The Cambridge Geek

The Witcher

The Witcher was an automatic watch, given I played The Witcher 3 some years back, and lost about 3 months solid to it, all the DLC, and more side quests than I could shake a silver sword at.

(My playing of that pre-dated me having a website, so I can't link to a review of that. Instead, the below gif does a pretty good job of showing the most memorable part of the experience.)

Gif of cat attempting to leap and failing majestically.
So. Many. Deaths.

To my shame, however, I've not actually read any of the books/short stories, despite having once stood next to a very long queue for an Andrzej Sapkowski signing at one of the London Comic-cons. One to go on to the "to read" list at some point.

That meant that I went into this not entirely bereft of background, but also with only hazy memories of some of the wider world of The Witcher, and not the greatest idea of the oncoming war.

Which is one of my greatest annoyances about this show. It tells its tale in an achronological manner, jumping back and forth between three or so different timelines. It wants you to feel clever for having figured this out, but I mostly found it a bit frustrating. While I'm not a fan of infodumps, a slightly bigger hint of who the various countries involved in the ensuring battle were would have been helpful. Instead we get lots of fleeting references that you have to back-fill later, meaning it's probably best designed for a re-watch.

The first thread follows Ciri, the magical grand-daughter of a queen, and her escape from an oncoming army. This is probably the strongest in terms of story, with encounters with a range of threats and allies, and giving Ciri enough growth to stand as the potential monster hunter we might know her as.

The second is Yennefer, a young woman, again with magical talent, sold to a mage who sees her possible strength. There's a lot of political intrigue, as mages sneak around, manipulating people for their own ends, but it's all a bit undercut by Yennefer's main motivation being that she wants her fertility back. Having chosen to give it away for a magical re-working, she then wanders about telling people she's annoyed that the mages took her choice away. I can't decide if it's intentionally hypocritical or that we're supposed to sympathise with her forgetting her actions.

Finally there's Geralt, who stomps about killing/sparing monsters, dealing with annoying bards, and swearing in an entertaining manner. This is relatively light compared to the others, and offers the most relief from what can occasionally feel a bit grim. In particular, mid-season there's a decent amount of the "Geralt and Jaskier show", and these are easily the most fun. Doesn't take itself too seriously, and uses "fuck" as a punchline just the right amount of times.

The fights are good, the monsters are excellent, and very believable, and it's not badly made, if a little cosplay-looking at times. There's not currently much else like it around at the minute, which is a benefit in itself. And I can't stop frigging singing "Toss a coin to your Witcher".

If you're missing Game of Thrones or you played the games, it's worth a watch for the comparison. I'll probably give the second series a go, but I think it needs tightening up a bit.

Score 3

Tagged: TV Fantasy Epic fantasy Netflix