Andrzej Sapkowski
Sapkowski at Lucca Comics & Games 2015
Sapkowski at Lucca Comics & Games 2015
Born (1948-06-21) 21 June 1948 (age 75)
Łódź, Poland
OccupationNovelist, economist
Alma materUniversity of Łódź
GenreFantasy, history
Notable worksThe Witcher
Hussite Trilogy
Notable awardsJanusz A. Zajdel Award
Paszport Polityki
Medal for Merit to Culture - Gloria Artis
World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement
David Gemmell Legend Award
Ignotus Award
European Science Fiction Society Award

Andrzej Sapkowski (Polish: [ˈandʐɛj sapˈkɔfskʲi]; born 21 June 1948) is a Polish fantasy writer, essayist, translator and a trained economist. He is best known for his six-volume series of books The Witcher, which revolves around the eponymous "witcher," a monster-hunter, Geralt of Rivia. It began with the publication of Sword of Destiny (1992), and was completed with the publication of standalone prequel novel Season of Storms (2013). The saga has been popularized through television, stage, comic books, video games and translated into 37 languages making him the second most-translated Polish science fiction and fantasy writer after Stanisław Lem.[1]

He was born in Łódź and initially pursued a career as an economist after graduating from the University of Łódź. He turned to writing, first as a translator and later as an author of fantasy books, following the success of his first short story The Witcher published in 1986 in the Fantastyka magazine.

Described as the "Polish Tolkien",[2] he wrote ten novels and eight short story collections, which sold over 30 million copies worldwide.[3][4][5] The influence of Slavic mythology is seen as a characteristic feature of many of his works.[6] He is a five-time recipient of the Zajdel Award, Poland's most popular science fiction and fantasy prize, as well as many other awards and honors including David Gemmell Award, World Fantasy Life Achievement Award and the Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis.

Sapkowski novels on display occupying two shelves at an Empik bookstore in Katowice, Poland

Early life

He was born on 21 June 1948 in Łódź, in central Poland. His father served in the Polish People's Army and participated in the Battle of Berlin.[7] After the end of World War II, his parents lived near Nowa Sól before settling in Łódź.[8] He attended the Bolesław Prus High School No. 21.[9] He also studied economics at the University of Łódź, and before turning to writing, he had worked as a senior sales representative for a foreign trade company. He started his literary career as a translator, in particular, of science fiction. Among the first works translated by him was The Words of Guru by Cyril M. Kornbluth.[10]


Major works

He says he wrote his first short story, The Witcher (1986), ("Wiedźmin", also translated "The Hexer" or "Spellmaker"), on a whim, in order to enter a contest by Polish science fiction and fantasy magazine Fantastyka. In an interview, he said that being a businessman at the time and thus familiar with marketing, he knew how to sell, and indeed, he won third prize.[11] The story was published in Fantastyka in 1986 and was enormously successful both with readers and critics. Sapkowski has created a cycle of tales based on the world of "The Witcher", comprising three collections of short stories and eight novels. This cycle and his other works have made him one of the best-known fantasy authors in Poland in the 1990s.[12]

The main character of "The Witcher" is Geralt of Rivia, trained as a monster hunter since childhood. Geralt exists in a morally ambiguous universe, yet manages to maintain his own coherent code of ethics. At the same time cynical and noble, Geralt has been compared to Raymond Chandler's signature character Philip Marlowe.[12] The world in which these adventures take place is heavily influenced by Slavic mythology.[13]

In her review of Blood of Elves, Alice Wybrew of Total Sci-Fi writes that "Moving effortlessly between moments of wrought emotion and staggeringly effective action, to lengthy periods of political discussion and war stratagems, Sapkowski addresses every aspect of a good fantasy novel eloquently and with ease. His style reads as easily as David Gemmel, but hits harder and deeper than his late fantasy comrade. Creating a world that is both familiar and comfortable, it is through his inventive use of character manipulation that he generates a new and realistic experience".[14] Alex Jay of Polygon further observes that within Sapkowski's fantasy tales, "there are parallels to the complicated history of ethnic strife and resistance to oppression in Central and Eastern Europe". The depictions of the disputes between nonhumans and humans "echo real-world disputes over territory and citizenship that draw dividing lines according to race, nationality, or ethnicity".[15]

In 2001, he published the Manuscript Discovered in a Dragon's Cave, an original and personal guide to fantasy literature. It was written in the form of an encyclopaedia and the author discusses in it the history of the literary genre, well-known fantasy heroes, descriptions of magic terminology as well as major works of notable writers including J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Robert E. Howard's Conan, C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea, Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.[16]

Sapkowski's next book series was The Hussite Trilogy set in the 15th century at the time of the Hussite Wars with Reinmar of Bielawa as the main protagonist. Mariusz Czubaj writes:[17]

Sapkowski's trilogy is a form of polemics with the Polish tradition of the historical novel, with let's say Kraszewski and Sienkiewicz, who wrote about cruel times while depriving them of that dose of atrocities and a most basic human dimension. Yet the author of The Witcher does not hide that his characters are not exactly subtle, but who nonetheless bask with delight in what the literature theoretician Mikhail Bakhtin once called "the material bodily lower stratum".

Although The Hussite Trilogy proved less popular compared to The Witcher, it has been described as the author's "magnum opus". Published between 2002 and 2006, the series was released as an audiobook in 2019.[18]

In August 2023, Sapkowski announced he was working on a new novel from The Witcher universe during an on-line meeting with his Ukrainian fans. He added that his work on the book "may take a year, but no longer" giving it a potential expected publication date at some point in 2024.[19]

Legal dispute with CD Projekt

In October 2018, he filed a lawsuit against CD Projekt demanding 60 million zloty ($16.1 million) in royalty payments from the company for using the Witcher universe in their computer games.[20] The lawsuit was launched despite the fact that Sapkowski had sold the video game rights to the Witcher for a single sum, rather than through a royalties contract. Sapkowski and his lawyers based their lawsuit on Article 44 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act.[20]

CD Projekt released a statement claiming that the author's demands are groundless and that the company had legitimately and legally acquired copyright to Sapkowski's works. His decision was criticized by many commentators and gaming journalists including Dmitry Glukhovsky, the author of Metro 2033, who described him as "an old fool" and noted that without the gaming franchise, the Witcher series "would never get this crazy international readership" and would have remained popular only in Central and Eastern Europe.[21][22]

On 20 December 2019, the writer and the company resolved the lawsuit with an amicable settlement. The company stated this deal was made in an effort "to maintain good relations with authors of works which have inspired CD Projekt Red's own creations." The details of this arrangement were not made public.[23]

Personal life

Andrzej Sapkowski at the 2010 World Book Fair in Prague, Czech Republic

Sapkowski resides in his hometown of Łódź in central Poland. He had a son named Krzysztof (1972–2019), who was an avid reader of the Polish Fantastyka magazine, and for whom he wrote the first Witcher story, who has since deceased.[24][25]

Sapkowski is a member of the Polish Writers' Association.[26] In an interview, he mentioned that his favorite writers included Ernest Hemingway, Mikhail Bulgakov, Raymond Chandler and Umberto Eco.[27]

In 2005, Stanisław Bereś conducted a lengthy interview with Sapkowski that was eventually published in a book form as Historia i fantastyka.[28]

Translations and adaptations of Sapkowski's works

Sapkowski's books have been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Persian,[29] Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Ukrainian. An English translation of The Last Wish short story collection was published by Gollancz in 2007.[30] From 2008, the Witcher saga is published by Gollancz.[31] The English translation of Sapkowski's novel Blood of Elves won the David Gemmell Legend Award in 2009.[32][33]

In the years 1993–1995, a six-issue comic book series entitled The Witcher was released in the Komiks magazine by Prószyński i S-ka publishing house. The comic was written by Maciej Parowski and illustrated by Bogusław Polch. The comics were the first attempt to portray the Witcher universe outside the novels.[34] Since 2014, a comic book series The Witcher has been published by the American publisher Dark Horse Comics. The stories presented in the series are mostly originals, written not by Andrzej Sapkowski but by other writers; the exception being volume 2, Fox Children, which adapted a story from the anthology Season of Storms.[35]

In 2001, a television series based on the Witcher cycle was released in Poland and internationally, entitled Wiedźmin (The Hexer). A film by the same title was compiled from excerpts of the television series but both have been critical and box office failures.[36]

In 2009, Russian heavy metal band Esse staged The Road with No Return, a rock opera based on the works by Sapkowski. Yevgeny Pronin is the author of the libretto and the composer of much of the opera's music. The premiere of the opera took place the same year in Rostov-on-Don and was subsequently released as a DVD in 2012.[37][38]

The Polish game developer, CD Projekt Red, created a role-playing game series based on The Witcher universe. The first game, titled simply The Witcher, was first released in October 2007.[39] The sequel, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was released in 2011.[40] The third game in the trilogy, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, was released in May 2015.[41] The game shipped over 40 million copies, making it one of the best selling video games of all time.

In May 2017, Netflix commissioned The Witcher, an English-language adaptation of the book series. The Witcher television series premiered on Netflix on 20 December 2019. Sapkowski served for a while as a creative consultant on the project.[42] The popularity of the Netflix show led to Sapkowski topping Amazon's list of best-selling authors ahead of J.K. Rowling and Stephen King.[43][44] A spin-off anime The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, produced by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, premiered in 2021.[45]

In September 2017, a musical Wiedźmin (The Witcher) directed by Wojciech Kościelniak was premiered at the Musical Theatre in Gdynia.[46]

The Witcher: Blood Origin is a fantasy miniseries created by Declan de Barra and Lauren Schmidt Hissrich adapted from The Witcher book series which serves as a prequel to the Netflix television series. It was released on Netflix in December 2022.[47]

Awards and recognition

Sapkowski is a recipient of numerous awards and honours both Polish and foreign including:



The Witcher Saga

Short story collections


Standalone Prequel novel

Hussite Trilogy

Other novels

Other works

See also


  1. ^ "Sapkowski potwierdza: Powstanie nowy "Wiedźmin"!" (in Polish). Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  2. ^ "A Polish Tolkien? The fantasy world of Andrzej Sapkowski". 13 December 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  3. ^ "The Proper Reading Order For The Witcher Books". MSN. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  4. ^ "CD Projekt Red Offering More Compensation to Witcher Series Creator". 4 February 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  5. ^ Holbrook, Damian (10 December 2019). "'The Witcher's Henry Cavill Says 'Tough' Geralt Has a 'Heart of Gold'". TV Insider. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  6. ^ "How did Slavic Mythology Influence Andrzej Sapkowski?". 30 June 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  7. ^ "Życiorys autora "Wiedźmina" jest pełen zaskakujących zwrotów akcji. Sapkowski miał zostać inżynierem, przeżył życiową tragedię i... był w wojsku z Markiem Belką" (in Polish). 15 December 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  8. ^ Bereś, Stanisław (2005). Historia i fantastyka. Warsaw: SuperNowa. p. 53, 203-204. ISBN 83-7054-178-X.
  9. ^ "Wybitni absolwenci" (in Polish). Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  10. ^ Flamma, Adam (2020). Wiedźmin. Historia fenomenu. Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie Oddział. ISBN 978-83-245-8425-3.
  11. ^ НО МЫ ЖЕ СЛАВЯНЕ! РАЗГОВОР С АНДЖЕЕМ САПКОВСКИМ, An interview with Sapkowski for Russian monthly magazine "World of Fatnastics"
  12. ^ a b (in Polish) Marek Oramus Jedynie słuszny wizerunek wiedźmina Archived 7 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Polityka – nr 36 (2261) from 2000-09-02; pp. 52–54
  13. ^ The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski , fantasybookreview
  14. ^ "Blood Of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher #3)". Retrieved 25 August 2022.
  15. ^ Alex Jay (4 January 2020). "The real-world history that breathes life into The Witcher". Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  16. ^ "Manuscript Found in a Dragon's Cave - Andrzej Sapkowski". Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  17. ^ "Andrzej Sapkowski". Retrieved 5 February 2022.
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  19. ^ Blanka Konopka (14 August 2023). "The Witcher author delights fans with surprise announcement there WILL be a new book". Retrieved 14 August 2023.
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  28. ^ Orliński, Wojciech (26 October 2005). "Historia i fantastyka, Bereś, Stanisław; Sapkowski, Andrzej". (in Polish). Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  29. ^ مجموعه حماسه ویچر. (in Persian). Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  30. ^ "The Last Wish Cover Reveal. . . of sorts!". Gollancz blog. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  31. ^ "Blood of elves".
  32. ^ "The final 2008 longlist for the David Gemmell Legends Award". 1 January 2009. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  33. ^ Alison Flood, Gemmell prize for fantasy goes to Polish novel, Blood of Elves, Guardian, Friday 19 June 2009
  34. ^ Pisula, Radosław; Słoński, Łukasz (16 March 2016). "Geralt w niewoli kadru. Strategie adaptacyjne i recepcja polskich komiksów o wiedźminie". Wiedźmin – polski fenomen popkultury (in Polish). Stowarzyszenie Badaczy Popkultury i Edukacji Popkulturowej Trickster. pp. 128–140. ISBN 978-83-64863-05-9. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  35. ^ Warnke, Agnieszka (18 December 2019). "The Witcher: The Road From Rivia to Hollywood". Retrieved 20 August 2022.
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  37. ^ "Droga, z której się nie wraca zespołu Esse" (in Polish). Retrieved 25 August 2022.
  38. ^ Agnieszka Warnke (18 December 2019). "'The Witcher': The Road From Rivia to Hollywood". Retrieved 13 May 2023.
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  58. ^ Amazon page
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  60. ^ a b "Gollancz Acquire Three More Witcher Novels". Gollancz blog. Archived from the original on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  61. ^ Aleksandra Ksann. "Sezon Burz - Wiedźmin - Andrzej Sapkowski - Serwis o filmach, książkach, grach i technologiach". Archived from the original on 13 March 2014.
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