Ready to jump into reading Andrzej Sapkowski’s famous series but don’t know where to start?  Keep reading to see our guide to its (confusing) publishing history and the best order in which to read the books. 

the witcher fantasy book cover

Reading Order

In brief, here is our recommended reading order:

  1. The Last Wish (1993, English edition: 2007)
  2. Sword of Destiny (1992, English edition: 2015)
  3. Blood of Elves (1994, English edition: 2009)
  4. Time of Contempt (1995, English edition: 2013)
  5. Baptism of Fire (1996, English edition: 2014)
  6. The Tower of the Swallow (1997, English edition: 2016)
  7. The Lady of the Lake (1999, English edition: 2017)
  8. Season of Storms (2013, English edition: 2018)

For context and a few caveats, keep reading!

The Witcher Books Explained

the witcher book cover fantasy

The first two books on the reading list, The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, are short story collections. They are utterly essential to understanding the events of the main five books of the series. The first in chronological order, The Last Wish, introduces Geralt, the Continent, and many of the supporting characters who remain important fixtures throughout the series. Sword of Destiny introduces Ciri and her arc with Geralt.

The main novels start with Blood of Elves, followed by Time of Contempt, Baptism of Fire, The Tower of the Swallow, and The Lady of the Lake. 

Originally published 14 years after the rest of the series, Season of Storms is a standalone, lore-exploring novel that is not essential to the plot of the main Witcher saga. If you are interested in reading the novel, most fans of the series recommend reading it last. However, if you are dead set on reading the series in chronological order, then Season of Storms takes place around the time of The Last Wish. You could attempt to read them concurrently, or opt to start with one or the other. 

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Publishing History

yennefer the witcher fantasy book cover

In 1986, Andrzej Sapkowski submitted the first Witcher story to a writing competition held by Fantastyka, a Polish science fiction magazine, and won third place. After publishing four more short stories through the magazine, Sapkowski released a collection of all five in Wiedźmin (1990). The second collection of short stories, Sword of Destiny, was published in 1992. In 1993, Sapkowski published the original Witcher stories again, along with some additions, in The Last Wish, replacing Wiedźmin as the first novel of the series. This, in effect, made the first chronological installment of the series the second book in publishing order. 

Funnily enough, the series had an even more puzzling release order when translated to English. After the international success of the 2007 The Witcher video game, American and UK publishers started translating the novels. However, after publishing The Last Wish in 2007, both publishers skipped Sword of Destiny until 2015, opting instead to jump directly into the main series with Blood of Elves. This denied English speaking audiences important context that was essential to understanding the rest of the series.

Are you just as bewildered as we are about the history of the series? Perplexed at the American and UK publishing choice to ignore Ciri’s origins for eight years before finally circling back? We deeply understand. We hope our guide has made your reading journey easier!

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