Five Fantasy Novels That Should be Made Into Movies

Fantasy often gets a bum outing at Hollywood. Maybe they’re just not choosing the right stories.Whether we’re cringing at truly absurd direction of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey or wincing at that plastic looking sword in The Last Witchhunter, it’s easy to see why so many of our favourite stories never make it to the big screen. King Arthur’s latest outing has been largely derided (although fantasy editors seem to love it, if you follow their Twitter accounts…).

Often the problem is that Hollywood only wants to make the big stories. We see all those rehashes of Dracula, of Arthur, the same superhero origin story told over and over… and damn it but we don’t need this! There are some great smaller stories out there just begging to be made into kick ass movies punched full of originality and ready to shake up the fantasy movie genre.

In this list I’ve steered clear of books that simply wouldn’t translate to the big screen. Gardens of the Moon may be a great read, Assassin’s Apprentice may by your favourite book, but they don’t translate practically into a big screen outing in my view. I’m looking for self contained stories.

Without further ado, in no particular order, here are the five that I’d most like to see made:


Book: Waylander by David Gemmell
Cast as Lead: Joe Manganiello as Waylander
Directed by: Stephen Sommers (The Mummy Returns, Van Helsing)
Why this one: I would have liked to have chosen Legend, which I think is a better book, but Waylander would make a better movie. Fast paced, action driven, cool double shot crossbows, shapeshifting, and the obligatory Gemmell epic-fight-to-the-death ending. Isn’t it time Gemmell made it to our screens?



Book: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K.Jemisin
Cast as Lead: Zoe Saldana as Yeine Darr
Directed by: Soffia Coppola
Why this one: Lost In Translation is one of my favourite films, and for some reason Coppola’s direction screams out at me as being totally appropriate for an adaptation here. 100k Kingdoms also gives an opportunity to show that fantasy movies don’t have to be about waving swords. It’s a spiritual journey based on powerful character interactions that would open up the movie genre to more creative expression.



Book: Snakewood by Adrian Selby
Cast as Lead: Keanu Reeves
Directed by: Nicholas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising)
Why this one: Men who are all different colours getting psyched up on uber-drug magic and then going berserk in poison based combat? Why on earth would you not want to see this?
Actually, it’s in part because I’d love to see Selby’s atmosphere brought to life. There’s a clear story arc that works brilliantly on the big screen here – two men are being hunted by an old enemy who is killing off their group one by one.
Why Keanu? Because for all the shit he gets, he’s still a phenomenal actor, he does his own stunts and plays the kind of dying, brooding warrior brilliantly.



Book: The Vagrant by Peter Newman
Cast as Lead: A goat, as itself
Directed by: George Miller
Why this one: Landscapes that look nothing like ours. Magi-tech demon-punk badlands, dust and poisoned cities – this book would make a feast for the eyes in a way that would be utterly spectacular. I always feel that the book has a Lone Wolf And Cub feel about it as well and the mute protagonist translates excellently to the big screen. Lots of demons to slay, lots of darkness to battle, and that somewhat surreal quality that I love to see in film.



Book: The Steel Remains
Cast as Lead: Chris Hemsworth
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Why this one: I read this book a fairly long time ago, and it was pretty important to me at the time. Morgan’s story is dark, full of character and the story is self contained enough that it translates easily into a feature length movie, with growth to go forward. And also I want to see the Ravensfriend hacking people into bits and pieces. The story feels fresh enough that it brings something new to the table even nine years after it was first released.

The Steel RemainsChris-Hemsworth-as-Thor-008

So that’s my five – what are yours? Let me know in the comments.


Published by EdMcDonald

Ed McDonald is the author of The Raven's Mark trilogy and the forthcoming Redwinter series. He currently lives in the UK. Find me at

6 thoughts on “Five Fantasy Novels That Should be Made Into Movies

  1. Gemmell’s work seems so ripe for the big screen. Unlike a lot of fantasy, his novels are generally pretty short and self-contained. Hollywood are all into the shared universe thing.

    Whilst I’ve always wanted to see Legend the movie – Rek has a good character arc and there are some great last stand moments which always get me riled up – Waylander would be a good first Drenai movie. I think it is the earliest chronologically and potentially more budget friendly than what would be involved in creating Dros Delnoch.

    I really want to re-read all the Drenai books now.


  2. Okay, why no one has made a TV show based on Tamora Pierce’s fantasy novels I’ll never know, whether it’s Alanna or The Defender of the Small. They were GOT before GOT.

    Add Pyrdain to the list too. (I’m a YA writer, so I lean that way.)

    Dragonlance needs to be done properly as a miniseries as well.

    The Builders by Daniel Polansky was a fun novella that would make a terrific movie.

    And while not strictly fantasy, Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith would be be a phenomenal monster movie.


  3. I tend to prefer books being adapted into TV rather than film, but you have a great list here and also make great points about how the books that would make the best films may not ACTUALLY be the best books an author has written. Adaptability is the #1 quality to look for.

    With that in mind, I’d like to see:

    1) The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix – It’s a world that would look amazing on the big screen. It’s inventive with great characters as well. This is a series that would fill the void of Harry Potter very nicely.

    2) The Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin – I actually think this would be an even better film series than the 100K Kingdoms. Mainly just b/c I want to see Orogeny on screen.

    3) The First Law by Joe Abercrombie. I’ve always considered more of a TV series, but what the hell. It would be phenomenal in any adaption.


  4. I was impressed by The Vagrant, and Gemmell of course (The Shannow stories would probably work) – but I can think of a few others that’d make pretty good movies. Abercrombie and Cook stand out. Maybe Vance’s Cugel’s Saga.


  5. Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire and The Red Queen’s War trilogies. Anthony Riches’ ‘s Empire Series, Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle Series, Steven Brust’ s Vlad Taltos series.


  6. I have a few more books to read in this list, but totally on number 1. Others would be Magician by Feist or the Belgariad by Eddings…. both with built in franchises…..


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: