Monster, Magic and Men in “The World Of The Witcher”–Review
The World Of The Witcher
CD Projekt RED/Dark Horse Comics
Author: Marcin Batylda
Art Direction: Bartlomiej Gawel
The Witcher developed by CD Projekt RED is based on a book series of the same name by polish author Adrzek Sapkowski. The story takes place in a medieval fantasy world, it’s setting is rich with history and monster infested locales that are often hinted at but not filled in with great detail during the game. With the Witcher 3’s open world ready for the taking The World of the Witcher from Dark Horse Comics gives an in depth look into the history and inhabitants of this grimmer take on fantasy with 181 pages of well written notes and stories that are beautifully illustrated using concept art and game screenshots.
The book is split between five chapters each covering a major component of The Witcher’s universe starting with The World and It’s Inhabitantsn and finishing with a retelling of Geralt’s journey so far, covering his history and the challenges he has faced.
Primarily written from the point of view of Dandelion the Bard whose whimsical personality and passion for storytelling made reading the book quite fun for me as someone who has played both the Witcher games. This personality shines through in the writing and provides a nice contrast to dark history of the world that covers the many wars and monstrous actions of human race.
Backing up the writings of Dandelion the Bard are a number of notes and additional writings from other people in the world and in one case a dragon. This idea help build a picture of how the different species inhabit the world and interact with one another.
The World and It’s History is one such section that makes heavy use of these notes and it paints a picture of a world that is not our own with humans and elves alike arriving from some other world in the distant almost forgotten past. The human race in the World of the Witcher is one that quite cleverly reflects our species darker side with countless wars, betrayals and a crusade being just the cliff notes version of a long list of terrible things we have done to each other, but more commonly to the other creatures that inhabit the land.
This brutal and rough nature of humanity portrayed in the games and now this book is something I have always enjoyed from the series and the first chapter helps fill in the details of the many events that have lead to humanities strong position in The Northern Kingdoms and the world beyond.
It does this by covering not just the history but also the major regions of the continent with references to the story of the first and second game throughout, giving a better picture of where things took place and why.
In the chapter focused on the Witcher; the history and abilities of this once powerful order of travelling hunters is thoughtfully covered discussing at length their purpose in a world filled with deadly creatures that make the standard fantasy orc affair look incredibly tame. Witchers are mutants and not in the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning kind of way, twisted by magic and alchemy into powerful hunting machines to protect the people from the world’s many hungry and deadly creatures.
The majority of the Witchers ability sets the tone and workings of the games mechanics and it was nice to have an in world view of these powerful and highly skilled monster hunters. Some believe the Witchers follow a code but the book tell us that this is just how Geralt refers to his set of principles, something that all Witchers have of their own.
For me I found the ending chapters the most interesting with a chapter on magic and religion, a bestiary and Geralts story so far. The chapter on magic covers it’s source, uses and importance in the societies of the world. It includes the kind of talents required to cast magic and the education and rules around it. This chapter fits very nicely with the one on Witchers at it continues to connect the importance of an event known as “The Conjunction of Spheres” which has drawn all of these magical and non magical beings together in a single world.
The world of the witcher has formed around creatures from different planes being brought here to create an even darker world of elitist societies, and nightmarish monsters. These creatures that make The Witcher series famous are covered in fantastic detail in the Bestiary Chapter.
From Necrophages to the Magical Constructs and other creatures this chapter has some of the best concept art in the books and paints a great picture of the kind of monstrosities you will face in the video games, further creating the idea of a terrifying world in which nearly everything not of the major races is designed to kill you in some horrible way.
The book closes out on a recap of Geralts past, as the hero of the Witcher story I think this is the chapter that will benefit people who buy this book the most. This Chapter will allow you to understand Geralts motivations and his past. In a role-playing game like The Withcer this allows me to become more immersed in the world and I believe this chapter can help others do the same.
Overall The World of the Witcher is a quality product, if you’re coming in new to the series with the Witcher 3, a returning player who doesn’t want to replay the first two games or just a fan of finely detailed fantasy worlds there’s something here for everyone, especially if your going to play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or any other game in the series. The World of the Witcher peaked my urge to see Dark Horse comics breakdown other video game worlds in this engagingly beautiful fashion.