I was watching some YouTube videos on things I might have missed in the Witcher 3 (xLetalis), and have a theory I'd like to share regarding the kings of the Witcher stories and what this means for Ciri's ending. I'm basing this on both the books and the games (except Thronebreaker which I haven't played).
Massive spoilers ahead for books and games!!
TLDR: The heads of state of the world of the Witcher embody the 7 deadly sins. The canon ending is "Witcher Ciri".
So, for the heads of state as the embodiment of the 7 sins, the Wikipedia page on the sins is very good: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins
Greed: Esterad Thyssen, king of Kovir. He's only fleshed out in the books, but he is totally obsessed with money, to the point where I've adopted his catchphrase as a joke ("To have five euros and not to have five euros adds up to ten euros!"). Every discussion involving him is about money. He finances the Second Northern War.
Pride: Francesca Findabair, the elvish queen of Dol Blathanna. Pride, in the theological sense, is putting one's own desires ahead of the welfare of others; it is selfishness; it is the rejection of the idea that one's self is not divine, denying one's own imperfection, and believing in one's own superiority to others. That is already a trait commonly seen in elves, but Findabair takes it to a greater extreme. Believing in her own superiority splits the Aen Seidhe and Aen Elle, splits the free elves from the Scoia'tael, and dooms the elven race as it splits the (old, barren) elves of Dol Blathanna from the (young, passionate, and still fertile) elves of the rest of the continent. Belief in the superiority of the blood of elves is what triggers Ciri's entire story. Since Ciri is the heir to the blood of elves, all the kingdoms and all the magic-users want to control Ciri for personal gain.
Lust: Foltest of Temeria. Lust drove him to incest, which produced his daughter Adda, a striga. He also has two bastard children with the Baroness La Valette. Thus, his incest created the sort of creature of chaos which necessitates witchers, nearly leading to Geralt's death (Geralt being Ciri's adoptive father), while the uncertainty of who should be Foltest's heir creates the sort of power vacuum that starts the various wars in the North. Aside from this, Foltest was one of the negotiators of the treaty of Cintra, which effectively stripped Ciri of her birthright.
Wrath: Henselt of Kaedwen. Another straightforward one, Henselt only ever seems to be at war, and lives for it. He leads his troops personally. He has his witch Sabrina Glevissig tortured to death for interfering with his wars, and starts another one in Aedirn at the next opportunity. Sabrina Glevissig was Philippa Eilhart's co-conspirator at Thanedd, which created the Lodge of Sorceresses, which was obsessed with controlling Ciri and pursued her and Yennefer (Ciri's adoptive mother) to that end.
Envy: Radovid V of Redania. Radovid has an insatiable lust for power. He wants to dominate the North and will happily make war on allies, or potential allies, to do so. He persecutes magic-users because he is envious of their power. The sin of envy is that it is an insatiable desire for what others have, and that is Radovid all over. The envious lust for power is what leads to all the wars, chaos, and attempted domination of Ciri throughout her life – the kings all covet each others' lands (including Ciri's own Cintra), while the magic-users covet Ciri's power as the heiress to the blood of elves.
Gluttony: Demavend III of Aedirn. While we think of gluttony as simply overeating, in the theological sense, gluttony is overindulgence and overconsumption. The sin is material selfishness, and placing one's own material wants over another's material needs (similar to pride, but where pride is about beliefs and desires, gluttony is material). Demavend in the books starves the Scoia'tael, yet essentially leaves the dwarves alone due to their wealth and industry. In the Witcher 2, he appears in a cutscene of his assassination… at a lavish banquet. The sin of gluttony, where the wants of the rich are satisfied while the needs of the poor are ignored, is the source of Ciri's suffering in her flight from Cintra, her time as a bandit, and her abuse by Bonhart.
Sloth: The emperor of Nilfgaard, Emhyr var Emreis, The White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of his Enemies. The sin of sloth is not simply laziness, it is indifference, an absence of love, allowing evil to occur through inaction – not fulfilling responsibilities. Emhyr leaves all the work to others – he leads strategy to generals like Coehoorn, scheming to villains like Vilgefortz and Stefan Skellen, and politics to his aristocrats. As a result, Nilfgaard fails to actually win any of the wars in the North (even in the "Radovid and Dijkstra die" ending, Nilfgaardian troops retreat to the Empire as Emhyr has to restore his base of power there), Vilgefortz and Skellen betray him to run their own game, and aristocrats plot Emhyr's assassination. He certainly shows an "absence of love"; as Duny, he didn't actually love Pavetta and barely cared about her death. He doesn't care for Ciri, only wanting her as a queen of Cintra and a source of power. He can't even do dispassionate ruthlessness right; in the books he was on course to marry his own daughter Ciri and have Geralt and Yennefer killed, but can't even commit to that. Emhyr, who simply doesn't care about the lives of others, gets Ciri's mother killed, invades Ciri's kingdom which leads to the death of her grandmother and loss of her home, and has Ciri, Yennefer, and Geralt pursued across the world for power which he won't even wield.
In my opinion the traits of the heads of state fit the seven sins a little too well to be a coincidence, though it would have to be CD Projekt RED seeing an idea and running with it (since Radovid, Demavend, and especially Henselt are barely mentioned in the books). For me it's now headcanon.
I'll take it one step further and say that this means that the only appropriate ending is "Witcher Ciri". While the world of the Witcher doesn't have any 100% "good" characters, Ciri certainly tries consistently to do good deeds and be a good person. Her tendencies towards cynicism and wrath in the books are because all those efforts are frustrated, and all her loves destroyed. All the pain and suffering in her life is because of the sins of the heads of state, and will have had plenty of time to reflect on that by the time of the Witcher 3. She will by then have noticed the pride of Calanthe and the wrath of the An Craite as well. On the other end of the scale, she owes her life, and all the good experiences she has ever had, to adopted family like Geralt, Yennefer, Triss, Zoltan and his friends, Cahir, her bandit gang, the old man in the woods, and more. To survive her final confrontation with the White Frost she must be supported like a daughter by Geralt through the player's actions.
For the "Empress" ending to happen, Ciri must ignore everything that has happened to her, and commit the sin of pride by believing that she would not end up doing the same. She would have to accept Emhyr as her true father rather than Geralt, despite Emhyr having killed (or attempted to kill) ALL of her family, by blood or adopted. As empress she would either become sinful and evil, or regret (reject?) her choice forever.
As a witcher, she will spend her life protecting people, in real, measurable, immediate ways – the same way she was saved and protected by all the family in her life. Even Emhyr only had her saved (by Cahir) and released (at the end of the books, together with Geralt and Yennefer) as she was family. I believe Ciri's love for individuals as family are her only significant motivation after self-preservation, in both books and games. That motivation only fits with the "witcher Ciri" ending, not with her as an empress.
What do you think?
Source: Original link
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