Game of Thrones has ended after eight years, and we are all still reeling from the finale. Whatever you thought of these final episodes, no one is debating this fact: Game of Thrones absolutely changed the game for fantasy and sci-fi literary adaptations. And it showed that modern television was the right avenue for adapting epic stories that cover many novels, and not going the movie route. And now with Game of Thrones a thing of the past, there are many beloved book series that are vying for its (dare I say) throne.
Unnamed Lord of the Rings Series (Amazon Prime)
Although already announced as a “Lord of the Rings” series, that’s not entirely accurate. The series is set to take place in the Second Age of Middle-Earth, so thousands of years before the events of the books. So more “inspired by” than literal adaptation. Amazon is pouring a ton of money into this one, and expecting big results. JD Payne and Patrick McKay are the series showrunners. Although there is no timetable for the show’s debut, given the legendary pedigree of the books and the movies, expect this one to be way huge.
The Dark Tower (Amazon Prime)
Another beloved Stephen King series that got done dirty by the movies is getting a chance to get it right for television. And like the Tolkien series, it is also headed to Amazon. Jasper Pääkkönen and Sam Strike have recently been cast in the lead roles for the pilot, as the the Man in Black and Roland Deschain, respectively. This eight book series has an enormous following, and will get the chance to air before the Tolkien series. Given its famous status, this one has a real shot at being the next cultural event series.
The Wheel of Time (Amazon Prime)
Amazon has yet a third big budget fantasy adaptation on its way with The Wheel of Time series, which is currently casting its pilot. The 14 book series by Robert Jordan is the biggest selling fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings, selling some 80 million copies. So that means there is plenty to milk here for several seasons of television, and it has a large built in fanbase. Between this and the Middle Earth and Dark Tower shows, Amazon is looking to be the home of sword and sorcery epics for the next decade at least.
His Dark Materials (BBC/HBO)
The beloved YA book series from Phillip Pullman was adapted into a feature film in 2007 with The Golden Compass, but it didn’t please book fans or general audiences. Now its coming back with a television adaptation that will stick much closer to the source material this time. This one stars Ruth Wilson, Daphne Keen, James MacAvoy and Lin Maniel Miranda, and is set to hit HBO later this year and the BBC in the UK. Being on HBO and being the first of these TV series out of the gate gives it a real shot at Game of Thrones level status.
The Chronicles of Narnia (Netflix)
Announced in late 2018, the entire 7 book series by C.S. Lewis is now all under the auspices of streaming giant Netflix. The previous three books in the series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader all made it to the big screen, but only the first book found tremendous success at the box office. Netflix will re-adapt these beloved novels in the hopes that they’ll have their own epic fantasy series, even if it is one that’s been brought to life already.
The Witcher (Netflix)
Although it might be more famous as a video game series to most, The Witcher actually began as a series of novels by author Andrzej Sapkowski. Superman star Henry Cavill is going to play the title character, monster hunter Geralt of Rivia. And he’s doing it in a questionable platinum blonde wig. But don’t expect that to stop fans of the series from turning out in droves. This is Netflix’s first big jump into the epic fantasy pool, and coming on the heels of Game of Thrones this has a real shot at filling that fantasy hole in our hearts now that Westeros is a memory.
The Vampire Chronicles (Hulu)
The television adaptation of Anne Rice’s celebrated series of novels is more historical fiction mixed with horror, but there are vampires so we say it counts as fantasy. Rice and her son Christopher are executive producers on this series which will follow the vampire Lestat and his cohorts, and is set to go into pre-production soon. Dee Johnson will serve as showrunner. While this isn’t an action driven epic with swords and battles, expect this to tap into the same audience that made Outlander such a huge hit. This will also be a touchstone series for LGBTQ audiences as well.
The Kingkiller Chronicle (Showtime)
Showtime is getting in on the fantasy adaptations as well, with The Kingkiller Chronicle is a series of fantasy novels written by Patrick Rothfuss, which came out a little over a decade ago. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will executive produce the television series, and write songs for it as well. It was announced in early 2018 that a feature film was also coming directed by Sam Raimi, but how the movie ties into the TV series remains unclear. This one also is probably a ways away still.
The Eyes of the Dragon (Hulu)
Another fantasy Stephen King adaptation coming soon is The Eyes of the Dragon, which is getting a pilot from Hulu. This King series has ties to both The Dark Tower and The Stand, but it will be interesting to see how they handle those connections to shows on other outlets. Seth Grahame-Smith will serve as series showrunner. This is just one novel and not an entire series of books, so it will be interesting to see how they stretch it out to multiple seasons.
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