The Witcher: everything you need to know about Netflix’s fantasy epic

There’s one very important thing missing from The Witcher: Blood Origin: Geralt of Rivia. Of course, it makes sense that the iconic character isn’t in the new four-episode prequel series, given that it takes place more than 1,000 years before he was born, at a time when witchers (and the monsters they love to hunt) don’t even exist. But that doesn’t make his absence felt any less. Because without the lovably gruff Geralt, or at least an equivalent character to keep the story grounded, there isn’t all that much to differentiate The Witcher from all of the other epic fantasy series out there, of which there is no shortage this year in particular. Blood Origin does explain some pivotal moments in the franchise’s history, outlining the key moments that shaped the Continent, as it’s known. The problem is that it’s just not that much fun to watch.

The show takes place 1,200 years before the events of the original Witcher series, at a time when elves are the dominant force in the world. They don’t have much competition. While dwarves share the land, neither humans nor monsters do, and so elves — who are scarce in Geralt’s time — are spread across multiple kingdoms and clans, each with their own customs and beliefs and many of whom war amongst each other. That is until a few ambitious elves set a plan in place to unite everyone (by force) under a supreme leader. This sets off a chain reaction that leads to all kinds of pivotal events in Witcher lore, including the creation of the monster hunters and an event called the “conjunction of the spheres,” in which the worlds of elves, humans, and monsters are forced together, creating the Continent as we know it.