The Witcher season 2 has radically overhauled one book character – and some fans have responded poorly to the changes.
Spoilers for The Witcher season 2 follow.
The new season sees Geralt and Ciri travel to Kaer Morhen. In the cavernous halls of the witcher homestead are new characters (and Geralt’s fellow witchers), Lambert, Eskel, and Coen, among others.
It’s Eskel, though, who has bore the brunt of criticism so far. In the books and games, he is Geralt’s mirror: a monster slayer with his own Child of Surprise; honorable, though not scared to get his hands dirty. In the Netflix series, he is wildly impudent, inviting sex workers to Kaer Morhen and clashing with Geralt on more than one occasion.
This, we find out, is due to an infection from the tree-like ‘leshy’ monster – and Geralt is forced to kill his sworn brother after he mutates and threatens Kaer Morhen. In the books, Eskel survives. Here, however, it’s clear that the Netflix series wanted to forge its own path.
No matter the reasoning, it’s a change that most OG fans aren’t onboard with.
"They did our boy Eskel so dirty by killing him off right away, especially when there were a bunch of background Witchers who could have had that plot," one fan said on Reddit.
"I knew Netflix would change things from the books, so I was prepared… But Eskel being a mean womanizer who brought girls to Kaer Morhen and threw a party wasn’t one of them," said one fan on Twitter, cutting to the heart of the issue.
The criticism is stinging elsewhere: "Why? Why would you do this to a character the entire fandom loves already and was gonna welcome with open arms? Do you have any idea what Eskel means to a lot of us?"
Overall, longtime fans weren’t happy with adaptations of Andrzej Sapkowski’s books and short stories.
"The Witcher season 2 is such an incredible disappointment, not even Game of Thrones adapted the books this terribly," said a Witcher book reader. "So many plot points were thrown aside and changed it doesn’t even resemble the original stories."
Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, no stranger to interacting with fans herself, took to Twitter to say that she wants feedback to keep flooding in – and specifically mentioned Eskel.
"Sending love and also excitement for future Reddit debates with everyone watching [The Witcher],” Hissrich said. “I've never been one to shy away from digging in, so love it or hate it, keep those passionate opinions coming. And yes, we'll talk about Eskel..."
The Witcher season 2 is currently streaming on Netflix. Finished it? Be sure to head on over to our breakdown of the season’s finale as we explain The Witcher season 2 ending – and *that* cliffhanger.