Will the Kingkiller Chronicle be the next big fantasy show?

Feature Scott Barnett 8 Jan 2014 - 07:00

Scott thinks it might just be. Here's everything you need to know about it, including our ideal cast...

The Kingkiller Chronicle is a fantasy trilogy written by Patrick Rothfuss, originally known as “The Book” in which he outlined the entire story in one long block. Rothfuss worked on the series throughout his extended time at university, then he worked some more, then in 2002 he won the Writers of the Future competition for an extract disguised as a short story. Then he did a little more work. This is a story, sanded and polished to absolute perfection. Rothfuss took his sweet time writing the series and that’s something that should be lauded, not bemoaned. This investment in quality and attention to detail has allowed Rothfuss to build a full and rich world with multiple languages, histories, cultures, beauty and darkness, all without the story becoming weighed down by stodgy exposition.

That said, it's probably for the best he eventually chopped the story into three weighty chunks. The first book of the series, The Name of the Wind, was published in 2007 to much critical acclaim. The Wise Man’s Fear followed in 2011 and readers are waiting with bated breath for the final book of the series, The Doors of Stone, rumored to be published in 2014. 

Well, fellow geeks, these books are so incredibly good, you should have your geek credentials revoked until you’ve read them in their entirety. Twice. 

The epic story is told in three time streams: the present, in which the protagonist, Kvothe, is dictating his life’s story to a historian of sorts; the past, a first-person account of Kvothe’s life, and lastly, in chronologically vague parables and stories peppered throughout the books. Kvothe says the story will take three days to tell: each book represents a day of storytelling.

Part coming-of-age drama, part epic action adventure, and part revenge thriller, The Kingkiller Chronicle really does cover everything you could want from the genre whilst turning tropes and clichés on their head. Ultimately it’s a story about the power of stories, the nature of fame, celebrity and consequences of cultural differences.

There is, of course, magic, but one of the great things about the magic in this world is the explanation and “science” behind it all. Magic is loosely based on thermodynamics and has strict limitations based on the laws and physics of the environment. It's a real delight, and adds a sense of realism to the to the actions of the characters. Crucially, Kvothe is a fully fleshed-out person with his flaws and best qualities shown in equal measure. His life and experiences, which get quite dark at times, make Harry Potter look like a wimp waving a twig.

Excitingly, Fox has optioned the rights to the books and plan on making a TV adaptation. Hopefully it'll be more like Game of Thrones, whereby the creators are faithful to the story and characters, than the hash that was made of The Dresden Files. We could speculate all day about how they might potentially destroy or indeed create amazing television based on this gorgeous source material (and feel free to do so in the comments below) but what we're interested in right now is the potential casting.

I have attempted to cobble together a list below of ideal candidates for the key cast. I’m sure everyone will agree with me and have absolutely no quibbles or qualms whatsoever… right?

Thomas Brodie Sangster as Kvothe

23-year-old Thomas Sangster not only has the red hair, but a baby face too, giving him the ability to play both older and younger Kvothe with some facial hair and make up magic.

He can at least pretend to play guitar and sing, as seen in Nowhere Boy, where he played Paul McCartney. And he's also no stranger to fantasy, currently playing Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones.

Imogen Poots as Denna

The beautiful and talented Imogen Poots gave a great performance in The Look of Love, which shows her ability to play a tortured soul with a sunny outward appearance.

I reckon Imogen has the seductive and elusive quality required to play Denna, the object of Kvothe’s heart's desire.

Robert Sheehan as Bast

Exotic looking, charming and bubbling with energy, Robert has the look and the style to play the Fae prince.

Russell Tovey as Chronicler/Devan Lochees

Russell is so bloody brilliant in everything really. I’ve seen people fantasy casting older actors for Chronicler, but in the books he’s actually quite young.

Russell can easily pull off the snotty writer with an academic sensibility while still being likable.

Kaya Scodelario as Devi

Kaya has a mysterious quality about her. I think she’s well suited to play disarming, sharp eyed and sharp witted Devi who you wouldn’t be stupid enough to cross.

Tim Roth as Abenthy

Tim Roth would be an amazing get for Ben, an archanist and teacher to a young Kvothe. Tim can balance the hard ass teacher while still remaining loveable and caring.

Dylan Moran as Master Elodin

Who better to play the slightly bonkers master namer? Whimsical with knowing eyes and eloquently spoken, Dylan Moran has shown he can play both straight and comedic parts and you can listen to the man talk all day long.

Tom Hughes as Ambrose Jakis

Tom Hughes is best known for his role in Cemetery Junction. I actually had a few names in mind for Ambrose, including Andrew Scott, but up and comer Hughes is well suited to play the imperious and snotty Ambrose, who potentially has a more vicious role to play in the future...

Eamonn Walker as Master Kilvin

The big burly bear that is Kilvin needs a careful mixture of warmth, strength, wisdom and a friendly demeanor. Eamonn Walker jumped to mind instantly.

Bill Nighy as Chancellor Herma

The smart but stiff Chancellor of the university… there's no explanation needed for this one, really, is there?

Dominic West as Master Hemme

This was a tough one because you can’t shake the image of Alan Rickman as Snape out of your head whenever the character appears. For the cold and hard school master, I think Dominic West could do a pretty good job. He doesn’t shout "stereotypical baddie", and could flesh out the character a little.

Jim Broadbent as Count Threpe

Jim Broadbent all but personifies the pompous but caring, old upper class socialite that is Count Threpe.

Stephen Merchant as Manet

For the eternal student, a bookish academic scared of leaving the university and entering the real world, I put forward the awkward and adorable Stephen Merchant.

Stephen Fry as Cthaeh

I mean really, who else could possibly be the voice of the “tree”. The knower of all things that could ever possibly happen… ever? None other than the QI master himself.

What do you reckon? Have you read the books? Do you think the TV show will be a disaster or a delight?

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Trouble is; the novels just aren't that great. The dialogue is clunky and over expositional; the action sequences are incredibly cliched and stale and the entire story rides on a very odd, smug atmosphere that never catches fire.

Then again, I'd say the same about the Lord of the Rings books and the movies were fantastic…so…perhaps the black mirror of tv can redeem Rothfuss.

Fox have it? Forget it. Fox is the land of death for fantasy/sci-fi.

I agree with your comments on name of the wind. Having (coincidentally) just finished it yesterday I also found it full of cliches & rather terrible "but look at the cliches I didnt put in". I am not usually a fantasy reader (mainly due to said cliches) so am willing to give the second book a go, but I can see that it'd hopefully translate well to the small screen.

I would absolutely love it if they made it into a tv series. They'd have to do it justice and keep it as trope filled as the books are. It just wouldn't be the same if they made a series of books that play with the conventions of fantasy so well, not to mention tongue in cheek, into a game of thrones carbon copy.

Man, put this cast together in any show and I'd watch whatever it is just to see the alchemical supernova!
Anyway, it's been a while since I read something new and promising, and I would quite like to have my geek credentials back...

Who's your favourite writer in this genre?

Besides the fact that I really don't like the books(well at least not the first one. haven't read the other one) It would not work as a tv-show imo. It's too much a cliché fantasy story. If they turned it into a tv show (which apparently is going to happen) it'd just be another "Legend of the Seeker" (admittedly worse books but you get the idea) Malazan would work well as a tv show I think but it's impossible to produce unless you have a budget three time the one Jackson had for his trilogy per season. And then still. Also the show would have to run for something like 20 seasons and with Malazan I simply don't see that happening. So I'd nominate The Dagger and The Coin series by Daniel Abraham. It's not as linear as The Kingkiller Chronicle and it could work well as a series that runs for four or five seasons. (depending on how many books there'll eventually be)

What about the Ademre? What about the Chandrian? What about Felurian?

I think Patrick Rothfuss should play Kilvin

Also, Max Von Sydow as Abenthy. Great choice for Denna and Kvothe though!

Hello David.
Trying to send my brain into meltdown?
Gee. Ummm….let's see…oh god….this is impossible…

Shortlist: Jack Vance, Diana Wynne Jones, Moorcock, Gene Wolfe, Paul Kearney and Fritz Leiber.

Winner? Robert E. Howard? ;)

When it comes to science fiction, the answer is always Robert Silverberg, but fantasy is wayyyyy too slippery for me. :)

One does not simply walk a new show into Mordo....Fox

Sounds tricky but I'd like to see this happen, especially with the cast mentioned here.

I would MUCH rather that HBO had optioned the books. I LOVE them & am eagerly awaiting book 3, but FOX is NOT the right network to adapt these

Sleepy Hollow disagrees with you.

Malazan seems a bit insanely baroque for TV. Game of Thrones is as big as TV is going to get, and Kingkiller seems a bit smaller, which is wise.

Not going to happen. HBO has Game of Thrones. The best chance for a show like this is one of HBO's competitors.

Fox is not THAT bad a choice, as they have their own cable channel, FX, home of dramas like Justified and the Americans comedies like Archer and Louie. If they make Kingkillers for that I'm sure it might be fine.

Thanks. I haven't dipped into fantasy/sci-fi for quite a while, decades. Kingkiller sounds good in the write-up but your demolition job is persuasive. I'll give Howard a crack.

Comments by Patrick Rothfuss himself have said that he wouldn't license to FOX. He's a huge Firefly fan, after all.

Patrick should just shut up already and finish (start?) the third book already!

As I said. Malazan is unfilmable. The Dagger and the Coin though would make a great tv show.

id agree with most of this except for elodin..

If you thought the first book was a struggle, strap yourself in. It should be called "The beginners guide to skim reading". God, it was the only way I could get through the first 500 odd pages

Superb fantasy casting - until you got to the decidedly overcast Stephen Fry

I really can't wait for the third book. I'm not particularly interested in a tv show.

That is genius casting.

My only complaint is that Kvothe won't have the eyes!!!!
that was my biggest problem with the Harry Potter movies.
Otherwise, Im glad they are making a tv series and not movies, cuase then Id have to pipck a bone with Pat for letting them take out all of the details sure to be lost.


as does the following

I don't know. HBO has sort of butchered GOT. killing off characters that aren't dead yet, creating characters that don't exist... jumping the time lines in some places and eliminating in others. ARE they EVER going to show John and Arias special hidden talents? Are they just going to eliminate cold hands altogether?

I doubt that Felurian could be shown at all on network TV anyway.

These are probably the best casting considerations I've seen as yet. So excited if they get it right, SO devastating if they get it wrong. Bring in the Whedon, that's all I'm saying. RIP Firefly :(

i so agree with all those castings, theyre awesome!!! except for kvothe... we need someone a little more charismatic

These were my thoughts:

Felurian: Vera Filatova
Cinder: Paul Bettany
Tempe: Elyes Gabel

There are so many characters, couldn't include them all!

Having gotten round to reading it I see your point, lol. I got very annoyed that for massive sections, nothing happened.

Anyone other than Thomas Brodie Sangster would be an absolute DISASTER as Kvothe. I have pictured him in my mind reading, and have been in love with him since seeing him on Doctor Who. I also love the rest of the dream cast. Well done! I only wish it had gone to HBO or the like where it deserves to be rather than a third rate network. He should have held out. The story deserves FAR better than Fox--anything!

You are "sure it might be fine". 'nuff said.

You're an idiot.

Try watching him act, then comment please. Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom can't play every role, toots.

i think that the perfect elodin would be andrew scott (moriarty from BBC sherlock)

Hell. YES.

I like your list especially Thomas Brodie Sangster I am a huge fan of his, I think he will grow up to do great things.

i like him too but, its not Kvothe, for me Daniel Sharman will be perfect

Paul Bettany for Cinder is TOP

great casting

I say you have good picks for all but three due to personal opinion. 1.Kvothe, not lean looking enough and wrong in the face. 2. Denna, just doesn't look right in my mind. 3. Master Elodin, not crazy or pretty enough in his own rights.

Could you put a better pic. Hair seems right for bast

No Jonny le miller

Everything is right for Bast! Isn't it?

No! Nothing that takes him away from finishing the third book.

Just finished both these books, and a great read they were too, anyone got any suggestions for something similar to sink me teeth into?

Well Kilvin is dark skinned, I was thinking Idris Elba or something

Stephen Merchant as Manet? Really? Manet seems to be much older than that in the books, he's been at the university for longer than any of them have been alive.
Any ideas who they're putting for Sim and Wil?

That doesn't mean he has to be like big and bulky, or "manly". The whole point of Kvothe at that age is that he is a skinny boy but has the heart, intellect and maturity of a fully grown adult. I think Thomas' look and personality perfectly embody Kvothe to me, though obviously with slightly longer, redder hair than in the picture above, and makeup, etc.

You just take one look at Thomas Brodie Sangster and immediately know you're looking at someone different and special. And did I mention really cute? :P

If Rothfuss should play anyone it's Manet, the eternal E'lir

Denna: Odette Annable or Camilla Belle

elodin ant crazy

Wait. Wait. Wait. You didn't pick Morgan Freeman as the Cthaeh... What is wrong with you?

When fox is finished with it i am sure you'll be happy with what HBO did to GOT, tough i agree they butcher it.

Why fox? all there series are bad, even 24 was extended to the point where it just wasn't good anymore. Theyll probably end up doing a Monster of the week show out of the KKC books, mark my words theyll ruin it, tough i really hope im wrong.

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