10 Fantasy Series that Need to be Animated

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Fantasy books seem to finally be getting all the love. Shannara got its live action series, and there have been movies about Beautiful Creatures, Harry Potter, Seventh Son. To see the words on the page fly up on the screen, to see it come to as close to real life as humanly possible, can be a dream come true.

But what about the animated series? Sometimes the books we read and adore, might have a better reception when the movement is more illustrated than realistic. Whether it is the style of magic, or the nature of writing, or the required budget for an unknown series, an animated series can be the best option for certain series.Here, in no particular order, are ten series of books that deserve a chance in color. Enjoy!

  1. The Heir Series by Cinda Williams Chima

    Enchanters. Soothsayers. Sorcerers. Warriors. Wizards The magical Guilds have always existed in a hierarchy of power, the other four dominated by the Wizards. The White and Red Roses, two factions of wizards that vie for power over the world. To take control, but not risk their wizards or exposure, they take their warriors, children, and fight out their differences in tournaments. Jack Swift just found out he’s one of those warriors.

    If you haven’t read Cinda Williams Chima’s Heir series, what makes it stand out is the seriousness of the young adult genre. The children intimately understand when they are trapped, and what sacrifices might have to be made for their lives to actually progress onwards. They try to keep their good humor as they struggle on against an elitist class that all too often seems to have all the power.

    This seems to go against my criterion for animated series. But imagine five different Guilds, in the style of an anime such as Attack on Titan. Huge battles, the ghosts of the past, with a mysterious dragon slumbering in the background. Chima’s series could make one realize how to fight against oppression, and sometimes it just takes knowing when to reach out to new friends.

  2. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

    The live-action movies were disappointing at best. Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is one of those rare blends of teenage drama and heroic epic that is actually able to understand both. When I read these books, I see the same wit and care for characters that the original Avatar: the Last Airbender was able to capture. Gods, heroes, monsters, all beyond the scope of humanity, while having the amazing foibles that make them so much more approachable. Examples include Athena’s children and their fear of spiders, the warmth of Hera, and the Bermuda Triangle holding the Sea of Monsters.

    This is a series that needs humor, over-the-top expressions, and fight scenes that can shake the heavens. Giving it the animated treatment would let the kids of Camp Half-Blood truly show what they can do. 

  3. Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

    The most limited series of the list, with just two books to its name, Dark Lord of Derkholm follows a world that is in the grip of a tourist agency. Mr. Chesney’s Pilgrim Parties has been going for forty years, with thousands of would-be adventurers ravaging this world. The gods have been silent, and it seems like the next Dark Lord, the Wizard Derk, is going to have to uproot his happy lifestyle or risk his entire family and the very planet.

    While limited in narrative, Diana Wynne Jones’ series is epic in scope. Within these pages is an entire pantheon of gods and their respective races. There are new countries and cultures that hearken back to the ottoman empire, the Romans, all trying to live in a world while trying to change it. This series tackles questions like identity, responsibility, and how to understand one’s imagination and the power that comes from within.

    Also, talking griffins. That is all.

  4. Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews

    After a millennia of technology, magic has once again tipped the balance in the world. In a post-apocalyptic Atlanta, magic waves of energy roll through in unexpected manner. They change the landscape, the people, even the rules of physics. And when the waves dissipate, there’s a mess to be cleaned up. Kate Daniels is a mercenary who has to deal with magic, vampires and the Necromancers who control them, and the paramilitary Pack and their mysterious Beast Lord.

    The Magic series from husband and wife team Ilona Andrews has a new take on magic that makes so much more sense in an animated format. One thing that live-action seems to continuously have difficulty with is the transformation aspect of magic, and trying to make a seamless transition between an actor and a CGI form. The Daniels series having new types of magic, different interpretations of beloved tropes and archetypes, and new beings being discovered with every episode, could be a perfect match for animation.

  5. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

    First there was the Sci-Fi show, then there was only the books and thousands of adoring fans. Jim Butcher’s books seem to just keep hitting the bestseller’s lists, but no one wants to take a bite at Chicago’s only professional wizard.

    What makes an animated series so intriguing is the fact that Butcher now is expanding the series into comics. New original stories such as “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Ghoul Goblin,” and “War Cry,” show that the series is ripe for exploration. Butcher’s short stories, his comics, and of course the great arcs that make up the main series, are filled with lore that could fill season after season. Using the animated medium could allow for the exploration of magic, and finally give Dresden fans the series they have been dying for since they first saw that advertisement in the Yellow Pages.

  6. The Belgariad and Mallorean by David Eddings

    Millennia ago, the Dark Lord Torak stole the Orb of Aldur and cracked the world open. The great sorcerer Belgarath, his daughter Polgara, and the Algars brought the Orb to the West, and peace reigned. Torak sleeps, and the world is now nice and boring. At least it is for a Sendar farmer named Garion, until he is whisked away in the night by Aunt Pol and taken on an adventure.

    David Eddings’ series is one of the classic tales of boyhood, adolescence, and friends that can turn into bears. His style is one that relied on witty dialogue, while asking questions on the nature of how to grow up. The fact that the pantheon of gods are all brothers who don’t understand how to deal with each other, or humanity for that matter, lends itself even more to the quirky nature of an animated series. The Prophecy of Riva may be coming true, but we’d like to see it in our living rooms.

  7. The Last Apprentice by Joseph DeLaney

    How often does an animated series frighten you? Reach down into your chest and take a long, cold grip on your heart? Joseph Delaney’s series The Last Apprentice (or the Wardstone Chronicles for those of you across the pond), does just that. Thomas Ward is the aforementioned Last Apprentice to the Spook, the County’s lone vanguard against the boggarts, witches, and servants of the Dark. Being born the seventh son of a seventh son gives some advantages, but sometimes all the master and apprentice can rely on is a staff, a will, and a friend with pointy shoes.

    This is billed as a young adult series, and can easily fill as such, but it is going to frighten you. I imagine long, Burton-esque shots of black and grays, punctuated by some blood and grime. It may not be friendly, but The Last Apprentice could give chills that lovers of “Death Note,” and “Goosebumps,” crave. 

  8. Dragonlance by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman

    In 2008, there actually was a full animated movie based off of Weiss and Hickman’s D&D inspired work. It had some minor names attached to the work like Keifer Sutherland, Michael Rosenbaum, and Lucy Lawless. However, due to some widely-held negative views of the film on pretty much all fronts, this series went the way of “John Carter,” “Green Lantern,” and so many others.

    This is a shame, because Dragonlance holds some of the best, most accessible lore for lovers of this type of high fantasy. Complex characters such as Tanis Half-Elven, caught between two worlds. The brothers Majere, two halves that struggle to be both together and independent from each other. Strong female characters like Goldmoon and Laurana. And the irrepressible comedy of Tassselhoff Burrfoot and Fizban the Fabulous.

    An animated series would give the Dragonlance series an opportunity to truly flesh out all of its characters, a major point of contention in reviews. Much like “Avatar: the Last Airbender,” sometimes a fantasy series needs time to set up the lore, establish conflict, and in doing so, becomes better than 90 minutes of film could ever be.

  9. Discworld by Terry Pratchett

    Terry Pratchett’s iconic Discworld would be best as an animated series. I said it, I meant it, and here is why. Yes, there have been live action adaptations of individual novels over the years, and “Going Postal” was fun. But Pratchett’s style, and his unique, quirky writing in his Discworld series is absolutely beloved. Dozens of books with lore that could be examined in a series for seasons ad infinitum. The city of Ankh Morpork, Death and his progeny, the endless wars between dwarves and trolls, and this is just getting a bare glimpse of what lays on the page.

    Specifically, why animated would be better than live-action is the style. Pratchett’s work is not meant to be taken in a serious, dark tone of Game of Thrones or House of Cards. While there are truly dark moments, Pratchett’s work is best experienced with a sense of whimsy, and the nature of animated series could lend heavily to maintaining this aesthetic.

    Also, a world sitting on four elephants on the back of a giant turtle. Please let us see this.

  10. The Bartimaeus Series by Jonathan Stroud

    Bartimaeus of Uruk, the great Djinn, builder of the walls of Karnak, Ngorso the Mighty. The most annoying demon the world has ever known. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.

    Welcome to a modern day London. It is run by magicians, who hold the world at their beck and call through the enslavement of demons. The magicians play politics, trying to outdo one another while keeping beings that can rewrite reality in check by the barest of threads. When one such magician, a young boy named Nathaniel, calls up the smart-aleck Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand, it’s all business as usual. Until a few things go wrong.

    Jonathan Stroud’s series brings the idea of politics down to a level that can be better understood by the viewing audience. How power is played out, what favors can mean, and the very idea and firmness of a democracy, are all brought to bear while the main character dances his way through a magical world. He may hate most humans, but we’re okay, we’re watching his amazing story. We just better not let it go to our heads.