The Road to RHYTHM OF WAR – Part Three (Cruising the Cosmere)
Here at the Hive, we’re super excited for the upcoming release of the new installment in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives – Rhythm of War – on November 17th.
It will be the fourth instalment in what is proving to be quite the Epic Fantasy saga!
It’s the last part of our Road to the Rhythm of War trio of posts and to round things off, we at the Hive wanted to look ahead. Therefore today we’re doing a bit of dream casting and speculating over our ideal adaptation of the Stormlight Archives series.
Nils recently did a Twitter poll on this, and asked Sanderson fans what type of adaptation they think would work best.
In the lead with 53% of the vote was a Netflix/Prime series, and in second place with 39% of the vote was for an anime.
So let’s kick things off with weighing the pros and cons for both of these, shall we?
What would the pros of an anime be?
Nils: I think anime would be the perfect medium, or any kind of animated series really. Throughout the Stormlight Archives there is an abundance of fantastical elements – you have a world filled with crab-like creatures, all kinds of Spren, characters with surgebinding powers which grant them abilities such as flying, or creating illusions, and summoning blades out of thin air. So I feel visually anime could bring these components to life in a striking way. I mean if you look at something like The Dragon Prince, or Avatar Last Airbender, isn’t that so well done?
Beth: The Dragon Prince is absolutely stunning. Being an anime/animation fan anyway, I of course have to agree with you Nils. I think the animated format is perfect for adaptations with a great deal of fantastical elements. Not to mention depicting secondary worlds; could you imagine one of Michael Whelan’s stunning artistic covers coming to life?
Filip: An anime would be the perfect medium for adapting a work as visually demanding and sprawling as the Stormlight Archive is. A production house such as Powerhouse Animation Studios would be perfect, I think–and if you’ve seen Blood of Zeus or Castlevania, you’ll agree!
Nils: I’ve not heard of Blood of Zeus! Is that on Netflix? I’ve watched a few episodes of Castlevania and yes the animation is great.
Beth: I need to get on to Castlevania!
Filip: You most certainly do! And yes, Nils, Blood of Zeus came out just a few short weeks ago! Another pro would have to be, anime can be adapted more closely to the text than live-action ever could; there’s too much in the books that would have to be cut or changed in Sanderson’s monstrous door-stopper to make the transition to the silver screen work.
And the cons?
Beth: As much I love anime and animations, and I did cry in She-Ra, I don’t think it gets taken as seriously?
Nils: I’m sceptical about how popular an anime would be amongst fans of the books too, whether it’s a medium that would appeal to them. Many of the comments on my poll suggested it wouldn’t be as popular as live action. Therefore I wonder whether it would reach a wide enough viewership for it to be a success.
Beth: Yes Nils exactly. Also, there are certain elements to the Stormlight Archive that require a sense of gravitas, which may be more successful with the presence of actors?
Filip: Here the two of you go underestimating the medium! I’ll pull anime-viewer rank here and say, plenty of the finest anime out there does not lack in gravitas–and if you need any proof, watch the first two seasons of Castlevania. The sheer master a scene like this one (in two parts, minor Castlevania Season 3 spoilers), for example, can exhibit just how dark and powerful a tone anime can strike.
Beth: I’m not saying anime lacks gravitas – Grave of the Fireflies, anyone? It’s just my personal opinion that, that kind of tone is more successfully portrayed in other mediums. An opinion entirely formed by the type of anime I’m accustomed to, obviously.
Nils: Beth, I still haven’t watched Grave of the Fireflies, but My Neighbour Totoro made me cry – a lot!
Beth: Oh god Nils no don’t do it, it’s harrowing.
Nils: I’m actually fairly new to anime compared to the both of you, but from my small experience I do cry more or feel more emotional from other mediums, purely from the actors delivery of certain lines or their facial expressions. But Filip, I need you to recommend some emotional anime!
Filip: Happy to, Nils!
What about the pros of a live action Netflix or Amazon Prime series?
Filip: Streaming giants are always on the look-out for the next Game of Thrones–and the success of that show should tell us a little about how successful a live-action adaptation of it might be–as well as how badly the writers behind such a series might screw up once they get past the books.
Beth: Oh dear god that’s a thought…
Filip: If the adaptation does go live-action, we might see the use of LED technology, the way the Mandalorian makes use of it. This would solve a great deal of the issues I see arising from the geography of Roshar, which is so different from our own.
Nils: As this was the most popular choice from my poll I’m guessing it would reach the widest audience, which in terms of how successful the show would be and how many further adaptations they would continue to make is a crucial point. I also think with it being a live-action series, rather than a feature length film, you could have the capacity to really explore the world and characters in depth, staying relatively authentic to the books. Whereas with a feature film you’d be forced to omit and change a lot.
Beth: I’d much rather see a huge series like this spread out into episodes. Like each book could be a season of its own. Like Filip said earlier, how would you even begin to condense such a wide-arcing story into one movie?
Nils: I was thinking the same thing, one book per season could certainly be an option, but then thinking about how much is in each book, you’d probably need two seasons for one!
And yes, exactly. How would you decide which parts to leave out, and which to include if you were doing a film? It would be an immense job.
And the cons?
Nils: You would need a huge budget! In order to incorporate all the fantastical elements in the world of Roshar, such as the spren, a lot of CGI effects would be needed, and so that it looked of high quality you’d have to spend a lot of money on it. Even then, I feel the CGI wouldn’t look quite right – when it’s overused it can often look horribly fake and for me, that would ruin my enjoyment somewhat.
Beth: That’s the only real con I can think of too Nils, the budget something like this would require. You’re looking at something on a Game of Thrones scale; not just in terms of the CGI, but the size of the cast and numerous filming locations required, too.
Filip: If they went the LED tech route, that might off-set some of the costs, but it’s still going to be an enormous expense for any studio… then again, this is Amazon and Netflix we’re talking about. One company is worth a trillion dollars, the other one is well on the way. They could buy Eastern Europe and it still wouldn’t make a difference to their bottom line.
Beth: And then have some stunning filming locations…
Nils: Excellent point, Filip. Netflix and Prime both do have the capability to put a lot of money into this, considering how popular it would be. I need to look into LED tech a bit more and see how it compares to CGI, if it can look high quality but at a lower cost then that’s definitely a great option.
Back to the budget, it could possibly be bigger than Game of Thrones as the fantastical elements are far more elaborate in Stormlight Archives. Also, guys, guys … it’ll need better script writers too, right?!
Beth: I mean, that would be a pretty big job to entrust to someone…
Filip: The HBO dudes were pretty great when they just adapted Martin’s work; what I’d like to see, for that reason, is the fifth book published before anyone so much as thinks about doing a live-action adaptation. Sanderson is no Martin, but I would sleep better at night knowing the full first arc of the Stormlight Archive is ready to go.
Nils: Good point!
Any thoughts on who you might cast for some of the characters?
Nils: This is hard because I’ve been looking at so much incredible fan art during reading this series, so I kind of have a distinct vision of how these characters look in my head, and most actors I can think of don’t quite fit. But here are a few which I feel come close.
Kaladin – Theo James – he kind of has that moody/scowling look to him which we all know Kaladin often displays!
Jasnah – Priyanka Chopra – I always imagine Jasnah as this strong, sophisticated and stoic character which I think this actress can pull off well.
Shallan – Lily Collins – I think this actress has the kind of innocent and coy but cheeky features which I imagine Shallan shows too.
Filip: For Dalinar, I’d go with this very serious post on reddit. For Jasnah, I’d like to see Gemma Chan, she has the imperious air and cool confidence I would expect from the Kholin heretic.
Nils: Dave Bautista for Dalinar? That’s all kinds of wrong! Although maybe not so bad for The Blackthorn, however, I think Josh Brolin would be perfect for older Dalinar!
Beth: I always hate it when this question comes up on social media, because I’m dreadful at visualising characters in terms of real people?
This is potentially another con for me actually: you always get those questionable casting choices where production chooses someone totally wrong for the role because they’re “popular” and would “bring in the viewers”. We’d end up with James Fucking Corden as Kaladin and I’d have to murder someone.
Nils: BETH, NO! Don’t jinx it!!!
Beth: After some Googling for inspiration, a grizzled Idris Elba looks like a brilliant Dalinar, right? And I love Saoirse Ronan; I think she’d do an amazing job and capturing the complexity of Shallan’s innocence and darkness…
Once again, we’re love to hear from you – so get in touch and leave us a comment below, or on our Facebook page, on our Instagram page, or on Twitter with #CruisingTheCosmere. Let us know what kind of adaptation you’d ideally like to see, and who would you cast?
Well, that’s it Cosmere fans – only one week to go until RHYTHM OF WAR is released!
Not long to wait – can you stay calm??
We really hope you’ve enjoyed looking back on the series so far with us, and we hope you’re excited as we are to see where Sanderson leads us next!