Netflix’s The Witcher adaptation does a lot of jumping around in its first season. Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri’s separate storylines not only take place at different locations but completely different times as well. It can get pretty confusing, and that’s perhaps why Netflix’s official The Witcher site has published an interactive map and timeline to help break things down.
In addition to making the events of the season clearer, the image offers an interesting overview of the Continent’s landscape and different political regions. Although, it’s unclear as to whether the map itself is actually canonical.
Why is that, I hear you ask? Well, quite apart from the fact that it makes a puzzling change from descriptions of the landscape featured in the books, and that it differs from the images featured in developer CD Projekt Red’s video games, the Continent’s map has had a long history of being chopped and changed over the years.
Indeed, it may surprise you to learn that Andrzej Sapkowski never actually had his own render of the Continent’s map included with the books when they originally published. The only ones that ever were featured in translated versions of The Witcher saga only, such as Czech, Spanish, and Russian.
One map that Sapkowski endorsed –though only by default– was the very first one, which was apparently drawn by the editors of his Polish website. This was actually riddled with errors and subsequently corrected across a number of different variations included in translated editions of the books.
Later, a Czech translation of The Witcher saga featured a map drawn by Stanislav Komárek, which differed slightly from the original shape. Many of its locations were later swapped around, too, as Sapkowski finished his saga.
In 2007 video game developer CD Projekt Red produced its own version, which Sapkowski did apparently provide assistance with. This has more or less become accepted as canon ever since by virtue of being most widely used, but it too makes a number of errors.
For a start, it mistakenly positions Gemmera as being inland when it is described as having a long stretch of coastline in the books.
The map also incorrectly depicts Aedd Gynvael as being in Kaedwen when it is supposed to be in Narok, as well as misplacing the Toina river in the wrong region. A host of other errors are listed here.
Now, of course, we have a new version from Netflix, drawn by artist Michal Niewiara, which extends further to the south than CDPR’s, slightly changes the Continent’s shape, and omits locations established in the video games.
The latter point isn’t all that surprising given how vehemently Netflix has insisted it is adapting the books and not the games, but it is odd that the Continent’s most western point of Bremervoord, as described in the books, doesn’t appear to be as westerly as the Nilfgaardian province of Gemmera. Particularly so, when we know Sapkowski was quite involved in the production of Netflix’s The Witcher.
As for likening the geography of the Continent itself to a real-world comparison, I haven’t been able to find a comment from Sapkowski as to whether it is supposed to be based on some part of Europe specifically.
One popular fan theory is that the Continent is Poland –and the whole European continent– flipped 90 degrees. Poland would, therefore, be Redania/Northern Realms, while Nilfgaard is likened to Germany, Skellige to Scandinavia, and Toussaint to France. As inspirations for each region, my personal take is that this speculation does seem to more or less line up.
Whether or not Sapkowski agrees remains to be seen, as does the extent to which he considers Netflix’s latest iteration of the Continent’s map canonical. Having so far been silent on the matter for 30 years, I’m not holding my breath for definitive answers. That said, with interest in the franchise sky high right now, our chances have never been better. Please, Sapkowski, put us nerds out of our misery!
Information compiled in this article was drawn from sources that include The Witcher Fandom wiki page, as well as the diligent research by Adam Whitehead, as published on atlastoficeandfireblog. Whitehead has his own map render based on modified versions of different Continent map iterations and his own personal impressions from the book, which I encourage you to check out.
In other Witcher map-related content, I’ve just written about why you should turn off The Witcher 3’s annoying mini-map for the best experience.