[Top 5] Best Witcher Books of All Time

Witcher, The Witcher, The Witcher 3, The Witcher Books, Geralt, andrzej sapkowski, sapkowski, Fantasy
If you read the books, you get to spoil the show for your friends!

Discover the saga that started it all! 

The Witcher 3 is a great game that manages to leave you wanting more even after its 100+ hour runtime, and that is no small feat. 

So, let's say that even after the main and secondary quests, the DLCs, and even new game plus you’re still hammering for more. Luckily for you, there are }two more games, the tv show, and even a mod that makes the game look like the TV show. 

How else could you scratch that Witcher itch of yours?     

Oh, right, the books! How can we forget books, the videogames of the mind, except with words instead of graphics and also not-like-videogames at all! 

See, in the unlikely case you’re not in the know-how, everything Witcher-related is based on a successful series of books written by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and featuring the titular Witcher, Geralt of Rivia. 

Each book is filled with page-turning action, high emotional stakes, and magnificent world-building.

Besides, who can forget the time when [REDACTED] went to [REDACTED] to [REDACTED] with [REDACTED]?

Every book deserves more than a fair share of recognition. With so much quality across two short-story collections, five entries in the main saga, and a standalone novel, who can even begin to rate them all?

Well… Me, I can. That’s what this article is, I am going to rate the top 5 best Witcher books of all time. It’s right there in the title.

Obviously, there are gonna be spoilers for the whole series ahead, sans Season of Storms, but I’ll do my best to keep them to a minimum and not spoil anything that happens after the book mentioned in the entry.    

5. Time of Contempt

The Witcher's family will finally be reunited. But for how long?

As previously stated, the books don’t follow the traditional reading order of any saga. Two short-story collections take place before the main novels, there’s a prequel (which in my opinion should be read before the rest of the novels, just without the epilogue), and then five books arranged in the more traditional style of a fantasy series. 

Time of Contempt is the second book in the main saga and takes place directly after the events in Blood of Elves.

As Geralt investigates the tracks of a mysterious magician called Rience, Yennefer guides Ciri on the use of her newly-found power. 

The novel opens as Yennefer tries to enroll Ciri in the not-very-Hogwarts-like Aretusa school of magic. Defiant as ever, Ciri attempts to escape and once again join daddy Geralt.

Yennefer soon follows, and the pair are finally reunited after a rather stormy falling out (get it? because of the storm, and there’s that scene in Season of Sto– ah, nevermind).

Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri all go together to the isle of Thanedd, where the story of all three, and indeed the world, will forever be changed.         

The previous books contain great characterization and set the stage for what’s to come. But it isn’t until Time of Contempt that the plot is kicked into high gear. 

Even if there isn’t any book that can be described as uneventful, I don’t think there’s any that beats Time of Contempt’s plot-point-per-chapter ratio.

And it’s not just about the book having a lot of “stuff” in it, either. The relationship dynamics between the characters shine beautifully. With some heartstring-pulling moments between Witcher, Sorceress, and Swallow.     

4. Tower of Swallows.

The race against the clock starts. The stars have aligned and they’re all pointing to Tor Lara.

Jumping ahead from the second book in the saga to the second-to-last, Tower of Swallows opens with an understated moment between the philosopher Vysogota of Corvo and Ciri, as the injured young woman tells the story of how she came to be where she is.

The rest of the book is framed as a story told from end to beginning, in a manner reminiscent of a classic whodunnit story.   

Fair warning, this story hits hard. The book sees our three main characters all separated and searching for each other, and it contains some of the darkest beats in a story that never shone away from darkness. 

If Time of Contempt is all about plot development, this book is all about character development. 

We get to see the famous “Hansa”, an unlikely band of allies gathered around Geralt, as they track down a circle of druids that might be able to find Ciri. 

We are also introduced to the lovable Angoulême, another harsh, foul-mothed, ashen-haired young woman that forms a deep connection with Geralt and his team. There seems to be a pattern here, but don’t tell Gerry. 

This might be the book where the main trio spent the most time apart. But in their lonesome, we get to see and appreciate just how much they mean to each other and what they’re willing to do to be reunited.       

3. Sword of Destiny.

Discover the world of The Witcher in this beautiful anthology of Geralt’s adventures.

Sword of Destiny is the second of the short-story collections and unlike The Last Wish, it doesn’t have a framing narrative to put the stories into context. Which makes it a bit of a hard book to summarise. 

Where the novels have long tales of political intrigue and a laser-focused plot, Sword of Destiny is a collection of magnificent one-off stories. 

That’s not to say that the events in the book have no meaning or consequences. The larger themes that might be easy to miss in the overarching narrative of the novels are front and center in each of the easier-to-digest stories. 

In this book, Geralt and Ciri meet for the very first time, we get a glimpse of the brief domestic life of Geralt and Yennefer, and the events that eventually lead to their falling out, and we get moments that Geralt will carry with him for the rest of his journey.

Bottom line, the short stories are magnificent; exciting, fun, and heartfelt. 

It also doesn’t hurt that reading short stories is a lot less draining than a full-on novel, and I’m nothing if not lazy. 

Why then, you might be thinking, is this book on the list but not The Last Wish? And the answer is simple: they’re both great, but while the latter might have a more pulp-detective-in-a-fantasy-world and action-adventure kind of vibe, this book has some heart-wrenching stories that will stay with you for long.

They are still fun. The book is filled with the same excitement, humor, and wit that you should come to expect from all of Zapkowski’s works, but I dare anyone –and I mean anyone– to get through “a little sacrifice” without shedding a couple of tears.     

2. The Lady of the Lake.

It’s all been building to this. The final battle begins, and fate won’t be kind to our heroes. 

The Lady of the Lake is the last novel in the main Witcher saga, and boy-oh-boy does Sapkowski nail the landing!

The novel opens with Sir Galahad (yes, that sir Galahad, it’s complicated) as he confuses Ciri with the famous Lady of the Lake. 

From there, we get the story of how the whole thing wraps up, as told from Ciri’s eyes (Sapkowski really enjoys his framing devices).

Separated by chance, reunited by destiny. Ciri recounts as our heroes and heroines all converge in the same location to have a final, decisive battle with [redacted]. 

But the world of The Witcher has never been a world much concerned with protagonists, and as Geralt and company race to the climax of their story, so does the larger political intrigue approach its own.     

The book is devastating, beautiful, and devastatingly beautiful. And Sapkowski maintains his reframing of classic tales up to the very end, in a manner that is both subtle in the moment and obvious in hindsight.

But beware of pretty tales told under the welcoming light of nostalgia. One must not, after all, mistake the stars reflected on the surface of the lake at night for the heavens.  

1. Baptism of Fire.

Epic battles, unlikely allies, and fish soup. This is Sapkowski at his finest. 

Baptism of Fire is the saga’s midpoint and the undefeated fan-favorite.

It’s easy to see why, too. The novel takes everything that makes The Witcher great and cranks it up to eleven. 

As with any good midpoint, Baptism opens with our heroes at their lowest, and we get to see them as they put themselves back together again. 

While Geralt recovers from a serious injury, Ciri is lives under a new identity, and Yennefer is nowhere to be found. 

Geralt will start to form a band of brothers-in-arms, a Hansa, as he is set once more on Ciri’s trail. 

If you’re looking for a book that offers heart-pounding action and spectacular set pieces (including one that is arguably the best in the entire saga), then this is the place to go.

Also, this is the book that contains the now-infamous fish soup scene, and how can you top that?

So there it is. The definitive ranking of the best Witcher books, one that is objectively correct and will surely not put me in any hot water with the fans. 

Just remember that each book is magnificent, and my recommendation is that you read them all, list or no, they’re all worth your time.

Just like a parent that’s been asked which of his children he likes best. I did it gleefully and without hesitation, but that doesn’t mean that the rest don’t deserve any love. 

Just less. They deserve less love, but some nonetheless.    

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The rumor goes that Andrew sprung fully formed from a glitch in the Gamecube version of Enter the Matrix. Which is probably why no one bought that game. He enjoys games, Dnd, and getting gremlins wet.
Gamer Since: 2005
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Red Dead Redemption 2
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dead Space 2

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