Of the show’s three main characters, the story of Princess Ciri (portrayed by newcomer Freya Allan) is the one most shrouded in mystery. With their decision to expand Ciri into a main character earlier than she is in the books, it appears as though showrunner Lauren S Hissrich and her team of writers have rearranged the chronology of the source material. Below is an analysis of Ciri’s arc for season one, based on various clues we have so far. Needless to say, there will be spoilers below the cut.
Cirilla Fiona Ellen Riannon is at the center of this story, perhaps even moreso than Geralt of Rivia (played by Henry Cavill), for whom the series is named. Ciri is a princess of royal blood and the sole heir to the kingdom of Cintra. She is born from a special, elven lineage and carries the “Elder Blood”, which grants her unparalleled magical powers. This power places her at the center of a terrible prophecy and destines her for great and terrible deeds. Due to her claim, her powers and the prophecy, many in the Continent are eager to find her. But, more than anything, Ciri is a girl – a girl determined to live a normal life with the people she loves, in spite of her destiny and those who seek to force it on her.
Ciri’s journey begins at her home of Cintra, where she has lived most of her life with her (now deceased) parents and her grandmother, Calanthe, played by the fearsome Jodhi May.
Princess of Cintra
“Ciri’s had a very protected, sheltered upbringing, and so she doesn’t really know what the real world is,” Freya Allan said in an interview with Den of Geek. “For her, it is just disguising herself as a boy and going out and playing on the streets. But she hasn’t seen the true brutality that the world can hold.”
At this point in the story, Ciri doesn’t know about her past, nor about the witcher Geralt to whom she is destined. Like any other princess, Ciri has lived a life of luxury and hasn’t seen much of the real world or encountered any real-world problems. She is hopeful, naive and opinionated.
Ciri’s relationships with Queen Calanthe, her husband Eist Tuirseach (played by Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) and the druid Mousesack (played by Adam Levy) are sure to be central to Ciri’s early episodes, as they appear to serve as parental substitutes to Ciri once her mother and father are lost at sea. In the quote above, Allan mentions Ciri “playing with the boys”, which will remind readers of The Sword of Destiny of one memorable scene from Ciri’s childhood.
“Shrieking like a band of goblins, the boys hurtled upwards and flashed beside them. Geralt noticed that behind the head of the rushing herd hurried a little girl, as thin and clamorous as the boys, only with a fair plait waving behind her. Howling wildly, the band spilled down the moat’s steep slope again. At least half of them, including the girl, slid down on their behinds. The smallest one, still unable to keep up, fell over, rolled down to the bottom and began crying loudly, clutching a grazed knee. The other boys surrounded him, jeering and mocking, and then ran on. The little girl knelt by the little boy, hugged him and wiped away his tears, smudging dust and dirt over his face.”
The girl mentioned above is Ciri, though Geralt does not know it yet – he believes the child promised to him must be a boy. Ciri was always a special girl and always enjoyed things usually associated with boys, much like her grandmother. Even so, she still lived the life of a princess and hasn’t seen the true brutality of the world. But all of that is going to change very early in the show’s first season.
‘Nilfgaard are here. She’s why they came’
Though Nilfgaard only conquers Cintra before the books’ final short story, this event appears to be happening earlier than expected in the show. Not only were shots from the fall of Cintra shown in the series’ first teaser (and teasers generally do not give away the climax of a story), the event was alluded to in Freya’s many interviews as well.
“The most challenging part of filming was the beginning for me,” Allan said, in an interview with TheWitcher.TV. “I mean, it was obviously all a challenge because you want to make it perfect. There were some really challenging scenes at the beginning, an emotional requirement. I had to just kind of completely put myself in her shoes and feel how she would feel. The director Alik [Sakharov] guiding me through episode one and two was just fantastic. Also, the incredible actors I got to work with and absorb and learn from enabled me and helped me give the best performance I could, because I have such brilliant people to act off of.”
In an interview with Nuke the Fridge, Allan said: “Episode one was a huge episode for Ciri, so there were a lot of crucial scenes that I had to get right and make truthful and real, and put my heart into it. These scenes were pivotal in making that shift in her journey. So I did a lot of preparation into making sure that I could give my best for certain scenes. Especially the emotional ones where there were a lot of crying involved.”
The threat of Nilfgaard is likely to be present from the very beginning. One scene leaked to us earlier this year involved Calanthe knighting her warriors ahead of the coming battle, and the scene was later shown in the show’s teaser. Original characters Sir Danek and Sir Lazlo are both present (played by Tobi Bamtefa and Maciej Musiał respectively). Once the preparations are completed, Queen Calanthe marches to war.
Will the fall of Cintra happen as early as the first episode in the show? Maybe, but there is also evidence which points to it happening in the midpoint of the season (which would give Ciri more time with these characters).
According to an IMDb listing, a stuntwoman will be doubling for Jodi May in the third and fourth episodes. The fourth episode, we know, covers the short story A Question of Price and has Calanthe and Geralt cross swords (a moment which was seen in a Hall H exclusive clip at The Witcher’s Comic-Con panel). In episode three, it’s likely she will cross swords with Nilfgaard on the field of battle.
Despite Calanthe’s battle prowess, the forces of Nilfgaard overwhelm the Cintrans on the field. As in the books, Calanthe suffers a defeat against Nilfgaard and retreats to Cintra wounded. With the Nilfgaardians close behind, a siege is soon under way – and, much to Ciri’s distress, Calanthe is on her deathbed. Ciri’s whole world comes crashing down around her.
‘Find Geralt of Rivia’
Though we don’t know in which episode exactly Cintra will fall, it looks almost certain that this will be earlier than we first expected. The scene from the above screenshot is one we were quite surprised to see in the teaser, as it spoils Calanthe’s fate and the great loss Ciri will suffer. In this scene, it appears Calanthe will reveal the truth about Ciri’s past and her connection to Geralt.
In an interview with 411mania Allan said: “What was so interesting about it is that she – you see her go from the life she has led for the 14 years she’s existed, very protected, very sheltered, incredibly naive. And then suddenly, there’s this huge shift where she discovers within a matter of seconds so many different things, it’s overwhelming. And so, yeah, it was interesting to explore her power; see her navigate the truth of her past that’s been totally hidden from her for her whole life.”
When asked about Calanthe’s relationship with Ciri, Allan explained why the queen chose to hide the truth: “I think [Calanthe is] so worried about anything happening to [Ciri], and she’s worried because Ciri is so relentless and curious, and she wants to know. You know, she’s constantly asking questions and not afraid of vocalizing her opinions and ideas. And so, Calanthe’s aware of that, and she doesn’t want to let Ciri know too much because Ciri is ready to fight and ready to be like Calanthe. And Ciri really does admire her grandmother, and she does take some credible things from her grandmother. Like I said, she values her voice, her opinion. She’s not going to be suppressed because she’s a princess or a girl. She takes some brilliant things from her. But you will see Ciri begin to learn and uncover some darker truths about her grandmother.”
It seems likely that the truth will only come out on Calanthe’s deathbed, moments before Ciri is sent on a quest in search of a certain witcher. The truth, of course, pertains to the manner of her birth, and her being Geralt’s “Child Surprise”. Geralt attends a feast in Cintra and saves the life of Ciri’s father, Duny, approximately nine months before Ciri is born. When Duny offers to repay his debt with whatever Geralt wishes, the witcher demands from him the same thing he demanded from Calanthe’s husband many years earlier: “That which you already have but do not know.” Following this exchange, Ciri’s mother Pavetta reveals that she is pregnant, and Ciri’s life is bound to Geralt’s by destiny (while still in the womb).
If Calanthe is indeed wounded in battle in episode three, it’s possible that Calanthe’s revelation to Ciri will happen in the show’s fourth episode. This would be very convenient from a narrative standpoint, as that is the same episode in which Geralt will visit Cintra in his own timeline (or perhaps via a flashback). The show may cut back and forth from Calanthe telling the story of the feast at Cintra to the scene itself, from Geralt’s point of view.
Once the truth is revealed, and with Nilfgaardian forces on the way, Calanthe gives Ciri one final command: “Find Geralt of Rivia.”
The Fall of Cintra
In order to find Geralt, Ciri must first escape a city under siege. It appears that, like in the books, one knight will be tasked with carrying her out of the city at all costs. This knight is likely to be Ser Lazlo, played by Polish actor Maciej Musiał. Lazlo is glimpsed in the trailer in the scene with Ciri on Calante’s deathbed. Ciri and Lazlo mount up and ride off, but by then the city is already being sacked.
Related article: Redanian Intelligence Exclusive: First look at a Nilfgaardian set!
Below is an excerpt from the opening scene of Blood of Elves, which describes Ciri’s traumatic experience on the way out of Cintra.
Ciri felt the knight who carried her before him on his saddle abruptly spur his horse. She heard his cry. “Hold on,” he shouted. “Hold on!”
Other knights wearing the colors of Cintra overtook them, sparring, even in full flight, with the Nilfgaardians. Ciri caught a glimpse of the skirmish from the corner of her eye- the crazed swirl of blue-gold and black cloaks amid the clash of steel, the clatter of blades against shields, the neighing of horses-
Shouts. No, not shouts. Screams.
Fear. With every jolt, every jerk, every leap of the horse pain shot through her hands as she clutched at the reins. Her legs contracted painfully, unable to find support, her eyes watered from the smoke. The arm around her suffocated her, choking her, the force compressing her ribs. All around her screaming such as she had never heard before grew louder. What must one do to a man to make him scream so?
Fear. Overpowering, paralyzing, choking fear.
Again, the clash of iron, the grunts and snorts of the horses. The houses whirled around her and suddenly she could see windows belching fire where a moment before there’d been nothing but a muddied street strewn with corpses and cluttered with the abandoned possessions of the fleeing population. All at once, the knight at her back was wracked by a strange, wheezing cough. Blood spurted over the hands grasping the reins. More screams. Arrows whistled past.
A fall, a shock, painful bruising against armor.
Sir Lazlo, like the knight who carries Ciri out of Cintra in the books, is unlikely to survive. Pinned under a horse and under the knight’s body, Ciri has nowhere to run. Cavalry charges around her, soldiers scream and die, and she is unable to run. And then, a terrifying Nilfgaardian knight approaches – a character well known to the fanbase, who was surprisingly cast in the show’s first season … Cahir, played by Eamon Farren.
The street is on fire. A roaring red wall of flame. Silhouetted before it, a rider towers over the flaming roofs, enormous. His black caparisoned horse prances, tosses its head, neighs.
The rider stares at her. Ciri sees his eyes gleaming through the slit in his huge helmet, framed by a bird of prey’s wings. She sees the fire reflected on the broad blade of the sword held in his lowered hand.
The rider looks at her. Ciri is unable to move. The dead man’s motionless arms wrapped around her waist hold her down. She is locked in place by something heavy and wet with blood, something which is lying across her thigh, pinning her to the ground.
And she is frozen in fear: a terrible fear which turns her entrails inside out, which deafens Ciri to the screams of the wounded horse, the roar of the blaze, the cries of dying people and the pounding drums. The only thing which exists, which counts, which still has any meaning, is fear. Fear embodied in the figure of a black knight wearing a helmet decorated with feathers frozen against the wall of the raging, red flames.
The rider spurs his horse, the wings on his helmet fluttering as the bird of prey takes flight, launching itself to attack its helpless victim, paralyzed with fear. The bird- or, maybe the knight- screeches terrifyingly, cruelly, triumphantly. A black horse, black armor, a black, flowing cloak, and behind this- flames. A sea of flames.
In the books, Cahir, the black knight with the winged helmet, captures Ciri in this traumatic moment which is ingrained in her memories. However, in the show, it appears likely that Ciri will escape him (at least for now). Perhaps the second Cintran knight cast in the show, Sir Danek, will come to her rescue, fending off Cahir long enough to allow Ciri’s escape. Either way, it appears that Ciri will make it out of Cintra. Full of grief and fear, Ciri stares one last time at the city that was her home and is now a ruin and runs into the woods.
‘I’m looking for Geralt of Rivia, do you know him?’
At this point in the story, Ciri has lost everything. She is alone in the wild with only a cloak to disguise her distinguishable ashen hair and with Nilfgaard on her trail. She has lost her grandmother, along with everyone she held dear, and she has witnessed the horrors of war. Yet this is where Ciri’s true strength shines.
“She’s definitely a brave character,” Allan said in an interview with TheWitcher.TV. “But it’s shown realistically. At this stage in her life, you know, often people think of a character who is brave, that definitely there has to be a lack of emotion. But, actually, [her emotion is] what shows she’s so courageous, and emphasizes that. The fact that she is grieving and going through horrific situations. And yet, she’s still continuing, and she doesn’t collapse under it all.”
So, despite the grief and the horror, Ciri carries forward. She is determined to find Geralt of Rivia and in doing so fulfill Calanthe’s last wish. But she is in the middle of nowhere, and Geralt could be anywhere on the Continent. Ciri likely begins asking around. Eventually, she teams up with a boy named Dara, played by Wilson Radjou–Pultaje.
Ciri and Dara stumble into hostile territory
When Wilson’s casting was first announced, fans speculated he’ll play a minor character who appears in one or two scenes and is of little consequence. Wilson, however, was on set several times in Budapest and also on location at the Canary Islands. While his screentime might indeed be limited to an episode or two, it appears his role is important to Ciri’s arc in the show. It’s possible that Dara will offer help in finding Geralt (for instance, if he has seen Geralt pass by) or in escaping Cahir and his hunting squad.
A scene was shown for each of the show’s main characters during The Witcher‘s panel at Comic-Con. In Ciri’s scene, she was surrounded by hostile dryads in Brokilon Forest. In the clip, Ciri was asking the dryads where Dara had gone, but the dryads only speak the Elder Speech, and neither Ciri nor the dryads understand each other. What is evident, however, is that Dara and Ciri will get split up at one point after they make their way into Brokilon. Perhaps after being chased by Cahir?
In the books, Ciri arrives at Brokilon a long time before Cintra is taken by the Nilfgaardians. She reaches the forest in the short story The Sword of Destiny after escaping the court of Verden, where a marriage was arranged for her with the young prince Kistrin. Ciri did not like the prince she was set to marry and took off into the woods with the aid of a young squire named Marck, whom she had befriended. Though Ciri was able to enter Brokilon unharmed and unnoticed, Marck did not escape the dryads’ arrows. The squire was shot right through the eye. Marck’s corpse is found by Geralt as he enters Brokilon Forest, not long before Geralt and Ciri meet for the first time in the saga. We believe that Dara will assume the role of Marck in the show, albeit through different circumstances.
Above is a picture of Wilson having his face scanned and captured in the show’s pre-production stage. Why would they need to scan his face? This is a stage of a process used when designing corpses to look like an actor. It’s likely that the production created a plaster version of Dara’s face and stuck a dryad’s arrow through his eye. Speaking of the dryads, we see a lot of them in the trailer, and we think we know what happens next.
The Water of Brokilon
In the books, Ciri and Geralt meet in the forest of Brokilon when the young princess is attacked by a myriapod (essentially a giant centipede). The two then travel to the dryad city of Duen Canell at the heart of Brokilon, where they meet the dryad queen Eithne. At this point, Geralt does not yet know who Ciri is, only that she is a princess on the run. Eithne and Ciri, however, are familiar with Geralt’s connection to her. Eithne tries to defy destiny by transforming Ciri into a dryad with the “Water of Brokilon”.
But Geralt is not present in the shots we have of Brokilon. The circumstances of Ciri and Geralt’s meeting in the show appear to have changed, as Ciri is found by the dryads entirely on her own (and almost certainly after the fall of Cintra). A casting for a “warrior dryad” listed on IMDB for the fifth episode also points to Ciri reaching Brokilon on her own, as in this episode Geralt will be busy meeting Yennefer for the first time.
In the show, it looks like Ciri will be meeting the dryad queen Eithne on her own. What’s more, we believe the show will incorporate the “Water of Brokilon” soon after.
The “Water of Brokilon”, when drunk by a girl, transforms said girl into a dryad. Geralt is present when Ciri meets Eithne in the books. Still oblivious to the fact that Ciri is the “Child Surprise” promised to him by Duny, he allows the dryads to force the transformation on the girl. But when the princess drinks from the goblet, nothing happens to her. Ciri is impervious to the magic due to her Elder Blood. Geralt is not, however, and witnesses a vision which sees Ciri’s identity is revealed. With Geralt perhaps not there yet in the show, it appears that Ciri will be the one to witness a vision.
Ciri’s vision in the show, if we are correct about it, is a bit more visual than the one Geralt has in the books, and seems to hint at events in the future of the saga. No doubt the scene shown in the trailer is just one part of this interesting dream sequence.
What we’re seeing could be the show foreshadowing a particularly memorable chapter in one of the saga’s later novels, which finds Ciri stranded in the Korath Desert. Showrunner Lauren Hissrich has confirmed via Twitter that this is not that moment, but it certainly appears to be alluding to it.
Will Geralt and Ciri still meet in Brokilon? We think so
With Ciri apparently reaching Brokilon on her own, a concern is raised regarding the show’s ability to adapt Ciri and Geralt’s first meeting. However, it’s possible and even likely that the show will just rearrange the chronology. Instead of Geralt meeting Ciri on the way into Brokilon, he will meet her inside Duen Canell. My personal guess is that it’ll be in the same episode as the Water of Brokilon vision, so perhaps at the end of episode six or early in four.
Last December, Vladimir Furdik, a stunt co-ordinator on the show who is well-known for his role as the fearsome “Night King” in Game of Thrones, was asked about his work on The Witcher. Furdik then described some fight scenes which will appear in the series, including a scene in which Geralt saves Ciri from several enemies while killing some and letting others live. This scene sounds a lot like the one from the end of The Sword of Destiny. In the short story, Geralt and Ciri are attacked by a group of thugs on their way out of Brokilon. If the scene Furdik mentions is indeed the scene in question, Geralt would meet Ciri in Brokilon as in the books (though at least a few smaller changes are unavoidable).
Moreover, Levy’s Mousesack was on location at La Palma around the same time as the Brokilon filming. The same is true for Cavill’s Geralt. Were they all sharing scenes with Freya? It’s possible and even likely to a degree but, unfortunately, we can’t confirm this as of yet. Of course, the involvement of Geralt and Mousesack in Brokilon would perfectly fit the events described in the short story.
Shortly after the fight outside Brokilon, Geralt and Ciri encounter Mousesack, who joins them on their journey back to Ciri’s home in Cintra. Mousesack tries to convince Geralt to take Ciri with him, arguing that their destiny must not be defied, but Geralt decides to leave, insisting that he does not believe in destiny. With Cintra already sacked in the show, it’s likely the alternative will be for Ciri to remain with Mousesack (who already seems like a father figure to her).
If this happens as we hope it will, Geralt and Ciri’s relationship will remain unchanged. He will still refuse his destiny and he will still regret doing so.
Allan and Levy shared many scenes, and thus so did Mousesack and Ciri. It’s likely that some of these scenes involve them traveling together after leaving Brokilon. In the books, the two return to Ciri’s home at Cintra, but that doesn’t appear to be an option in the show. Instead, it’s possible they’ll travel to a druid village, or perhaps attempt to reach Skellige. Yet this isn’t likely to go as well as they plan.
Ciri still has a scheduled appointment with a certain Nilfgaardian (who insists he is not a Nilfgaardian). In the books, Ciri does not escape Cintra as she did in the show and is instead captured by Cahir. In the show, we speculate Cahir and his men will find Ciri and Mousesack on the road. Cahir could well be the druid’s demise, much as we’d like to see him in later seasons. This scene could take place towards the end of the penultimate episode.
Cahir manifests all of Ciri’s fear and trauma, and yet he isn’t quite as horrible a man as she thinks he is. Tasked with capturing the princess and bringing her to the Emperor, Cahir is simply determined not to fail. Yet he sees the fear and grief in Ciri and empathizes with her. Thinking she is nothing but a terrified girl, Cahir underestimates Ciri. And then, she escapes.
In the books, Ciri escapes the Nilfgaardians and, shortly after, the Northern Realm wins the war with a decisive victory at Sodden Hill. Nilfgaard retreats and Ciri is safe for a time. The princess then finds shelter in the home of a peasant family in Riverdell. One casting confirms that this family will indeed appear in the show, and that’s quite important. Yurga’s home is the setting of one of the saga’s most iconic scenes – the reunion of Geralt and Ciri.
In the short story Something More, Geralt believes Ciri is dead. Having saved the life of merchant Yurga, he bitterly requests “that which you already have and do not know” as a reward. And once again, the Law of Surprise, and destiny itself, leads Geralt to Ciri.
“Geralt!” the little girl repeated, clinging to the Witcher’s chest. “You found me! I knew you would! I always knew! I knew you’d find me!”
“Ciri,” said the Witcher.
Yurga could not see his face hidden among the mousy hair. He saw hands in black gloves squeezing the girl’s back and shoulders.
“You found me! Oh, Geralt! I was waiting all the time! For so very long… We’ll be together now, won’t we? Now we’ll be together, right? Say it, Geralt! Forever! Say it!”
“It’s like they said! Geralt! It’s like they said! Am I your destiny? Say it! Am I your destiny?”
Yurga saw the Witcher’s eyes. And was very astonished. He heard his wife’s soft weeping, felt the trembling of her shoulders. He looked at the witcher and waited, tense, for his answer. He knew he would not understand it, but he waited for it. And heard it.
“You’re more than that, Ciri. Much more.
And with that memorable scene, our analysis of Ciri’s possible journey in The Witcher‘s first season is over. If you enjoyed it, make sure to check out our analysis for the show’s two other main characters: the titular witcher Geralt of Rivia, and his lover and sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg. Also coming soon is a general analysis of the show’s themes.
And, as always, stay tuned with Redanian Intelligence for all things Witcher.