Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in 'The Witcher'

What the Hay-Hay Is ‘The Witcher’ Even About?

It's about more than Henry Cavill being hot?

The Witcher is about more than Henry Cavill being hot? Seriously? I thought it was just a vehicle to put ol’ Hank in a Targaryen-lookin’-ass wig and generate more thirst than the Gobi desert.

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Wait … he’s leaving the show? What are we supposed to do now? Apparently he’s “disappointed” in it? Is the show his teenage son sneaking out after bedtime or something? Is he the father, or shall I say the daddy of The Witcher? Well, yes. We’ve already established that. But I still have no idea what’s going on, except there’s some dudes with elf ears and he killed a swamp monster or something.

I think we gotta get back to the sOuRcE mAtErIaL to answer this query.

The Witcher: more than just Henry Cavill porn!

Our story begins in a mystical land ambiguously known as the Continent. A land of kings and queens! Robbers and riches! Magic and monsters! Lots of monsters. Like, too many monsters. So many monsters that it’s becoming a serious problem for humanity. See, after a mysterious cosmic event called The Conjunction of the Spheres, a series of dimensional rifts opened across the multiverse and spat a bunch of sentient races together onto the same planet. I’m talking elves, dwarves, and of course human beings.

Along with the intelligent species came all sorts of hideous beasties. Beasties with a hunger for human flesh. So the peoples of old began to use magic and chemicals to manipulate the genetics of certain humans in order to give them fabulous magical powers, superhuman reflexes, and washboard abs. These ancient methods were passed down from one generation to the next, and the beings created by these archaic magics are called “witchers.” Basically, witchers are monsters created to fight monsters. They are rumored to be cold, emotionless, and totally ruthless. They are wandering, monster-slaying mercenaries that will get rid of your man-eating griffin problem for the right price.

And Geralt of Rivia is one of them.

In the modern world of The Witcher, we find out that witchers are a dying breed. An already rare and solitary subsection of the population has been nearly wiped out after witcher-creating organizations have slowly fallen into decay. Because of this, Geralt of Rivia wanders the world alone, with no one to talk to except his trusty steed, Roach. And he talks to Roach often. It’s really cute. So he basically ekes out a living killing things for money. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.

Meanwhile, the vast empire of Nilfgaard is doing what empires do: taking over small kingdoms, killing royal families, and subjugating people. One such kingdom is home to the princess Ciri, who is sent away by her grandmother, the Queen Calanthe, just before the monarchy is destroyed by the Nilfgaardian Empire. Ciri is told by her grandmother to find Geralt of Rivia in order to protect a secret magical power that dwells in her bloodline.

Now, what does Geralt have to do with Ciri? Okay, this is where things get a little complicated. There is a social custom on the Continent called “The Law of Surprise.” It’s a bit confusing, but it’s basically a form of payment. If a person is unable to pay for a service rendered unto them, then the person who provided the service is able to invoke the Law of Surprise in order to claim “that which you already have but do not know.” So, basically, if I give someone a foot massage and they can’t pay me for it, but then they find a hundred dollar bill in their sock drawer, they owe me that money by the right of the Law of Surprise. Feel me?

Long before Ciri was born, Geralt (who is old as hell because of his witcher blood) saved her father, Duny, from certain death. Duny had nothing to offer Geralt, but insisted that he wanted to pay the witcher back. To appease the guy, Geralt jokingly invoked the Law of Surprise, with no real intention of ever claiming the reward. Unbeknownst to Geralt, this magically linked him with Duny’s then unborn child, the princess Ciri herself (something that Duny “already had but did not know”). Years later, Geralt encounters Ciri after she flees from the Nilfgaardian Empire, and the Witcher becomes her protector and surrogate father.

So that’s it! Geralt has to protect Ciri and help her uncover the mystery of her magical bloodline while keeping her safe from a nasty imperial threat. Very Star Wars! Very The Last of Us! But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a third character who is also instrumental to the plot! Enter Yennefer.

I’m sorry, who?

Yes, her name is basically Jennifer with a “Y.” But “Jennifer” isn’t nearly as cool of a name for a mystical sorcerer is it? No, it is not. So while all that Law of Surprise bidness is going on, a young woman with a congenital deformity named Yennefer is sold by her dick of a father to the sorceress Tissaia. Tissaia is the leader of a magical order that raises young, magically inclined women to become sorcerers themselves. It’s basically a magical convent. Yikes.

Eventually, Yennefer undergoes a magical process to cure her deformity and enjoy beauty and longevity similar to Geralt of Rivia. However, the process also makes her unable to have children, something that she is deeply pained by. Her success and beauty allow her to gain a position as an advisor to a king, but Yennefer soon realizes that the king and his royals have little concern for their subjects, and Yennefer is rarely commanded to do anything that actually helps anyone. Even so, she eventually finds herself intertwined with Geralt of Rivia on some monster-killing quests, and the two spend most of their time arguing and trying to bone each other. Ahhh, love. Am I right?

So THAT’s it. Mix in a comic-relief bard and some “monster of the week” shenanigans and you’ve got yourself a beloved Netflix series! The show is currently on season 3, which will most likely be released later this year or in 2024. What’s the plot of that? I’M NOT GONNA TELL YOU EVERYTHING. You gotta watch the show. But don’t get too comfortable looking at Henry Cavill, he won’t be around for the next one.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.