‘The Witcher’: The Major Differences Between The Books and The Show

Netflix’s new fantasy series, The Witcher, is based on the books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. However, there are several key differences between the two versions of the story. For example, the characters are very different in the show.

How are the characters different in ‘The Witcher’ when compared to the books?

Henry Cavill of The Witcher
Henry Cavill at the photocall for The Witcher Season 1 | Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

One character that changed from the books is, surprisingly, Geralt of Rivia himself. The Witcher showrunner Lauren Hissrich told Digital Spy that “In the books, Geralt’s actually quite chatty, he talks a lot.” In the Netflix version, on the other hand, Geralt isn’t as talkative. Hissrich continues by saying “What I found, though, is on screen, especially with Henry portraying him, a lot can be done just in looks and grunts.”

Hissrich told Digital Spy that she believes that making Geralt less talkative “makes him that much more powerful of a character.” The other characters that are different include Yennefer of Vengerberg and Cirilla, also known as Ciri, of Cintra. As Hissrich told SciFiNow, according to Redanian Intelligence, “The biggest shift that [she’s] made from the books is that [she] wanted Ciri and Yennefer to stand on their own legs a little bit more.”

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“In the books, they’re introduced through Geralt’s lens,” Hissrich says. The showrunner states that “it was important to [her] that [the] audience get to know them individually first,” before seeing them through Geralt’s eyes. As Hissrich told Entertainment Weekly, The Witcher books have “story they skip through.” Including Yennefer’s backstory, which the show “got to explore…in real time.”

Another small detail that’s changed from the books is actually only changed from the English translation of the books, and that’s Jaskier’s name. In Polish, his name is Jaskier, which means a yellow-petaled flower according to TheGamer. If you translate Jaskier into English, it literally translates as “buttercup.” The translator, however, decided to change Jaskier’s name to another flower and called him Dandelion.

What are the plot differences between the books and the Netflix show?

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According to Ian Krietzberg of Screen Rant, the fall of Cintra is only mentioned in the books. Jaskier tells Geralt tales about it, but the reader doesn’t really see it happening. The show, however, focuses a lot on Nilfgaard’s attack on Cintra.

Another example of The Witcher deviating from the source material, according to Krietzberg, is with the Battle of Sodden Hill. In the books, it is only mentioned after it happens, when Geralt looks for Yennefer. The Witcher show features the battle in all of its glory.

What other differences are there between ‘The Witcher’ books and the show?

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One difference between Netflix’s The Witcher and the books is the three different timelines. This is largely because of the expanded roles of Yennefer and Ciri. While the books are told solely from Geralt’s perspective, the show follows three main characters.

According to Krietzberg of Screen Rant, Ciri’s powers are also different in the books when compared with the show. In the books, Ciri’s abilities do not fully reveal themselves right away. In the show, they’re prominent from the beginning.

The books, according to Krietzberg, also don’t really mention Geralt’s childhood much, which is definitely mentioned in the show. The show writers seem to be dedicated to expanding on a character’s backstory whenever possible.