Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Witcher: When a Book Beats a Game

When a film is adapted from a book it is usually considered that the book is better and the book is paid an awful lot of attention by the relevant film media outlets. One of this year's biggest games has been The Witcher 3, it sold millions of copies, is winning countless awards and has even helped generate enough interest in the franchise for a film to be made.

But what about the books? The poor, lonely, little books.

The Witcher series began in books, with Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski writing numerous tales about Geralt of Rivia and his adventures. I can't profess to have read the whole series but what I have read has me greatly impressed. Sapkowski fills the books with every fantasy cliche - there is even a genie in a bottle! - but the whole thing feels fresh and exciting.

Geralt is a riveting character, not quite a monster, not quite a hero. He isn't just some brooding anti-hero either, he accepts his lot, saves the day when he needs to and butchers those in his path when required. He's charming, deadly, intelligent and brutal.

The book mixes social commentary with sharp wit and plenty of mysterious characters. The world feels real and even with the beasts and the magic it doesn't feel too far removed from ours. It achieves a tangibility that the games have yet to muster.

Don't get me wrong the games are all good in their own right but for me the books are leagues ahead and if you have even the most passing interest in the series then you should definitely give them a go.

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