Epix is adapting Bernard Cornwell’s excellent King Arthur books for TV

Back when I was in middle school, I stumbled across The Warlord Chronicles trilogy, a retelling of the King Arthur legend by author Bernard Cornwell. And I loved it. The story was grounded but sweeping, there were lots of fascinating characters, and the whole thing was dense with history and myth.

In this post-Game of Thrones world, everyone is trying to make a big epic show that can take viewers on a ride. As more and more of those series were announced, I wondered why nobody was snapping up The Warlord Chronicles, which seemed perfect for that job, especially considering that Netflix’s The Last Kingdom — which is based on Cornwell’s Saxon Stories novels — was doing so well. Well, I’m happy to report that a Warlord Chronicles series is finally happening on Epix, according to TV Line.

The show will take its name from the first book in Cornwell’s trilogy, The Winter King. Here’s the official synopsis:

The Winter King will take on the mythic saga of King Arthur. Led by the producing team behind The Night Of and His Dark Materials, the scripted drama will adapt Bernard Cornwell’s trilogy of Arthurian novels, The Warlord Chronicles. In the first book, Derfel Cadarn, a former warrior sworn to Arthur and now an elderly monk, tells the story of how Arthur became warlord of Dark Age Britain despite illegitimacy to the throne.

Hopefully, the other two books in the trilogy — Enemy of God and Excalibur, will follow.

Maybe people were hesitant to adapt The Warlord Chronicles because there’s a stigma around King Arthur stuff? I mean, I’ll be the first to admit that the 2017 King Arthur movie with Charlie Hunnam sucked big time. All I can say is that, in The Warlord Chronicles, famous characters like Arthur and Guinevere and Lancelot and Morgan le Fay and Merlin and the rest seemed more real and interesting to me than in any other version of the story. And The Warlord Chronicles actually revolves around characters who don’t play big parts in the traditional legend: I’d never heard of Derfel Cadarn before I read these books. Nimue, who appears in various forms depending on which King Arthur text you’re reading, also plays a big part.

Epix is also going to adapt A Column of Fire, the 1558 romance between Ned Willard and Margery Fitzgerald. That book was written by Ken Follet, another solid historical fiction author, but I’m definitely more psyched about The Winter King. My only concern is that it’s on Epix, which isn’t really one of the big players in this space. Their other major original show is probably Pennyworth, about Batman’s butler, but it’s never too late to get on the map.

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