So, Game of Thrones‘ pilot found a great audience, received positive reviews (at least most of them) and is already renewed for a second season.
That’s great news. But now, there’s perhaps room for other fantasy series on TV.
I mean great series like HBO’s, with good actors, good production and, well, a good budget, too. Many fantasy series are better suited to TV series than to movies. Basically, they need time to explore the universe, deepen characters, and develop the plot, which has often worldwide issues. But they also need money. Cheap dragons would look ridiculous. It seems they can now find it: TV series have become masterworks, involving great directors, great actors and often more inventiveness than movies.
So here’s the next question: which fantasy (books) series would be fit for TV? Which ones would you like to see?
Some of them have already been adapted into movies (with various success), such as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia or Howard’s Conan. Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain got a Disney movie in 1985, The Black Cauldron, which was fun for children, but I think they deserve a second try. Anyway, I’ll exclude these from my list.
My own pick would be:
1. Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber
Pro: I’m a big fan! More seriously: great characters, strong and deep, with a lead character you follow throughout the series; a plot involving politics, magic, family rivalries, romance and some epic battles; secrets gradually unfolded… All ingredients for a good series.
Cons: Very diverse settings, from our own Earth to the magical “First City” of Amber that’s supposed to be the origin and model of all worlds. Quite a challenge. Filming Shadow-walking (the way characters travel through parallel worlds) would probably be challenging, too.
2. Weis & Hickman’s Dragonlance
Pro: Great characters one would really love to see on screen (even if I suppose Raistlin would steal the show), epic setting, battles, romance, inner conflicts, comic reliefs. Actually it could have been written for TV!
Cons: OK, that’s not great literature. I completely agree. But it wasn’t meant to be. And I’m not sure great literature and great TV series are always made of the same stuff. Oh, and the dragons have to be really, really good if one want the audience to buy it.
3. Eddings’ Belgariad
Pro: Again, great characters offering great opportunities for actors (who would steal the show? Belgarath? Polgara? Silk?) with a classical quest storyline and a young hero uncovering his powers and secrets, perfect for an audience to identify with. Fewer fantasy creatures, less incredible places, which would make it easier to film, I suppose.
Cons: Again, not great literature. And the plot is very, very classical. Anyway I think it would work.
4. Jack Vance’s Lyonesse
Pro : More original, more faery-like than the previous ones. Interesting atmospheres, sometimes melancholic, sometimes funny, that could appeal to a wide audience.
Cons: Its flaws come from its qualities: that would be hard to find the right tone, the right atmosphere. There’s not a single lead character, but A Game of Thrones doesn’t have one either. Neither has Dragonlance. Also, it’s shorter than the other series; that would probably do for a mini-series.
But there are many other possibilities, such as:
- Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar. I haven’t read it, but it features two wonderful lead characters and the supernatural part is not too spectacular, so that would probably turn well on TV screen.
- Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy. I’m not a big fan, but that could be better as TV series than as books. Plus, as she wrote many books in the same universe, one would have stuff for many seasons !
- Jordan’s Wheel of Time. I know, that’s a big favorite. Readers suggest more than 40 different casts for its characters on Casting Game. And that seems to have been written for TV, actually. So why didn’t I put it on my list? Firstly, because it’s unfinished, which is a big problem since there are so many loose ends. Secondly (and you’ll hate me) because I really dislike it. I read it all, years ago. It could have been good. Some characters show real potential, especially female ones. But the books have no rhythm at all (nothing happens for hundreds of pages), no dramatic tension, so I cannot imagine it as TV series (especially compared to A Game of Thrones).
What would be your choices? Which fantasy series would you really like to see on TV?
15 thoughts on “After Game Of Thrones: Which Fantasy Books Would You Like To See on TV ?”
The Belgariad all the way. I love these books, and I think they would make a great tv show.
I do think if they found the right actor, Silk would totally steal the show.
Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series.
PROS:Huge cast of fascinating characters, (who by all being gorgeous would be ideal for TV!) Witty dialog with a keen sense of drama and comedy. Story easily broken into episodes/seasons. Well balanced between short-term story arcs and longer plots.
CONS: Spans multiple mythologies which some people may have a problem following. Not high-literature (but that’s what I like about it!)
You make me want to read these ones, Kes. They look fun !
I’d love to see Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel books on the big screen, but I doubt anyone would ever take the chance.
I’m a big fan of Kushiel myself, Elizabeth, but I’m afraid you’re right. It probably wouldn’t find its… let’s say its audience. Pity.
I forgot Moorcock’s Elric ! How could I ?
That would probably make a great TV series, with possible reuse of material from The Borgias and from Rome… plus the Targaryen from A Game of Thrones, of course.
I would second the dark hunter series. I would also like to add The Green Rider series by Kristen Britain. The characters are very well developed and a strong female lead. The books also have something for everybody magic, romance, action, and treachery.
I would love to see ‘Heroes Die’, ‘The Blade of Tyshalle’, and (I guess) ‘Caine Black Knife’ – All books in the “Acts of Caine” series by Matthew Woodring Stover
Another series that could be a ton of fun would be the series by Tom Deitz starting with: Windmaster’s Bane and ending with Warstalker’s Track.
The other series by Deitz consisting of Soulsmith, Dreambuilder, and Wordwright could be fun as well.
Armor by John Steakley would be a treat, if they didn’t mess with it too much.
The Lies of Locke Lamora could be fun.
And now that it’s more or less complete, I think it is a huge disservice to NOT have any of the Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett on the big screen.
I love Tiffany Aching ! She’s one of my favorite Discworld’s characters and one of my favorite role model for girls !
That could become a wonderful series, perhaps even an anime series. What do you think ?
It would take forever to get through the entire series, but Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series would be amazing as either a TV or anime series.
Thought I wonder how they’d manage to cast Corwin. Probably, the casting people would have to raid Australia again.
I have a real fondness for Bujold’s “The Sharing Knife” books and would love to see that adapted, especially with the rich history and changing landscapes. The second book, with the river boat journey, would be particularly visually compelling.
The Name of the Wind! Amazing, amazing, amazing book. I’m on the second one now. Would make an amazing set of movies.
I’d love to see the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind made into a TV series. What? You say that’s already been done? To that I say, not by a long shot!
Legend of the Seeker doesn’t count. I want a TV series of the actual story of the actual books. With a cast that actually looks like the characters described in the books. And a plot that doesn’t completely mangle everything about the story and characterizations that made it the books and relationships so cool in the first place.
Caren, I thought the exact same thing! Sword of Truth, please, done well!
I would love to see the Abhorsen series adapted into something.
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