Sad that Game of Thrones is ending? Never fear — we have six fantasy series HBO can adapt next!
With the final season of Game of Thrones upon us, it’s time we look ahead to the potential HBO has to bring other fan-favorite book series to life. We’ve compiled a wishlist of fantasy book series we’d love HBO to adapt into TV shows.
Book series that HBO should adapt into TV shows
‘Shades of Magic’ by Victoria Schwab
Victoria Schwab’s Shades of Magic series would make a perfect HBO TV show. I can picture an opening now, a swish of a coat that changes color, a symbol written in blood, two eyes, one black, one blue, and with music possibly by Bear McCreary…
For those who haven’t read the Shades of Magic series by Victoria Schwab, it’s a fantasy series where magic doesn’t come without a cost and female characters act with their own ambition and autonomy. There exists multiple parallel universes that can be traveled between by only a few people called Antari.
Kell, a blood magician known as an Antari, travels between worlds delivering messages from his King to the Kings and rulers of different, parallel Londons who are color coded based on their level of magic. There is Red London (Ripe with Magic), Black London (Fallen completely due to black magic), Grey London (Non-magic), and White London (in the midst of falling).
Kell meets Lila, a thief with a mind of her own who dreams of being a pirate, who steals from Kell and is the inciting incident as she causes the same magic that bled Black London dry to begin seeping into Grey London.
Besides Kell and Lila, there are multiple characters within the series who are in my top 10 characters overall and I’d love to see them come to life on the small screen.
On top of Shades of Magic being a trilogy, there is also a prequel comic (The Steel Prince) that could deepen the lore within a TV show. Victoria recently said that she has planned on writing a second trilogy that takes place after Shades of Magic ended, giving the opportunity for a longer standing TV show based on the material. With how often Victoria releases books, even if HBO started filming now, by the time they caught up to the end of Shades of Magic, the new series would probably be out and ready to be adapted as well!
With a gripping plot and memorable characters, the Shades of Magic series would come to life on HBO, which would be able to play up the usage of blood magic, destruction wrought, and havoc caused by the degrading worlds.
A movie is currently in production, and quietly has been for about two years. Since next to nothing is known about it, Shades of Magic still tops our wish-list of fantasy TV adaptations.
‘The Realm of the Elderlings’ by Robin Hobb
The Realm of the Elderlings universe written by Robin Hobb would be an amazing backdrop for HBO to explore. An expansive world that spans not only nine books that follow Fitzchivalry Farseer’s life, but another seven novels that take place along the same timeline that eventually intersects with Fitzchivalry’s. It could be the next Game of Thrones for HBO, considering each book is around the same size of an A Song of Ice and Fire book. There could be arguably even more material to turn into a TV adaptation than George R. R. Martin supplied, and it’s finished.
The Farseer Trilogy, which is the first three books in the Realm of the Elderlings universe, follow the life of the teenage bastard of the next in line for the crown, who defects due to having said bastard, Fitzchivalry. Fitz is brought to live at the castle and trained to become an assassin for the King, his grandfather, under the tutelage of the master of spies.
Robin Hobb created such an expansive world with unique magicks and abilities that are so well thought out. She hand-feeds just enough information as you read deeper into the series that the world opens up around you. There are prophecies, dragons, pirates, raids, bonds with animals, telepathy between groups of people… Oh, and Fitz’s weapon of choice is a battle axe. There is court intrigue, suspense, action, backstabbing, and even love. Did I mention the dragons?
I’ve compared Robin Hobb’s writing style to that of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind in that they both follow the life of one character from the time they are a child all the way through adulthood. Fitzchivalry’s books go throughout his entire life, which would mean that the TV show could potentially recast the younger characters a few times throughout the series, since Fitz starts at around six and by the ninth book he’s much much older.
With a large cast of characters, multiple timelines within the universe to play with, and one of the most emotional plotlines I’ve ever read, HBO should definitely snatch The Realm of the Elderlings up ASAP so I can watch it.
‘The Broken Earth’ by N.K. Jemisin
N.K. Jemisin is known for her unique, diverse world building, and really, any of her book series would make amazing TV shows on HBO. The Broken Earth would have the biggest effect, with N.K. Jemisin’s usage of point of view and storytelling that interweaves different storylines you don’t know are connected until she wants you to. Full of jaw dropping twists, this apocalyptic series finds earth wrought with massive, generation long storms that change the entire earth whenever they come about. HBO has the means to pull off the setting of The Fifth Season, which this series would definitely need.
The world building is intense, with completely original races, species, and caste systems due to the Seasons and destruction of Earth. The Orogenes, those who have the power to control energy, are widely feared and controlled by those called Guardians.
The plot of The Fifth Season follows three orogene women, a middle aged woman with two small children, a young girl who just discovered she’s an orogene, and a young, powerful orogene who is paired with the most powerful living orogene. With these three plots interwoven throughout, it would make a dynamic and gripping TV show that I wouldn’t be able to stop talking about.
With a diverse cast, a unique apocryphal plotline, multiple points of view, and complex characters, The Broken Earth would be a standout show on HBO, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats week after week as the plot unfolds.
Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden
If you’re a fan of House Stark, The Night’s Watch, or find a way to work in, “The North Remembers” into every other conversation you have, then it’s time to get on board with an adaptation of Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy. This fantasy series set in (the very cold, very austere) medieval Russia blends historical fact, folklore creatures and magical demon kings into a wholly satisfying story that is part fairy tale, part historical retelling and part superhero narrative.
Like Game of Thrones, the story begins in a small, out of the way, Northern village and centers on the family of the Boyar who is in charge of it. Unlike Game of Thrones, the main protagonist of the story isn’t the doomed head of the household, but instead the strange, young child who is doted on — because of and in spite of the fact that she doesn’t conform to societal norms.
Vasya Petrovna, the series’ protagonist, is basically like Arya mixed with Bran. She starts the series as a young girl, too wiry and earthy to be considered beautiful, and just altogether too weird because she has the ability to see the mythological and folkloric creatures in her village.
We follow her throughout the trilogy as she grows up, sharpens her abilities, communicates with a variety of mythological creatures, comes into conflict with the Russian Orthodox Church, makes friends (and more…) with The Frost King and helps the human forces of medieval Rus’ fight against the Tatars.
In addition, there’s a lot of snow, a lot of people talking about how cold it is, awesome family and familial dynamics, multiple conflicts between Orthodox religious and pagan beliefs, plenty of political intrigue and great commentary on femininity and the role of women in medieval society.
Also, there is a talking horse and he is one of my favorite characters.
With its strong female heroes, its nuanced look at power and responsibility, a family that’s easy to root for, fascinating political intrigue and a mixture of military storylines and magical creatures, The Winternight Trilogy would be a fantastic successor to Game of Thrones.
Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty
An adaptation of S.K. Chakraborty’s The Daevabad Trilogy would give us something that Game of Thrones (or most other fantasy series) hasn’t given us in the course of its eight seasons: People of color in lead roles who also do not end up dying.
This fantasy series takes place in the Middle East during the 18th century and is full of magical creatures from Islamic mythology — beings of fire, such as djinn (or Daeva, as we learn they prefer to be called) and ifrits, along with creatures of water, like the marid.
Like Katherine Arden with Russian history in The Winternight Trilogy, it’s immediately and absolutely clear that S.K. Chakraborty knows her stuff when it comes to Middle Eastern history and Islamic mythology. The fantastical city of Daevabad and the descriptions of the marid and djinn are just as fully realized and vivid as the very real places of Cairo and the peoples who live within it. I’d love to see these lush, gorgeous and gritty locales, peoples and creatures brought to life with that HBO budget that made Game of Thrones so real and so lovely.
The Daevabad Trilogy features alternating points of view, but really centers on Nahri, one of my favorite fantasy protagonists ever, a scrappy young girl who thinks she’s human but comes to find out that she’s the last (or is she?) surviving member of one of the most respected royal Daeva families.
She arrives in the legendary, glittering city of Daevabad and is immediately thrust into its dangerous court politics and simmering tribal conflicts. The books follow her as she navigates the complexities of the royal djinn families, learns about the centuries old conflicts between the tribes and is embroiled in a war that really began thousands of years ago.
Throughout the series, we also have Ali, the second son of the king of Daevabad, more compassionate than his ruthless father, and Dara, a storied and notorious military terror who should’ve been dead centuries ago — but isn’t.
With its gorgeous storytelling, complex political narratives, its fantastic and unique world building, and its many complicated characters who straddle the line between anti-hero and antagonist — not to mention the fact that it’d be one of the first (and only) fantasy series to have a majority cast of people of color — The Daevabad Trilogy would be exactly the type of show that would draw viewers in week after week.
The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson, on top of being a tremendously talented fantasy writer, is also a rather prolific one — which means there are at least three or four series of his that could (and should) be adapted for the small screen.
However, his current high fantasy series, The Stormlight Archive, is Sanderson at his most epic and his most ambitious, and is therefore the one which would be most at home on HBO.
Currently, only three of the planned 10 books are out, which means HBO would have plenty of material to mine for a multi-season show. As an added bonus, Sanderson is not just talented and prolific, he’s also a reliable writer (so much so that he’s been brought on to finish other fantasy writers’ series), meaning that there’s less of a chance he’ll stall out mid-series.
It doesn’t have any dragons — at least, not in these first three books — but it does have an extremely cool, and more importantly, cinematic system of magic embedded in the world and which would make for some incredible fight scenes if this were ever adapted for TV.
The Stormlight Archive is set in the land of Roshar, a place of tense conflicts and harsh, magical storms. Long ago, there were The Knights Radiant, an organization of magical warriors with 10 different orders. The Radiants, as they came to be called, no longer exist — but their magical swords and armor, called Shardblades and Shardplate, remain and are the cause of many long and brutal wars.
What starts as a story of the wars over these magical artifacts soon becomes an epic narrative which centers around the unexpected resurrection of the Knight Radiant, the origin of Roshar’s many long and brutal wars, all while contemplating the nature of power and the weight of responsibility.
This series of alternating viewpoints includes Kaladin, a slave who becomes one of the most powerful generals in the army; Dalinar, a once foolhardy prince and brutal soldier who becomes a cautious, thoughtful leader; and Shallan, a sheltered and traumatized young woman who emerges as an incredibly powerful warrior on her own terms.
With its intricate political storylines, a large cast of complex and complicated characters, multiple narratives which are expertly woven together, and a sprawling, incredibly detailed fantasy world replete with different races, peoples and societies, The Stormlight Archive has all the markers which has made Game of Thrones so successful and would absolutely be worthy of being everyone’s next big obsession.