'The Witcher' Books Reading Order: A Beginner's Guide to The Short Stories, Novels & Games

While originally published in Polish through the 1990s, the six novels and two short story collections following the adventures of The Witcher weren't published in English until the 2000s, released in the United States alongside the influential video game trilogy of the same name. On December 20, Netflix debuted the first season of a TV series, which acts as an even more faithful adaptation of the source material. With the entire novel series now available in English, there's no better time to start reading The Witcher, especially for those hoping to keep ahead of the Netflix series.

Geralt first appeared in a 1986 issue of Polish science fiction and fantasy magazine Fantastyka. In creator Andrzej Sapkowski's first short story, "Wiedźmin" ("The Witcher"), Geralt cures king Foltest's daughter of the curse that transformed her into a striga. The story was retold in the third episode of The Witcher on Netflix, "Betrayer Moon."

Queen Calanthe and Geralt of Rivia face off in "The Witcher" Episode 4, "Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials." Netflix

Subsequent stories introduced characters like the powerful sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg, the bard Dandelion (Jaskier in the Polish, and the Netflix series) and Princess Cirilla, Geralt's child of surprise. Then, in 1994, Sapkowski published the novel Blood of Elves, opening the Witcher Saga, which follows the interplay of nations far beyond the events of the Netflix series.

For those hoping to read the original version of events depicted in The Witcher, the best place to start is The Last Wish. The second short story collection, Sword of Destiny, isn't as directly adapted on Netflix's The Witcher, but it does contain crucial set-up for Ciri and Geralt's shared destiny. Here's the order we'd recommend reading Sapkowski's Witcher stories.

The Witcher Book Series Reading Order

The Last Wish

Originally published in 1993, "The Last Wish" was released in the United States in 2008. Orbit

A "fix-up" uniting six previously published short stories with a framing narrative, The Last Wish follows the early adventures of Geralt of Rivia's, before the Witcher Saga. Five of the stories will be very familiar to fans of The Witcher on Netflix, including Sapkowski's first published short story, "The Witcher." The stories "The Lesser Evil," "A Question of Price," "The Edge of the World" and "The Last Wish" are also retold in episodes of the TV show.

Sword of Destiny

First published in 1992, "Sword of Destiny" was released in the United States in 2015. Orbit

Collecting six more Witcher short stories, Sword of Destiny includes several events depicted in Netflix's The Witcher, most importantly the fall of Cintra and death of Queen Calanthe. It also features the first appearance of Ciri. However, there are fewer short stories in this collection with direct parallels to The Witcher episodes, except the short story "The Bounds of Reason," following the hunt for the golden dragon Villentretenmerth, retold in The Witcher episode "Rare Species."

Blood of Elves

Originally published in 1994, "Blood of Elves" was released in the United States in 2009. Orbit

The first novel in the Witcher Saga, Blood of Elves finds Ciri under the protection of Geralt of Rivia, quickly moving beyond the events of The Witcher's first Netflix season. Nilfgaard is still after Ciri, so Geralt takes her to Kaer Morhen, the witcher's keep.

Four more novels follow Blood of Elves in the Witcher Saga: Time of Contempt, Baptism of Fire, The Tower of the Swallow and The Lady of the Lake. The saga follows Ciri, Geralt and Yennefer through a second war between the Northern Kingdoms and the Nilfgaardian Empire, during which Ciri must find her own path and grapple with the consequences of her powerful Elder blood.

The Witcher video games, including The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, take place after the events of the novel series.

Geralt of Rivia's latest adventures are portrayed in "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt." CD Projekt Red

Joining the five novels in the Witcher Saga and the two short story collections is the most recent witcher novel, Season of Storms. Set in between The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny (though taking place before the very first short story, "The Witcher"), Season of Storms is a standalone adventure, following Geralt to the city of Kerack.

To recap, those looking for an experience closest to Netflix's The Witcher will want to read The Last Wish and follow it up with Sword of Destiny. But those willing to forego some character introductions and worldbuilding, hopping in at Blood of Elves is the easiest way to stay one step ahead of The Witcher TV series.

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts