With the success of A Game of Thrones by HBO, and the sign-up of American Gods by the same, there is now plenty of discussion as to which other fantasy series would make for good television.
At first I loved the idea of a Malazan series - those dragons brought to life, the sweeping epic battles, the magic, the tremendous characters. Plus the series is actually complete (a big plus over A Song of Ice and Fire *snickers*) But then I really started to think about it and realised that I would NEVER want Malazan to be optioned for TV. Here are my reasons....
1) There are lots (and lots and lots and lots and lots) of characters... In Dust of Dreams there are two hundred and forty four characters listed! Some might say that you could excise minor characters, but then you start to wonder exactly which characters could be removed? I mean, you need all the gods for a start, the ascendants are important, maybe the odd Bridgeburner here or there could go, but, truly, Erikson always gives his characters plenty of screentime and/or reason for being there.
2) The ten novels of the main Malazan Book of the Fallen are entirely interlinked. As I know from the Tor readalong, the veterans, who have read the series many times between them, are constantly saying things like 'wow, that scene totally foreshadows what happens in book seven!' when we touch on something in book two. Imagine if HBO picked up the series, but then only made Gardens of the Moon because of ratings - there would be so much that people would miss out on that had already been hinted at.
3) Malazan is not for the casual reader, so a TV series would either have to dumb it down enormously (and then what is the point?) or would have to rely on viewers to pay attention to the extreme. Malazan would be like Lost - except one hundred times more complicated, and look at how people complained about that!
4) I honestly don't think that TV budgets could handle Malazan. Unlike A Song of Ice and Fire (where the dragons and the Others are pretty much the limit of otherworldliness), with Malazan there are full on mage battles; there is a gigantic floating rock; there are multiple shapeshifters; there would need to be some representation of Warrens; there are Elf-like beings in the form of the Tiste.... I could go on!
5) Anyone can die. I mean, we know this from A Game of Thrones as well, but, honestly, I have never been so devastated by character death as when reading the Malazan novels (and I'm only up to the third!) Not just major characters, but minor deaths rend the heart, and I think a casual TV audience would find that enormously difficult to take. In addition to this, Hood is doing an abysmal job in keeping the dead or almost-dead dead, since we keep seeing people we presume dead come back to life.
6) In order to take on Malazan, I presume HBO would need to negotiate contracts not just with Erikson, but with Esslemont as well, since it is a shared world. That adds extra complication and expense. In addition, if they are to become advisors on the series, it would result in trying to fit into the calenders of two busy authors.
7) People in the series have multiple names and titles, which would just cause unnecessary confusion. Some people take on the bodies or forms of other characters. Some characters come back as different characters. I have the capacity to become confused while reading the series and have to skim backwards and forwards - I can't imagine how a TV series would cope.
8) To do the books justice, you would need to commit to AT LEAST ten series. What TV executive would take that chance, knowing how complicated Malazan is?
9) For whatever reason, Malazan is just not as popular as A Song of Ice and Fire (probably because of that habit Erikson has for dropping his readers into the centre of events with no hand-holding). Even non-genre friends of mine were muzzily aware of GRRM and his series as it was being signed up by HBO. NONE of them had heard of Malazan before I mentioned it.
10) My last reason is way more personal and selfish. These characters, these places, live in my head. I have pictures of what they look like. I can't imagine actors taking on these roles. Ask me who should play Anomander Rake, from actors performing today, and I could not think of ANYONE who would do the role justice. Let alone Quick Ben! And Kruppe.... Gosh, I'm not even touching the surface and I'm already lost as to who could play these characters.
So, HBO - and any other TV station - leave Malazan Book of the Fallen well alone! I'm not sure Erikson and his publishers etc would thank me for this, but I firmly believe that this series is one that should NEVER be made into a series.
Pitch in, people! Tell me why I am right or wrong! Do you have actors in mind who could play these characters? How would you get round the issues mentioned above?