer) showed up earlier in The Witcher (Netflix) then she did in The Witcher (books). She was a fan-favorite character from the games, being a prominent part of those plots. In the book series, however, Triss doesn’t show up until the third book. 

In The Witcher (Netflix), Triss shows up to hire Geralt to kill a striga. This makes great sense as the character who hires Geralt to do so in the books is a one-off. Not only do viewers get to see Triss earlier than planned, it makes perfect sense to use her for that role. We also see Triss working with Yennefer at the Battle of Sodden Hill, which is a nod to the friendship that they share. We also get to know her as a person outside of the Yennefer-Geralt-Triss love triangle. 

Ciri’s powers

In The Witcher media, Ciri is a very powerful character. She is able to tap into such chaotic forces as her mother before her, Pavetta (Gaia Mondadori). The main difference between Ciri’s abilities in the show and the books is how present they are that the start of The Witcher (Netflix). 

In the books, Ciri only has an uncommonly good sense of direction and immunity against some magical attacks. These would grow over time, especially in the second book of The Witcher (books). In the show, however, Ciri’s powers are incredibly powerful from the start, allowing her to go into Geralt’s dreams and speak a prophecy of the end of the world. 

Point of View

The Witcher (books) is written solely from the point of view of Geralt of Rivia, which means that some things are told to him after the fact or he misses major events. By the show spreading out the point of view to three characters, The Witcher (Netflix) allows for a greater breadth and depth given to the world at large. 

What Geralt misses, another character such as Yennefer or Ciri witnesses instead. So it gives a greater knowledge for the audience to follow the story, allowing a clearer picture to be formed overall.

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Bec Heim is a freelance writer who has contributed and edited for sites like NetflixLife, ScreenRant, and 4 Your Excitement. When not talking and writing about pop culture (especially superheroes or any show with a paranormal bent), she is usually tackling her mountain of books, writing scripts or stories, or listening to podcasts.

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