May 20 2016 9:30am

Geralt of Rivia—The Witcher’s Romance Hero

Hi, I’m Christopher Morgan. You may remember me from such articles as, “Dinner, my enemy!” or “How I Fell in Love with an Alien Lizard”. Once upon a time, I was a far more regular presence here in the hallowed halls of Heroes and Heartbreakers.  I’ve been know as many things here. Romance Virgin, Tolkien aficionado, Star Wars Fanboy, and a gamer. But, it’s that last bit I would like to indulge for bit, if you will permit me.

You see, this whole thing emerged out of a conversation I recently had with a friend concerning power fantasies and gaming. The state of the gaming community is a bit… toxic, and I am perfectly willing to leave that discussion to those conversations to my far wiser and smarter betters. But, through course of that discussion, I made a realization. Geralt of Rivia, the Butcher of Blavakin, Witcher of the Wolf School, is, in fact, a Romance Hero.

There are those of you readers whom are gamers and are probably aware of this particular flavor of monster hunter. But, for those who may be unawares, Geralt is a bounty hunter who is the protagonist of a series of role playing video games known as the Witcher series. The games themselves are in-turn based on a series of Polish fantasy novels by Andrezej Sapkowski.


The main story of Geralt is that he is a monster hunting sword-for-hire known as a witcher. He was taken at birth to be experimented on and turned into a mutant so that he could stand toe-to-toe with the things that go bump in the night. Over the course of his adventures he meets a Sorceress by the name of Yennefer of Vengerberg. He helps Yenn capture a genie and events transpire that allow him to make a wish. His wish leads to a very complicated relationship with Yennfer.

You join in the game world with Geralt wiped of his memory. All he recalls is being alone with a beautiful woman. He spends much of the first installment focused on rediscovering his past. In the second game he finds a way to restore his memories and saving his good name. (Another witcher has made it his business to turn king-slayer.) The third game leads to the finding of Yen and their tracking down of the pairs “adopted” daughter Ciri (another very long story). The world-building is deep, as can be expected of most fantasy worlds, and the writing is some of the best I’ve seen in a video game, but I’m not going to bore you with more plot details.

You came here for the promise of Romance heroes, and Romance heroes you shall have. You see, over my time here at Heroes and Heartbreakers, I’ve come to learn that at it’s core, Romance is about the relationships first. It’s not that saving the world matters, it’s just that the personal connections we make define the stories we read. And Geralt loves him some relationships.

You see, unlike most fantasy worlds, the Witcher series—be it book or game—is about the personal connections that Geralt makes while traveling the world. As a Witcher, he stands apart. Rendered barren by the experiments that give him his speed and strength, he can never be a father. Until he takes to a small, blonde orphan girl. He is a hired assassin, but to avoid becoming the things that people expect of him, he only takes jobs that align with his own particular code. He claims to be a loner, but when a friend of his is in danger he will literally face down monsters and kings to save them.

Yes, in the course of his adventures in the games, you, as Geralt, do manage to save the world. But, you only save the world as an accident. Ultimately you are trying to save Geralt’s world. First to find the woman you love, then to find the girl whom you have come to call think of as a daughter. In fact, to get one of the more positive endings in the game one must make the very difficult choice of letting your “ward” grow into her own as an adult.

In fact, as I mentioned before, one of the driving forces in the games is rediscovering the fate of Geralt’s first real love. In the first, you only hear of the story through songs and stories (ones initially written by Geralt’s best friend and renowned bard Dandelion). In the second game, you have a name to follow. Yennefer. You don’t know who the woman is, not really, but you know that it is important for Geralt to find her and make sure she is well. In the final installment you finally reunite with Yenn, and depending on your own preference as the player, you can either reunite with her or run off with another friend and sorceress, Triss Merigold. But that, as they say, is a whole other story.

Upon writing this, I realize how Martin-esque and convoluted it can all sound, so the best thing I can recommend, if I’ve caught your interest, is to explore the stories as they have been written by Sapkowskj. The first two, The Last Wish and The Sword of Destiny are really just short story collections. However, they introduce the main cast and are mostly riffs on classic fairy tales. My favorite is a the witcher version of Snow White known called “The Lesser Evil” which is a story of how Geralt became known as the Butcher of Blavikin.

The story that directly precedes the games, begins with The Blood of Elves.  The first in a four book series that is currently in the process of being translated from the original Polish. If fantasy worlds that put relationships first are your thing, I honestly can’t recommend them enough. And, if you are a gamer and haven’t tried Geralt’s boots on yet, I also highly recommend it.


Christopher Morgan is an editor at Forge and Tor books, a life-long fanboy, and Romance convert. He lives in New York City.

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Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
Why can't video games be movies so that I can watch them instead of play them! I mean, I like video games, but that's far more of a time commitment. I shall end my first world problem rant and suffice to say you have me TOTALLY intrigued by Geralt of Rivia.
Teddy Pierson
3. TeddyP
Jenn, I watch my girlfriend play RPGs all the time -- it is better than watching movies.
Laura Collings
4. lc09
Currently playing the game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, so far it amazing!! .. definitely going to read the books when i have a chance =]
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