‘The Witcher’: a must-see for fantasy fans

“The Witcher,” the Netflix original series, was released on the streaming service on Dec. 20, 2019. The characters and their world are much older, but the show definitely does the story justice.

The series stars Henry Cavill as the titular witcher, Geralt of Rivia. Previously known for his role of Superman in “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League,” Cavill plays a very different hero. Geralt is more of a reluctant hero, and it was impossible to know if Cavill could portray the brooding hero as well as he could the idealistic one. It was very obvious from the first scene that he is definitely the man for the job.

Joey Batey portrays the bard, Jaskier, also referred to as “Dandelion” in the novels and games, and since the release of the first season, his band, The Amazing Devil, has grown in popularity. 

Other stars include Anya Chalotra as the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg and Freya Allan as Princess Cirilla of Cintra. 

The girl power in “The Witcher” is real, with two of the three storylines following these women that are allowed to be strong, well-rounded characters just like their male counterparts. My one criticism of the treatment of women in the show is that there is definite gratuitous nudity that the show could really do without. It is rated TV-MA for good reason.

One high point beyond the writing and the characters is the costume design. I do not claim to be an expert when it comes to clothing, but I can appreciate it. The dresses worn by the women are beautiful, the armor is intricate and the hairstyles are all amazing.

The character Geralt of Rivia was created by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Initially, it was a short story simply titled “The Witcher” released in a Polish fantasy magazine for a competition. It won third place. He later wrote the first novel, which was published in Poland in 1993. The English translation was released in 2007. Also in 2007 the video game “The Witcher” was released, followed by two sequels over the next decade.

The storyline of the show is deceptively complex, and definitely not for casual viewing. I had actually attempted to watch it while doing something else, and I quickly realized that was not going to work. It calls for the viewer’s full attention, and anything less makes it hard to follow. 

At first it seems straightforward. A viewer with an eye for details will realize that that is certainly not the case, and the true timeline does not make itself obvious until almost halfway through the season.

An aspect of the show I personally enjoyed was the variation of monsters. It does not stop at vampires and werewolves, but has strigas, kikimores and more of the less widely known creatures. This allows the story to follow whole new plots rather than the tired cliches that come with using creatures the audience is sick of.

The Netflix show has just about everything one could want from a fantasy show. Political intrigue? Check. Romance? Of course. Dragons? Obviously. Henry Cavill’s abs? Gratuitously.

Netflix clearly had high hopes for its show, having renewed it for a second season last November, before season one had even been released for viewing. I believe that it lived up to those high expectations.

“The Witcher” holds the audience’s attention from the intense opening scene of the pilot episode all the way through to the payoff of the last episode’s final scene, which sets up the next season. In between is the horror of episode three, the humor and triumph of episode four and the amazing magical battle scene of the season finale.

While it does have its flaws, the series is definitely a must-see for fantasy fans. No matter if those fans have only just heard of Geralt the White Wolf, have read the series or have played the video games.