Readers spend considerably much less time in Yennefer’s head than in Geralt’s or Ciri’s in Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher books. Of the three characters the Netflix model focuses on, she has probably the most clean area to fill in. Within the first season we bought to know her in methods we by no means had an opportunity to earlier than.
Yennefer’s magical talents first manifest when she subconsciously portals from the farm the place she grew up within the kingdom of Aedirn to the Tower of the Gull at Aretuza, presumably drawn by its magical vitality. On the time she’s making an attempt to flee from the villagers who torment her for having a curved backbone. Her pure magical expertise—her connection to chaos—is about off by worry and anger. That is one thing this model of Yennefer has in widespread with Ciri, in addition to elvish blood. (Within the books, additionally they share a birthday.)
After being bought by Aretuza’s rector, Tissaia de Vries, Yennefer is locked in her room on the academy. Imprisoned after discovering out she’s value much less cash than a pig, she makes an attempt suicide. That is one a part of Yennefer’s life acquainted from the books, proven in flashback close to the top of The Girl of the Lake. Solely there, after saving her life, Tissaia says this will likely be her final likelihood to cry as “there is not a extra hideous sight than a sorceress weeping.” What a pleasant girl.
Over the course of two episodes, Yennefer goes via her schooling at Aretuza, studying that magic calls for “stability and management,” as Tissaia says. “With out them, chaos will kill you.” The rector demonstrates the significance of stability by having college students draw life from a flower to levitate a rock, letting Fringilla magically desiccate her personal hand first to show some extent. (Once more, good girl.) Tissaia demonstrates the significance of management by having the scholars seize lightning in a bottle, and when a classmate betters her, Yennefer’s jealous rage manifests as a lightning bolt that is nearly deadly.
Throughout this time Yennefer begins and ends a relationship with Istredd (a mage learning at Ban Ard Academy, which is Aretuza for boys), and undergoes enchantment, giving up her womb to be magically resculpted into an attractive, ageless sorceress. She goes from distress to triumph, manipulating her method out of appointment to the court docket of Nilfgaard and into the glamorous court docket of her homeland, Aedirn.
And but, one episode later, she’s depressing once more. Throughout the 30 years between her commencement and once we meet up with her sharing a carriage with Queen Kalis, Yennefer’s realized her infantile dream was naïve. As a substitute of getting energy and leaving a mark on historical past, she’s been “cleansing up silly political messes” as a “glorified royal arsewiper.”
(Facet be aware: Kalis, the doomed Queen of Lyria who gave start to too many daughters, is the mom of Meve, protagonist of Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales.)
The sequence the place Yennefer fails to guard one of many Queen’s youngsters from a magical murderer, climaxing with the extraordinarily Witcher second the place she sits on a seashore telling a lifeless child “you are not lacking a lot,” units her on a brand new path. She stops working for the Brotherhood, who prepare mages to be royal advisors, and goes rogue, looking for a option to restore her fertility. In a refined however significant change from the books, it is not as a result of she desires to have a child. Moderately, she desires the power to decide on for herself. Just like the suicide try, Yennefer’s strongest motivation is a necessity for autonomy.
When Geralt and Yennefer cross paths in Rinde, she’s charmed the mayor and turned his fancy home into her private social gathering palace by eradicating the inhibitions of some locals. It may very well be she has them below full management, as she’s finished with the mayor and, later, Geralt, however given the townsfolk’s response to the spell ending shouldn’t be fury nor disgust however quite in search of their pants in embarrassment, I do not learn it that method.
Plus, she’s proven magically enhancing a husband’s, er, efficiency earlier within the episode for a purpose, and mentally dominating greater than a few people is recommended elsewhere to be troublesome. Within the first episode, Stregobor’s perception that Renfri mind-controls her bandits is the rationale he desires to dissect her and work out the way it’s finished, whereas within the finale Fringilla solely manages it with the brain-worms in her arsenal of banned magic.
Yennefer’s relationship with Geralt will get off to a rocky begin—start as you imply to go on, they are saying—when she manipulates him for entry to the djinn he is come to her for assist with. And but, he nonetheless saves her life and binds their fates collectively.
Stubbornness, delight, and willingness to die for one thing that issues to her are issues Yennefer has in widespread with Geralt. They’ve each been ostracized and, as youngsters, mistreated by adults to make them extra helpful brokers. The top result’s two individuals unnaturally decided to remain unbiased, refusing to take sides until pressured to, and determined to be answerable for their very own destinies. “When did you final really feel glad if you felt trapped?” Geralt asks her.
Seeing Yennefer as we do within the present makes it simpler to know why the 2 find yourself collectively, but in addition makes it plain the place their self-determination goes to finish up. The course of real love by no means did run clean, and one time-skip later, they’ve damaged up. Not solely that, however we see in flashback a string of breakups and reunions between episodes setting the sample for his or her relationship to return. These are the Yennefer and Geralt we all know.
There’s one final thing the present depicts that the books solely hinted at: the Battle of Sodden Hill. Right here, Yennefer stands together with her fellow mages to carry again a military of Nilfgaardians. To get up to now takes some convincing, in fact. Yennefer is solid in a story position usually reserved for males: the charming, cynical antihero who solely reluctantly joins the combat, whose self-interest needs to be overcome earlier than they lastly do what’s proper. She’s Rick in Casablanca, Pablo in For Whom the Bell Tolls, Han Solo in Star Wars.
On the battle’s climax, Tissaia convinces Yennefer to unleash the chaos she’s been taught to regulate, to free the anger that made her try suicide on her first night time in Aretuza, hurl lightning at a classmate, bear magical cosmetic surgery with out anesthetic, combat to save lots of a child from an murderer, and attempt to bind an elemental being into her personal stomach. But even when she does, casting one hell of a fireball, she does it with the stability and management she was taught—she takes hearth from the burning fortress to energy the spell, and manipulates these flames so Tissaia stays fully untouched by them. Nonetheless, Yennefer has to pay a price, and when the smoke clears, she’s gone. Ciri has a imaginative and prescient of Tissaia after which Geralt calling Yennefer’s identify on a burning battlefield, however that is the final of her we see within the first season.
Although gone, she’s nonetheless on everybody’s minds. The ultimate phrases of the episode are Ciri asking Geralt, “Who’s Yennefer?” Due to the backstory the present provides her, we all know the reply higher than ever.