Fantasy novels are known for their meticulous world-building, epic plots, and imaginative elements such as magic systems. There are many sub-genres in fantasy, from Lord of the Rings-type high fantasy to steam punk, and they all offer unique stories. It seems then that fantasy novels should be great material for amazing film adaptations. Unfortunately though, the genre is often overlooked due to potentially high design and production costs. However, there are still a lot of great novels that would make excellent movies if given a chance.
Given the massive success of the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones and films like Lord of the Rings, we've seen that it's very possible to translate a fantasy novel or series to the screen and do it right. In fact, some production companies are starting to see the potential of fantasy in TV and film, and have invested in new series, like MTV's upcoming show The Shannara Chronicles. Still, there are a lot of amazing novels out there that haven't been picked up by production studios, but deserve to be on the big screen. So without further ado, we've compiled a list of 11 fantasy novels that deserve film adaptations. Check out the list!
Brandon Sanderson is one of the most prolific names in fantasy right now, and for good reason. He's written some truly unique novels and series, one of which is the popular Mistborn series. The first novel, Mistborn: The Final Empire and sequels would make great film adaptations, since they have a great cast of characters, an interesting world, and an awesome magic system. As for the story, Mistborn centers around an elaborate heist by a band of rebellious magic users, who plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler, the book's malevolent tyrant. It would really make a great film or film trilogy, especially because there's a lot of action that Hollywood could do some awesome things with.Advertisement
The Way of Shadows
This gritty novel by Brent Weeks is part of The Night Angel trilogy, which revolves around magic-wielding assassins that become wrapped up in a conflict involving ancient artifacts, powerful mages, and politics. The Way of Shadows has a lot of fighting and action that would work well in a movie, and some really well-developed characters that viewers would love. It would most certainly have to be rated R though, because this novel is very dark. It's no Game of Thrones, but lovable characters will die. Still, the grand scope of the narrative in The Way of Shadows makes it deserve a good film adaptation.
The Way of Kings
This massive fantasy tome by Brandon Sanderson is one of the longest – and most epic – books I've ever read. In fact, it's so long that to give it a proper film treatment, The Way of Kings would need to be made into multiple movies or a long TV show, like Game of Thrones. Still, this novel has such an amazing plot and world-building that it deserves to be put on the big screen. The Way of Kings has multiple viewpoint characters, but mainly focuses on Kaladin, a former army squad captain who is betrayed and forced to work a deadly job as a slave. Even though this book is just the first of an ongoing 10-book series called The Stormlight Archive, there's a real sense of progress in the story and in the character development. It would be a shame to not turn such a grand tale into a film someday.
Robin Hobb is an author you've likely heard of if you're an avid fantasy reader. Her book Assassin's Apprentice, part of The Farseer Trilogy, involves a young boy named Fitz who receives secret training as an assassin, and gets pulled into magical and political conflict. Regardless of this book having a great plot and deep characterization, it's probably one of the most doable for production studios that don't want to break the bank. This novel doesn't have a ton of graphic action, but the narrative and dynamics between meticulously crafted characters make Assassin's Apprentice a novel that deserves a film adaptation.
Brandon Sanderson's Elantris is a rare gem in fantasy, because it's a standalone novel that manages to pack a complex narrative, world-building, and multiple viewpoint characters into one book. And it still feels like a complete story. In Elantris, Sanderson's whole premise is based on the question, “what happens when a magic system is broken and causes the deterioration of a society?” In the titular city of Elantris, a curse came upon the place, causing the magic that supported the society the stop working. It's a great concept to explore in a film adaptation, and as an added bonus, the minimal amount of magic in the book would ease a studio's burden of CGI requirements.
Gardens of the Moon
This novel is the first in the 10-book Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. It's a truly epic work of fantasy, which features intricate world-building and multiple storylines woven into a complex, sweeping plot. While Gardens of the Moon is an ambitious novel, it's one of the greats, and definitely deserves a film adaptation. It has a few of the high fantasy staples that people love to see in movies – magic, assassins, and of course, dragons. Hollywood loves to milk franchises for all the films and merchandise they can, and Steven Erkison's Malazan Book of the Fallen series has enough content for many, many movies.
The Eye of the World
The first installment in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series is one of those classic tales of good versus evil. When a group of troll-like creatures attacks a peaceful village, a trio of protagonists must go on a quest to prevent further attacks. The Eye of the World is definitely influenced by J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and shares many elements that would translate well to the screen, such as battles, magic, and fascinating environments. But those aren't the only reasons why The Eye of the World deserves a film adaptation. TheWheel of Time is one of fantasy's most beloved series, and at it's core, is simply an amazing story.
Sabriel, the first in the Old Kingdom series by Australian author Garth Nix, is a brilliant fantasy novel with an innovative concept. A teenage necromancer must discover what has happened to her father, who is trapped in the river of Death. Unlike most evil necromancers who raise the dead, Sabriel's purpose is to put troubled spirits to rest and ensure that dead souls don't make it back into the world of the living. If that somehow doesn't pique your interest, there's also a key character called Mogget, who is an ancient demon that has been forced into a cat's body.
The unique concept and incredible imagery in Sabriel could make a great recipe for a movie. As good as this novel is, it certainly deserves one.
Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker is much different than your typical fantasy novel. Instead of having the main characters go on an epic quest or fight in a war for dominance of a kingdom, the novel explores the drastic measures one must take to prevent war in the first place. It has many layers of political and religious conflict, and has one of the most unique magic systems I've ever seen, where color is used to animate objects and create robot-like servile automatons. Sanderson also flips character stereotypes upside down, with the hardened warrior who doesn't like killing, and the god who doesn't believe in his own religion. All these elements make Warbreaker stand out among the carbon-copy fantasy novels on store shelves, and the book is definitely deserving of a film version. Especially since this is a standalone novel that isn't part of a series.
The Black Prism
The Black Prism is part of a new ongoing fantasy series by Brent Weeks, called the Lightbringer series. Like the previously mentioned novel Warbreaker, The Black Prism features a light-based magic system, although it works in a way more similar to how The Green Lantern's powers work. In this novel, the most powerful man in the world, named Guile, discovers that he has a 15-year old illegitimate son, and must make critical decisions to protect that secret. The pre-industrial fantasy setting, flawed and realistic characters, and evolving plot make this book something that definitely deserves a film treatment. I would definitely pay good money to see it if it was done well.
Prince of Thorns
This book is the first entry in Mark Lawrence's gritty Broken Empire series. Like many fantasy novels, this book has a young main character who witnesses his family being murdered and experiences other brutalities. But unlike many fantasy novels, the main character in Prince of Thorns embraces the inner darkness caused by these events, and focuses his energy on destruction and revenge, rather than protection. This teenager, Jorg, is a malicious anti-hero who doesn't hesitate to wade through a river of blood to attain his goals. It's very hard for an author to make the reader not hate a character like this, but Lawrence pulls it off, and that's one of the reasons why this novel is so great. We've seen how successful anti-hero shows like Breaking Bad and Dexter can be on TV, so why not apply this winning formula to epic fantasy?
So there you have it – 11 fantasy novels that deserve film adaptations. From dark, gritty fantasy tales to traditional coming-of-age quests, there are a lot of great stories in the fantasy genre that would make great films. Of course, some popular novels already have movie adaptations in the works, such as Steven King's The Dark Tower and Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of Wind. This is great news for fans like myself, as it seems that production studios are starting to see the potential of this genre. Do you know another great fantasy novel that would be great in film form? Let us know in the comments below!