The release of HBO’s House Of The Dragon left me thinking about major streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime filling the void with new fantasy series ever since Game of Thrones ended nearly four years ago. There are many different fantasy series now like Shadow and Bone, The Wheel of Time, The Witcher and Lord of The Rings: Rings of Power. These are just a few that are out there, but I’m looking at these four because of their similar epic fantasy atmospheres. Most of the series’ source materials actually predate A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones’ source material, by years and even decades. The source materials’ ages result in almost all of the series not being exactly like Game of Thrones, but are still adapted to fit the latter series’ vibe.
Full disclosure before we dive right in: I haven’t read the novels for any of these series. They will be judged solely on their quality as television series.
No Mourners, No Funerals
What’s It About?: Shadow and Bone is based on the popular Grishaverse novel series of the same name by author Leigh Bardugo. The series chronicles the adventures of a woman named Alina (Jessie Mei Li), destined to be the Sun Summoner. Notably, Shadow and Bone includes characters from sister novel series Six of Crows, presumably because of those novels’ popularity.
My Thoughts: Shadow and Bone is a really, really enjoyable series. The main plot regarding Alina and The Darkling (Ben Barnes) is rife with fantasy genre cliches though. I’m aware the novels are similarly cliché-ridden, but this questions why the cliches weren’t downplayed in the series. Despite this, the main cast are great in their roles. I liked the series’ fun tone that while having serious stakes, the stakes didn’t subtract from the entertainment value. Shadow and Bone also has the most modern-looking setting, resembling 19th-century Europe. The mix between this aesthetic and the fantastical makes for a more unique world to flesh out in future seasons.
The Crows-centric subplot is mostly well integrated into the main plot without…