His Dark Materials producers adapting Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles for TV


Given the success of The Last Kingdom, it was only a matter of time before production companies started looking at author Bernard Cornwall’s other work. The Sharpe series starring Sean Bean was immensely popular back in the 1990s, and fans of Cornwell have long hoped to see an adaptation of either his Warlord Chronicles or Grail Quest series. Now, their prayers are finally being answered thanks to Doctor Who‘s new producers, Bad Wolf Productions.

The Warlord Chronicles are a trilogy of books that tell a historically plausible version of the King Arthur story. The first novel, The Winter King, was published in 1996. It takes place in 5th century Britain, long before the world of Uthred of Bebbenburg. With Britain only beginning to accept Christianity, paganism dominated the Dark Ages as invading Anglo Saxons threatened the once-dominant Celtic culture. Other figures from Arthurian legend appear in the novels, including Lancelot and Merlin.

Yet those expecting the magical wizard of lore may be disappointed. Instead, the series explores the myths and legends of the druids and what Merlin might have been like if he had really existed. The books have a historical fiction feel in line with Cornwall’s other work.

There were two sequels to The Winter KingEnemy of God in 1996 and Excalibur in 1997. Cornwell says that of “all the books I have written, these three are my favorites.”

However, despite the King Arthur story being the progenitor of so much fantasy fiction, the books themselves are not fantasy works. Instead, Cornwell allows the reader to judge whether the “magic” professed by the druids is real or simply tricks believed by the superstitious commoners.

The Last Kingdom author’s best series is coming to TV

According to Variety, Bad Wolf Productions, recently acquired by Sony Pictures Television for around $80 million, will be producing the Warlord Chronicles series; they’re the ones behind HBO’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and currently working on the next series of Doctor Who.

The first season of the show, based on The Winter King, will have 10 episodes, with each subsequent season adapting the other two books. Kate Brooke (A Discovery of Witches) and Ed Whitmore (Manhunt) will be showrunners, while Halo director Otto Bathurst will be the show’s lead director.

Bad Wolf began developing The Warlord Chronicles for Epix back in 2020; however, the show will now be airing on an as-yet-unnamed platform, with production starting in Wales and England’s West Country later this year.

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