"The Witcher" Could Never Be "Game of Thrones": Its Hero Is Too Relatable [OPINION]

Netflix is marketing The Witcher as a replacement for Game of Thrones to fans who are still jonesing for their sexy and violent fantasy fix. On the surface, it has a lot of similarities: heroic swordsmen in a medieval fantasy setting with magic and mythical creatures.

But there is one big factor that makes The Witcher different from Game of Thrones, and that's in its hero. Geralt of Rivia is not a Chosen One or a King in Waiting. He's just a working stiff who wants to find a job, do the job, get paid and move on to the next town and job.

the witcher
Netflix

There's an inherent conservatism in the fantasy genre that goes all the way back to JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. The story often hinges on the theme that if the right person becomes king, everything will be okay. That's the entire premise behind Game of Thrones. The main characters are all members of an aristocratic family fighting to put who they think is the right person on the throne.

That aspirational theme is also in Bioware's role-playing games, whose model The Witcher games also used. In Bioware games like Mass Effect, Jade Empire, and Dragon Age, you play a character who starts out powerless and low in status. You progress through the game gaining power and status to the point where you become a major player in the fate of the kingdom.

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The Witcher stories and games follow Geralt, who never changes his status. He's always a wandering monster hunter-for-hire. He has no aspirations to become a lord or a king. Geralt disdains the games kings and lords play that put people like him in jeopardy as a pawn. He knows getting drawn into their plots could get him killed. All he wants is to get paid and get the hell out of town before anyone tries to kill him. He's usually down in the dirt with the peasants and grunts who are victims of lords and kings. Everyone is scraping by.

That's a more leftist focus that Andrzej Sapkowski and CD Projekt Red take with The Witcher. Geralt knows not to trust kings and lords. They're often venal and self-serving. There is no real trust in the "right' person becoming king to set the world to rights. The kings in Geralt's world are all horrible. Witchers are hated and feared, hired to do dirty work, often betrayed, even murdered. Geralt's lot in life means he probably wouldn't be retiring in peace.

Even when Geralt adopts Ciri as his surrogate daughter, they don't set out to put her on the throne. Ciri is a princess of a conquered country, her family slaughtered. She has to fight being used as a pawn in this "game of thrones", either to be married off to forge an alliance or assassinated. Ciri spends her life on the run. She trains to fight like a witcher and a sorceress, and she never becomes a queen.

There's no clearer expression of the author's political leanings than that.

About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.

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