ByChristopher GatesANDMichael Montgomery/
This article contains spoilers for "The Witcher" Season 3.
Netflix's "The Witcher" is a lot of fun, but it isn't always easy to follow. For one, the first season of the epic fantasy series is split into three separate timelines. Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri's adventures all happen at different times — until, of course, they don't. This isn't explicitly explained by the show, either, which has led to many casual viewers getting lost. Between the various monsters, the foreign customs, the political rivalries, and all of the action, Season 1 is very busy, and things haven't gotten much better since then.
We're three seasons deep into the story now, not to mention the prequels that have come out. The world of "The Witcher" can seem daunting for those unaccustomed to the lore, but the show does offer up some clues as to its chronology for fans who are paying close attention. With a little bit of legwork, you can more or less piece the entire timeline together, which will no doubt make your viewing experience a lot more enjoyable. There are still some questions and ambiguities, but the overall picture is a lot more clear now that Season 3 is done and dusted.
From early Elven infighting to Ciri's fate, we're explaining the entire timeline of "The Witcher."
Confusingly, the earliest scenes in "The Witcher" Season 1 don't actually arrive until the season's final episode. While Yennefer is busy battling Nilfgaard at Sodden, Geralt spends his time in "Much More" lounging on the back of a merchant's cart, fighting off a supernatural infection.
As Geralt fights for his life, he experiences visions from his childhood. Through Geralt's flashbacks, we meet his biological mother, Visenna, and watch as she abandons Geralt at Kaer Morhen, where he meets his mentor Vesemir (mentioned, but not seen onscreen) and begins his witcher training.
These visions take place a century before the events of "Much More," the first season finale. In an interview,"The Witcher" showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich revealed that Geralt is already 100 years old in the first episode, "The End's Beginning." That means that young Geralt's scenes must've happened at the very beginning of "The Witcher" timeline — before Yennefer was even born — and kicked off the whole saga.
Yennefer goes to school
Of thethree main timelines in Season 1, Yennefer's origin story comes first. Yennefer is no more than 20 years old when Tissaia buys her from her father in episode two (in fact, she could be much younger), and all of Yennefer's early days — her struggles to become a proficient mage, her love affair with Istredd, and her brutal sacrifice — happen before the rest of the main plot.
We don't know how long Yennefer spends at school, but it doesn't seem like much. Hunchback Yennefer, who should age like a normal human, doesn't show many physical changes during her studies, although both her confidence and her abilities grow in leaps and bounds.
However, according to Hissrich, Yennefer's story in season one spans about 70 years. After ascending, Yennefer spends 30 years in the court at Aedirn, and another 10 or so kicking around as an independent sorceress before the Battle of Sodden. That leaves 30 years unaccounted for. Either Hissrich had her numbers wrong (and, to be fair, her statement leaves quite a bit of wiggle room) or Yennefer trains at Aretuza for a lot longer than it seems. Either way, it's kind of irrelevant. All you need to know is that this stuff happens first.
Renfri, the stygian, and the striga
Geralt's first three adventures take place next. It's not clear exactly how long it takes Geralt to become known as the Butcher of Blaviken or how long it took Jaskier to make "Toss a Coin to Your Witcher" a hit. Still, news doesn't travel that fast on the Continent — it's not like they have cellphones or the internet.
Given that Geralt's entire story in season one is about 20 years long, and that 12 pass between Geralt's two visits to Cintra, an eight-year period between episode one and episode four makes sense.
We can also surmise that Geralt's battle with the striga takes place about 30 years after Yennefer's transformation. At Yennefer's ascension ceremony, where King Foltest of Temeria is can be seen pestering his sister Adda, the monarch is only around 10 years old. When Geralt meets him, Foltest is in his 40s (Shaun Dooley, who plays Foltest, is 45), and Adda has been dead for years.
Geralt visits Cintra, Yennefer goes independent
Yennefer and Geralt's stories in episode four, "Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials," seem to happen at around the same time. Yennefer claims that she's been at Aedirn for three decades before the assassin's attack convinces her to strike out on her own. That's about how much time has passed for Foltest in Geralt's timeline in episode three. Further, Geralt's reputation is firmly established by the time that he first enters Queen Calanthe's court. At most, Yennefer and Geralt are a few years apart.
At any rate, unless you've been paying close attention, this is the first episode that makes it clear that we're following three separate timelines. In "Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials," Eist is unsuccessfully courting the queen, Nilfgaard is a joke, and Ciri's mother is newly pregnant. In the first episode, though, Calanthe and Eist are married, Ciri is 12 years old, and Nilfgaard is a mighty military force.
Everyone looks younger than the last time we saw them, too. Mousesack has less grey in his beard, and both Eist and Calanthe are much more spry. Naturally, neither Geralt nor Yennefer age, thanks to magic (Jaskier, on the other hand, simply seems to be very well-preserved).
Yennefer and Geralt meet, fight, fall in love, and fight some more
It takes half of the first season for twotimelines to finally come together. In "Bottled Appetites," the star-crossed lovers Geralt and Yennefer meet for the very first time, courtesy of some Jaskier-fueled shenanigans, a djinn in a bottle, and Yennefer's misguided attempt to have it all.
Enough time passes between "Bottled Appetites" and "Rare Species" for Geralt and Yennefer to build up quite a bit of history. Their bickering references numerous encounters beyond the one we've already seen, and they seem to have spent quite a bit of time together. Yennefer and Jaskier know each other pretty well at this point, too — and they don't seem to get along.
Even though Geralt and Yennefer part ways at the end of "Rare Species," their timelines coincide going forward. They may not cross paths again in season one, but from here on out, they're on the same page.
Finally, Ciri's story begins — but, as the seventh episode, "Before a Fall," reveals, there's more going on during Cintra's collapse than the pilot lets on. In the leadup to Nilfgaard's attack, Yennefer joined the Brotherhood of Sorcerers as they debated whether or not to save the mage-averse kingdom, while Geralt went directly to Cintra to try to rescue Ciri, who he's responsible for.
In fact, Geralt was in Cintra when Calanthe rode into battle, Nilfgaardian forces breached the walls, and Ciri fled the city. He even saw Ciri just before Cintra fell, although he didn't know it — the girl was disguised as a commoner in order to play with the other kids. Unfortunately, Geralt missed out on most of the action from the first episode: Calanthe locked him in a Cintra dungeon to keep him from running off with Ciri. That didn't work out well for anyone.
At any rate, Ciri's storyline in episode one and Geralt and Yennefer's plots in episode seven happen at the same time. We're getting close to one, unified timeline, but we're not there quite yet.
According to Hissrich, Ciri's story in the first season unfolds over the course of a couple of weeks. Ciri meets Dara shortly after escaping Cintra, and only spends a little bit of time in the refugee camp before Nilfgaard attacks. A few days later, she enters Brokilon Forest, where she's protected by Queen Eithne of the dryads. Good thing, too, because the Nilfgaardian Cahir and the sorceress Fringilla are hot on Ciri's tail.
After a few nights in Brokilon, the doppler, disguised as Mousesack, arrives to "rescue" Ciri and Dara. Ciri discovers the deception and frees herself soon afterwards. From there, Ciri fends for herself. She tries to pawn off her jewelry for cash, stops some old "friends" from attacking her, and is ultimately offered a home by a kindly woman with a house in the woods.
All of this unfolds in the time between Geralt's second visit to Cintra in episode seven and his arrival at the former refugee camp in episode eight. It's not a lot of time, but Ciri manages to cover a lot of ground.
The battle of Sodden and Ciri and Geralt's first meeting
By the beginning of episode eight, "Much More," all three timelines are in sync. While Yennefer and her fellow sorcerers are fighting Nilfgaard at Sodden, Geralt is fighting for his life on the back of a merchant's cart and Ciri is chilling in a cabin with the merchant's wife.
All of this happens about a week after Ciri fled the refugee camp — when Geralt first meets the merchant, the man is cleaning up the bodies the Nilfgaardian army left behind. It also takes a couple of days. The sorcerers don't head straight into battle, for example. They arrive at Sodden and prep their defenses.The ensuing battle begins at night, takes the whole day, and ends just before dawn.
In fact, it's the morning after the battle when Geralt and Ciri meet for the first time, bringing everyone together — well, almost. Yennefer disappears after using a ton of magic to channel fire at the Nilfgaardian army, but is surely not gone for good.
The great battle's aftermath
All of the events in Season 1 culminate with one of the show's biggest and most explosive story beats, the Battle of Sodden Hill. While the mages, teamed up with the armies of the Northern Kingdoms, manage to push back the Nilfgaardian forces, the victory does not come without sacrifices. Many mages are killed, and Yennefer, who uses forbidden fire magic against Nilfgaardian forces and loses her powers in the process, is missing. As it turns out, she is captured by her old classmate Fringilla Vigo and some Nilfgaardian remnants. But the Nilfgaardian forces are quickly dispatched by an elven group led by Francesca Findabair. Together with Francesca and Fringilla, Yennefer discovers the lair of Voleth Meir, the Deathless Mother.
Meanwhile, Geralt, who is united with Ciri in the aftermath of the battle, receives the hard news that Yennefer is missing and was likely killed in the battle. In order to help keep Ciri safe, Geralt makes his way to the witcher stronghold Kaer Mohren. Along the way, he meets an old friend, Nivellen, who had been cursed to look like a beast. At first, Nivellen is very welcoming of Geralt and Ciri, but they soon discover that he is harboring a bruxa, a vampiric monster that feasts on humans. Nivellen had fallen in love with the bruxa, but Geralt is forced to kill the monster, leaving Nivellen alone with the knowledge of his horrible deeds.
Ciri trains as a witcher
Kaer Mohren is a fortress for witchers to retire to during the winter months, coming together in safety. Geralt, trusting only in his fellow witchers, chooses to bring Ciri back to the stronghold to keep her safe. Unfortunately, Kaer Mohren turns out to be much less secure than Geralt had anticipated. One of his fellow witchers, Eskel, is attacked by a tree-like monster called a leshy. The wound from the leshy transforms Eskel into one of the monsters, threatening the lives of every witcher in the keep, and leads to Geralt killing his former friend in order to protect Ciri.
However, this does not deter Ciri from danger in the slightest. If anything, the incident strengthens Ciri's resolve to become a witcher herself, both to protect herself and to fit in with Geralt and the other witchers, whom she's grown quite fond of. Geralt refuses to train her, but two other witchers, Lambert andCoën, bring Ciri to their obstacle course outside. Ciri is not a natural, and is knocked down many times and injured greatly. But she keeps getting back up and eventually is able to nearly clear the course, earning her the respect of the other witchers.
Geralt and Ciri do not stay at Kaer Mohren for long. After a failed attempt from Triss Merigold to train Ciri to control her magic, Geralt realizes that Ciri might be more dangerous than he realizes. He brings her to the Temple of the Melitele to give her a better magical education, and to learn more about the potential curse that she may carry. It is here Geralt finally reunites with Yennefer, learning that she has survived the Battle of Sodden Hill. At first, Yennefer acts as if it is a coincidence that the two met up, and Geralt finally introduces her to Ciri.
It isn't until the temple is attacked by the fire mage Rience that Yennefer's true intentions are revealed. As Geralt battles Rience's men, Yennefer takes Ciri and shows her how to portal the two of them out of the temple, away from Geralt. This gives her the chance to bring Ciri to Voleth Meir. Meanwhile, Geralt manages to enlist his allies Jaskier and Yarpen to help him track down Ciri — though it proves to be unnecessary, as Yennefer has a change of heart as she travels with Ciri and mentors her in the use of her magical abilities.
The battle at Kaer Mohren
Although Yennefer does not go through with her plan to deliver Ciri to Voleth Meir, the heartbreak and turmoil felt by Francesca following the murder of her child gives the Deathless Mother the ability to break free from her hut and take control of Ciri's body. Sadly, Geralt and Yennefer, who split up with Ciri in order to take on Voleth Meir, don't realize that Ciri is possessed until it is too late. Ciri returns to Kaer Mohren along with Jaskier, and during the night she goes around slashing the throats of many witchers.
The surviving witchers, along with Geralt, Yennefer, and Jaskier, are forced to battle the possessed Ciri. She uses the tree, which turns out to be a monolith, to help summon massive basilisks to fight her friends, killing many more witchers in the process. Geralt's mentor, Vesemir, believes that Ciri needs to be killed, but Geralt pushes for a better way. Yennefer agrees to take the spirit of Voleth Meir into her own body, pulling her away from Ciri, which gives Ciri the chance to send the Deathless Mother back through the monolith, though not before briefly being pulled through herself, and seeing the Wraiths ofMörhogg.
The White Flame is revealed
Emhyr var Emreis, also known as the White Flame, was a total enigma throughout the first two seasons of "The Witcher." While he was often referenced by characters like Cahir and Fringilla, his lack of an onscreen presence meant that everything that audiences knew about him came from secondhand sources. And while it was clear that the leader of Nilfgaard had his eyes set on capturing Ciri, the reason why he wanted to get a hold of her was a bit of a mystery. However, all of that changed during the final moments of Season 2.
After Cahir and Fringilla take credit for the death of Francesca's baby in order to make it look as if they are more in control than they are, Emhyr pays a visit to the former Cintran castle to unveil that in fact, he is the one who had ordered the baby killed. This alone is a pretty big plot twist, but the real reveal happens when Emhyr turns around and is shown to be Duny, the father of Ciri. Back in Season 1, Geralt helped Duny break a curse that made him look like a hedgehog-like monster. He has been presumed dead since Ciri was a child, but in reality, has taken over Nilfgaard and seeks to reclaim Cintra and his daughter.
A dysfunctional family
Some time has passed since the finale of Season 2 of "The Witcher" by the time that Season 3 picks up. Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer are now traveling from place to place, staying on the move in order to remain one step ahead of the Nilfgaardian forces that are looking to reclaim the young princess of Cintra. During this time, Geralt enlists Yennefer's help in teaching Ciri how to control the magical abilities she possesses. As both Geralt and Yennefer have become guardians to Ciri, and she begins to view them both as surrogate parents, it's only natural that the group would come together to form a familial bond.
However, things are not so simple. Geralt still feels a sense of betrayal over Yennefer's actions in Season 2. Although she did not go through with giving Ciri over to Voleth Meir, she still considered it, putting Ciri in danger. As such, Geralt refuses to even speak with Yennefer, forcing her to write him letters to update him on Ciri's progress. Only with time does Geralt finally break down and allow Yennefer back into his life, something that makes Ciri very happy.
Everyone is after Ciri
Princess Cirilla of Cintra has been hunted ever since her narrow escape at the beginning of "The Witcher's" first season. However, as time goes on, more and more parties are interested in capturing Ciri for their own means. As more factions become involved, it starts to seem like just about everyone in the Northern Kingdoms has some interest in collecting the Cintran princess. In addition to the Nilfgaardian ruler, Emhyr var Emreis, wishing to reclaim his daughter, Francesca Findabair of the elves also wants to capture Ciri due to her Elder Blood and connection to Falka's prophecy. King Vizimir of Redania also hopes to marry her in a bid to inherit Cintra. Meanwhile, Rience, the fire mage, ruthlessly hunts Ciri down in the name of a hidden master.
The competition between these disparate groups leads to a massive battle at the climax of Season 3's first episode. Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer, along with Jaskier and Yarpen's dwarves, are at the elven ruins of Shaerrawedd when they are attacked by Rience's mages. This was expected, as Geralt had set up this trap to help lure Rience out of hiding to finish him off once and for all. However, he does not expect Francesca and the Scoia'tal elves to join in the battle. They attack both Rience's men and Yarpen's dwarves, creating a chaotic three-way battle that leads to the deaths of many elves, including Francesca's brother.
In the time that she spends on the road with Geralt and Yennefer, Ciri grows increasingly fond of her new surrogate parents. She mentions several times to Geralt that the only thing that really matters to her is that whatever happens, the three of them stay together. Unfortunately, their time together is short-lived. After the deadly melee at Shaerrawedd, Geralt realizes that moving from place to place would no longer be a sufficient way to protect Ciri.
Instead, he takes up Yennefer on her recommendation to take Ciri to Aretuza to learn from her own mentor, Tissaia de Vries. Meanwhile, Geralt teams up with Jaskier to further investigate Rience's evil doings, and attempt to kill him before he can harm Ciri. Yennefer and Ciri reach out to Tissaia, but the road to Aretuza is not an easy one, and Ciri has a knack for stirring up trouble in every town they visit. When they eventually meet up with Tissaia, Ciri quickly realizes that training to be a sorceress is not for her, and runs away to reunite herself with Geralt.
A new player enters the game
One of the most interesting new characters in Season 3 of "The Witcher" is Radovid. The younger brother of King Vizimir of Redania, Radovid takes on a major role in the political dealings of his brother's kingdom in the third season, joining Sigismund Dijkstra and Phillipa Eilhart in their schemes. At first, Radovid comes off as a lazy and spoiled prince who has had everything handed to him his entire life, but Phillipa soon realizes that Radovid is much smarter than he lets on, and that his charm and skills are well suited to the political games that she and Disjkstra are known for playing.
This comes in especially handy when the Redanian sorceress begins making deals with Jaskier, in an attempt to convince him to persuade Geralt to hand Ciri over to them. Radovid quickly hits it off with Jaskier, who develops a crush on the prince. The two meet several times, and strike up a casual relationship that culminates in the two sleeping together the night of the ball at Aretuza. Radovid confides in Jaskier that he has developed real feelings for him, and that their relationship is more than just political plotting.
Rience's wicked schemes revealed
So much of Rience's dealings have been shrouded in mystery since his introduction in Season 2 of "The Witcher." While audiences are told that he is working with a woman named Lydia and that he is trying to capture Ciri, everything else about his plans, including who his true master is and what he is planning to do with Ciri, is left unknown. After splitting up with Ciri and Yennefer, Geralt and Jaskier visit the detective agency Codringher and Fenn to get some answers about Rience. They help Geralt, which ultimately costs them their lives at the hand of the fire mage.
Luckily, Geralt manages to locate the castle where Rience is residing. What he finds inside horrifies even the seasoned monster hunter. Rience, with the help of a mage inside Aretuza, had been kidnapping half-elven girls from the school and experimenting on them. He is only able to save one girl, while the others have already had their bodies melded together into a terrifying monster. The girl he did save believes that she is Ciri, having had the princess's memories implanted inside her. While Geralt discovers that Rience is trying to create a false Ciri, he has yet to determine who he is working with inside Aretuza.
Mysteries at Aretuza
Discovering the mage inside Aretuza working alongside Rience quickly becomes Geralt's top priority. After leaving Ciri in the care of Jaskier, he teams up with Yennefer to find clues as to the identity of the fire mage's partner. Yennefer brings Geralt as her date to the ball at Aretuza, creating an interesting episode that shows moments from the ball from different perspectives, allowing the viewer to slowly get the full picture of each of the events that happen.
At first, it seems to Geralt and Yennefer that Stregabor is the most likely culprit. His hatred of elves is well-documented, and Triss Merigold and Istredd discover that Stregabor may have stolen the Book of Monoliths, potentially harboring sinister plans to use it with Ciri. The evidence alone is enough to have the blame placed on Stregabor, and the mages take him captive until they can give him a full trial. However, in a surprise twist, Geralt and Yennefer realize that it was actually Vilgefortz, the lover of Yennefer's mentor Tissaia de Vries, who is actually responsible for the kidnapping of the girls and Rience's evil actions.
The Thanedd Coup
Before Geralt or Yennefer can act on the information they learned about Vilgefortz, they find themselves thrust into one of the novel series' most memorable conflicts. The Thanedd Coup, which takes place during the novel "Time of Contempt," involves Sigismund Dijkstra's hostile takeover of Aretuza the night of the ball. After Geralt refuses to hand Ciri over to Dijkstra and Phillipa Eilhart, Dijkstra and his men take over Aretuza while everyone is sleeping. He accuses Vilgefortz of working with Nilfgaard and plans to put him and his allies on trial. Unfortunately, Dijkstra is unaware that Vilgefortz has an army of Nilfgaardians and elves set to invade that very morning.
The bloodshed as the three factions battle is unprecedented. Francesca's husband Filavandrel is obliterated by a destruction spell meant for Francesca herself, and many mages are killed in the fight. Geralt faces off against Vilgefortz and loses, sustaining severe and life-threatening injuries. However, as a way of taunting Geralt, Vilgefortz leaves him alive as he chases after Ciri. In the end, the mages are able to hold off the elven and Nilfgaardian forces, but Aretuza is left in ruins and few mages survive, effectively ending the famous magical school forever.
Ciri meets Falka in the Korath Desert
In an effort to escape Vilgefortz, Ciri runs to the tower of Tor Lara, managing to destroy it completely. As she does, she is teleported out into the middle of the Korath Desert, a barren wasteland south of the Northern Kingdoms and east of Niflgaard. Alone and with no way out of the desert, Ciri is forced to survive on her own. Luckily, she meets a companion, a rare unicorn that has also lost its way in the desert.
However, it isn't long before Ciri begins to hallucinate figures from her life, including her mother and grandmother, Queen Calanthe. But one figure stands out more than most, and turns out to be more than just an illusion. Ciri is visited multiple times by Falka, the famous revolutionary of elven blood. Falka encourages Ciri to use her powers to tap into forbidden magic, such as fire magic. Eventually, Ciri gives in to save the unicorn she is traveling with, but the act scares the unicorn away. Eventually, Ciri is caught by raiders, but a group called the Rats help her escape, and she ends up joining them. When they ask her name, she responds that it is Falka.
Never lost, always found
Geralt's battle with Vilgefortz leaves him in bad shape, including shattering his back. On the brink of death, Geralt is brought to Brokilon Forest, the home of the dryads, to help in his healing process. Luckily, he doesn't have to go through the ordeal alone, as Jaskier tracks Geralt down and stays with him during his long recovery. Eventually, he is joined briefly by Yennefer, but she is unable to linger, as she wishes to track down the surviving sorceresses and help to build a new group of magic wielders led by her remaining peers. However, there is one person close to Geralt who is still missing in action.
Geralt pushes himself to recover more quickly in order to leave Brokilon and return to Ciri. Their motto, which is repeated throughout the season, is "never lost, always found." No matter how many times they are split up, Geralt will always find Ciri. Although Jaskier argues for Geralt to take things slow, he is on his feet in no time, and relearns to walk and fight. The season ends with Geralt, Jaskier, and Milva, a new ally, battling their way through a group of Nilfgaardian forces and setting out to find Ciri.