Looking to read The Witcher books in order and get ahead of the Netflix series now that The Witcher season 3 has landed?
Like many of the biggest fantasy sagas on TV right now, Netflix’s Witcher franchise is based on a series of hugely popular novels. In this instance, the world of the Continent (and the people that inhabit it) was dreamt up by best-selling Polish author, Andrzej Sapkowski.
Sapkowski's series has shifted more than 15 million copies and has only continued to grow in popularity thanks in part to the show and CD Projekt RED's incredibly successful video games. And with more seasons of the main series on the way (with a new lead actor in the frame) — plus more spin-offs like The Witcher: Blood Origin and Nightmare of the Wolf in the works, we'd bet the series will only get even bigger from here on out.
The books themselves started out life as a series of short stories published in a Polish fantasy magazine. The first set of stories was subsequently collected together and published in 1992, but English translations didn't start to arrive until 2007; Danusia Stok translated the first two, with David French taking over for every Witcher book thereafter.
If you've decided you want to read the Witcher books in order, you might think you can just pick them up in publication order... but that's not necessarily the best way to read the series.
If you want to follow the story chronologically, you'll need to change your approach slightly, which is exactly why we put this guide together explaining how to read the Witcher books in order.
How to read the Witcher books in order
The order you need to read the Witcher books in order to best follow the main story is:
- The Last Wish (English translation first published 2007)
- Sword of Destiny (English translation first published 2015)
- Season of Storms (English translation first published 2018)
- Blood of Elves (English translation first published 2009)
- Time of Contempt (English translation first published 2013)
- Baptism of Fire (English translation first published 2014)
- The Tower of the Swallow (English translation first published 2016)
- The Lady of the Lake (English translation first published 2017)
If you're wondering why the above order doesn't follow the publication dates, allow us to give a little bit more detail about the date they were first published, here's why.
The Last Wish collects several stories together that establish the rules of what it means to be a witcher, and give a sense of Geralt’s personality and detail what the Witcher gets up to whilst working and in his spare time.
Sword of Destiny might have been published later, but you should read this second collection of short stories next purely because it’s where we first meet princess Ciri, a character who is vital to the overarching narrative of the entire saga. The first season of the show was based on these two collections.
From there, if you want to experience every single Witcher story Sapkowksi has written, you should pick up Season of Storms, though you could skip this one if you're trying to power through the series as quickly as possible.
Whether you skip Season of Storms or not, things get easier after this third collection, as you can follow the five main novels —Blood of Elves, Time of Contempt, Baptism of Fire, The Tower of the Swallow, and The Lady of the Lake— in release order. And that's how you read the Witcher books in order.
You can purchase each Witcher book individually, but all eight books are often collected together into bundles, so you might save some money by picking the whole set up in one go. You can find eight-book bundles on Amazon US and on Amazon UK.
If you'd prefer to read The Witcher books digitally, you can pick up complete ebook collections at the Amazon Kindle store.
Do I need to read the Witcher graphic novels?
If you've worked your way through eight books, three games, and one of the best Netflix originals to date, and you want to spend even more time in the Witcher universe, you could check out the graphic novels for even more Witcher tales. Comic book publisher Dark Horse has published a series of comics that details even more of Geralt’s exploits on the Continent.
It’s worth noting that the graphic novels are less connected to the story from the Witcher books as they share a continuity with the video games. Each story arc is available for purchase as individual issues or as collected volumes that can be purchased directly from Dark Horse.
If you want to check out the writing and art style of the comics before paying a penny, there's a sampler available on the Dark Horse comics site for free.
New Witcher comics are still being produced, but the current list of stories as of our last update includes:
- The Witcher: House of Glass (2014)
- The Witcher: Fox Children (2015)
- The Witcher: Curse of Crows (2016-2017)
- The Witcher: Of Flesh and Flame (2018-2019)
- The Witcher: Fading Memories (2020-2021)
- The Witcher: Witch’s Lament (2021)
- The Witcher: A Grain of Truth (2022)
- The Witcher: Ronin [Manga] (2022)
There are also two "Library Editions", which are deluxe hardback collections which bundle multiple series together along with some bonuses like extra art. Volume 1 collects House of Glass, Fox Children, Curse of Crows and the Killing Monters one-shot, whilst Volume 2 collects Of Flesh and Flame, Fading Memories, Witch's Lament and the 2021 Free Comic Book Day story, The Witcher: Once Upon a Time in the Woods.
The World of the Witcher is also in the wild, but this compendium serves as a companion to the video games, rather than the books. It was produced by CD Projekt RED as a guided tour of their version of the Witcher saga and it offers insights on everything from weapons to locations and plot points — that does mean you should probably steer clear if you've not read the books just yet.
How faithful is the Netflix series to the Witcher books?
Showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich said that The Witcher show would be staying true to the books the series is based on, but — as with most adaptations — the show has deviated from the original saga in some big ways.
Ahead of The Witcher season 3's release, reports claimed that the latest installment of the show was the closest to a one-to-one adaptation so far, with Hissrich telling Entertainment Weekly: "What is so interesting is that season 3, to me, is the closest thing that we've done as a one-to-one adaptation of the books.
"Obviously, we can't do every page, but Time of Contempt gave us so many big action events, plot points, defining character moments, huge reveals of a big bad. There's so much to do that we were able to stick really, really closely with the books."
Nevertheless, there are still some big changes that have taken place compared to the books *spoiler warning for season 3!* For a start, the character of Prince Radovid has been changed in several ways, Vilgefortz's attempts to create a fake Ciri were not present in the books and the lavish Thanedd banquet and ball that capped off Volume 1 was originally organized as a sort of trap by Emhyr, but in the series, Yennefer throws the ball before the Conclave of the Mages.
To help you keep up with the latest goings-on in the series, Netflix maintains a dedicated Witcher website that compiles info about major events, characters, locations, and other relevant lore from their version of the Continent.
Are the Witcher books complete?
Yes, but Sapkowski has made it clear he's got plans to produce some more. Most recently, he said "they are in the plans" at the Taipei International Book Exhibition earlier this year.
However, a few years earlier, the author did state: "the story is complete, the saga has been concluded, so if by any chance I write something in The Witcher universe, and I sure have intention, it would probably be something like a prequel or a sidequel. Not a sequel". (Quotes via Redanian Intelligence).
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Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows.
Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.