On to the Next Game (of Thrones)

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On to the Next Game (of Thrones)

Upcoming Fantasy Adaptations to Fill the Game of Thrones-Sized Hole In Your Heart

With HBO’s mega-hit Game of Thrones about to begin its eighth and final season, television networks and streaming platforms are looking to fill the inevitable void that will be left when the juggernaut fantasy series concludes in May. The success of Thrones, based off of George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series, has proven to television executives that there is a market for grand, high fantasy storytelling on the small screen. Here are a few fantasy titles, some well-known and others less so, that are set to premiere adaptations in the near future.
 
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Amazon has committed to a five-season deal to adapt stories from legendary fantasy author J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle-earth universe, the setting for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Though they’ve been secretive with information, we do know that the series will be a prequel, set during the Second Age of Tolkien’s fictional timeline. What does that mean exactly? Well, the Second Age is notable in that it was during this time that the Rings of Power were forged, including the One Ring, and when Sauron began his campaign to conquer the free peoples of Middle-earth. These events and more are detailed in The Silmarillion, a detailed mythopoetic account composed by Tolkien and edited and published posthumously by his son, Christopher. It’s the perfect tome to brush up on Middle-earth lore and build a solid foundation for whatever stories the Amazon series may bring our way.
 
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Set in a world where biblical legends are true, an angel, onetime keeper of the East Gate in Heaven, and a demon, the embodiment of the Serpent from the Garden of Eden, put aside their opposing celestial differences (but not their bickering) to join forces and stop the impending apocalypse. Why? Because they’ve come to very much enjoy Earth, and the quaint lives they’ve carved for themselves hiding amongst mortals in the U.K. The outrageous, giddy novel by two of fantasy’s most beloved authors will premiere on Amazon Prime on May 31 and stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen as the devil and the angel, respectively, with an amazing supporting cast including Jon Hamm, Benedict Cumberbatch, Miranda Richardson, Michael McKean, Nick Offerman and Frances McDormand as God. It’s a fast read full of heart and humor and with a cast like that, it’s hard to imagine this adaptation will be anything other than divine.
 
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Pullman’s epic trilogy, consisting of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, centers on Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pan as she grows into her own and discovers truths about herself, her world, and the state-imposed religion that governs it that rock the very foundations of society, science, and sorcery. The trilogy upends traditional fantasy conventions and presents difficult philosophical quandaries that challenge both characters and readers as they journey with Lyra through parallel worlds, frozen tundras, and war-torn skies. Though classified as middle-grade, these novels can delight and engage readers of all ages. The BBC, in partnership with HBO, has just wrapped production on an eight-episode adaptation of the entire trilogy starring James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Dafne Keen as Lyra. Like a strange mix of Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code and the Sparrows from Game of Thrones, this adaptation has the potential to shatter expectations along with worlds.  
 
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
If Harry Potter brought fantasy to the mainstream, and Game of Thrones made it so the cool kids could like it too, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series most certainly laid the foundation to make that ascent possible.  The series follows a messianic figure who is destined to save his world from a dangerous, supremely evil overlord and possibly destroy it in the process. Equal parts traditional and revisionist, the series gripped countless loyal readers’ imaginations, who have clamored for an adaptation for some time. Their wish will finally be granted by Amazon, who, though cautious in sharing information, seem committed to tackling the massive, fourteen-book saga. If they’re successful, it’s easy to see how they’ll snatch the “must-see  TV” banner from their HBO predecessor. There’s no set premiere date yet, so you have plenty of time to make some headway. Begin your journey by reading The Eye of the World, the first book in the series.
 
The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski
Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, a solitary monster hunter and cunning sorcerer, who struggles to find his place in a world where people are often more wicked than the beasts he hunts across the vast continent, attempting to avoid geopolitical conflicts yet often finding himself smackdab in the middle of war and carnage. Drawing on European folklore in a manner similar to Tolkien, Sapkowski’s novels are a healthy mix of grimdark, humor and mysticism, all centering on a curious protagonist who is equal parts Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. Coming to Netflix, The Witcher looks to be a strict adaptation of the main novels in the series rather than the non-canonical video games, and could be Netflix’s best chance to give HBO and Amazon some competition in the epic fantasy realm. Superman actor Henry Cavill has been cast as Geralt, while veteran Game of Thrones directors will helm the project. It’s unclear when the series will drop, but it’s best to read up now so you’re ready. The story begins with The Last Wish, and twists and turns over eight more installments.
 
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
The Nuru and Okeke peoples live in a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa. The aggressive Nuru have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally assaulted, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means "Who Fears Death?" in an ancient African tongue. Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny – to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture – and eventually death itself. Not for the faint of heart, this adult sci-fi/fantasy novel is the epitome of the feminist answer to white, male-dominated European mainstream fantasy, and it set to be adapted by HBO with George R.R. Martin serving as an executive producer.  
 
And be on the lookout for more information concerning upcoming adaptations of other fantasy titles, including Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, and C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia.