The Witcher is one of the most popular series on Netflix. However, thanks in part to time jumps and sometimes-confusing storylines, some viewers finished season one with questions about Ciri.
According to (somewhat questionable) numbers from Netflix, The Witcher is the platform’s most popular show ever. Despite Netflix’s roundabout way of calculating “views,” it truly is well-received and continues to add new viewers. But for those who find themselves with unanswered questions Princess Cirilla of Cintra, we have some answers.
Here’s everything you need to know about Ciri.
Who is Ciri?
Geralt’s child of surprise, and the story behind their intertwining destinies, confused some viewers. Some of this is due to the show’s storytelling method, but much of it stems from the source material’s deep, complex story. As the show continues—season two is set to release in 2021—fans will likely get answers to many of their questions. For those too impatient to wait a full year for answers, however, look no further.
Let’s start with the basics. Ciri’s full name is Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon. She is the daughter of Pavetta and Emhyr var Emreis and granddaughter of Queen Calanthe of Cintra. She was born between 1252 and 1253 in Skellige and is her country’s sole princess.
Ciri and her mother were very close during her infancy and childhood. Unfortunately, when Ciri was just under 5 years old, her mother and (supposedly) father drowned on a journey from Skellige to Cintra. Ciri’s loving, if somewhat domineering, grandmother raised her between ages 5 and 10(ish).
Ciri, as Cintra’s only heir, had responsibility heaped on her from a young age. Throughout her childhood, she was engaged to a number of young men, but none of the engagements came to pass. Her responsibilities and strict upbringing didn’t stop Ciri from being an incorrigible brat when she first came across Geralt, but—admit it—we were all brats at that age. Unlike in the show, in which Ciri seems to be mostly unaware of Geralt and her destiny as a Witcher, Ciri had knowledge of her white-haired destiny in the books.
In 1263, the vicious Nilfgaardian Empire finally reached Cintra. We’ll get into details on the Empire and its leaders later, but suffice to say it had its eyes on Cintra long before it finally struck. The Nilfgaardian forces were far too strong for Cintra’s military to combat, and soon the city fell. Calanthe, aware of their impending fate, sent Ciri fleeing from the city with a group of soldiers. Ciri barely survived the following violence. She ended up living in the woods with druids for several months before reuniting with Geralt, who she met briefly years before.
With Geralt and Ciri reunited, it was time to begin her training. The duo travelled to Kaer Morhen, the training ground for Witchers in the School of the Wolf. Over the next several years, Ciri discovered and honed a number of skills. She became a talented swordsman and discovered her abilities as a Source, a transmitter of magic. She eventually gained the ability to teleport between worlds.
Ciri has a very unique set of skills. Years of training with the Witchers at Kaer Morhen honed her into a warrior, and her Elder blood contributed to several powerful magical abilities.
Ciri is a Source
After several unexplained trances—in which Ciri fell into a daze and spoke in a different voice, occasionally in Elder Speech—the Witchers realized there was more to her than met the eye. As a Source, Ciri is a transmitter of magic, which means she doesn’t necessarily use magic herself. An attempt to harness her power, which her parents passed down to hers, would fail. Strong emotion, however, might cause a sudden, violent reaction.
The Gate of Worlds
Ciri’s most powerful ability, by far, allows her to jump between space and time at will. Only those with Elder blood, which Ciri inherited from her parents, can harness this power. This ability manifested as Ciri got older, and it ultimately earned her the title The Lady of the Worlds. This power caught the attention of the King of the Wild Hunt in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. He intended to use Ciri’s teleportation ability to open a portal large enough for his army to pass through, thus allowing him to conquer her world.
Is Geralt Ciri’s father?
The simple answer here is a resounding no. Ciri’s father, as noted above, is Emhyr var Emreis, from Nilfgaard. However, Geralt served as a consistent father-figure to Ciri throughout her life. Her birth father (supposedly) died before she turned 5, which means that by young adulthood she had almost no memories of him. Geralt often risked life and limb for Ciri. This, and their journeys together, created a close bond between the two.
For those who’ve played the video games, particularly The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, you’ll know that Ciri and Geralt’s relationship can go deeper. To anyone who chose this option, you make terrible in-game decisions and you’re wrong. So wrong. But yes, in The Witcher 3, Geralt and Ciri can *shudder* become lovers. Ugh. Anyone who’s enjoyed the earlier games or any of the books will tell you that Ciri is very much like a daughter to Geralt, so that particular relationship should never, ever, come to pass.
Ciri’s real father
Ciri’s birth father, Emhyr var Emreis, is the heir to the Nilfgaardian throne. This may surprise some viewers of the Netflix series, as he goes by the alias “Duny” at first. That is because, ultimately, Emhyr is laying the groundwork for his eventual conquering of Cintra.
Emhyr and Ciri’s mother, Pavetta, supposedly drowned in an accident when Ciri was quite young. Pavetta did, in fact, lose her life, but Emhyr faked his death and returned to his home country of Nilfgaard. Initially, he intended to fake Ciri’s death as well, fleeing with her in tow, but Pavetta foiled his plan and snuck Ciri away.
Once he returned to Nilfgaard, Emhyr took up his position as emperor. The next years saw him pursue several wars, all with the aim of conquering Cintra and returning Ciri to him. Considering his ultimate goal was to marry his own daughter—ick—and conceive a child with her —double ick—his goals were far less honorable than they might seem.
Thankfully, time and again he failed to capture Ciri. In the end, one of his men delivered a child who looked strikingly like Ciri but was nothing but a lookalike. Despite realizing that his prize was false, Emhyr married the Ciri lookalike and became King of Cintra.
The law of surprise
The law of surprise has a long history in The Witcher books, and it ultimately ties the whole story together. Based on Polish and Slavic folklore, the law dictates that when one man owes another a life debt, he must offer his savior a boon that is unknown to one or both parties. In many cases, the prize ends up being the saved man’s first-born child.
Ciri’s destiny is bound to the law of surprise in two ways. First, her father invoked the law of surprise upon saving King Roegner—Calanthe’s husband and Pavetta’s father—and claimed his prize, Pavetta, on her 15th birthday.
Upon seeing Emhyr’s cursed form, Calanthe refused to surrender her daughter. An ensuing attack nearly ended his life, but Geralt stepped in to protect Emhyr and Pavetta. Ultimately, Calanthe granted her approval, and the curse trapping Emhyr as a human-hedgehog hybrid broke.
Thanks to Geralt’s intervention, the duo survived and could wed. When asked what boon he would request in return for his assistance, Geralt invoked the law of surprise. Thanks to the fact that Pavetta was already pregnant with Emhyr’s child, Geralt’s prize was always destined to be Ciri.
Is Ciri a Witcher?
It takes a lot to become a Witcher, so it’s safe to say that Ciri is very far from becoming a Witcher when we first meet her. She is still a child at the beginning of her story, after all.
After the Slaughter of Cintra, Ciri’s Witcher training at Kaer Morhen began in earnest. She started to learn the blade as well as how to harness her magical abilities.
Ciri took to her Witcher training like a fish to water, and she consistently impressed Geralt and the other Witchers. She never underwent the typical Witcher mutations—as they don’t work on women—but she has all of the skills of your typical Witcher. She also spent some time training with Yennefer, which granted her enhanced magical abilities. Despite the incredibly difficult childhood she endured, Ciri ended up an incredibly powerful and capable character.