Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle has already been adapted for film and TV, but the results were less than impressive to fans and author alike. Here’s hoping this upcoming series will be the charm.
The Earthsea Cycle encompasses several fantasy novels and short stories taking place in the world of Earthsea, an archipelago of hundreds of islands, surrounded by ocean, full of magic, wizards, and dragons. The first in the series, A Wizard of Earthsea, was published in 1968 and stood out for breaking a number of fantasy genre stereotypes, by including many characters of colour, including a non-white protagonist, and by not basing the setting on the Middle Ages. You can thank Le Guin’s influence for the existence of wizard schools in modern fantasy literature.
The first attempt at a screen adaptation came in 2004 with a two-part Sci Fi Channel miniseries (Earthsea) that whitewashed many of the characters, including the protagonist Ged, annoyed fans, and angered Le Guin. Then came Studio Ghibli’s 2006 Tales from the Earthsea, that was loosely based on the Earthsea mythology, but didn’t have much of anything to do with the books. Now, a third is in the works.
Le Guin died in 2018, but had already given her blessing to Jennifer Fox (Velvet Buzzsaw, Nightcrawler, The Bourne Legacy) to produce an adaptation with entertainment company A24 (Ex Machina, Room). The Earthsea series hasn’t been shopped to any networks yet, so it will probably be a while before we see any casting or plot information.