Andrzej Sapkowski, born 21 June 1948 in Łódź, is a Polish fantasy writer. Sapkowski studied economics and, before turning to writing, he worked as a senior sales representative for a foreign trade company. His first short story, "The Witcher" ("Wiedźmin"), was published in Fantastyka, Poland's leading fantasy literary magazine, in 1986 and was enormously successful both with readers and critics. Sapkowski has created a series of tales based on the world of "The Witcher", comprising three collections of short stories and five novels. This cycle and his many other works made him one of the best-known fantasy authors in Poland in the 1990s.
The main character of the stories is witcher Geralt, a mutant assassin who has been trained since childhood to hunt down and destroy monsters. 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. The world in which these adventures take place owes much to J.R.R. Tolkien, while being also heavily influenced by Polish history and Slavic mythology.
Sapkowski has won five Zajdel Awards, including three for short stories "The Lesser Evil" (1990), "The Sword of Destiny" (1992), and "W leju po bombie" (In a Bomb Crater) (1993), and two for the novels Blood of Elves (1994) and Narrenturm (2002). He also won the Spanish Ignotus Award, best anthology, for The Last Wish in 2003, and for "Muzykanci" (The Musicians), best foreign short story, same year.
In 1997, Sapkowski won the prestigious Polityka Passport award, which is awarded annually to artists who have strong prospects for international success.
In 2001, a television series based on the Witcher series was released in Poland and internationally, entitled The Hexer (Wiedźmin). A film by the same title was compiled from excerpts of the television series but both have been critical and box office failures.
Sapkowski's books have been translated into Czech, Finnish, Estonian, Russian, Lithuanian, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Bulgarian and Serbian.
On October 26, 2007, Polish game publisher CD Projekt released a PC game based on this universe, called The Witcher. It was very well received and a commercial success, selling over 1.5 million retail copies to date. Two more games were later released: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings on May 17, 2011, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on May 19, 2015.
Andrzej Sapkowski is a graduate of the University of Łódź, where he studied foreign trade. Subsequently, he worked in that field. Only later did his literary career begin, as a translator, translating the English story "The Words of the Guru" by Cyril M. Kornbluth for Fantastyka magazine. In 1986 he released his first work of fiction, the short story "The Witcher " (translated also as "The Hexer" or "The Spellmaker") in order to enter a contest by a Polish literary magazine Fantastyka. He won the 3rd prize. The story was succesful with critics and audiences. He would go on to create the successful Witcher series.
The Witcher series
Note: Works not yet officially translated into English are listed under their original Polish titles.
Short story collections
- Wiedźmin (English: Witcher) (1990)
- The Last Wish (Ostatnie życzenie) (1993, English edition: December 2008)
- Sword of Destiny (Miecz przeznaczenia) (1992, English edition: May 2015. while the book was second to be published, it collects a number of short stories some of which precede the tales in The Last Wish)
- Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna (English: Something ends, Something begins) (2000)
The Witcher Saga
- Blood of Elves (Krew elfów) (1994, English edition: April 2009)
- Time of Contempt (Czas pogardy) (1995, English edition: August 2013)
- Baptism of Fire (Chrzest Ognia) (1996, English edition: June 2014)
- The Tower of the Swallow (Wieża Jaskółki) (1997, English edition: May 2016)
- The Lady of the Lake (Pani Jeziora) (1999, English edition: March 2017)
- Season of Storms (Sezon burz) (2013, English edition: 2018) – a midquel taking place between the events of the short stories.
Narrenturm trilogy (or Hussite Trilogy)
- The Eye of Yrrhedes (Oko Yrrhedesa) (1995), roleplaying game
- The World of King Arthur. The Malady (Świat króla Artura. Maladie.) (1995), essay and a short story set in Arthurian mythology (link to a translation)
- Manuscript Discovered in a Dragon's Cave (Rękopis znaleziony w Smoczej Jaskini) (2001), fantasy encyclopedic compendium
- Żmija (Viper) 2009 a historical fantasy novel set in Soviet occupied Afghanistan