Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ is a fantasy series set in a world where magical creatures roam the world. Based on the book series of the same name by Andrej Sapkowski, the show relies on the extensive mythology created by the author to deliver a convoluted tale of intersecting destinies. At the center of it is a girl named Ciri. Born as the princess of a powerful kingdom called Cintra, Ciri is forced to venture into the world on her own when her family is killed and the entire kingdom is burned down.
Different people chase her for different reasons, one of which is she being Hen Ichaer. The term has been thrown around in the show a lot, and the more people become aware of Ciri’s status as Hen Ichaer, the more they feel motivated to go after her. If you want to know what exactly Hen Ichaer means and how it ties to Ciri’s destiny, we’ve got covered. SPOILERS AHEAD
Why is Ciri Hen Ichaer?
Hen Ichaer is an eleven word that means Elder Blood. It refers to the bloodline of a powerful Elven sorceress called Lara Dorren, who is Ciri’s ancestor. While the show is yet to dive into the specifics of the origins of the gene, we have an elaborate backstory in the books, which mentions an experiment wherein a new mutation of the elven gene was created. The intention was to create an elf-child powerful beyond any elf before. This child could harness the power to travel across the worlds, which was lost to elves post-Conjunction of the spheres. It was a potent mix, which included unicorn blood because they were the only creatures who could travel across worlds.
Lara Dorren was the last remaining elf with the Elder Blood, and the plan was to strengthen the bloodline by having her marry another powerful elf, Avallac’h (who appears in ‘The Witcher: Blood Origin.’) However, Lara fell in love with a human and disrupted the whole plan by marrying him. Later, her daughter gave birth to twins, which split the gene into two. One part completely lost touch with these powers, while another became carriers or activators. Another important thing about this gene is that it can only be passed through a continuous line of female descendants. The male descendants only serve as latent carriers and cannot manifest the powers that the gene promises.
In the case of the female descendants, the gene manifests differently. There are some, like Pavetta and Ciri, who manifest part or the entirety of the power, while others are like Queen Calanthe, who only serve the purpose of carrying it forward and never get to experience it for themselves. Ciri’s mother, Pavetta, was Hen Ichaer, too, and she had some powers, but they were merely a fraction of what her daughter got. In Ciri, the power of Lara Dorren’s gene has manifested in all its glory, which is what makes the girl so coveted by everyone on the Continent.
Being Hen Ichaer and the possession of its power allows Ciri the ability to travel through worlds. She exhibits this in the second season, especially after we discover that she can access the Monoliths and use them to get things in or out of her world. This is why people Vilgefortz and the Wild Hunt are interested in Ciri. They want access to her powers, allowing them to travel between the worlds.
Apart from this, being Hen Ichaer also makes Ciri one of the most powerful people in the world. As prophecized by Ithlinne, she has the power to destroy the world and create a new one from it. People like Emhyr want her by their side for this power. Then there are elves, like Francesca, who want nothing more from Ciri but to be their leader and help them get back the world that was taken from them all those centuries ago when the humans defeated and massacred elves.
In the second season, Istredd tells Francesca that Ciri is Hen Ichaer. The leader of the elves sees this as a sign of the turning tides. The prophecy makes Ciri the savior of the elves, one destined to lead the elves to their home, Dol Blathanna. While humans fight for Ciri because of her powers or political importance as the princess of Cintra, Francesca simply wants Ciri to save elves.