The Polish fantasy writer best known for his book series, The Witcher Saga.
Sapkowski’s literary career started in translation, where he worked on science fiction novels.
Perhaps a flukey writer, he claims to have written his first short story, The Witcher, simply to enter a competition ran by the Polish sci-fi and fantasy magazine, Fantastyka. Luckily for us all the story he wrote on a ‘whim’ was published, and has become the spotlight of his career. He puts the success of the story winning third place down to his ability to ‘sell’, having been a successful businessman for a foreign trade company at the time. The story was published as a short series in the magazine in 1986 and went on to become enormously popular with both readers and critics, and has since been adapted into a TV series, a film, a graphic novel and a very popular video game.
Following the popularity of his story, Sapkowski has created many more tales based on The Witcher, including three short story collections and five novels.
The central protagonist in Sapkowski’s Witchers is Geralt. Elusively feared for being a mutant but respected for his skillset, Geralt is a hunter on a mission to destroy the beasts of legend. In the books, all ‘witchers’ are monster hunters who are able to battle deadly beasts thanks to a combination of training, physical conditioning and supernatural abilities. However, no matter what beasts and monsters we come across is Sapkowski’s stories (and we come across many) men are often the true monster.
Sapkowski is a master of the archetypal storytelling, drawing inspiration from myths and fairy tales, including classics like Beauty and the Beast and Snow White. His tales are full of dark charm and wit:
“Nonsense,” said the witcher. “And what’s more, it doesn’t rhyme. All decent predictions rhyme.”
Write like Sapkowski: First you need a rejected, ‘abnormal’ hero, such as the half-mutant charters in the Witcher. Next, you need some misunderstood monsters, some morally corrupt humans, some confusing moral choices and some epic battles. Now begins your epic adventure, wrapped in shorter stories.
Short story collections: If you fancy dipping your toe in his Lord of the Ring’s style fantasy stories, give the below a try.
• The Witcher (1990), 5 stories
• Sword of Destiny (1992), 6 stories
• The Last Wish (1993), 7 stories
• Maladie and other stories (2012), 10 stories (only two are related to The Witcher saga).
• Season of Storms (2013) – set between the short stories in The Last Wish
• Narrenturm (2002)
• Warriors of God (Boży bojownicy, 2004)
• Lux perpetua (2006)
The Witcher books alone have been adapted for film, television and video games. In fact, the RPG game inspired by the books is probably one of the most popular games in the fantasy genre. However, the film and television series never quite took off. But, in May 2017 Platige Image announced that would be making a film adaption of the novel, in cooperation with Netflix. You might not have to wait too long a wait before you can watch a good adaption of The Witcher. In 1993 Sapkowski’s stories were adapted into 6 coming books by Maciej Parowski and Boguslaw Polch. The RPG games still prove ever popular. And, with such archetypal stories, it’s no wonder that we continue to love Sapkowski’s narratives.