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The entire Witcher timeline explained

Netflix's The Witcher is a lot of fun, but it isn't always easy to follow. You may not realize it at first, but the first season of the series is split into three separate timelines. Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri's adventures all happen at different times — until, of course, they don't.

This isn't explicitly explained by the show, either, and many casual viewers are getting lost. Between the various Witcher monsters, the foreign customs, the political rivalries, and all of the action, this series is already very busy. Trying to piece together three different timelines on top of that is just too much.

Still, The Witcher offers some clues as to its chronology for fans who are paying close attention. With work, you can piece more or less the entire timeline together. There are still some questions and ambiguities, but the overall picture works just fine. Here's what you need to know.

Geralt's childhood

Confusingly, the earliest scenes in The Witcher don't actually arrive until the season's final episode. While Yennefer is busy battling Nilfgaard at Sodden, Geralt spends his time in "Much More" lounging on the back of a merchant's cart, fighting off a supernatural infection.

As Geralt fights for his life, he experiences visions from his childhood. Through Geralt's flashbacks, we meet his biological mother, Visenna, and watch as she abandons Geralt at Kaer Morhen, where he meets his mentor Vesemir (mentioned, but not seen onscreen) and begins his witcher training.

These visions take place a century before the events of "Much More," The Witcher's first season finale. In an interview, The Witcher showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich revealed that Geralt is already 100 years old in the first episode, "The End's Beginning." That means that young Geralt's scenes must've happened at the very beginning of The Witcher timeline — before Yennefer was even born — and kicked off the whole saga.

Yennefer goes to school

Of The Witcher's three main timelines, Yennefer's origin story comes first. Yennefer is no more than 20 years old when Tissaia buys her from her father in episode two (in fact, she could be much younger), and all of Yennefer's early days — her struggles to become a proficient mage, her love affair with Istredd, and her brutal sacrifice — happen before the rest of the main plot.

We don't know how long Yennefer spends at school, but it doesn't seem like much. Hunchback Yennefer, who should age like a normal human, doesn't show many physical changes during her studies, although both her confidence and her abilities grow in leaps and bounds. 

However, according to Hissrich, Yennefer's story in season one spans about 70 years. After ascending, Yennefer spends 30 years in the court at Aedirn, and another 10 or so kicking around as an independent sorceress before the Battle of Sodden. That leaves 30 years unaccounted for. Either Hissrich had her numbers wrong (and, to be fair, her statement leaves quite a bit of wiggle room) or Yennefer trains at Aretuza for a lot longer than it seems. Either way, it's kind of irrelevant. All you need to know is that this stuff happens first.

Renfri, the stygian, and the striga

Geralt's first three adventures take place next. It's not clear exactly how long it takes Geralt to become known as the Butcher of Blaviken or how long it took Jaskier to make "Toss a Coin to Your Witcher" a hit. Still, news doesn't travel that fast on the Continent — it's not like they have cellphones or the internet.

Given that Geralt's entire story in season one is about 20 years long, and that 12 pass between Geralt's two visits to Cintra, an eight-year period between episode one and episode four makes sense.

We can also surmise that Geralt's battle with the striga takes place about 30 years after Yennefer's transformation. At Yennefer's ascension ceremony, where King Foltest of Temeria is can be seen pestering his sister Adda, the monarch is only around 10 years old. When Geralt meets him, Foltest is in his 40s (Shaun Dooley, who plays Foltest, is 45), and Adda has been dead for years.

Geralt visits Cintra, Yennefer goes independent

Yennefer and Geralt's stories in episode four, "Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials," seem to happen at around the same time. Yennefer claims that she's been at Aedirn for three decades before the assassin's attack convinces her to strike out on her own. That's about how much time has passed for Foltest in Geralt's timeline in episode three. Further, Geralt's reputation is firmly established by the time that he first enters Queen Calanthe's court. At most, Yennefer and Geralt are a few years apart.

At any rate, unless you've been paying close attention, this is the first episode that makes it clear that we're following three separate timelines. In "Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials," Eist is unsuccessfully courting the queen, Nilfgaard is a joke, and Ciri's mother is newly pregnant. In the first episode, though, Calanthe and Eist are married, Ciri is 12 years old, and Nilfgaard is a mighty military force.

Everyone looks younger than the last time we saw them, too. Mousesack has less grey in his beard, and both Eist and Calanthe are much more spry. Naturally, neither Geralt nor Yennefer age, thanks to magic (Jaskier, on the other hand, simply seems to be very well-preserved).

Yennefer and Geralt meet, fight, fall in love, and fight some more

It takes half a season, but two of The Witcher's timelines finally come together. In "Bottled Appetites," the star-crossed lovers Geralt and Yennefer meet for the very first time, courtesy of some Jaskier-fueled shenanigans, a djinn in a bottle, and Yennefer's misguided attempt to have it all.

Enough time passes between "Bottled Appetites" and "Rare Species" for Geralt and Yennefer to build up quite a bit of history. Their bickering references numerous encounters beyond the one we've already seen, and they seem to have spent quite a bit of time together. Yennefer and Jaskier know each other pretty well at this point, too — and they don't seem to get along.

Even though Geralt and Yennefer part ways at the end of "Rare Species," their timelines coincide going forward. They may not cross paths again in season one, but from here on out, they're on the same page.

Cintra falls

Finally, Ciri's story begins — but, as the seventh episode, "Before a Fall," reveals, there's more going on during Cintra's collapse than the pilot lets on. In the leadup to Nilfgaard's attack, Yennefer joined the Brotherhood of Sorcerers as they debated whether or not to save the mage-averse kingdom, while Geralt went directly to Cintra to try to rescue Ciri, who he's responsible for.

In fact, Geralt was in Cintra when Calanthe rode into battle, Nilfgaardian forces breached the walls, and Ciri fled the city. He even saw Ciri just before Cintra fell, although he didn't know it — the girl was disguised as a commoner in order to play with the other kids. Unfortunately, Geralt missed out on most of the action from the first episode: Calanthe locked him in a Cintra dungeon to keep him from running off with Ciri. That didn't work out well for anyone.

At any rate, Ciri's storyline in episode one and Geralt and Yennefer's plots in episode seven happen at the same time. We're getting close to one, unified timeline, but we're not there quite yet.

Ciri's adventures

According to Hissrich, Ciri's story in The Witcher's first season unfolds over the course of a couple of weeks. Ciri meets Dara shortly after escaping Cintra, and only spends a little bit of time in the refugee camp before Nilfgaard attacks. A few days later, she enters Brokilon Forest, where she's protected by Queen Eithne of the dryads. Good thing, too, because the Nilfgaardian Cahir and the sorceress Fringilla are hot on Ciri's tail.

After a few nights in Brokilon, the doppler, disguised as Mousesack, arrives to "rescue" Ciri and Dara. Ciri discovers the deception and frees herself soon afterwards. From there, Ciri fends for herself. She tries to pawn off her jewelry for cash, stops some old "friends" from attacking her, and is ultimately offered a home by a kindly woman with a house in the woods.

All of this unfolds in the time between Geralt's second visit to Cintra in episode seven and his arrival at the former refugee camp in episode eight. It's not a lot of time, but Ciri managers to cover a lot of ground.

The battle of Sodden and Ciri and Geralt's first meeting

By the beginning of episode eight, "Much More," all three timelines are in sync. While Yennefer and her fellow sorcerers are fighting Nilfgaard at Sodden, Geralt is fighting for his life on the back of a merchant's cart and Ciri is chilling in a cabin with the merchant's wife.

All of this happens about a week after Ciri fled the refugee camp — when Geralt first meets the merchant, the man is cleaning up the bodies the Nilfgaardian army left behind. It also takes a couple of days. The sorcerers don't head straight into battle, for example. They arrive at Sodden and prep their defenses. The ensuing battle begins at night, takes the whole day, and ends just before dawn.

In fact, it's the morning after the battle when Geralt and Ciri meet for the first time, bringing everyone together — well, almost. Yennefer disappears after using a ton of magic to channel fire at the Nilfgaardian army, but she's probably not gone for good. As the season ends, Yennefer is the one everyone's talking about.