The 5 Best Fantasy Novels That Need Their Own Movie

With the release of The Hobbit right around the corner, fantasy fans everywhere are sure to be getting excited as Peter Jackson takes us back to Middle Earth. The fantastical world created by Tolkien provides some great material that can be portrayed beautifully on-screen, especially with today’s technology. With that being said, today we are going to look at some other great fantasy novels that deserve their own movie.

Once a Hero Trilogy, by Michael A. Stackpole
As a lifelong fan of Stackpole’s work, it’s hard to narrow down just one fantasy series that this prolific sci-fi/fantasy author has created. The Once a Hero series is as good a place to start as any. While Stackpole gets a lot of flack for his allegedly “workmanlike prose,” he does know how to construct a great universe. His Once a Hero series of books has a lot of the familiar elves, dragons, and magic that populate most of modern fantasy or “high fantasy” novels. However, he also drops in some very unique personal touches, and his books are mercifully “low-magic,” like the Lord of The Rings series, so fans won’t be too overwhelmed. All things considered, Stackpole’s novels are pretty much ready made for big budget film conversions. He is a master of witty dialogue and his chapters are packed with exciting fight scenes and clever banter. All of which will serve to get even the most jaded American filmgoers into the theaters.

The Black Company by Glen Cook
If you haven’t read or heard of The Black Company series of books, then you’re in for a treat. Glen Cook weaves together morally ambiguous, dark, and gritty fantasy narratives landscapes in his Black Company series. If A Game of Thrones can be compared to a combination of The Sopranos and Lord of the Rings, then The Black Company is those plus a heavy dose of Saving Private Ryan as well. The Black Company is one of the first “dark fantasy” novels to become popular. It offers an honest, or at least less sterilized, portrayal of the atrocities of war and the life of a soldier. Glen Cook himself is an ex-soldier who served in the US Navy when he was a young man. Regarding his large readership of ex and current soldiers, Cook replies: “The characters act like the guys actually behave. It doesn’t glorify war; it’s just people getting on with the job. The characters are real soldiers. They’re not soldiers as imagined by people who’ve never been in the service. That’s why service guys like it.” Nuff said. These books would make fantastic films. Now that he’s done with Batman, maybe Christopher Nolan would be interested? A guy can dream, can’t he?

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
While it has been rumored to have been in production for some time now, Gaiman’s revered novel would make a fine edition to the canon of epic fantasy novels turned film. There’s a lot to take in within this novel. Fights between Gods of the old world and the new. Murder. Betrayal. Magic! All of which takes place in “modern” America. A finely tuned and immaculately crafted prosecution of the rampant, empty affluence that plagues the United States, as well as an acceptance that things are the way they are. This book is just begging to be made into a film. However, it would be very difficult to film without something like a narrator or cue cards that help to explicitly state much of the subtext that is lost when one converts a book like this into a film. Either way, it will be a great day in America when this fantasy novel finally hits the big screen.

Dragonlance by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
A much loved series and gaming world by both fans of fantasy novels and D&D players alike, the Dragonlance series has a lot of depth to explore on screen. These novels, featuring a group of friends who eventually become “Heroes of the Lance,” have everything that we would want in a film: thrills, chills, romance, and big dragons. The Dragonlance series is more of a universe from which co-creators and authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman write novels and design RPG campaigns, but there are some amazing narrative arcs from which ambitious movie creators could choose in order to create a wildly entertaining movie. The War of the Lance cycle of narratives would be a great place to start!

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
I was first introduced to these books as a teenager and have since re-read them many times over. Goodkind has taken the typical hero’s journey and turned it on its head, while at the same time creating this beautiful fantasy universe in which his characters battle. He is able to weave complex philosophical themes and topics into his narratives. His character relationships are some of the deepest and most well-crafted in all of fantasy literature. Goodkind’s novels would be the closest approximation to the Game of Thrones books insofar as they feature a lot of dialogue and throne-grabbing, which is also central to the Song of Ice and Fire. Wizard’s First Rule would make a great film in the right hands.

*Written by Zack Mandell
Zack Mandell is a movie enthusiast, writer of movie reviews, and owner of which has great information on movies like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, among many others. He also writes extensively about the movie industry for sites such as Gossip Center, Yahoo, NowPublic, and Helium.

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  1. Daniel says:

    No love for Wheel of Time series?!!

  2. Joe says:

    Wizard’s First Rule already had it’s chance as a TV series (albeit one which didn’t exactly follow the book very closely). A movie is never going to happen.

  3. concretecactus says:

    No Dark Tower (stephen king)on list = fail.

  4. tipperj says:

    I’ve always thought that Dragonlance, both the Chronicles and the Legends series in particular, would make excellent films (‘real life’ ones, as opposed to the animated version of the first Chronicles book, Dragons of Autumn Twilight, made a few years back) – especially now with the technology currently available (as we’ve seen in Peter Jackson’s Tolkein adaptations).

  5. Jason says:

    I’d love to see a movie based on Warhammer 40k.
    Preferably not one based on Space Marines (because that already exists and its not good :/ ).

    To stay on topic, I’d like to see an Inquisitor Eisenhorn movie. Mystery, Investigation, brutal fights, life in the imperium the novels have it all.

    • Zack Mandell says:

      I don’t know much about the Warhammer 4k stuff except what i’ve seen on the shelves of my local hobby store, or in the short-lived but pretty decent MMO of warhammer they did a while back. As for Inquisitor Eisenhorn, I’ve never heard of those books. I could only put things on the list that i’d read, but I would definitely check that out!

  6. dan says:

    how do you not have terry brooks shannara series on here?
    your list fails without it.

    • Zack Mandell says:

      Haha, I don’t know about “fails” but, I was limited to things i’ve read myself. I’ve not heard of the Shannara series, but, I will definitely check it out. Thanks for the suggestion and for reading anyway! Maybe next year’s list will be more complete :)

  7. Crunchy Music says:

    OH how could you not show love for Thomas Covenant? SMH…

  8. KlingonWithAWhip says:

    No. No to an American Gods movie. It needs to be a miniseries. A movie (unless it’s a multipart movie) doesn’t give enough time to do the story justice. Besides, I do believe HBO is already doing something with this IP.

  9. Zack Mandell says:

    RE: Wheel of Time: I considered it, but I was thinking of things that would make good one-offs or trilogies, but yes, they would make great films. They would just have to make like 20 of them, haha.

    @Joe: Yep, i’ve watched it. The miniseries was very underwhelming, but would have been much more satisfying had it followed the book.

    @concretecactus: I considered that, but again quite long. Great series though, except for book 5, which King himself tells people to skip. I also wanted to pick some titles that were lesser known in the fantasy community. There were definitely some things I had to leave off.

  10. Arch9enius says:

    Hungry Earth trilogy of 4 parts? Gigantic perambulating cannibbalising cities? Come on.

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