Ladies, gentlemen, witchers and mages. The time has come. The Witcher Season 2 is hitting our screens this week after a far too long delay. Henry Cavill is back as Geralt of Rivia and he’s off doing witcher-y things once again in Netflix’s new season.
If you, like me, have forgotten some of the intricate plot points from The Witcher season 1 then fear not because we’re going to recap all the things you need to know before your binge-watch.
What do you need to know before watching season 2 of The Witcher?
What’s a witcher?
The first thing is first, what on Earth is a Witcher? Well, for starters The Witcher takes place in the fantasy land of the Continent, a place of magic, monsters and conflicting kingdoms.
Witchers are people who have been given enhanced abilities and have undertaken rigorous training to become the perfect weapon for the ruthless task of monster-hunting. The process to become a witcher is difficult and dangerous and many candidates don’t survive the process, which is part of the reason there are so few witchers left.
Season one timelines
If there was one complaint people had about the first season of The Witcher, it was the fact it combined multiple timelines. This was confusing but necessary considering plenty of occupants of The Witcher world do not age – there are a lot of backstories to catch up on.
Basically, there are three main timelines. We first meet Geralt of Rivia about 40 years before the fall of Cintra and follow him as he kills monsters, makes acquaintances and earns the name ‘the Butcher of Blaviken’.
Prior to the Fall of Cintra, Geralt encounters Yennefer. Yennefer’s timeline begins even before Geralt’s as she trains to become a mage, undergoes a brutal transformation and becomes an advisor for Aedirn for three decades.
Yennefer and Geralt meet, fall in love and break up due to their differing goals. As the Fall of Cintra approaches, Geralt decides he must search for his child of surprise, Ciri (more on that later).
That brings us to Ciri’s timeline. The princess of Cintra is on the run for most of the season after Nilfgaard slays her family. All Ciri has is one name to hold onto – Geralt – and she spends most of the season searching for him.
This is a brief breakdown of the timelines in the first season of The Witcher, but given they overlap in each episode and exist in different time periods, I recommend having a timeline breakdown like this at your side at all times.
The Law of Surprise
The Law of Surprise is one of the more complex traditions that exist in the world of The Witcher. The law stipulates that a man who has been saved by another must offer up a gift to his saviour, the nature of which is unknown.
When Geralt saves Duny from death at Cintra they invoke the Law of Surprise. This results in Geralt having a claim to Princess Cirilla, who at the time was an unborn child. For years Geralt never invoked his Law of Surprise, but after the fall of Cintra and on a promise he made to Ciri’s grandmother, Geralt decides to go after Ciri and they’re finally united at the end of season 1.
Which books is The Witcher based on?
Both The Witcher TV series and the video games are based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novel series. The first season draws from the collection of short stories presented in The Last Wish and The Sword of Destiny, which take place prior to the main saga of Witcher novels.
Season 2 will dive into the main saga, starting with Blood of Elves.
Factions and kingdoms
There are a number of major kingdoms and groups in The Witcher universe, some of which we haven’t even encountered in the show yet. Let’s recap the main ones:
- Nilfgaard – The most powerful empire located in the south of the Continent. The kingdom is focused on expanding its rule by invading and conquering others.
- Cintra – One of the major locations in the Northern Kingdoms. Very powerful under the rule of Queen Calanthe until it was conquered by Nilfgaard in season 1.
- Aretuza – A ruthless and expensive magical academy for young women located on Thanedd island.
- Northern Kingdoms – A group of human states where dwarves, elves and gnomes can also be found.
- Kaer Morhen – An ancient castle that is home to the witchers. You can find out more about the history and fall of Kaer Morhen in The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf.
Lastly, if you somehow missed the absolute banger that was ‘Toss A Coin to Your Witcher‘ from our favourite bard Jaskier, please do yourself a favour and catch up on it. Jaskier will be back in season 2 with a fresh repertoire of songs so be ready to sing along.
The Witcher Season 2 will hit Netflix on December 17.