• Netflix’s The Witcher Could Be the Next Game of Thrones
    Jan 21, 2018

    When the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones premiered in 2011 on HBO, it presented viewers with something undeniably unique. It flaunted its fantasy elements without sacrificing its ability to explore human nature against a quasi-medieval backdrop. Unlike many other shows, it’s unafraid to kill off beloved characters, as it’s demonstrated again and again. Unfortunately, the often-heart-wrenching epic will come to a close in 2019, and so far, there are few contenders to assume its place.

    Oh, sure, HBO is developing multiple potential prequels, the first of which won’t debut until at least 2020, but those projects will be placed in the unenviable position of being compared directly to their insanely popular, and critically acclaimed, predecessor. HBO’s sci-fi Western Westworld could of course fill some of the void — Martin himself proposed the show introduce a Westerosworld — but there’s one series in the pipeline that seems like the perfect successor to Game of Thrones: Netflix’s The Witcher, based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novels and short stories.

    RELATED: The Witcher TV Series Headed to Netflix

    The inspiration for the popular role-playing video games, Sapkowski’s stories revolve around Geralt of Rivia, one of the monster hunters known as “witchesr” whose genes were chemically and mystically mutated in order to make them faster, stronger and better-equipped to fight the deadly supernatural beasts that wander the medieval fantasy world known as the Continent. More often than not, however, Geralt finds himself in the middle of conflicts involving more than peasants and vicious beasts; he encounters powerful sorceresses of great beauty, conniving kings and queens vying for more power, and cursed princesses and princes.

    Already, fans may note a few similarities between The Witcher and Game of Thrones. Obviously, they’re both based on popular fantasy series, and revolve around political intrigue and human nature, but they share many themes and habits as well. The Witcher stories, for example, are known for exploring the concept of lesser and greater evils, a theme that runs throughout Game of Thrones, although nowhere near as prominently. Both of these sagas also heavily feature magic and monsters, but tend to draw focus on stories that have a basis somewhere in reality. For example, Martin was inspired by historical events, like the War of the Roses, while Sapkowski based parts of his tales on the actions of the Catholic Church in Europe during Reformation, as well as Slavic mythology.

    Page 2: The Witcher's Global Fan Base Is Still Growing

    Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

    The Witcher debuted in 1992 with “Sword of Destiny,” a collection of loosely related short stories that introduced different aspects of Geralt’s world and profession. Twenty-one years and eight books later, we find that The Witcher‘s fan base is still growing, as English translations are slowly released. In fact, it saw a substantial boost due to the video game series, especially the critically acclaimed 2015 sequel The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide in its first year of release. Both the success of the novel series and that of the video games are great indicators of how successful a television adaptation could if done well and released on a streaming service as widespread as Netflix.

    RELATED: What Does the Night King’s Big Move Mean For Game of Thrones Season 8?

    It should be noted that Netflix’s isn’t the first live-action adaptation of The Witcher. Polish director Marek Brodzki’s loose adaptation of the stories, titled The Hexer, was released in 2001, starring Michal Zebrowski as Geralt. Audiences, and Andrzej Sapkowski himself, hated the film, which deviated too far from the novels, and featured a virtually incoherent plot due to poor editing (it was Brodzki’s then-unreleased 13-episode television adaptation, chopped down to a 130-minute film; the full series debuted the following year). While the plot was easier to follow, the deviations from the novels were still too abundant for fans to ignore. Geralt’s backstory had been changed, and Vesemir, a fellow witcher and Geralt’s mentor in the novel series, was now a simple druid.

    Judging from the few details we’ve seen about Netflix’s Witcher plans, the producers are intent on avoiding those mistakes; Sapkowski serves as the show’s creative consultant. While we remain uncertain about many important details– such as which stories the series will adapt, who will star cast and when it will be released– it’s clear the producers hope to remain as true to the source material as possible, showing genuine appreciation for the characters and the world Sapkowski has spent decades creating.

    All things considered, there’s a good chance that The Witcher will be able to win over fans of Game of Thrones. We’ll have plenty of time to find out more between now and 2019, when Game of Thrones concludes. Perhaps that’s for the best — not only for audiences, who will no doubt be craving more dark fantasy, but for the show as well. There’s a unique world here rich with complex characters on offer, and if it’s to have every chance at success, it’s probably wise wait until Game of Thrones — the most successful fantasy show of all time — concludes its run.

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