Like most shows or movies adapted from literary works, Netflix’s hit series the witcher is not exactly a one-to-one translation of its original source material. This was evidenced in its first season, with the show’s attempt to adapt short stories from the two the last wish and Destiny Sword. Each story tied into a single, long-running narrative that made audiences feel like the series had an end goal it was trying to achieve instead of just about the titular Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, at work like the books. portrayed him.
This trend continued in the show’s second season, adapted from Blood of the Elves and parts of The time of contempt. Contrary to the last wish and Destiny Swordhowever, both Blood of the Elves and The time of contempt are not collections of short stories, but rather unique and much longer stories that make up the bulk Witcher series, of which there are five books in total (not including short story collections or spinoffs). While these changes made sense for the show’s first season, it was more than a headache for its second season, which included yet another short story from the last wish.
Making changes when adapting something from the written word to something to be acted out by real human actors is a practice as old as cinema itself. The quality and necessity of these changes depends entirely on the individuals making the adaptation, but even good adaptations are not immune to certain changes. A good example of this in the witcher series itself lies in Geralt’s relationship with the witch Yennefer of Vengerberg. In the Netflix adaptation, Geralt and Yennefer are, to some extent, loyal to each other and refuse to be with others even when given the chance.
By contrast, in the books, Geralt and Yennefer aren’t exactly loyal partners, and the two have a string about lovers as the books go on. This change doesn’t affect the larger story in any way, but it illustrates how changes to the Netflix adaptation likely won’t affect the story going forward.
Addition, not subtraction
As noted above, the first season of Netflix the witcher was based on the last wish and Destiny Sword, both of which are collections of short stories. The total number of pages of the two books (in their English translations) amounts to approximately 672 pages. Blood of the Elveson which the second season is largely based, on the other hand, amounts to approximately 320 pages (still in the English translation), so based on the number of pages alone, it is obvious that a direct adaptation of Blood of the Elves wouldn’t be able to completely fill the eight-episode one-hour episode every length the show’s producers were looking for. To counter this, however, the show’s producers decided to add new scenes rather than alter what was already there to make it longer. If we were to compare Blood of the Elves in the second season of the witchermost of the major events in this book would be found to occur as depicted, but with some necessary changes to fit the show’s specific narrative.
Yennefer’s subplot with her loss of magic, the Elvish Baby subplot with Francesca Findabair and Filavandrel aén Fidháil (which wasn’t in the later books at all), and all the things that happen with the witch Fringilla Vigo and the Nilfguardian knight Cahir have all been added for the sake of adding runtime to episodes of the show. None of these subplots appeared in any of the books. In fact, until they met Geralt and Ciri, what these characters did was largely a mystery. Considering each of these characters will be important later on, it’s actually a good thing the show bothers to show more of them than the books. So essentially the story of the witcher remains largely intact. The show offers more than the books.
Same route, different path
Considering that all of the books’ essential characters (at least the ones that appeared) are on the show, and their motivations and what drives them to pursue their goals remain largely intact, it’s relatively safe to say that regardless of other changes to future seasons of the witcher as the story goes follow the same path as the books. As long as the end goal remains the same and all critical events that occur in the books happen as they are supposed to, there will be no need to worry about the changes being made.
Despite the flaws of seasons 1 and 2 of the witcher, the series has done a pretty fantastic job of staying true to the story told by the books. If at least this trend continues, fans of Andrzej Sapkowski’s original books and CD Projekt Red’s video games will be satisfied.
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