Recently it seems like every second book and comic is popping up as a movie or TV series. The massive outright success of Game of Thrones has given studios a lot more confidence when it comes to sourcing material from the world of fantasy and already Netflix has started producing Terry Brooks’ “Shannara Chronicles”, and Andrzej Sapkowski’s “Witcher” series, while Amazon is making Robert Jordan’s epic “Wheel of Time” into a series of the same name and the BBC has ordered two seasons of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”.
Despite this, there are still a load of excellent fantasy novels that aren’t even being whispered about to become television that we think would make for excellent TV.
The Farseer trilogy – Robin Hobb
A young boy, who also happens to be a royal bastard, is dumped on an unwilling court. His lineage kept secret he is trained to be the royal assassin in a court filled to the brim with intrigue and deception. Meanwhile his uncle, Prince Verity, desperately tries to defend the Six Dutchies from a mysterious army of warriors from the Outislander Islands who have the ability to turn the people of the Six Duchies into emotionless zombies.
The series has everything “Game of Thrones” had; huge battles, a faceless threat, duplicitous characters, and a lead you just can’t help but love. The trials of the assassin Fitzchivalry Farseer have as many twists as the whole of “Game of Thrones”, many of which you will never see coming meaning every season has plenty to cliffhangers to keep us coming back for more.
The Broken Empire Trilogy – Mark Lawrence
While clearly medieval in nature the world of “The Broken Empire” is in fact set in a post-apocalyptic earth. This world is a brutal one, populated with characters each seemingly more devious and conniving than the others. In the midst of the cruel, harsh terrain Prince Jorg Ancrath is cast out his castle by his father a minor king. We follow his journey as he desperately tries to raise himself from the scorned prince of one small principality to Emperor; using guile, cunning, malevolence, and more than a little violence.
In Jorg Ancrath we can see more than a few echoes of Mervin Peake’s famous Titus Groan from Gormenghast, and like with Titus we can’t help but admire the levels he will sink to, to make sure he ends up on top. It’s a gripping series loaded with hateful characters that will have you surprised at just what you are capable of cheering for.
The Mistborn series – Brandon Sanderson
While magic plays a minimal role in the previous two series, it’s at the very heart of the Mistborn series. Set in a world of darkness where ash rains from the sky and citizens eke out a living in the ruins of a once-great society Mistborn begins where most series would end with an epic battle for the souls of man, and the chosen one battling a great evil, only in this instance, the chosen one lost.
Amongst all this chaos and evil can anyone even begin to hope, much less try to rebuild the world? Packed full of rich characters, including a rare female lead, and with more twists than a bag of Fusilli pasta, the series has left its readers feeling betrayed, upset, and in outright tears as they followed their favourites right to the very end. Gripping and impossibly shocking in the right way, this would undoubtedly have us holding on to the very last minute.
The Tales of the Otori Series – Lian Hearn
The Tales of the Otori series is set in an imagined feudal Japan where a young warrior named Takeo swears to avenge his adoptive father after everyone in his village is massacred. Along the way, he discovers his hidden powers and pursues the love of his life, while around him warlords are locked in a struggle for power that threatens to throw the realm into chaos.
A fast-paced tale of love, loyalty, violence, and betrayal, it is perhaps more Star Wars, than a nuanced tale of political intrigue, and some of the elements would fit right in with B-movies, but the characters are endearing and their adventures are gripping, making this series perfect for a Shannara like adaptation.
The Gentleman Bastard sequence – Scott Lynch
If you like characters morally conflicted then The Gentleman bastard sequence is the place to come. Set in city of Camorr, built aeons ago out of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, and now beset on all sides by criminality, poverty and deprivation, the series follows Locke Lamora, great con-artist, but awful swordsman, who has somehow convinced people he is a legendary Robin Hood type figure, Thorn of Camorr.
He and his team of tricksters and thieves, known as the Gentleman bastards are anything but heroes, however, and prowl the dirty canals, overpopulated cemeteries and crumbling palaces of the city surrounded by numerous violent, delinquent and cruel criminal gangs each of whom seeks to control the city. Right now Capa Barsavi is in charge, but there are rumours a nameless figure, the grey king is coming to claim the throne.
Intrigue, plotting and a range of characters who have every reason to be at each other’s throats once again make for gripping TV.