Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, participants need to list the books that they think need to be adapted into a Netflix show or movie. My first thought when I heard about this topic was, is Netflix sponsoring this post somehow? Are they that desperate for new ideas that they are conducting some sort of sneaky market research on us? If they are, I am personally fine with it. Netflix has a pretty good track record of turning some popular books and comics into some fun shows and movies, many of which I have enjoyed. An obvious recent example is The Witcher, although other great examples include The Umbrella Academy (I just binged the second season over two days), A Series of Unfortunate Events, You, The Last Kingdom, and Orange is the New Black. So if Netflix is looking for some more books to turn into awesome shows, I am all for it and I definitely have some ideas for them.
In order to do this list, I scoured through some of my favourite books and comics to try and decide which ones would make the best television series. I already had a few on my mind the moment I found out what this week’s topic was, as several of these novels have television potential that really stands out when you are reading. As the topic was Netflix shows and movies, I did try to exclude any series or universe that had already been bought by another streaming company or which is already in development at Netflix (such as any of Mark Millar’s comics). As a result, you won’t be seeing The Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time on this list, as both are already in production in some form or other, and I have also excluded any comics or books owned by Disney or DC Comics (although a Doctor Aphra Star Wars series would be pretty epic).
I eventually came up with quite a few books, series or comics that I thought would make a good television series, and I was able to whittle away a few options to make a Top Ten List. I am actually rather happy with how this list turned out, as there are some interesting options on this list. People familiar with my blog will not be surprised by some of the entries I included, but I think there are some good surprises in there that will make this stand out a little. So let us see how this turned out.
The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
As one of the best fantasy series ever written, The Kingkiller Chronicle is an obvious choice for this list, as its potential to be an awesome series is hard to deny. However, due to the fact that an adaption for this series is already in the works, I decided to leave it as an honourable mention. The Kingkiller Chronicle is a special case, as the last I heard about the adaptation was that it was going to avoid the main story of the novels and instead do a whole new narrative in the same universe. As I personally think a good Netflix adaptation of the main story would be much better, I decided to include this series on the list and hope like heck any adaption turns out alright.
Orphan X series by Gregg Hurwitz
This is a fun and exciting spy series that features a rogue super-agent on the run fighting criminals and helping people as a vigilante. I have been absolutely loving these books, including the last two novels Out of the Dark and Into the Fire, and I think that these novels could be turned into something really cool, for example: Out of the Dark features the protagonist going up against the entire Secret Service in order to kill a corrupt President, which is pretty damn awesome.
The Cleric Quintet by R. A. Salvatore
It’s apparently quite hard for me to do a Top Ten Tuesday list without mentioning one of my favourite fantasy authors, R. A. Salvatore. I am a major fan of Salvatore’s writing and I think many of his books would make awesome shows or movies. However, as it would be pretty impossible to adapt any of his Drizzt Do’Urden novels into movies of television shows (you can imagine the issues they would have trying to cast and portray any Dark Elf characters), I have instead featured The Cleric Quintet fantasy novels. The Cleric Quintet follows a young priest and his unusual friends and companions as they attempt to defend their region of the Forgotten Realms from all manner of evil. This is a great piece of classic high fantasy fiction and I think that viewers would love the intriguing tales included within (I personally loved the second book, In Sylvan Shadows, the most), as well as the fantastic development shown by the main characters throughout the course of the series.
Top Ten List:
The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie
When I was coming up with the entries for this list, the first books I thought about were The First Law novels by Joe Abercrombie. This is because The First Law books are an outstanding dark fantasy series that features all manner of blood, brutality and manipulations, which would translate extremely well into a powerful and addictive television series. The real strength of these novels is their unique collection of complicated and flawed characters, each of whom is doing their best to survive in an extremely harsh world. There are some great protagonists in these novels, each of whom has the potential to become an iconic television character if portrayed right, including a deadly warrior with severe rage issues, a pompous dandy who has greatness violently thrust upon him and an exceedingly manipulative mage whose wisdom and plots are entirely self-serving (think an evil version of Gandalf). The main reason these books could be adapted into an epic show is thanks to the character of Sand dan Glokta, a dark and ugly character, physically and mentally twisted by years of torture by the enemy, who now dishes out torture himself as an inquisitor, when he finds himself investigating some of the strange events troubling his nation. Glokta is an incredible character, and with the right actor he could easily be the next Tyrion Lannister. As a result, I really want to see an adaption of this series, and Netflix can easily make something pretty epic from these books, including the recent sequel novel, A Little Hatred.
Joe Ledger novels by Jonathan Maberry
Now these are some books that would make for an exciting television series. Jonathan Maberry’s action-packed Joe Ledger novels are a compelling thriller series that sets government agents against some of the weirdest things that science can create. There are some amazing stories contained within the Joe Ledger novels, including weaponised zombies (Patient Zero), ancient vampires (Assassin’s Code) and genetically modified killers (The Dragon Factory), and the clever way that Maberry sets out each novel with interludes and chapters told from the antagonists perspective would translate very well into a television series. These books also have some fantastic characters, including some insanely brilliant villains, a damaged protagonist and a mysterious spy master, that are just waiting to be brought to life by a group of talented actors in order to become something iconic. Out of all of the entries on this list, this one might have the most potential to get made as Maberry already has connections with Netflix, after his V-Wars series of comics were turned into a show last year.
The Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch
This is another exceptional series of fantasy novels that I thought would make an incredible show as I was reading it. These books follow a group of con men who attempt to swindle and steal from some of the most dangerous people in their fantasy world. These books are amongst some of the best pieces of fantasy fiction out there, and their unique blend of fantasy and crime fiction elements would definitely make for a memorable and exciting television series.
World War Z by Max Brooks
Now this was an entry that my editor/wife Alex wished me to include on this list. I have to admit that I have not read this book (I’ll get to it at some point), but I did enjoy the movie. I understand that this awesome book is substantially different to the movie, comprising of several vignettes detailing different experiences of the zombie apocalypse, as opposed to the rather narrow perspective represented by Brad Pitt in the film. Alex seems to think that a Netflix series would probably be a much better way to translate this fantastic story to the screen, and from what I have heard about the book I think I agree, especially after I really enjoyed Brooks’ latest book, Devolution.
Legend is an amazing classic fantasy novel that contains an incredible storyline that depicts an epic siege, as the largest army ever assembled attempts to conquer an impenetrable fortress. This was such an awesome read, filled with large amounts of action, adventure and memorable characters, including the world’s most legendary hero, who chooses to die here rather than wither into obscurity. Legend has so much raw potential as either a limited series or a movie (I think a six episode series might be good), and it also serves as an excellent entry into Gemmell’s wider fantasy series, which would also make for some great shows.
Vespasian series by Robert Fabbri
Netflix already has some great historical fiction adaptions, such as The Last Kingdom television series, but if you want to see some wild and troubling bits from history, then they need to adapt Robert Fabbri’s Vespasian series. The Vespasian series follows the titular Emperor Vespasian from the beginning of his career as he navigates the deadly minefield that is ancient Rome. Watching the protagonist attempt to gain power and influence in this outrageous city would make for an incredible show, especially as Fabbri spent a lot of time highlighting all the insanities of the various Emperors who ruled Rome during Vespasian’s lifetime. I am a major fan of this historical fiction series (make sure to check out my reviews of Rome’s Sacred Flame, Emperor of Rome and Magnus and the Crossroads Brotherhood) and I believe that Netflix could make a very crazy and impressive television adaption of these books.
The Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan
This is another dark and epic fantasy series that would definitely make for a good television series. The Powder Mage books (starting with the awesome Promise of Blood) are set in the aftermath of a bloody revolution and follow several key figures as they attempt to keep their nation intact, while also uncovering ancient secrets and terrible plots. There are a ton of amazing elements to these books that would translate extremely well into television awesomeness, but I personally would love to see the unique gunpowder magic brought to life, as all the resultant explosions and displays of power would be quite a spectacle to behold.
Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory
I had to include at least one comic series on this list, and I could think of nothing better than this weird and wonderful series. Chew is an action/comedy hybrid series that follows a detective who gets physic impressions from anything he eats, allowing him to solve crimes in the most unique, and often disgusting way. Chew is an incredibly creative series, with a lot of fun elements to it, all of which would work extremely well as a live action adaption, and I really think that Netflix could turn this into quite a magical and entertaining television series.
The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
When you think ‘epic fantasy’ these days, you really cannot exclude the massive and extraordinary series that is The Stormlight Archives. Sanderson is one of the best fantasy/science fiction authors in the world today, and each of his books are an absolute joy to read. While I was strongly tempted to include his young adult novels Skyward and Starsight on this list, in the end I had to feature his main body of work, The Stormlight Archive. Starting with the exceptional novel, The Way of Kings, this is a deeply impressive series of fantasy novels that feature massive wars, incredible characters and a huge interconnected universe. While any adaption might need to tone down some of the connections to some of Sandersons’ other series, a television version of The Stormlight Archive easily has the potential to become the next Game of Thrones, and Netflix would be smart to jump aboard that as soon as possible.
Into the Drowning Deep is a fun horror novel that would make for an awesome Netflix movie. Written by the exceedingly talented Mira Grant, this book and its preceding novella, Rolling in the Deep, set humans against the most dangerous predators in the world, mermaids. This book was one of the best novels of 2018, and I loved the way that Grant was able to make the mermaids so dangerous and frightening. You would need to combine Into the Drowning Deep with Rolling in the Deep to get the full story, and there is a really outstanding movie waiting to be made when you do. Plus, it would also be really cool if it encourages Grant to write a sequel to Into the Drowning Deep, which is something I really want to see.
Whew, that is the end of that list. As you can see, I have put a lot of thought into what books and comics Netflix should adapt, and I honestly believe that each of the above books could become something really incredible. I really hope we see some form of adaption of each of these in the future, and if any of them ever get made, then they would be at the top of my to-watch list. In the meantime, make sure to let me know which of the above books and comics you enjoyed, as well as which novels you think Netflix should adapt in the comments below.