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7 Epic Saga Adaptations

The Curation Team at TaleFlick are experts at assessing stories for Film & TV adaption.  You can read more about what we offer to thousands of writers and producers on our Homepage.

Below are some of our favorite book adaptations from epic stories. Yours could be next!

The Lord of the Rings (2001 - 2003)

Image From: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002, New line Cinema

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the best-known examples of an epic saga series adapted for the cinema. Peter Jackson’s direction of the franchise, the ultra-realistic make-up for the monsters and elves, and the magic powers created by special effects gave birth to a Celtic/epic masterpiece. Phenomenons only conceived by J.R. Tolkien’s readers came to life for the first time in The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), an award-winning movie - 98 awards out of 152 nominations - which earned at least an $871M gross.

Game of Thrones (2011 - 2019)

Image From: Game of Thrones: Season 01 2011, HBO.

A TV show adapted from George R.R. Martin's epic book series A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones was first launched in 2011. It has become one of the most beloved TV Shows ever: a critic AND fan-favorite show that has just started its 8th - and final - season in 2019. Game of Thrones already has more than 65 watchable hours. Imagine that: even if you watched it for 10 hours a day, it would take you a whole week to complete it! The TV series has drawn regular acclaim for its commitment to honoring the extreme level of detail in Martin’s books.

Despite the fact that Martin hasn't finished A Song of Ice and Fire book collection, the TV show seems to have an outlined ending. The plot of the show has even exceeded the books', leaving almost no hope for a conclusion for the readers.

Harry Potter (2001 - 2011)

Image From: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009, Warner Bros. Pictures

Although it doesn’t fall within regular 'medieval' epic, we can’t ignore that Harry Potter is an epic hero’s saga. Right at the beginning of Harry's story, we have the features of a hero, a journey, the wise man, the prophecy et cetera. Everything in the hero’s journey that is so characteristic of epic works is there in Harry Potter books (even witches, wizards, castles, and dragons).

The Warner Bros. franchise is not disappointing either. Chris Columbus' first movies popularized reading for the younger generations. He gave life to J.K. Rowling's magical world - in a comfortable, entertaining and faithful adaptation. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was a success, reaching an incredible $317M box office. It revolutionized special effects industry and children/young adult fiction.

The Hobbit (2012 - 2014)

Image From: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 2014, Warner Bros.

One single book turned into a movie saga: The Hobbit is on this list, folks!

The Hobbit is a book which was written by Tolkien in 1937: it's a short and apparently simple story, with some characteristics of a children's book. It portrays the same epic world as The Lord of The Rings and is a fast reading for seasoned readers. Peter Jackson, though, has created three movies for this 200-page book. The first one was well-received. The next movies, though, failed to inspire: they were too fuzzy and wandered off the path traced by the first movie.

The Hobbit may have been overestimated because it’s part of The Lord of the Rings franchise: the second Hobbit movie reached 102 rotten tomatoes out of 251, which is quite bad compared with The Lord of the Ring’s second installment, which reached only 15 rotten tomatoes out of 250.

The Chronicles of Narnia (2005, 2008, 2010)

Image From: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe 2010, 20th Century Fox.

As a literary canon, The Chronicles of Narnia is presented to its readers as seven entertaining short novels. Combined together, they're a masterpiece and a delight for the readers. C.S. Lewis writes for kids but still manages to entertain even the elderly with the vivid narrative of these books.

The three movies, though, were adapted by different directors throughout the years being the first by Andrew Adamson, the second by Andrew Adamson and David Strangmuller, and the third by Michael Apted. The magical and epic features remained faithful to the books. Despite the stunning special effects, critics have complained about the lack of depth of the plot.

The Golden Compass (2007)

Image From: The Golden Compass 2007, New Line Cinema.

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials book trilogy is beloved by readers of epic novels for a good reason. Lyra and her daemon are extremely empathetic protagonists. They live the hero's journey in a mystical world filled with mythology.

New Line Cinema recognized the great potential of this book, but the consensus is that they failed in the execution. The failure, though, isn't due to any lack of faithfulness in the adaptation, but from the quality of the plot. Although Pullman's books are seen as children's books, The Golden Compass is more than that. Chris Weiss wrote and directed the movie in a childish, naive fashion. It almost erased Pullman's critiques to greed, torture, and Christianism - the consequence was a lack of depth that simplified Lyra’s struggles.

300 (2007)

Image From: 300 2007, Warner Bros. Pictures

One of the most epic stories of the modern age, 300 was considered as an extremely accurate adaptation of the comic book by Frank Miller. The $210M box office movie took entire lines and dialogues from Frank Miller’s work. It reproduced some scenes as they were on the comic (the screenwriters had a light job on this one!).

Considered by critics as a visceral entertainment, 300 narrates the story of Leonidas in a quite shallow plot. It’s epic because of the presence of the hero who fights for his land. It has the elements of war, blood, and kingdom essential to evoke ancient times where Ulysses would have lived with his argonauts.