What order should you read The Witcher books in? (The Witcher reading order)

The Witcher season 3 - Credit: Netflix
The Witcher season 3 - Credit: Netflix /

Season 3 of The Witcher on Netflix is finally here. Things are getting pretty brutal for Geralt of Rivia, his foster daughter Ciri (Ferya Allan), and his on-again-off-again sorceress paramour Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra). Season 3 marks both the exit of Henry Cavill as Geralt. It adapts the climactic events of The Time of Contempt, one of the better-regarded books in Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher Saga.

If you’re enjoying watching The Witcher and wish you had more time with Geralt, Yen and all the rest, reading Sapkowski’s work is a great next step to keep enjoying your time on the Continent. There are differences aplenty between the television show and the books.

One question you might have is where exactly to start reading The Witcher books. The Witcher Saga isn’t your typical fantasy book series consisting of just a neatly ordered sequence of novels. Instead, there are short stories, a full-length novel series, and even a standalone prequel novel. What’s the best order to tackle them all?

Fear not, we’ll break the series down for you below!

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. Image courtesy of Orbit.
The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. Image courtesy of Orbit. /

What’s the best reading order for The Witcher books?

Let’s start by laying out the optimal order for reading The Witcher books and short stories, then we’ll talk about why it works out this way. From start to finish, here’s the ideal way to read The Witcher books:

  1. The Last Wish 
  2. Sword of Destiny
  3. Blood of Elves
  4. The Time of Contempt
  5. Baptism of Fire
  6. The Tower of Swallows
  7. The Lady of the Lake
  8. Season of Storms

The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny are both short story collections, and while the individual short stories tend to jump around in time a little bit, they’re still organized in more or less chronological order across the two anthologies. The Last Wish primarily serves to introduce characters like Geralt, Yennefer, and the bard Dandelion (Jaskier in the show), while Sword of Destiny develops those characters more and brings Ciri into the mix.

While you might be tempted to skip the short stories and go straight to the novels, we don’t recommend it. The short stories set up many integral plot points and characters who feature throughout the novel series, so going reading The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny first is a must.

After that, it’s best to read the five mainline novels of The Witcher Saga, which begins with Blood of Elves and ends with The Lady of the Lake. Not much explanation is necessary here; it’s a sequential novel series, and the books lead one into the next.

The real curiosity is Season of Storms. Published more than a decade after the conclusion of the saga in The Lady of the LakeSeason of Storms is a standalone prequel novel set during the earlier days of Geralt’s monster-hunting career. Season of Storms takes place after The Last Wish, around the same time in Geralt’s life as most of the early Sword of Destiny stories.

Despite that, it’s best left as an epilogue. Stylistically, Season of Storms reads a little differently than the rest of the saga since Sapkowski wrote it so much later without the overall need to tie it into the larger events of the story. It’s essentially a sidebar to the bigger tale. Season of Storms also has some references to later events in The Witcher Saga in its final chapters, but it’s clearly meant to be read after The Lady of the Lake.

Hopefully this helps make it a little easier to know where to start with Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher Saga!

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