The Polish fantasy writer best known for his book series, The Witcher Saga.
Sapkowski claims to have written his first short story, The Witcher, just to enter a competition ran by the Polish sci-fi and fantasy magazine, Fantastyka. Considering this, it is perhaps with a touch of good fortune it came third, but luckily for his fans, the story he wrote on a ‘whim’ was published and became a springboard for which he started his writing career and the Witcher Saga.
He puts the success of the story winning third place down to his ability to ‘sell,’ as he was a successful businessman for a foreign trade company at the time and was familiar with marketing.
The short story was published in the magazine in 1986 and went on to become tremendously popular with both readers and critics. The popularity of the Witcher has grown over time and Sapkowski has written five novels and several short stories, all based in the world of the Witcher.
The saga has also been adapted into a TV series, a film, several graphic novels and a top-rated video game. All of which does not include the upcoming adaption by Netflix, starring Henry Cavill.
Sapkowski’s Heroes and Monsters
The central protagonist, in Sapkowski’s The Witcher, is Geralt. Feared for being a mutant, but respected for his skill set as a Witcher, Geralt is a hunter on a mission to destroy beasts of legend, protect village folk from the dangers that lurk in the wilderness and to get paid for providing his particular set of skills.
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 in Sapkowski’s stories (and we come across many!) it is human emotions and weaknesses that are the real monsters.
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 Witcher characters. Next, you need some misunderstood monsters, some morally corrupt humans, some grim moral choices and some epic battles. Now begins your mighty adventure, wrapped up into sequences of heroism and danger.
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 Short Story Collections:
- Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna (Something Ends, Something Begins) (2000)
- The Last Wish (Polish Edition: 1993, English edition: 2007)
- Sword of Destiny (Polish Edition:1992, English edition: 2015)
The Witcher Saga (Novels):
- Blood of Elves (Polish Edition: 1994, English edition: 2009)
- Time of Contempt (Polish Edition: 1995, English edition: 2013)
- Baptism of Fire (Polish Edition: 1996, English edition: 2014)
- The Tower of the Swallow Polish Edition: 1997, English edition: 2016)
- The Lady of the Lake (Polish Edition: 1999, English edition: 2017)
Witcher Standalone Novel:
- Season of Storms (2013) — set between the short stories in The Last Wish
In 1993 Sapkowski’s stories were adapted into six graphic novels by Maciej Parowski and Boguslaw Polch.
The Witcher RPG game (created by CD Projekt Red) is one of the most highly rated and best selling video games in the fantasy genre. Loved by fans around the world, it is for many their first contact with the Witcher Saga and has been an important part of growing the fame of the Witcher novels.
However, the film and television series have not been well-received by critics or fans alike (Marek Brodzki directed The Hexer, which is the title of a 2001 film and a 2002 TV series based on the Witcher, but in several interviews, even Sapkowski criticized the screen adaptations).
In May 2017 Platige Image announced they would be making a TV series adaptation of the novels, in cooperation with Netflix. So hopefully, you or I will not have to wait too long before a good adaption of The Witcher hits