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What to expect from the new characters in The Witcher season 2

(Image credit: Getty/Netflix/HBO)

The Witcher season 2 is rapidly filling out its cast. Alongside returnees – such as Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri – come over half-a-dozen new characters, including fan favourites, more witchers, and even a Beauty and the Beast-style monster. However, if you have neither dabbled in The Witcher books nor gotten to grips with CD Projekt Red’s games, you might not be familiar with these new names.

With that in mind, here’s what we can expect from the new crop of characters making their way to The Continent in 2021 – and what these new additions to the cast tell us about possible story arcs, settings, and any other major events that could feature in the next eight episodes, whilst keeping spoilers to a minimum.

Coen (Yasen Atour)

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red/Yasen Atour showreel)

The books: The second youngest witcher to survive training, Coen appears in Blood of Elves as a friend/mentor to Ciri at Kaer Morhen, the ancestral home of witchers. He even trains her in sword combat and is often seen conversing with the Lion Cub of Cintra during her time there.

The games: Unlike some of the other characters listed here, Coen doesn’t appear in any of the games – but is referenced in dialogue during The Witcher.

What does it mean for season 2? Expect Coen to share several scenes (and training montages!) with Ciri. If the Netflix series sticks closely to the books’ portrayal of Coen, he’ll be a lively addition to the ensemble cast – and his energy might just rankle with a certain Geralt of Rivia. His presence also means Ciri might even get a proper fight scene or two towards the end of the eight-episode run.

Eskel (Thue Ersted Rasmussen)

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red/Still from "Dead End" by Julius Telmer)

The books: Ciri meets Eskel early on in the novel Blood of Elves at Kaer Morhen (sensing a pattern?) but she thinks he’s a monster at first due to the scarring on his face. Don’t be surprised to see that scene ripped straight from the pages next year. Eskel, meanwhile, shares an interesting relationship with Geralt: they were childhood friends during witcher training. Yep, Geralt had friends.

The games: Eskel is present in both The Witcher and The Witcher 3, each time helping to defend Kaer Morhen from attacking forces.

What does it mean for season 2? That’s another tally in the column for season 2 spending a large chunk of time with Geralt and Ciri in Kaer Morhen. But the most interesting aspect of Eskel’s character is that he grew up with Geralt. Outside of a very brief scene in the season 1 finale, we know very little of Geralt’s childhood and subsequent training. Eskel could provide a window into that hidden past via flashbacks or some good old-fashioned reminiscing. At the very least, it’ll be refreshing to see Geralt actually get on with someone for a change.

Francesca (Mecia Simson)

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red/Getty Images)

The books: Francesca has a long and storied history in the books. Described as one of the most beautiful woman on The Continent, she is an extremely powerful elf sorceress who eventually becomes Queen of the Free Elves. She spends most of her time in the throes of the Nilfgaardian empire and helps them in their battles against the Northern forces. She later helps co-found the Lodge of Sorceresses.

The games: Francesca is perhaps the most significant character not to appear in the games. Outside of a journal entry in The Witcher 2 – again referring to her as “the most beautiful woman in the world” – and a Gwent card in The Witcher 3, she is absent from proceedings.

What does it mean for season 2? Nilfgaard is ready to make a major move north. With Francesca at their side, they could possibly avenge the Battle of Sodden in the season 1 finale with both Fringilla and now Francesca turning the tide in the war. Francesca’s appearance also points to far more political Game of Thrones-style intrigue in store for season 2, especially when compared to the first season.

Lambert (Paul Bullion)

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red/Getty Images)

The books: A fast-talking, sardonic witcher, Lambert actively despises his upbringing, but does manage to impart some of his wisdom to Ciri via combat training. While he only has a solitary appearance (in Blood of Elves), he and Triss Merrigold share a mutual disdain for each other which carries over into the game trilogy.

The games: Lambert has far more of an impact in the games, butting heads with Geralt – and being on the receiving end of a foul-mouthed poem from the silver-haired monster hunter.

What does it mean for season 2? A big personality to rival Geralt’s? Colour me excited. Lambert is sure to be just a rung below Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer when it comes to the main cast, and could prove a fan-favourite due to his general grumpiness and desire of a spot of verbal jousting.

Lydia (Aisha Fabienne Ross)

The books: Lydia is an assistant to Vilgefortz, a duplicitous sorcerer who is secretly helping the Nilfgaardian Emperor with his plans to invade the North.

The games: Lydia doesn’t appear in any of the games.

What does it mean for season 2? Lydia’s arrival on to the scene in season 2 could be laying the groundwork for a future major villain, one we’ve only glimpsed briefly so far. In the books, she is closely tied to the maniacal sorcerer Vilgefortz (who appears in episodes 7 and 8) and helps aid Nilfgaard’s fightback after their retreat the Battle of Sodden. It could also hint at sorcerers and sorceresses having a larger role to play in season 2, as all the major players from a book event – which shan’t be spoiled here – are set to be introduced next year.

Nivellen (Kristofer Hivju)

(Image credit: CD Projeckt Red/HBO)

The books: Nivellen is a man cursed to live as a Beauty and the Beast-style monster. He appears in A Grain of Truth, the third short story in The Last Wish collection which season 1 drew heavily from. In the story, he meets Geralt and even saves his life from his companion, Vereena.

The games: Nivellen is a character who, sadly, is found exclusively in the books.

What does it mean for season 2? Fan site Redanian Intelligence posits that both Geralt and Ciri will meet Nivellen on their way to Kaer Morhen. If that report rings true, that gives us a greater overview of the arc of the season: Ciri and Geralt will potentially travel to Kaer Morhen, encounter Nivellen before reaching their destination. This is where the events of A Grain of Truth will play out, and the rest of the season will likely involve some witcher training and Nilfgaardian action involving Vilgefortz, Lydia, and Francesca.

Vesemir (Kim Bodnia)

(Image credit: CD Pojekt Red/Getty Images)

The books: Vesemir in the books is a mentor figure for those at Kaer Morhen, and one widely respected by witchers due to his standing as one the oldest remaining of his kind. He also helped guide Ciri in her witcher training, particularly in the arts of monster hunting.

The games: Arguably the character who benefits most from his stint in the games compared to the books, Vesemir is a trusted, loyal ally to Geralt and other witchers at Kaer Morhen and even partakes in several defences of the ancestral witcher base.

What does it mean for season 2? Vesemir is likely to be the most important new character. Evidence for this can largely be found in the fact that a prequel anime movie, Nightmare of the Wolf, is airing in 2020. That sort of expansion on a single character means he'll have a large role to play, particular in any Kaer Morhen training arc with Ciri.

Vereena (Agnes Bjorn)

The books: Vereena also appears in a Grain of Truth as Nivellen’s lover, but she’s hiding a dark and monstrous secret.

The games: In a neat Easter egg for fans of the book, Vereena is brought up during a DLC contract mission on Skellige during The Witcher 3.

What does it mean for season 2? Yet more proof that we’re getting A Grain of Truth adapted for the Netflix series. Delving any further into plot details here would spoil a little too much for season 2 but, rest assured, Geralt will be facing down one of his most interesting and morally ambiguous adventures yet.

Need something to watch before 2021? Check out our ranking of the best shows on Netflix.

GamesRadar+'s Entertainment Writer. Lover of all things Nintendo, in a tortured love/hate relationship with Crystal Palace, and also possesses an unhealthy knowledge of The Simpsons (which is of no use at parties).