The trailer for The Witcher Season 2 offered the first look at Vesemir, the oldest of Witchers, but how has Geralt’s mentor been changed for the show?
Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for The Witcher games.
The first trailer for The Witcher season 2 offered a teasing look at Geralt’s mentor, Vesemir. Played by Kim Bodnia, who is best known for his role as Konstantin in Killing Eve, Vesemir is the oldest of all Witchers and also the protagonist of the Witcher anime Nightmare of the Wolf. It remains to be seen, however, how the character might be changed from the games and novels for the Netflix series.
Based on the novels of Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher has grown into one of the most successful fantasy franchises in history. The original novels found a new audience after CD Projekt Red adapted them into a popular trilogy of action-RPG games. This, in turn, led to talk of a film adaptation of the games, eventually culminating in the development of a critically acclaimed Netflix series starring Henry Cavill as the titular monster hunter.
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It will be interesting to see how Vesemir is developed in the Netflix series. The oldest of Witchers held a role of importance in both the books and the games, taking a hand in training Ciri after Geralt brought her to the Witcher fortress Kaer Morhen to see her trained, an event that will clearly be a major part of The Witcher season 2 based on the trailer. However, there are some subtle differences in how the character of Vesemir was handled in different media and the Nightmare of the Wolf might also add new dimensions that change the grandfatherly swordsman for television.
Vesemir In The Witcher Books & Games
Vesemir was first mentioned in the short story “The Voice of Reason,” when Geralt told a priestess of his Witcher order as he was recovering from the wounds he received while fighting a striga. Geralt described Vesemir as being more than a trainer, referring to him as his father. Vesemir was mentioned again in the short story “The Sword of Destiny,” where Geralt first met a young Ciri and recalled how Vesemir had told bedtime stories to the young children training to be Witchers.
Vesemir finally made his first appearance in the flesh in the novel Blood of the Elves, where Geralt brought Ciri to the Witcher keep Kaer Morhen to begin training as a Witcher. Vesemir proved to be an able mentor and a well-respected leader, teaching Ciri the art of the sword and the lore of monster hunting as he had once educated Geralt. Despite being a firm teacher, he was kind enough to the young princess that she called him Uncle Vesemir. He was also held in high regard by the sorceress Triss Merigold, who addressed him with the honorific “Grandfather” in acknowledgment of his status as one of the few Witchers to live for longer than two centuries. While his exact age was never confirmed, he was old enough to have seen the construction of Kaer Morhen begin, which occurred sometime in the 11th century.
The first Witcher game cast Vesemir in a similar role, having him walk the player (who takes on the role of an amnesia stricken Geralt) through a tutorial set at Kaer Morhen. He took a more active role in The Witcher 3, assisting Geralt in his quest to find the missing Yennefer and reemerging throughout the game to help Geralt and Ciri. Vesemir ultimately died a hero’s death trying to save Ciri from the Wild Hunt during the Battle of Kaer Morhen. Ciri claimed his wolf-head medallion as a memento and he was honored as a hero for his sacrifice at his funeral.
Vesemir’s Strength & Abilities Compared To Geralt
The phrase “A Witcher never dies in his bed” is not just a poetic bard’s line. Despite being granted a longer lifespan than normal humans by the mutations that enhance them, no Witcher in history had ever died of old age. This makes Vesemir’s longevity all the more impressive. While the original books and short stories gave Vesemir little chance to showcase his skills, the fact that he had lived to his advanced age as an active Witcher says more about his abilities than any historical recounting of his deeds and accomplishments ever could.
Geralt wrote of Vesemir’s prowess and vitality in his journal in the games, calling him “robust and lively despite his age” while noting that “many youngsters could envy him his health.” Despite serving as a trainer to the School of the Wolf Witchers, Geralt still left Kaer Morhen every spring to spend some time traveling the world and accepting contracts to slay various monsters. It was speculated Vesemir knew more lore about fighting monsters and magical beasts than every other living Witcher put together. Even Geralt of Rivia, for all his ability, seemed to doubt that he could face his mentor in a fair fight, saying in The Witcher 3 that Vesemir’s skill with a blade was such that he “could still give a younger man a run for his money.” If knowledge is power, Vesemir is powerful indeed, and his skills could make up for any slowing of his sword arm if indeed there were any sign that his sword arm had slowed at all in old age.
Vesemir’s Story In Netflix’s Witcher Universe
While the trailer for The Witcher season 2 suggests that Vesemir will be training Ciri as he did in the books and games, there is nothing so far to tell us much about the man himself or confirm that he suffered the same hardships. It is speculated that his background may be changed somewhat by the events of The Nightmare of the Wolf anime. However, there’s also no word on whether or not the two are meant to take place in the same reality, despite the anime nominally being a prequel to the events of the Netflix series.
Presuming that The Nightmare of the Wolf does precede The Witcher and is canon to the television series, its description tells audiences something of Vesemir as a young man. A summary of the anime provided by Netflix describes the film as Vesemir’s origin story, saying it will detail how he began his career as “a swashbuckling young Witcher who escaped a life of poverty.” This is perfectly in line with what little is known of Vesemir’s past in the canon of the Witcher books and videogames, which said only that he was a master swordsman and fencing teacher who was better with a blade than the more academic aspects of being a Witcher, like alchemy and brewing potions.
The Witcher season 2 releases December 17 on Netflix.
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