Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher has successfully made the jump to live-action thanks to Netflix's new Witcher series, but while it's been incredibly popular, there are some who have taken issue with certain things about the show. One such issue that's come up among some is how the show changes race from the books, particularly regarding Nilfgaardians and northerners, and Sapkowski addressed it head-on. In a new interview with Wyborcza, Sapkowski was asked "Many viewers have an apparent issue with, for example, black Nilfgaardians and Northerners. Why do you think so few viewers pay attention to the black Zerrikanians (who were blonde in the book), but so many can’t get over a black elf?" (translation via Reddit).
"As far as I remember, skin color isn’t discussed in detail in my books, so the adaptors can freely show their craft, everything is possible and everything is allowed, that’s how it could’ve been, after all. They made my blonde Zerrikanians dark haired in the comic, because the artist had his artistic freedom. In Netflix's "Troy: Fall of a City", Achilles is played by a black actor. Achilles was, as we know, the son of king Peleus of Thessaly and the nereid Thetis. The series seems to question this "as we know" and suggest a Nubian interference. And this is what could’ve happened too, after all."
Sapkowski has said that The Witcher is not a Slavic or medieval story, but there are always those who try and fit the characters into those origins, and that still surprises the author.
"I’m very surprised," Sapkowski said. "The Witcher Geralt has a pretty 'Slavic' name, there are some 'Slavic' vibes in the names of people and places. There’s the leshen and the kikimora - but you also have Andersen's little mermaid and Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's Beast. I think there’s a need to repeat this: the Witcher is a classical and canonical fantasy, there’s as much Slavic spirit in it as there’s poison on the tip of a matchstick, to quote Wokulski's words to Starski."
It seems race was never a big deal in his original novels, so it really shouldn't be a big deal now, and as long as the characters stay true to who they are, people shouldn't get hung up on it.
The Witcher season 1 is available on Netflix now, and season 2 is set to hit in 2021. You can check out more Witcher coverage right here, and feel free to hit me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB for all things Witcher!