After spawning a massively popular video game series and one of the most talked about TV shows of 2019, The Witcher books are big news right now. Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski originally created the legendary monster hunter Geralt de Rivia for a magazine short story contest in the mid-1980s (he came third). He then expanded the stories of the so-called “continent” into a series of epic books that have become a fantastic phenomenon.
Several intertwined stories meant there was a lot of confusion about the timeline of the Witcher TV show (Netflix then released a chronology to help), but what is the best order to read the novels and short stories from Sapkowski that inspired him? And which books are the best?
We looked at Sapkowski’s series to list the books in order of publication, in the order they appear in the continent’s timeline, and rank them from best to worst based on their reader ratings on Goodreads. So before you throw a coin to your witcher’s author, read on to learn the best way to do it.
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The Witcher books: reading order
- The last wish
- Sword of fate
- Storm season
- Blood of elves
- Contempt time
- Baptism by fire
- The swallow tower
- The Lady of the Lake
The short stories of The last wish come first in the timeline of The Witcher universe, and provide the perfect introduction to Geralt of Rivia, the witches Yennefer of Vengerberg and Triss Merigold, and the singing bard Dandelion (renamed Jaskier in the television series The Witcher of Netflix) . Indeed, the events of the stories ‘The Witcher’, ‘The Lesser Evil’, ‘A Question of Price’, ‘The Edge of the World’ and ‘The Last Wish’ form the basis of Geralt’s arc in the first Netflix season. show – we meet the Striga, learn how Geralt became known as “the butcher of Blaviken” and see the origin of the “law of surprise” which binds him to Princess Ciri.
Although the autonomous Storm season was published after the five novels of the saga, the events of the book take place at the same period as The Last Wish. It’s not essential to the general arc of the story, but the finalists can find clues to things that will happen later in the main saga.
The stories Sword of fate, meanwhile, introduce young Ciri. The final story in the book, “Something More,” shows the fall of Cintra (a key event in the first episode of the television show The Witcher), and serves as a prequel to the quintet of novels in the saga.
The five novels of the saga are therefore Blood of elves, Contempt time, Baptism by fire, The swallow tower and The Lady of the Lake.
With much of the season one of the television series adapted from the two news collections, the second season is the place where the Netflix show will deepen the adaptation of the novels of the saga The Witcher.
How to Read The Witcher Books in Exit Order
(Image credit: Netflix)
Witcher’s first books made their debut in the early 1990s in Sapkowski’s native Poland, but the rest of the world was a little slow to catch up with Geralt de Rivia. It wasn’t until the English version of The Last Wish was released in 2007 – the year the first Witcher video game came out – that English-speaking readers had their first chance to read the books. Danusia Stok translated the first two versions into English before David French took over for the other six.
We opted for the Polish publication order below, which differs slightly from the English language versions – while Sword of Destiny was the first (still available) collection of short stories by Witcher published in Poland, The Last Wish was the first version in English. (It’s worth noting, however, that four of The Last Wish’s short stories had already been released in an out-of-print 1990 version, simply called The Witcher.)
These collections of short stories were followed by the five novels of the main Witcher saga, as previously mentioned (Blood of Elves, Time of Contempt, Baptism of Fire, The Tower of the Swallow, The Lady of the Lake), and the stand-alone novel Season of Storms.
- Sword of Destiny (original Polish version: 1992 / English: 2015)
- The Last Wish (Polish: 1993 / English: 2007)
The Witcher Saga:
- Blood of Elves (Polish: 1994 / English: 2008)
- Time of Outempt (Polish: 1995 / English: 2013)
- Baptism of fire (Polish: 1996 / English: 2014)
- The swallow tower (Polish: 1997 / English: 2016)
- The Lady of the Lake (Polish: 1999 / English: 2017)
- Season of Storms (Polish: 2013 / English: 2018)
The Witcher comics explained: are they hot?
(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)
If you still haven’t seen the continent enough after watching the Netflix show, reading Andrzej Sapkowski’s books and browsing through the games, there are even more Witcher stories out there, like Black Horse have published various Witcher comics and graphic novels.
They are not written by Sapkowski and although Fox Children is based on a chapter of Season of Storms, they are in the continuity of the games rather than in the books. All are available for purchase from Dark Horse as standalone comics, or put together as graphic novels.
- The Witcher: House of Glass (by Paul Tobin and Joe Querio, published in 2014)
- The Witcher: Fox Children (by Paul Tobin and Joe Querio, published in 2015)
- The Witcher: Curse of Crows (by Paul Tobin and Piotr Kowalski, published 2016-2017)
- The Witcher: Of Flesh and Flame (by Aleksandra Motyka and Marianna Strychowska, published 2018-2019)
Witcher’s best books: ranking of source material
Go to reader ranking on Goodreads.comThe Witcher books are remarkably consistent in terms of quality.
Season of Storms, originally released 14 years after Sapkowski finished his saga, comes at the bottom of the pile, suggesting that some of the author’s magic wore off in the years that followed. And the five books translated by David French precede the two treatises by Danusia Stok, suggesting that readers might prefer the French style.
But since even the lowest-ranked title receives a very respectable 3.95 out of 5, fantasy fans probably won’t be disappointed with any of Sapkowski’s novels.
- Sword of fate – 4.35
- Baptism by fire – 4.34
- The swallow tower – 4.32
- Contempt time – 4.26
- The Lady of the Lake – 4.24
- The last wish – 4.19
- Blood of elves – 4.16
- Storm season – 3.95
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