2 Ways to Read The Witcher Books in Order by Andrzej Sapkowski

Witcher Books in Order

Did you know The Witcher games and TV show were based on books? Yes, yes, you probably did or you wouldn’t be here asking the question: How do I read The Witcher books in order?

I’m a huge fan of The Witcher 3 on PS4.

I’d never played the first few games, but when I discovered Andrzej Sapkowski’s world a few years ago, I was immediately hooked.

Now, I’ve never seen The Witcher TV show. As I understand it, it’s rather graphic, like Game of Thrones, and that sort of thing isn’t for me.

But the games are phenomenal so I thought I’d dive into the books.

Then I discovered there’s a whole bunch of books and The Witcher reading order was not immediately apparent.

In fact, there are 2 ways you can read The Witcher books in order.

But before we dive into how to read the books, let’s go into the successful adaptations of this series.

The Witcher Books in Order

The Witcher Adaptations

As we’ve already mentioned, The Witcher books have inspired both games and a TV show.

The video game series has three main standalone games, two expansion packs, and three spin-off games. In the first 10 months following The Witcher’s PC release in 2007, it sold 800,000 copies worldwide. Collectively, the games have now sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and expanded into console and handheld platforms as well as PC.

The Witcher was the first game CD Projekt Red developed and it has obviously received tremendous success. The third game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, sold nearly 10 million copies in its first year alone.

But if you didn’t first discover the character of Geralt through the video games, you might be more familiar with the Netflix TV show.

The TV series stars Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg, Freya Allen as Cirilla of Cintra, and Joey Batey as the loveable bard Jaskier.

The first season premiered in 2019, with the second season being released in December 2021. The reception to the show has been enthusiastic and it has already been renewed for a third season.

If you’re a fan of the games and watched the shows, you’ll likely have remarked that Cavill has an eerily similar way of portraying Geralt. That is partly due in fact to Cavill being a massive fan of both the games and the books. He’s earned the reputation as a source material purist on set.

Are The Witcher Adaptations Similar to the Books?

So, you may be asking yourself how similar are the games and TV show to the source material?

Despite Cavill’s dedication to the cause, there are some heavy deviations from the books in the second season of the TV adaptation, which has received mix reactions from fans. While the first season primarily stuck to events from The Last Wish as the show conducted its world-building, changes really became apparent in the second season for where the creative team would like to take the show.

However, author Andrzej Sapkowski has given a nod of approval to Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Geralt and the appearance of the character.

While the games were merely inspired by the book series and the TV show is an adaptation from the books, it is clear Netflix is pulling some inspiration from the games.

In the second season, there was a subtle change to character appearances in the show to become more similar to the game’s character portrayal. Notably, fans of the games will notice that Triss’s hair is considerably redder in the latest season compared to the first.

Regarding how similar the video games are to the books, it is important to note that the games, and the changes, are not considered canon in The Witcher universe. That is in part because the games are set after the conclusion of the last book in The Witcher series. This allowed CD Projekt Red to take more creative liberties without the confines of a strict adaptation.

A notable, albeit small, change that won’t reveal any spoilers is the name of the loveable bard. Fans of the books and subsequent TV show will immediately recognize Jaskier, whose name was changed to Dandelion for the games.

All that said, you should read and find out for yourself just how similar – and different – these three iterations are from one another. At its core, the lessons to be learned from The Witcher stay true throughout all of its mediums.

The Witcher Books in Order by Publication

Now, let’s get into the books.

Reading The Witcher books in order by publication date is the way that the original fans had read it.

But it’s not the way most English speakers have.

If you didn’t know, the books were originally written in Polish back in the 1990s. They weren’t translated into English until the late 2000s when the video games began to rise in popularity.

To keep things simple, this Witcher reading order is based upon the Polish publication dates.

For the English translations, one of the books was published first, even though it was written later on originally. More on that in the next section.

Until then, here’s The Witcher books reading order by publication date:

  1. Sword of Destiny (1992) (Story Story Collection)
  2. The Last Wish (1993) (Short Story Collection)
  3. Blood of Elves (1994)
  4. The Time of Contempt (1995)
  5. Baptism of Fire (1996)
  6. The Tower of Swallows (1997)
  7. The Lady of the Lake (1999)
  8. Season of Storms (2013) (Stand Alone)
Audible Witcher

What you should know about The Witcher Books

Out of the 8 Witcher books, there are 4 of them that you should be aware of in particular.

The Last Wish

While The Last Wish was written second according to publication date, the stories contained within its covers take place chronologically before Sword of Destiny.

I’d recommend you read it first as it provides a good introduction to the world of the Witcher, what being a Witcher is, and why Geralt of Rivia carries two swords.

It also introduces you to many of the supporting characters like Yennefer and Triss.

Season of Storms

Season of Storms was written last, some 14 years after the final novel in The Witcher Saga.

Many consider Season of Storms to be optional reading. In fact, it is the lowest rated out of any of the Witcher books.

It felt, to me, like Sapkowski regained interest in his long finished series as his world began to pick up steam across the pond thanks to the video games.

Indeed, Season of Storms publication comes two years before the launch of the epic Witcher 3 game. Probably right around the time that development would have begun in earnest.

But the fire just wasn’t there like it was in the previous books. You can decide for yourself if you’ll read it.

It is a stand-alone after all, meaning it won’t affect the story of the main series.

Two English Translators

The first two books to be translated into English (The Last Wish and Blood of Elves) were translated by Danusia Stok. With the translation of Time of Contempt, David French took over.

I don’t know the reason for the switch, but if ratings and reviews are any indication, fans prefer the books translated by David French.

That being said, if you follow The Witcher reading order below, you’ll be first reading a book translated by Danusia Stok, then be switching to two translated by David French, back to Stok, and then on with French for the rest.

That makes a difference you might notice a slight difference in tone. Even though the story is all Andrzej Sapkowski, the English word choice is either Stok or French.

The Witcher Books in Chronological Order

Normally, I’d recommend against reading chronologically for first time readers. That’s because there are inherently spoilers in books there were written later, but take place earlier in the timeline.

And while reading The Last Wish first is not perfect, it is the better option here.

So here is your Witcher reading order by story chronology:

0.1 The Last Wish (Short Story Collection)
0.2 Sword of Destiny (Story Story Collection)
Season of Storms (Stand Alone)
1. Blood of Elves
2. The Time of Contempt
3. Baptism of Fire
4. The Tower of Swallows
5. The Lady of the Lake

A Deeper Look at the Books in the Series

The Last Wish, Witcher books in order

0.1 The Last Wish

As previously mentioned, The Last Wish is a collection of short stories that introduce the world of The Witcher.

It begins to divulge the lore as well as the characters that you’ll become very familiar with over your journey.


Sword of Destiny, Witcher reading order

0.2 Sword of Destiny

Sword of Destiny is another collection of short stories.

Don’t feel like you’re being cheated, though, this book has 400 pages which makes it rival any full length novel.

The events in this book immediately precede Blood of Elves and introduces Ciri, another main character fans of the video games and TV show will know.


Season of Storms

In Season of Storms, Geralt finds himself in a precarious situation.

A contract doesn’t go as planned and he finds himself without his signature weapons.

He’ll need to quickly get them back if he hopes to face that which is to come.


Blood of Elves, Witcher series order

1. Blood of Elves

Book 1 of The Witcher Saga, Blood of Elves, begins our journey in the main series.

Tensions rise and the peace that had been is no more. Geralt has been looking for the prophesied child who can save them all, and now it’s his job to protect her.

The Witcher never accepts defeat.


the witcher series reading order

2. The Time of Contempt

In Book 2, The Time of Contempt, Geralt still needs to protect Ciri from the dangers of the world.

There’s not much a of description for this book online, and the one I did find very nearly ruins the ending, so I’m not going to put it here.

Safe to say there’s more Geralt fighting monsters and protecting Ciri.


first book in the witcher series

3. Baptism of Fire

I started to type what Baptism of Fire was about and realized it contained spoilers.

Don’t read if you don’t want to know!

Geralt was gravely injured at the end of the last book and Ciri is missing. As war ravages the land, Geralt has little choice to press forward and protect his ward.


the witcher series order

4. The Tower of Swallows

It goes without saying, if you’re still reading my descriptions, there’s spoilers here. If you don’t want to know, don’t read.

Ciri is still missing.

Surprise, surprise. This sounds a lot like The Witcher 3 plot. Always chasing her, and taking forever and a day to do it.

Reminds of the like 20 episodes it took Goku to fight Frieza in Dragonball Z.

Anyway, Geralt needs to get to Ciri before her enemies do.


the witcher series in order

5. The Lady of the Lake

Is it over? Is it over? Nope. Geralt still hasn’t found Ciri, and she’s still on the run from her nemesis.

This is the last book in the series, so we know Geralt finally saves her…

…right?

Looking for more great books?

Check out this Cosmere reading order by Brandon Sanderson.

2 thoughts on “2 Ways to Read The Witcher Books in Order by Andrzej Sapkowski

  1. “A notable, albeit small, change that won’t reveal any spoilers is the name of the loveable bard. Fans of the books and subsequent TV show will immediately recognize Jaskier, whose name was changed to Dandelion for the games.”
    Jaskier is only in the Netflix series. The game kept his name from the book.

    1. I’ve not actually seen the show, so I didn’t know about this, thanks. I have played the games though and am quite familiar with Dandelion.

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