The Witcher book series is a set of five novels written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The books follow the story of Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher — a professional monster hunter with supernatural abilities.
The series has been adapted into a hugely successful video game franchise, and two TV shows are currently in production on Netflix. With such a high profile, it’s no wonder that people are interested in reading the books that started it all. Whether you’re new or a returning fan, here’s how to read The Witcher books in order:
The Last Wish
Although The Last Wish is, technically, the third book released in the Witcher series, it is actually the very first book in the chronology of the stories. This book consists of a collection of stories that Geralt, our main character, has experienced during his many years as a Witcher.
Many of these stories are actually flashbacks and only make sense if you already know what happens later on in the series. Think of it as a prequel collection of short stories, rather than a traditional novel. One story that stands out is “The Lesser Evil,” which is about Geralt being caught in the middle of Stregobor and Renfri, needing to decide whom to trust. This thought-provoking story lets the reader make the judgment on the characters’ actions rather than depict one as more or less evil than the other.
Sword of Destiny
The second book, Sword of Destiny, comes after The Witcher (1990, only released in Poland). Just like The Last Wish, it’s a collection of short stories that depict Geralt’s early years. The stories in this book are a little more serious than in the last one, and they focus on Geralt’s further development as a Witcher.
“A Shard of Ice” and “A Little Sacrifice” are two notable stories in this book. The former tells of Geralt’s complicated relationship with Yennefer, while the latter talks about his affair with Essi, a female minstrel.
Blood of Elves
Blood of Elves is officially the start of the Witcher Saga. This is the book where Geralt finally meets Ciri, the girl who will change his life forever.
You can start with this book if you want to read the main storyline right away. However, we highly recommend reading the short story collections above first. They’re not essential to the plot, but they provide important backstories and context that will make your experience with Blood of Elves much richer.
Time of Contempt
After Blood of Elves comes Time of Contempt. This time, Geralt of Rivia returns to his home country of Brokilon, where he has been living in self-imposed exile for the past twelve years.
The forest of Brokilon is a magical place and it is said that time does not exist there. But when Geralt enters the forest, he finds that things have changed: the elves are now at war with the humans and Geralt is caught in the middle.
Time of Contempt is a dark and complex novel that deals with themes of prejudice, betrayal, and loss. It is also considered one of the most beautifully written books in the series.
Baptism of Fire
In Baptism of Fire, Geralt finally has his memories back and goes on a mission to rescue the princess Ciri. The book itself is split into two parts, the first part follows Geralt and Dandelion as they travel to meet up with some friends of Dandelion’s. The second half follows Ciri as she tries to stay ahead of the Wild Hunt.
While the Witcher series is known for its no-nonsense depiction of violence, Baptism of Fire seems particularly more dark and gritty. The book does not shy away from the horrific elements, whether from monsters or men.
The Tower of the Swallow
In this book, Ciri, Geralt’s adopted daughter, is on the run from the Wild Hunt. She ends up in the city of Novigrad where she meets a group of dwarves. They offer to help her find Geralt if she helps them with a heist. It turns out the heist is a trap set by the king of the city and Ciri is captured. Geralt arrives just in time to save her and they defeat the king and his men.
The Lady of the Lake
The Lady of the Lake is the final book in Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher series. This time, Geralt of Rivia is on a mission to find and save Ciri, the daughter of his late friend Yennefer. He is also dealing with some personal demons, as well as the political machinations of Nilfgaard. The book has many twists and turns and is an exciting conclusion to the series.
Optional: Season of Storms
Season of Storms is a standalone novel that’s set years after The Witcher saga. Here, Geralt finds himself battling a monster that’s been terrorizing a small town. While the novel does provide some closure to Geralt’s character, this is an optional read and isn’t necessarily part of the main arc. If you’re interested in reading it, it’s best to do so after finishing the saga.