Netflix to adapt The Witcher series
Cult favourite fantasy novels also spawned wildly successful video game series
Game of Thrones' end may be near, but that doesn't mean an end to the morally grey, fantasy drama setting that's made it so popular. Look no further than Netflix, which has announced a new show based on Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher novels.
Sapkowski's novels and short story collections, most written between 1992 and 1999, follow a character named Geralt of Rivia. He is a witcher — one of many genetically altered mercenaries who ply their trade slaying trolls and clearing out monster infestations in Sapkowski's fantasy realm populated with humans, elves and other J.R.R. Tolkienesque inhabitants.
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The books draw from fairy tales, Polish folklore and high fantasy tropes, but are also filled with the political intrigue and tense character drama that fans of shows like Game of Thrones might find familiar.
"Andrzej Sapkowski has created a rich and memorable world, at once magical and familiar," Erik Barmack, Netflix vice-president of international series, said in a press release Wednesday.
The streaming giant describes the series as "a new English-language drama series," but does not specify whether it will be live-action or animated. Sapkowski will serve as a creative consultant on the series.
"I'm thrilled that Netflix will be doing an adaptation of my stories, staying true to the source material and the themes that I have spent over thirty years writing," he said.
Netflix also announced Sean Daniel and Jason Brown, who worked on the shot-in-Toronto sci-fi program The Expanse, as executive producers.
Video games loved by fans, hated by author
Over the years, The Witcher has been adapted into comics, a Polish film and TV series, board games and more. But the most successful spinoff is probably a trilogy of video games produced by Polish studio CD Projekt (formerly known as CD Projekt Red or CDPR) that have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide since 2007.
In 2011, Polish president Donald Tusk gave former U.S. president Barack Obama a copy of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings as a gift to commemorate his visit to the White House.
Sapkowski, however, has critcized the games. In an interview with Vice' gaming site Waypoint, he accused CD Projekt of concealing the games' literary origins and vehemently denied that their popularity contributed to sales of his books outside Europe.
"The belief, widely spread by CDPR, that the games made me popular outside of Poland is completely false. I made the games popular. All of my translations in the West — including the English one — were published before the first game," he said.