The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf's Place in the Growing Witcherverse
The Witcher world is getting bigger and better as Netflix and the showrunners focus on expanding the universe—backwards. Only a few fantasy worlds have expanded its past, and The Witcher has possibly found a goldmine in the origin story of the fascinating world created by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski.
The Witcher’s first prequel, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, already pulled it off. Here’s how the anime film fits into the Witcherverse and Netflix’s greater plan for expanding all things Witcher. Beware of spoilers.
The Sacking of Kaer Morhen
As we all know by now, Nightmare of the Wolf is essentially a tragedy that tells the tale of the events that lead to the fall of Kaer Morhen, the keep that housed witchers and witchers-in-training. While the books, games, and series only lightly touched on the subject, the anime film had room to tell the untold story. By fleshing out the details, Nightmare of the Wolf showed that it was fear and ignorance, on both the side of the humans and of the witchers, that led to decimation of the witcher population.
Based on the film, we now know that the witchers triggered their own downfall after Deglan, the mentor of Vesemir, began to secretly create monsters with the mages of Kaer Morhen led by the mage Reidrich. Quote poetic how the monster hunters created the monsters that defined them.
By the time of the film, monsters have been drastically reduced as witchers, well, did their job. To ensure their purpose continued, Deglan did the unthinkable, only it eventually made the humans and sorceresses more distrustful and skeptical. Led by Tetra, a sorceress with her own selfish vendetta, humans attacked the old keep aided by monsters that did the dirty work for them. Almost everyone and everything died as a result, including Tetra. But a few witchers lived: Vesemir and a ragtag group of young witchers-in-training.
Vesemir as Geralt’s Mentor
Geralt’s identity as one of the young witchers who escaped the sacking is revealed in the last moments of the film. However, aside from calling him by his name, Vesemir does not interact with Geralt the child at any other time in the show. We do know that Vesemir will mentor the surviving young witchers, particularly Geralt, but there are a few inconsistencies.
Earlier in the film, we see the boys exit a carriage as they step foot in Kaer Morhen for the first time. Vesemir arrives separately. However, in The Witcher series, we see Vesemir appear in Geralt’s dream as the man who took him away from his mother to start his journey on the Path. Of course, Geralt could have been hallucinating, or Vesemir could have joined the caravan along the way to drop off Geralt.
One other important note from the books and games is that Geralt grew up at the old keep, but we see him depart the battlefield as a child alongside his fellow young witchers and Vesemir. It can be assumed that the group returned to the castle eventually and made do with the ruins that remained.
The Introduction of New Witchers
Nightmare of the Wolf sets the stage for The Witcher, season two, as it features a stunning montage of the transition to become a witcher. As fans already know, Ciri will undergo the training it takes to be a witcher, but it’s still up in the air whether she’ll undergo the brutal mutations and experiments of the Grass Trials.
Regardless, the film also introduced a new slew of witchers. While the series only introduced one witcher, in the film, we’re introduced to an entire army. Of course, most of them die by the end (sad), but the young witchers survive and will appear in season two as grown adults and veteran witchers. They are: Eskel and Lambert, Geralt’s friends and fellow witchers. Another witcher was introduced as a youngster, Remus, but we’ve already met him. He was the witcher who killed by the striga in season one. If you replay that episode, you’ll see that when Geralt sees his body, only subtle gesture from Henry Cavill suggests he recognizes the corpse.
The Witcher’s Expansion Backwards
The Witcherverse is already rich and complicated, but Netflix plans to take it further—by taking it backwards. Nightmare of the Wolf is only the first of two prequels it has planned. The second, The Witcher: Blood Origin, will take place thousands of years before Nightmare of the Wolf and The Witcher. In the live-action series Blood Origin, we will see the events that led to the Conjunction of Spheres, an event in the Witcherverse that caused the worlds of man, monster, and elf to converge. Just as Nightmare of the Wolf shows the downfall of witchers, Blood Origin will see the events that led to the downfall of elves.
In short, Netflix has a thing for tragedies, but hey, it’s working.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is now streaming on Netflix. The Witcher, season two, will premiere on December 17, 2021.