The Witcher’s Story Is Not Geralt’s Alone

By Luis Navarro

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

At first glance, The Witcher is a story about a professional monster hunter with an affinity for dark humor and naming all his horses “Roach.” Throughout the books, games, and the Netflix show, audiences follow Geralt on his journeys across The Continent and witness his ability to navigate a carefully crafted, morally ambiguous world

Undoubtedly, The Witcher revolves around Geralt’s story, but there is a character whose story is so deeply intertwined with his that without her, The Witcher wouldn’t be the same. That character is Princess Cirilla of Cintra, commonly known as Ciri.

Ciri is a significant character in The Witcher and the driving force behind many other characters’ motivations. Not only is she a catalyst for Geralt’s development as a father figure and protector, but her journey of self-discovery also reflects the series’ overarching themes of identity, destiny, and the consequences of one’s actions.

A Traumatic Early Life

Born into royalty, Ciri is the daughter of Princess Pavetta and Duny, the Urcheon of Erlenwald. She is the granddaughter of Queen Calanthe of Cintra, who raised Ciri after her parents died at sea when she was just a child. Calanthe raised Ciri to be a strong and independent woman, much like The Lioness herself.

Yet it wasn’t divine right that made them so unique; it was the fact that elder blood ran through their veins. This phenomenon was due to their distant heritage to Lara Dorren, a powerful elven sorceress whose genes granted them extraordinary magical gifts.

Unfortunately, Ciri’s blissful life as a princess ended when Nilfgaard invaded Cintra. This traumatic event marked the death of Queen Calanthe and left Ciri to fend for herself. Following the Slaughter of Cintra, Ciri faced starvation, exposure to harsh elements, and countless other dangers before eventually reuniting with Geralt. 

With no idea what to do with a young girl, Geralt did what he would’ve done with a boy. He took Ciri to Kaer Morhen, home of the witchers, and provided her with physical training and swordwork. However, Ciri’s trauma continued to haunt her through nightmares and flashbacks of the Slaughter of Cintra. Her experiences during this time led to her developing a deep fear of abandonment and an intense desire for belonging and family.

A Distinct Personality

As a result of her background, Ciri is anything but your typical princess. She is a complex character with a multifaceted personality that makes her relatable and compelling for audiences worldwide. Ciri is fiercely independent and determined, often refusing to back down from adversity. She is someone who, once they set their mind to something, will find a way to get it done. While her determination helps her survive The Continent, it alone is insufficient for her to thrive.

Besides teaching Ciri how to defend herself, Geralt also took it upon himself to teach her the value of compassion and empathy. Like Geralt, Ciri has a strong sense of justice and fairness and is willing to stand up for what she believes is right. Despite her continuous hardships, Ciri often goes out of her way to help those in need, leading to another facet of her personality: courage. 

It is one thing to want to stand up for what is right; another is to do it, which requires a certain degree of bravery. Ciri does not shy away from meeting adversity head-on, and when it comes to doing so for the sake of others, she won’t hesitate to put herself in harm’s way to protect others. Of course, this stubbornness can sometimes lead her into trouble, but it is also why she does things her way, even when others advise her against it.

Her Source of Strength

It’s not just Geralt who has significantly influenced who Ciri is. Ciri’s relationship with both Geralt and Yennefer is central to her character development. 

Before taking Ciri under his wing, Geralt was a man with a narrow vision of life who believed his sole reason for existing was to kill monsters. At the same time, Yennefer derived all of her value from her intrinsic magical powers and beautiful appearance. A djinn tied Geralt and Yennefer’s fates together, but destiny alone is not enough for Geralt and Yen to be together; something more is needed – Ciri.

She is the key that brings them together by giving them a shared purpose beyond what each was created for. Only then can Geralt and Yennefer help Ciri grow into the woman she eventually becomes. 

Geralt becomes a father figure to Ciri and trains her to become a witcher. He proves to be a source of stability and guidance for Ciri as she navigates the challenges of her life. Over time, the two develop an unbreakable bond and cherished memories, but none as strong as when Yennefer first calls Ciri her daughter for the first time. Yennefer embraces a maternal role with Ciri, teaching her about magic to help her control and harness her immense power. Both of them provide Ciri with wisdom and guidance, but most importantly, they fulfill Ciri’s need for a sense of belonging, family, and love that she needs to remain strong as she attempts to come to terms with her identity and fulfill her destiny. 

How Ciri Fits in the World at large

In the grand scheme of things, Ciri’s lineage makes her a wanted woman by many, albeit for different ends. As the sole, rightful heir to the Cintrian throne, she is sought after by the monarchs of the Northern Kingdoms. Some perceive Ciri as a threat and seek to kill her, while others want Ciri alive so they can marry her and have a legal claim to her throne.

As if that wasn’t enough, her elder blood allows her to travel between different worlds and dimensions. Many factions within The Witcher seek to take advantage of Ciri’s unique ability for their gain, but none are as dangerous and persistent as the Wild Hunt, who see her as a powerful tool to conquer other worlds.

That being said, not everyone who is after Ciri has malicious intent. Ciri is believed by many to be the subject of an ancient prophecy that foretells a savior who will avert the White Frost, a world-ending apocalyptic event. Those who believe in the prophecy see Ciri’s powers as the key to fulfilling it and saving the world. Nevertheless, it still makes Ciri an object of desire for others to use for their interests, with no regard for what she wants.

All these conflicting interests lay the patchwork of events that define the story of The Witcher. Ciri is vital to the plans of many factions and individuals. Her actions throughout the series significantly alter the course of the story. She is both the cause of many conflicts and a contributor to resolving them.

The Witcher Is A Story About Family

Geralt may be the face of the franchise, but despite appearances, The Witcher is also an emotional story of a young girl torn between fulfilling her destiny and a desire to be much more than that. Throughout Ciri’s journey, she learns to navigate a world that prowls her every step with the help of her adopted family. Furthermore, she is a device the story uses to reflect themes of identity, destiny, and repercussions.

Ciri’s story is extremely dark when you consider the assault, abuse, and heartbreak she suffers as she loses herself and everyone she ever loved. But her story is also about redemption, forgiveness, and how love can sprout from the unlikeliest places – like a monster-killing witcher or a cold-hearted sorceress.

The main character of The Witcher is Ciri. Geralt is the protagonist who lends his point of view to the audience to explore the story’s bigger picture. The truth is no one can put into words Ciri’s role in the story better than herself:  

“What do you know about saving the world, silly? You are but a witcher. This is my story, not yours. You must let me finish telling it.”

Photo credits: CD Projekt Red and Netflix.

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