The Witcher: Northern Wars – Part 1 (Heavy Book Spoilers!)


After centuries of pushing back the elder
races, humanity ruled most of the continent east of the great sea, with the united Empire
of Nilfgaard in the south, while the North was divided into rival kingdoms. By the 13th century, these Northern Realms
included the neutral states of Kovir, Poviss and the Hengfors League, while the more aggressive
kingdoms were Redania, Kaedwin, Temeria, Aedirn, Lyria, Rivia, Cidaris, Verden, Brugge, Cintra,
Sodden and the island of Skillige. Though each of these realms had governments
to administer everyday operations, larger decisions were often influenced by the Brotherhood
of Sorcerers, who sent their powerful agents to serve as advisers to the Northern Kings. Officially, Kings had the final say, and in
some cases exercised their power by banning magic users from their lands. But the Brotherhood represented a vast network
of highly trained sorcerers, each of whom had their own small army of spies, informants
and allies, meaning that in most cases they were able to convince or manipulate rulers
into doing whatever they wished. And where that failed, they might have the
ruler replaced. In the south, magic users where given far
less deference, forced to abide by strict rules and regulations set by the state to
prevent them from abusing their power. United under an Emperor who held absolute
authority, Nilfgaardian politics were ruthless and highly competitive, both for those seeking
royal favour and those working against the ruling dynasty. After gathering support from a number of influential
families, a nobleman known to history as the Usurper led a coup, killed the Emperor and
assumed power. As a result, from 1239 to 1257 the Empire
fell under the rule of a man determined to expand his domain, marching north to conquer
the lands of Ebbing, Maecht, Metinna and Nazair. Despite his victories, the Usurper had many
enemies within the Empire, and so a conspiracy was hatched to bring back the old dynasty. Working through a Northern sorcerer named
Vilgafortz, who had his own secret agenda, they contacted Emhyr var Emreis, the son of
the murdered Emperor, who after being cursed and exiled, posed as the Urcheon of Erlenwald
to travel north where he happened upon the King of Cintra and saved his life. Invoking the law of surprise for his reward,
the King was honor bound to give Urcheon whatever was found upon returning home but was not
expected. In this case, the King found his wife pregnant
with their daughter Pavetta, and so the child was destined to become the wife of this southern
Knight. Some years later, Urcheon met the Princess,
and while he did not feel love, he saw a great opportunity for a better life. Pavetta however, loved him deeply and eventually
convinced her mother Queen Calanthi to accept their marriage. Through this union his curse was lifted, and
soon enough they had a daughter of their own, they named Cirilla. But everything changed then Prince Emhyr was
contacted by the sorcerer Vilgafortz, who not only promised financial aid and military
support if he returned south to depose the Usurper, but also argued that there was a
far larger issue at play, and that the very fate of the world may rest upon his shoulders. Teaching the prince about the Elven Prophecy
of Ithlinne, he explained that she foresaw the doom of their world through an inevitable
white frost. However the prophecy also offered hope, that
the world might be reborn through a child of the Elder Blood. Thousands of years earlier, the Elves used
magical gateways to travel freely between the worlds of the multiverse, conquering and
enslaving whoever they wished. Yet their use of this Gateway required the
help of the Unicorn race, sentient horse-like beings with powerful magical abilities. Using and abusing the Unicorns, they eventually
rebelled and took the portal for themselves, leaving the Elves to start a breeding program
for the Elder Blood gene, creating a line of magic users so powerful they might one
day regain control of the gateway. Yet their plan fell to shambles, when the
carrier Lara Doren fell in love with a human mage, abandoning her responsibilities to marry
this man and birth his half blood child. Although the Elder Blood gene would never
be as powerful as it was under a full blooded Elf, the Brotherhood of Sorcerers took up
the challenge of trying to ensure this unique mutation survived through a breeding program
of their own, involving the rulers of the North. But in the end, they failed to properly understand
and keep track of it through the generations, until it was lost and later unexpectedly reappeared
in the 13th century inside Princess Pavetta, daughter to the Queen of Cintra. The gene was then passed to Ciri, her daughter
with Emhyr var Emreis, meaning their child was the key to Ithlinne’s prophecy, and
through her line the world might be reborn. Believing that his daughter was the key to
everything, he made a plan to fake their deaths in a boating accident and escape into the
south. But Pavetta grew suspicious and smuggled their
daughter away before they set out to sea. Upon learning what occurred, Emhyr grew furious
and pushed Pavetta into the sea where she drowned. The ship meanwhile, was magically transported
to safety by Vilgafortz, with Emhyr as its only passenger. Believing that the fate of the world rested
recovering his daughter, the Prince gathered his allies and overthrew the Usurper to take
his rightful place as Emperor, and once in power, enacted a purge to eliminate all those
who stood against him, leaving many to name him the White Flame dancing on the Barrows
of his Enemies. After consolidating power, Emhyr focused on
raising a mighty host to invade the North, starting with the conquest of Cintra, where
he might at last capture his daughter. In 1263 AR, the First Northern War began with
the invasion of Cintra, in which Nilfgaard won the battle of Marnadal valley before marching
to the capital and killing the Queen in a terrible slaughter. Though Princess Ciri was captured by a Nilgaardian
Soldier, she managed to escape into the wilderness alone and scarred, finding shelter wherever
possible until her inevitable reunion with the Witcher Geralt of Rivia. A highly trained monster hunter trained in
the Wolf School of Kaer Morhen, Geralt was present at the feast where Princess Pavetta
declared her love for Urcheon of Erlenwald, and even played a role in events by saving
Emhyr’s life and ensuring the law of surprise was upheld. As a reward for his efforts, he too invoked
the law of surprise, only to quickly find out Pavetta was pregnant. Although Geralt did not want to take the girl
away from her family, Ciri knew they were destined for each other, and awaited the day
they would be together. Learning that they failed to apprehend his
daughter, Emhyr eventually put his old ally Vilgafortz in charge of the hunt. In addition to attacking Cintra, Nilfgaard
also invaded the kingdom of Sodden, capturing half the realm through their victory in the
First Battle of Sodden. Yet here they met their end, as the Kingdoms
of the North finally rallied together and halted any further expansion. Joining the allied armies, was the Brotherhood
of Sorcerers, who knew their rights and freedoms were also at stake in this clash of civilizations. The war then culminated in the Battle of Sodden
Hill, where up to a hundred thousand warriors clashed leaving the North victorious, and
Empire in retreat. This costly battle resulted in 30 000 casualties,
including 13 dead sorcerers from the brotherhood and did not change the fact that both the
Kingdoms of Cintra and Sodden were gone. Signing an uneasy peace, Nilfgaard retained
control of Cintra and Upper Sodden, while Lower Sodden went to the Kingdom of Temeria.

16 Comments

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  2. Thanks for another Witcher video! Yes, this is lore that those who read the books (like me) will be all too familiar with, but the way you narrate it, and how it's presented here is still superb.

  3. Hey mate. Few mistakes I noticed.

    Around 0:50 when the list of kingdoms pops out you have:
    – Skillige when it should have been Skellige;
    – Kaedwin when it should have been Kaedwen;

    Keep up the good work <3

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