Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

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Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by bilateralrope » 2019-12-26 11:01pm

I binged season 1 and enjoyed most of what I watched, with the only parts I didn't enjoy being two episodes that had all their surprises for Geralt's plot previously revealed when I played the games. So I'm curious to hear what people who haven't' played the games think.

As for how well it was adapted, I've only played the games. The actors are a better match to how those characters looked in the games than I was expecting, except Triss Merigold's hair. So I'm going to ask for one yes/no spoiler from the books: Is there an event in the books that changes her hair color ?

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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by AniThyng » 2019-12-27 03:43am

It seemed to me the series badly needed a intro sequence to ease people in who knew nothing about the series. I only enjoyed it because I already knew the source material and therefore knew the characters. And it took the whole season before Geralt and Ciri link up. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this show as much if I didn't already know Geralt, Yen and Ciri ( and triss) will be close in future.

I did like it when it clicked for me that each main character's story was in a different period of time, but it again seemed like something that was really needlessly confusing to casual viewers.

As I typed this I realised this is basically Dunkirk.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Broomstick » 2019-12-27 04:21am

Total newcomer to this franchise.

I enjoyed the first series quite a bit. Of course, there were some weak bits, just as in any other show, but overall I had a good time.

I, too, had an ah-hah! moment when I realized there were three different converging timelines - I also thought of Dunkirk.

Yes, they kind of throw you into the deep end, but I didn't feel lost or particularly confused.

I am a bit puzzled and amused at all the words about Triss's hair. It may be an advantage for us newcomers that we had no pre-conceived notions of hair color.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by PREDATOR490 » 2019-12-27 05:34am

I have read and played the games.
I found the series to be a mostly faithful to the short stories the first season is clearly based on.

The parts of Yennifer and Geralt were played very well.
Ciri and Triss were largely irrelevant and they did not get much to work with.

Personnally, I think it would have been better to stick with Triss having red hair to make her visually distinctive from Yennifer. The black and white theme was always a Yennifer thing which the game did capatalise on. That said, Triss is largely irrelevant to the books anyway.

The primary focus of the short stories is Geralt. The rest of the cast barely appear and are side characters at best.
The primary focus of the actual novels switches between Ciri and Geralt. Yennifer has an important role but Triss was largely made important because of the games.
The word from the producers is they have no interest in going anywhere near the games so... I am a bit dubious on how they are going to continue.

The first season pretty much covered all the 'main' short stories across the two book collections. If they are going for the magical 5 season number then I would anticipate the next season will either start the long jump into the proper novels with a sprinkling of filler / random short stories included.

I would much rather they embrace the game story to some extent because the ending to the books is vague and ending a series like that would be a bit of a sour note.

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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Enigma » 2019-12-27 06:29am

Who knows? Netflix has already greenlit seasons 2&3.

I like it despite never played the games (though I do have them) nor read the books.

The timeline did mess with my head a bit until near the end that only Ciri's was the current while the rest played catch up.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Lord Revan » 2019-12-27 02:14pm

Having seen the games (not played but I've seen LPs) and having most of the first book and read short summaries of the rest, I say I think part of the reason why Ciri shows up so late is that while important for the overall story she's not really present in the story until book 2 or 3 not having even been born during timeframe of book 1 and from what I've heard this series is addapting the books not the games.

As for not going anywhere near the games there's what 7-8 books and depending on how they adapt those I could easily see them having at least 6 season (1 season for the short stories from book 1 and 2 and 5 for the main saga books (aka books 3-7)) that's a decent sized series without going anywhere near the plot of the games.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by CUE » 2019-12-27 02:53pm

The Witcher was good but the pacing and layout of the series reminded me a lot of Hercules The Legendary Journeys.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-12-27 09:01pm

I've never played the games, but I have read the novels, so I was happy they started Geralt's scenes just as the book did, with Renfri. I'm trying to stretch the shows out over the holidays, so I've only watched the first so far.

I admit I was spoiled to the fact there's separate timelines, so I easily caught the part where Ciri spoke of her grandmother's first battle, followed by Renfri stating Queen Calanthe just won her battle, what could Renfri have done had she remained a princess. Then came Ciri again, pacing about the castle and the Mage reminding her of the 31 Lilins being systematically hunted down and killed. They aren't trying to hide the change in timelines, they're telling you what's going on in the first episode if you listen.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by bilateralrope » 2019-12-27 10:22pm

Broomstick wrote:
2019-12-27 04:21am
I am a bit puzzled and amused at all the words about Triss's hair. It may be an advantage for us newcomers that we had no pre-conceived notions of hair color.
The only reason I bring it up is that an actors hair color is something easily changed.
PREDATOR490 wrote:
2019-12-27 05:34am
The word from the producers is they have no interest in going anywhere near the games so... I am a bit dubious on how they are going to continue.
Lets see if they change their mind after they are done with adapting the books.

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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Broomstick » 2019-12-28 03:34am

bilateralrope wrote:
2019-12-27 10:22pm
Broomstick wrote:
2019-12-27 04:21am
I am a bit puzzled and amused at all the words about Triss's hair. It may be an advantage for us newcomers that we had no pre-conceived notions of hair color.
The only reason I bring it up is that an actors hair color is something easily changed.
My understanding is that the books made little reference to her hair and it was somewhat ambiguous, the bright red hair was strictly something in the games. Maybe, since they're taking this from the books, they had no idea just how much the game-fans were attached to the idea of her hair being red? Personally, I think the color of her hair is irrelevant to her character. It's not like Geralt's eye color, which does have significance and importance.

So yes, hair color is easily changed. Yet I fail to see where it's a truly relevant trait. Does her red hair in the games have some significance I'm unaware of, or is it just that it was a striking look that stuck in a lot of peoples' minds?
PREDATOR490 wrote:
2019-12-27 05:34am
The word from the producers is they have no interest in going anywhere near the games so... I am a bit dubious on how they are going to continue.
Lets see if they change their mind after they are done with adapting the books.
Since Netflix is already expressing a reluctance to fund series longer than two years (though I'm sure we'll continue to see exceptions) and there are 7 or 8 books that is quite a way down the line and unlikely at this point.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Solauren » 2019-12-28 10:00am

Triss having bright red hair is something from the video games, and was a way to differentiate her from Yennifer.

My wife (who read the novels a few years ago), has mentioned that Triss was suggested at having auburn hair.

People complaining about Triss's hair are just butt-hurt gamers that think 'their franchise' is being hijacked. Never mind the author/creator of the Witcher books has said he doesn't like the video games, and plans to disregard them if he writes more books.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Ziggy Stardust » 2019-12-28 10:28am

I did enjoy the series, but honestly I think it's a complete mess plot-wise. While they gave enough exposition to keep you from getting confused, they didn't really give enough exposition to make it clear what the stakes of any of this are. Like, who cares that Nilfgaard is conquering Cintra? Towards the end of the series there are a couple of lines from the mages kind of explaining that Nilfgaard are religious fanatics and want to conquer the Continent, but we just aren't told enough about how "the Continent" works for any of it to really matter. In other words, we are TOLD what is going on but not really SHOWN what was going on, which made it hard to care about it as anything other than contrivances designed to set up the next set piece action sequence.

This also relates to the pacing issues that a couple of you have already mentioned; the first season was just trying to accomplish too much and just kind of rushed their way through it. It reminds me a bit of the last season or two of Game of Thrones. It's not that the plot points are bad per se, it's that they are rushed through so quickly they don't end up earning any real emotional resonance with the audience. For example, the fight between Geralt and Renfri at the end of episode 1 was full of emotionally charged looked between the two characters, and it was clearly meant to be a very dramatic and important moment for Geralt when he killed her (and later in the season it is implied Geralt was in love with her, or at least cared about her more than he cares about most people he has interacted with). But she is only in the show for a single episode and only interacts with Geralt a couple of times before dying, so the audience doesn't develop any sense of what the connection/chemistry between the two. Again, we are TOLD but not SHOWN. Another example is Yennefer's training to become a mage. We don't actually see her improving her magic or really accomplishing much of anything, she basically fails every task she is asked to do, then the Rectoress says Yennefer is the best mage she has ever trained. By the end of it we aren't actually given any sense of why people think Yennefer is powerful or how she became powerful other than a vague mention of elf blood (which presumably is why she is so powerful).

Which brings me to the single biggest issue with the show: its inability to consistently depict the use of magic. The limits of magical abilities are completely driven by plot, and contradict themselves from episode to episode (and in multiple cases within the SAME episode, especially during the final mage battle). There's no way to really unpack at any given point what any magical character is capable of. In episode 1, Mousesack (c'mon) has to walk Ciri out of the castle to try and save her, but in episode 7 he uses a portal with Geralt, which brings up the question of why Mousesack didn't or couldn't use a portal in episode 1. In that episode he also is able to hold of an entire army for hours (days?) with his spell around the keep, which is apparently something none of the other powerful mages are capable of doing in episode 8. Within episode 8, Vilgefortz uses a portal to sneak behind the enemy lines and kill a bunch of soldiers with his sword, but then when he is in trouble and about to die he can't for some reason use a portal to escape. Yennefer doesn't use any portals during the episode when they are climbing up the mountain to find the dragon, despite many instances where it would have been sensible to do so, then she freezes the dwarves to keep them from reaching the top but during the climactic fight a few minutes later decides not to use ANY magic at all and just swordfights (not that we were ever shown how when and why she became such a good sworfighter, by the way). Geralt uses spells sometimes, and not at others. The list goes on. We are vaguely told that magic requires some sort of sacrifice to work (the notion of not getting something from nothing, and balance, and so on), but we aren't really told what this means in practice, since we constantly see mages just casting spells at will with no sacrifice. There is some vague notion of something like "manna" which means mages have a limit on the amount of magic they can use before being "exhausted" and unable to cast a spell for a while, but the show never clearly establishes what this limit is, and is inconsistent in deciding how much any one character can do.

For me the best and most puzzling example is the scene where Yennefer fails at foiling the assassination attempt in episode 4. She first portals them out to the desert, then portals them into a city, then when the bug-monster attacks she can slow it down for only a couple of seconds as she portals them to a cliff. Then she for some reason portals just herself away to the next location, waits long enough for the assassin to kill the Queen but not the baby, then teleports back in and somehow one-hit-kills the bug-monster, then she temporarily blocks the other mage from doing anything while opening a final portal and just barely making it through. This entire sequence of events is essentially gibberish. If she could one-hit-kill the bug monster after all those portals, why couldn't she have done it from the beginning? She can barely slow down the bug monster, but later is capable of effortlessly freezing multiple dwarves (granted, the latter case is years later and you would expect she has gotten more powerful, which is fair, but that doesn't explain the inconsistencies even within congruent timelines). If she is such a good swordsman as we see later, why couldn't she have fought there (again, granted there are years of difference between these two events, but we never see any hint of how when or why she learns to fight)?

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a fun show to watch. The lore is interesting enough, there is good acting, and the general direction of the plot is interesting. To me it felt more like the JJ Abrams Star Wars movies, which decided to sacrifice good storytelling in lieu of a rushed sequence of jokes, action sequences, and references for fans of the source material. I'm hoping season 2 is a little more smoothly paced and written.

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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Knife » 2019-12-28 05:55pm

Don't play the game nor read the books. My wife and son do/did. I thought it was a mess. Still need to watch the last 2 episodes though. I guess if you're a fan boy/girl you can ride the wave ok, but damned if they didn't make it hard to follow what the hell was going on. Yes, I to, figured out the multiple time lines and it is not my forte.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by bilateralrope » 2019-12-28 09:50pm

Solauren wrote:
2019-12-28 10:00am
Triss having bright red hair is something from the video games, and was a way to differentiate her from Yennifer.

My wife (who read the novels a few years ago), has mentioned that Triss was suggested at having auburn hair.
Fair enough then
People complaining about Triss's hair are just butt-hurt gamers that think 'their franchise' is being hijacked. Never mind the author/creator of the Witcher books has said he doesn't like the video games, and plans to disregard them if he writes more books.
I was more confused than anything. But now I've got an explanation of what happened, I'm satisfied.

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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by bilateralrope » 2019-12-28 10:31pm

Broomstick wrote:
2019-12-28 03:34am
Since Netflix is already expressing a reluctance to fund series longer than two years (though I'm sure we'll continue to see exceptions) and there are 7 or 8 books that is quite a way down the line and unlikely at this point.
Is that Netflix having something against shows going more than 2 years or is it that viewership normally drops too low by then ?

I've seen a lot of people insist it's the former. I suspect it's the later. We have a lot more choice as to what to watch now because we aren't limited to what's being aired right now (or what we remember to record to watch later). So shows have to be better at keeping people interested.

But I haven't seen any evidence either way because Netflix keeps their viewing data to themselves. Last I heard, they weren't even releasing it to the people making shows.

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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Broomstick » 2019-12-29 05:24am

bilateralrope wrote:
2019-12-28 10:31pm
Is that Netflix having something against shows going more than 2 years or is it that viewership normally drops too low by then ?
Netflix prefers seasons about 10 episodes long and about 30 episodes total, as documented in numerous on-line articles you can get with a quick google.

There are several reasons:
- A new hit show brings in new subscribers. Netflix always wants more subscribers
- Once you're past 30 episodes it gets harder for a new viewer to catch up/get into a series
- Typically, costs go up after two or three seasons when everyone involved starts wanting a raise.

Now, there are exceptions to this. Sometimes it's a long-running show produced by Netflix like Orange is the New Black, but it's not expected we'll see as many of those going forward. Sometimes it's a show acquired elsewhere, like Lucifer (which will have its fifth and last season next year on Netflix). It's not an absolute rule, but it's a good rule of thumb.

Netflix has officially announced a season two for The Witcher. I confess I'm (pleasantly) surprised by this, considering the blowback by perpetually disappointed fanboys and how many found the timeline confusing (the audience seems split between those such as myself, who had no problem with the narrative structure, and those who hated it). Rumor has it that Netflix is about to green-light a third season for it.

The showrunner claims to have a seven-season arc for the show, but I hope they have a way of neatly tying off the thing if it ends soon than that.
bilateralrope wrote:
2019-12-28 10:31pm
But I haven't seen any evidence either way because Netflix keeps their viewing data to themselves. Last I heard, they weren't even releasing it to the people making shows.
With Netflix it's not just total viewing numbers, as mentioned, it's also how many new people are brought on board (which is going to get a lot tougher with proliferating streaming services) and how much the show costs.

In a few years Netflix may have to reconsider this, as with all the new streaming services everyone will be trying for a slice of the same pie. But Netflix has shown some ability to adapt, first by moving from DVD's to streaming, then from streaming content originating from others to making their own. We'll see how it goes.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-12-31 08:01am

I've just finished episode 6. Honestly, I have no familiarity with the books or games at all. And the primary reason I'm enjoying this series is Jaskier. He's just so cute and fun. But I agree with what's said about magic. In the first episode alone, having characters being dishonest, such as whether or not Geralt can feel things is not a good idea for an introduction to the character. Why does this random woman need to be killed? Why does Geralt not want to do it? Why does she want to conquer the kingdom? Etc.

Plus, the scene with Ciri's family at the Ball was exposition, but the worst kind of exposition, the kind with almost nothing but proper nouns. It reminded me of the Extra Credits episode about Skyrim, and why if you're introducing a fantasy world, shooting so many proper nouns in a short time is always a BAD idea for a new audience. Especially since I haven't seen a map, and I have no idea if the people we're following are good or not.

I'm getting a handle on what this world is, but mostly it's following Platinum blond Superman going around killing monsters while his bard friend hangs around, and there's a sorceress that used to be ugly, but is slowly becoming a badass. That still doesn't help me with all the politics and how things work, or who is who outside of those three characters plus the princess.

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the series, but again, that's mostly because Jaskier is so much fun.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Enigma » 2019-12-31 08:10am

I like Jaskier but he's a terrible singer. But that "Toss a coin to your Witcher" song does tend to be an earworm.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Lost Soal » 2019-12-31 09:25am

FaxModem1 wrote:
2019-12-31 08:01am
But I agree with what's said about magic.
Most of the complaints about magic can be applied to any series or film with magic; how can character A do this while character B can't, how long can they use magic since there are no Mana bars on screen.
[In the first episode alone, having characters being dishonest, such as whether or not Geralt can feel things is not a good idea for an introduction to the character.
That wasn't being dishonest, that was what the general population believes about Witcher's. Geralt just didn't care to respond.
Why does this random woman need to be killed?
Because Stregobor is an overprivileged jackass who got it in his head that babies born during a particular eclipse were irredeemable monsters who would bring about mass destruction, as stated in the episode
Why does Geralt not want to do it?
Because killing people for money makes him an assassin. Witcher's kill monsters for money not people, as he said.
Why does she want to conquer the kingdom?
She wants to kill Stregobor for all his attempts to kill her and depriving her of her life.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Broomstick » 2019-12-31 07:05pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
2019-12-31 08:01am
I'm getting a handle on what this world is, but mostly it's following Platinum blond Superman going around killing monsters while his bard friend hangs around, and there's a sorceress that used to be ugly, but is slowly becoming a badass.
I gather that's basically what The Witcher series/franchise is: watching Geralt going around killing monsters with a bard sidekick, the sorceress Yennifer, and Ciri. That's what makes it Low Fantasy rather than High Fantasy like The Lord of the Rings. (The Hobbit is arguably Low Fantasy even if set in the same universe as TLotR).

Of course, once you get a long saga going there's considerable overlap between the two sorts of fantasy, and there are different definitions of high and low fantasy.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Lord Revan » 2020-01-01 02:34am

FaxModem1 wrote:
2019-12-31 08:01am
I've just finished episode 6. Honestly, I have no familiarity with the books or games at all. And the primary reason I'm enjoying this series is Jaskier. He's just so cute and fun. But I agree with what's said about magic. In the first episode alone, having characters being dishonest, such as whether or not Geralt can feel things is not a good idea for an introduction to the character. Why does this random woman need to be killed? Why does Geralt not want to do it? Why does she want to conquer the kingdom? Etc.

Plus, the scene with Ciri's family at the Ball was exposition, but the worst kind of exposition, the kind with almost nothing but proper nouns. It reminded me of the Extra Credits episode about Skyrim, and why if you're introducing a fantasy world, shooting so many proper nouns in a short time is always a BAD idea for a new audience. Especially since I haven't seen a map, and I have no idea if the people we're following are good or not.

I'm getting a handle on what this world is, but mostly it's following Platinum blond Superman going around killing monsters while his bard friend hangs around, and there's a sorceress that used to be ugly, but is slowly becoming a badass. That still doesn't help me with all the politics and how things work, or who is who outside of those three characters plus the princess.

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the series, but again, that's mostly because Jaskier is so much fun.
Part of the issue is that orginal author Andrzej Sapkowski liked to have as little details about the overall world as he could get away with, there wasn't any sort of map of the world until the game series and those maps were made by CD Project Red and not the author and from what I've read second hand (I've only gotten part way thru the first book) the series tends to show things from Geralt's point of view and keep world building that isn't absolutely needed as low as possible.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by FaxModem1 » 2020-01-01 04:03am

Finished the series. Why should I care about the sorcerers again? This reminds of the battle between the Nights Watch and the Free Folk in Game of Thrones, in that I really don't care who wins, because I'm not sure if it really matters, as we've been shown that these magic people are bad people, and the religious fanatics are also 'supposed' to be bad people. As others have said in this thread, we don't really have a sense of stakes. The only thing were supposed to care about is supposed is Geralt's adoptive family, even though the show wants us to care about the politics of these nations that we know nothing about.
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by bilateralrope » 2020-01-01 01:29pm

You saw what Nilfgaard did when they attacked Cintra. I think you're supposed to expect them to do the same to any of the other kingdoms they attack, with the sorcerers being the only people in position to hold the one choke point Nilfgaard forces have to go through.

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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by Broomstick » 2020-01-01 03:42pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
2020-01-01 04:03am
Finished the series. Why should I care about the sorcerers again?
There's nothing obvious if you aren't familiar with the franchise.

Yennifer is supposed to be Geralt's big love interest and she's a mage. So mage's are important.

The politics are important to the extent they affect Geralt-Yennifer-Ciri.

How much it matter I expected we'll find out next season.[/quote]
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Re: Netflix Witcher series (spoilers)

Post by LadyTevar » 2020-01-01 08:29pm

bilateralrope wrote:
2020-01-01 01:29pm
You saw what Nilfgaard did when they attacked Cintra. I think you're supposed to expect them to do the same to any of the other kingdoms they attack, with the sorcerers being the only people in position to hold the one choke point Nilfgaard forces have to go through.
You missed some of the stuff said at the Ball, as well as when the Sorcerers were meeting. Cintra was just the LATEST conquest. Before that, Nilfgaard had destroyed all it's other Northern neighbors, because the White Flame told them to. Also, if you'd missed it, Stregobar blatantly blamed Yennifer for Nilfgaard, saying if there'd been a stronger hand on the reigns, it'd still be tiny and useless. The female mage who went there bought into the religion hook, line, and sinker.

One reason the mages were so upset? Nilfgaard is taking mages, and brain-washing them into thinking they were just another soldier to die for the White Flame's cause.
We know if you cast magic too big for you, you wither and die. We see the remains of one mage after the first fireball, we see a second mage dying for the next fireball. We see the mage with the box die, having spent all his 'chaos' creating the fog that covered the forest (and reached the farm where Geralt and Ciri met). Nilfgaard's only use for mages is as weapons, which obviously doesn't sit well with The Brotherhood, whose entire purpose seems to be riding herd on the Kingdoms and keeping their own lifestyle rich and pleasurable.
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