Yennefer: A Witcher Character Guide
Want to learn more about one of The Witcher's most fascinating characters? Here's your guide to Yennefer of Vengerberg, sorceress, lover, and survivor.
November 9, 2021
Whether you're already a huge fan of the audiobooks or you’re just eagerly awaiting season two of the Netflix adaptation, now is the time to brush up on major characters and plot points of The Witcher Saga. A series of fantasy books by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher is set in a world plagued by monsters, feuding kingdoms, and political struggles. Both the show and the books feature a large cast of fascinating characters, so it can be difficult to keep track of specifics. Not to worry—this article serves as a comprehensive guide to Yennefer of Vengerberg, a powerful sorceress with a pivotal role in the series.
Warning: The following article contains spoilers for The Witcher Saga.
Who Is Yennefer of Vengerberg?
Origin Story and Early Life
Yennefer of Vengerberg is a powerful sorceress, the true love and soul mate of Geralt of Rivia, and a mother figure to Princess Ciri. A native of Vengerberg, the capital city of the kingdom of Aedirn, she was born with a congenital hunchback. Due to her deformity, she had a difficult childhood, suffering ridicule and abuse at the hands of her parents. Her father was cruel to not only Yennefer but also to her mother—until he left her for another woman. Once her father was gone, Yennefer's mother continued to mistreat her.
Yennefer was able to escape her troubled home life, thanks to her magical abilities and potential. She was accepted at the Aretuza Academy, a school of magic for young ladies, run by Tissaia de Vries, a powerful sorceress who became like a mother to her. Yennefer devoted herself to training and graduated from the school as a full-fledged sorceress. At Aretuza, her hunchback magically vanished, as the removal of physical flaws came with mastering the art of sorcery.
Adult Life and Adventures
After leaving Aretuza, Yennefer set herself up as a sorceress, offering her magical services to those in need. It was in the town of Rinde that she first met Geralt, when he came to her seeking healing for his wounded friend, Dandelion. Though it was not love at first sight, this meeting marked the beginning of their long and tumultuous relationship.
Her many adventures took Yennefer all over the Continent. She was blinded during the Battle of Sodden Hill, while fighting alongside members of the Brotherhood of Sorcerers. It was after this battle that she became the youngest ever member of the Council of Sorcerers.
What does Yennefer look like?
Yennefer is famous for her legendary beauty. While nearly 100 years old during most of The Witcher Saga, she is described as having the looks of a woman in her 20s. She has long, curly black hair and striking eyes with an unusual violet hue. Yennefer is known for her signature gooseberry and lilac perfume, and for the strength and grace with which she holds herself. She always dresses in black and white clothing,
Though never explicitly stated, the novels imply that Yennefer developed and grew into her physical beauty during her training at Aretuza. Subtle clues about her earlier appearance remain, such as her slightly lopsided shoulders. During their long relationship, Geralt gradually realizes that Yennefer wasn't always beautiful, but it does not change the way he feels about her.
Is Yennefer infertile?
Yes, in both the books and the Netflix adaptation, Yennefer is unable to conceive a child. According to the show, this was a side effect of Yennefer's transformation at Aretuza. She was still young when she underwent the changes that removed her hunchback and also left her infertile, and those changes haunt her for the rest of her life. She spends a long time seeking a cure for her infertility. Mentioned briefly in the books, her quest to have children becomes a more prominent storyline in the TV series. Eventually, Yennefer becomes like a mother to Ciri, which brings her healing and some closure.
Yennefer’s Key Relationships
Yennefer and Geralt
Yennefer and Geralt are soul mates, though their relationship is not always an easy one. They first meet when Geralt seeks her help after his friend Dandelion is injured by a djinn. Yennefer ends up fighting the djinn and would have died but for Geralt's intervention. After revealing that he is in control of the djinn, he uses one of his wishes to bind their fates together and save them both.
Though Yennefer and Geralt do not stay together after their first encounter, they begin a relationship and come to believe they were destined to fall in love. They repeatedly fight and then make up but always remain true to each other, especially when facing enemies or in perilous situations. When Geralt needs help training Ciri, he turns to Yennefer, and the three of them form a family.
Yennefer and Ciri
Soon after Geralt takes Ciri under his wing to begin her training as a witcher, he realizes that her powers are beyond his knowledge and skillset. He writes to Yennefer for help, and she agrees to meet them at the Temple of Melitele. There, she begins teaching Ciri how to control her magic and harness the chaotic energy she wields. Ciri and Yennefer get off to a rough start, but they eventually develop a close bond. Yennefer becomes like a mother to Ciri, viewing her as the daughter she was never able to have. As the series progresses, Yennefer often puts herself in danger to keep Ciri safe.
Yennefer and Triss
Yennefer meets Triss Merigold while they are both studying to become sorceresses at Aretuza. The two women become friends, remaining close after they both leave Aretuza and pursue their separate lives. Years later when Triss falls in unrequited love with Geralt, their friendship still survives. Their steady, quiet friendship may not get a lot of attention throughout The Witcher Saga, but it is nonetheless an important relationship for both women.
Yennefer: Books vs. Show
Though Yennefer's personality and appearance in the Netflix series stays mostly true to Sapkowski's original version, there are, of course, some changes. Here are the biggest differences you'll notice between the Yennefer you'll see on screen and the Yennefer you'll meet as you listen to the audiobooks.
• Backstory: While Yennefer's painful childhood and the time she spent training at Aretuza are mentioned in the books, Sapkowski doesn't offer many details. The Netflix series, however, devotes several episodes to Yennefer's life before she meets Geralt. Fleshing out her backstory adds depth to her character, helping fans understand the traumas that shaped her from an early age.
• Infertility: Yennefer's inability to have a child is a major plot point in both the series and the books, but the cause of her infertility is left undetermined in the books. Many sorcerers are infertile, but nobody knows exactly why. In the show, however, Yennefer's infertility is the direct result of her physical transformation. She decides to sacrifice her uterus in exchange for beauty, a choice she later comes to regret.
• Timeline of Yennefer and Geralt's relationship: When Yennefer first appears in the book series, she and Geralt have a messy backstory; they've already met and separated several times. In the Netflix series, however, they don't meet until near the end of the first season, and when they do, it's for the first time.
What books does Yennefer appear in?
Yennefer is one of the main characters in The Witcher, and she appears in all of the audiobooks, beginning with the short story collection, The Last Wish. She goes on to appear in Sapkowski's second short story collection, Sword of Destiny, as well as all five novels in The Witcher Saga: Blood of Elves, The Time of Contempt, Baptism of Fire, The Tower of Swallows, and The Lady of the Lake. She also appears in the standalone audiobook Season of Storms, set in the same world as The Witcher Saga but not part of the main series, and in the short story "Something Ends, Something Begins," which isn't considered part of the Witcher canon and has not yet been turned into an audiobook.