Science fiction books aren't the only place where Hollywood gets its movie ideas. Fantasy books have also proven to be a fruitful source of inspiration. Want proof? Here's a roundup of three fantasy series—a dozen books in all—heading to the big screen.
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
By any measure, Mervyn Peake's GORMENGHAST trilogy is a classic. Known less for its traditional fantasy tropes than for its lush and lyrical prose, this gothic "fantasy of manners" (originally published between 1946 and 1959) is set in the wonderfully drawn Castle Gormenghast. It recounts the life of Titus, 77th Earl of Groan, beginning with his birth in the novel Titus Groan. The second book, simply titled Gormenghast, depicts Titus from the age of seven to seventeen as he claims control of the castle despite the scheming of his underling, Steerpike. The third book, Titus Alone, eventually sees Titus travel far from Gormenghast castle to find a futuristic world with advanced technology.
(Worth noting: Although predominantly considered a trilogy, more books were planned for the series and have since been published. In 1956, a short book called Boy in Darkness offered a brief adventure by a young Titus. Planned follow-up books were tentatively-titled Titus Awakes and Gormenghast Revisited, but were never completed because Parkinson's disease intervened. Peake died in 1968 but his widow wrote her version of Titus Awakes and called it Search Without End, which was eventually published in 2011 as Titus Awakes: The Lost Book of Gormenghast to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Peake's birth.)
Word of a Gormenghast adaptation is not new. In fact, the first two novels of the Gormenghast trilogy were already adapted for TV in 2000 as a four-episode television serial for the BBC. Radio and theater adaptations have also been previously produced. What’s new is news that the whole trilogy may newly be told on film. Author Neil Gaiman reported he was in talks to write a new film adaptation. His discussions have been with Fabian Peake, Mervyn Peake's son, who is on board with the idea. What better time to visit (or revisit) this fantasy classic?
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Don't for a minute think that TV is being left behind in the adaptation department. BBC has already greenlit a television series based on U.K. author Philip Pullman's popular young-adult fantasy trilogy HIS DARK MATERIALS. The series is comprised of Northern Lights (1995, a.k.a. The Golden Compass in the U.S.), The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000). BBC One has commissioned this imaginative and fun trilogy for an initial eight-part series to be produced by Pullman and former BBC executives Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner. Pullman says he is excited about bringing the story to television, which offers a longer, more in-depth format for storytelling. The books have been criticized for their attitude towards religion, especially Catholicism. That controversy resurfaced during filming of the 2007 film version of The Golden Compass where, ultimately, the religious themes were removed.
The books are set in a theocratic society where people's souls exist outside their bodies in the form of animals referred to as "daemons". Northern Lights introduces the main character, young Lyra Belacqua, and features her challenging journey to the Arctic in search of her missing friend and her imprisoned uncle, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as "Dust". In The Subtle Knife, Lyra is joined by Will, a boy who wields a knife capable of cutting doors between worlds. Together, Lyra and Will investigate the mysterious Dust phenomenon while searching for Lyra's father. In the final volume of the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass, the plot escalates towards war as the Church desperately tries to stop the Dust from seeping into their world.
Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski
Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski became an international phenomenon with his WITCHER stories. They revolve around the exploits of an assassin monster hunter named Geralt of Rivia who possesses supernatural abilities that he uses to fight all manner of beasts that plague the world. Several short stories about Geralt's adventures were written and collected in The Last Wish (released in the U.S. in 2008) and Sword of Destiny (2015). In between, four novels have also been released as part of the The Witcher Saga, which features the more experienced Geralt of Rivia and Ciri, a young ex-princess and Witcher-in-training. In Blood of Elves (2008), Geralt meets Ciri, and protects her from those who wish to abuse her extraordinary powers. In The Time of Contempt (2013), a serious injury leaves Geralt fighting for his life while Ciri appears to have gone missing. In Baptism of Fire (2014), Geralt embarks on a rescue mission to save Ciri while war rages across the land. Ciri is once again under threat from her enemies in The Tower of Swallows (released earlier this year). Here, Geralt and his band of allies attempt to save her from the mercenaries that would see her destroyed.
The entire WITCHER series has proven to be very popular in multiple countries. It has already spawned comic books, a Polish film and television adaptation, a tabletop role-playing game, and a popular video game. Far be it from Hollywood to be left out of this particular adaptation game. A full-length movie based on Sapkowski's WITCHER series is currently in production by an American film production company. This brand new adaptation is set to arrive in theaters in 2017. That should give you enough time to catch up on the six books that make up this exciting series.