Kvothe Simulator 2017

Let’s take a break from our hectic schedule for a little media punditry.

A while back there was talk of a Kingkiller Chronicle TV series, which I dearly hoped would come to pass so I could blog about it but which I realistically expected to shuffle quietly into the void. It seems I was wrong, because just a few days ago Lionsgate announced that they’ve locked up rights to a whole galaxy of Kvothe-related material, including movies, TV projects and (most intriguingly of all) video games.

That article also includes the following rather surprising piece of information:

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the books trail only Game of Thrones when it comes to fantasy book sales.

I knew these books were popular, but I didn’t realize they were quite that popular. From a financial perspective this explains why so many studios were apparently willing to engage in negotiations and (probably) bidding wars to get their hands on the license: there’s clearly a level of appeal here that goes beyond just fantasy die-hards.

From a creative standpoint, I’ll reiterate what I said about the TV series news: I don’t understand how you adapt these books for the screen. If I was a director or a screenwriter handed that task, my only recourse would be to either tell a completely different story with the same characters or start going into completely original side material.

As for the video game, there’s an interesting possible lead that came to mind as soon as I saw who had secured the rights. Lionsgate recently invested money in Telltale, creators of the acclaimed Walking Dead adventure game and a lot of other well-respected media tie-ins, with an eye toward collaborating together. The announcement claimed they were focusing on original properties, but the only way I can see a Kingkiller game working is as a dialogue-heavy adventure game in the Telltale style. I would bet money that if Lionsgate is serious about this, they’ve got Telltale in mind as the developers.

Now for the tricky part: is any of this actually going to happen?

Probably not. I’m not saying that out of spite– I’m sure a lot of fans are doing backflips over this news and it would be great for their sake if it panned out– but because deals like this have a noted tendency to fall through. In particular, once a studio starts going on about huge multimedia projects the chances that any of it will ever come to pass rapidly approach 0%. Look at what keeps happening with the Dark Tower– it’s a movie! It’s three movies! It’s three movies and a TV series! It’s not happening! Two movies! No wait it’s cancelled again! No wait it’s back on!

Here’s my prediction: we won’t hear anything for a year or more, then when Lionsgate starts talking about the project again it will be with a far more cautious tone. The movie, TV show and video game idea will have quietly morphed into a single movie to test the waters, with sequels lined up if that does well. The script will go through a few passes, we’ll hear vague rumblings of major re-writes and trouble behind the scenes, a few directors will be name-dropped as likely candidates. Some other project that’s vaguely similar to this one will bomb, sparking a round of feverish think pieces on what it could mean for the Kvothe movie. And then the whole thing will be abruptly called off several months before filming is due to start.

Maybe I’ll be wrong. I’d like to be, if for no other reason than the promise of several years worth of high quality grist for the blogging mill. Let’s be honest, Doing In The Wizard has never been quite the same ever since the glory days of the Kvothe Let’s Reads ended.

And hey, if nothing else Pat Rothfuss and others connected to the books probably got a nice fat cheque out of all of this. Go buy yourselves, like, fifty steak dinners.

Advertisements

31 thoughts on “Kvothe Simulator 2017

  1. Pingback: Polar Bear Simulator 2017 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. braak

    Also, am very much looking forward to a Kvothe videogame where you have to kill a giant lizard by quickly calculating how much black tar opium you need to feed it.

    “Shoot,” you’ll say, as you keep hitting the B button and getting random numbers that don’t seem right, “why did I put all of my development points into ‘fucking around on the lute?'”

    Reply
  3. braak

    I got to say, in fact I think the structure of the Kingkiller books is pretty well suited to a TV series, exactly because of how much you’d be tempted to go off into original side material. Nothing that happens in the whole fucking books has any bearing on the over-arching plot — you can write as many “dithering around backstage at the Aeolian” episodes you want to without disrupting the main thread of the story. Every chapter is, essentially, a departure from and then an immediate return to status quo, just like old episodes of Hercules or Xena, with occasional references to the grand Chandrian plot that you don’t even have to think about explaining well into season 3.

    Reply
    1. Pook

      So mostly filler with 2 or 3 episodes dedicated to plot per season? If so, then it’ll be just like the fucking books.

      Reply
  4. Nerem

    Thinking about it, I’m actually distinctly reminded of the Honorverse’s attempt to do just this. The comics actually happened, but that was the easiest part. The attempt at an MMO died and so did its company. And it seems like the mobile game attempt died too. The movie attempt… has tried several times, with the latest apparently going to be a TV mini-series because the books are too long to fit into a movie. Which I mean, they’re Kingkiller-length doorstoppers, though they actually have plot due to being standalone books.

    I don’t like them, largely for same reasons I don’t like Kingkiller Chronicles.

    Reply
  5. Pook

    If they did a strict adaption of the Kingkiller books, I cannot imagine them doing well at at for more than one reason. The lack of focus in the books would not translate very well to TV and personally I find the dialogue in the books to be cringy at best and awful at worst. They would have to put more focus on the Chandrian plotline, because I think the average TV watcher would be constantly asking why Kvothe is dicking around in the world instead of finding his parents’ killers. At least with Game of Thrones there’s war and political intrigue to divert attention away from the White Walkers invading the Seven Kingdoms at a snail’s pace.

    They could do something like Highlander does and have Kvothe do a voice over every now and then, but that would probably involve ripping his pompous, condescending monologues straight from the books. Or have him talk directly to the camera like on House of Cards.

    As for video games, the books are closer to harem anime than a concise, disciplined novel, so it might do well as a visual novel.

    Reply
    1. Nerem

      How would they put more focus on the Chandarian plot-line is the question. Literally nothing has happened on that front aside from storytime and “oh that random bandit we easily beat up was one”.

      Reply
      1. Nerem

        Wonder if they’d be able to get permission for that. It’d have to be like “If I die before you finish” stuff probably.

        Watch it basically end up being Legend of the Seeker 2.

        Reply
    2. Straw Man

      I’m not a screenwriter or producer, but I can imagine Kingkiller working in a kind of “Twin Peaks” format: Chandrian are the maguffin; Kvothe never gets an inch closer to finding them; he just wanders around Imre meeting ordinary people and learning about their sordid little lives. Kvothe’s parents are from Imre, and were never actually Swollen Travelers in the first place–they just joined an acting troupe and engaged in cultural appropriation. So they play the role of Laura Palmer and, being middle class locals turned hippie actor, they leave behind a network of leads to trace down, all ending with some sort of freak or weirdo who, ultimately, has nothing to do with their deaths.

      I think I’d watch it. “Faffing around Imre meeting weirdos.” AKA, “Twin Peaks of Middle Earth.”

      Reply
  6. Nerem

    It’ll probably go the way of the Noir live-action adaption that Starz was trying to do. Good thing too, as Starz’s proposed adaption of it was pretty awful. Make the villians into Evil Muslims, introduce several male love interests (and also replacement protagonists), sex and drug it up as much as possible…

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      Seriously? I never even heard of that. That sounds like such a departure from the source material, what’s the point of even making it an adaptation? It’s not like *Noir* of all things has some sort of mainstream recognition.

      Reply
      1. Nerem

        Yeah, Sam Raimi was behind it. Why they chose Noir, I have no idea.

        Let’s see. One of the new main characters is “Smith”, a CIA agent working undercover to get the KGB’s trust and is Mirielle’s ex-boyfriend, and dislikes that she has a fiance. Who is New Male Character 2, John. Who is an ex-Korea war hero. Both Americans.

        And then finally Lance, who there isn’t as much detail on, who is Kirika’s trainer/love interest.

        It also takes place in 1960 Paris, instead of 2010.

        Reply
  7. A. Noyd

    Well, given the ridiculous wish-fulfillment protagonist, the lack of plot, and the shitty female characters who exist only to validate said protagonist, maybe they’d have the best luck adapting it into an anime. Like, hand production over to a Japanese studio that’s already done the same for some of the numerous, inexplicably popular light novels or visual novels that suffer from the same flaws.

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      Funny you should mention light novels, given what I just finished writing about…

      But yes, that’s actually an apt comparison. The Kvothe books feel very much like light novels aimed at adults instead of young teens– they have more sex and less flashy magic battles, and they’re gigantic instead of being slim and easily digestible, but all the other elements are there.

      Reply
    2. Nerem

      Don’t insult light novels like that. They have way more plot and don’t take 3000 pages to get to it.

      I don’t even like them, and I have to defend them here.

      And as much as the Magical Girlfriend concept is dumb and sucks, it still means they do SOMETHING as opposed to nothing and still be extremely sexist.

      Reply
      1. A. Noyd

        I’m not talking about light novels in general, which I enjoy and read as a hobby. (Just finished the first—and so far only—volume of Rhetorica Chronicle and liked it enough I’ll be getting the next volume.) I’m talking about a certain subset of them. There are a lot of popular ones these days that started out as web novels which do have the same plotting issues as Rothfuss’ non-epic. They’re also really long, but they’re divided into shorter volumes and arcs. Sometimes you get a subplot that resolves by the end of the volume, but not always.

        Reply
      2. Nerem

        Weird it won’t let me reply to you directly, A. Noyd.

        Nah I was mostly being silly, but like, Kingkiller Chronicles would be pretty dire even as a light novel. Less dire, though, by being immensely shorter though. I mean, I get the ones you’re talking about, and they don’t even really qualify as light novels except that they split them up into a billion volumes. I mean, totally aware that that’s what basically happened to Kingkiller Chronicles, but fuck KKC is still stupidly long.

        Reply
      3. Signatus

        Not sure about that, Nerem. Rothfuss short novella (I’m not even going to look up the stupidly long title) was pretty boring even when it was 100 and something pages long.

        Reply
      4. Nerem

        The Slow Regard Of Things? Yeah, it was. But like, the three main-books-that-are-really-one-chopped-up-book has about enough plot for a hundred pages or two.

        Reply
      5. Signatus

        On that I completely agree. I might have mentioned it before but I really don’t understand the trend nowadays, of writing incredibly long books with as much plot as to fill about a 100 pages. Martin has gone that way, his last two books could be summarized in a couple hundred pages, and the same goes for Rothfuss. I miss the old days where a book was 200-300 pages long and took you in for a ride. The first three Harry Potter books and several old school Dragonlance or D&D come to mind. They might not have been brilliant, but at least they were fun to go through and things kept happening.

        Reply
      6. Nerem

        Well, certain series made really-long-windedness super popular, like Wheel of Time.

        Huh, I wonder if there’s any good deconstructions of WoT that’s from a non-fan angle.

        Reply
  8. Hal

    I have a hard time imagining these books becoming tv shows or movies for the same problems you pointed out in your reviews: nothing happens, ever. Half the books are Kvothe fucking around doing absolutely nothing and making smug, “witty” remarks in his head. That can work on paper, where readers aren’t confronted with the lack of plot, but in film or television? That’s insane. That was apparently a huge problem for 50 Shades of Grey, which had a similar lack of actual plot or things going on in the novel.

    Reply
    1. Eudaemonium

      For as much as I couldn’t finish Name of the Wind, I did like that you could potentially read most of the story as Kvothe being a delusional narcissist. Like the way that everyone’s talking about him or trying to kill him or hating him. The world revolves around him because he thinks it does: People aren’t *really* always talking about him, he just catches the odd times they do and feeds them into his delusions of grandeur. Denna could just be off having a life somewhere else for the most part, and you could read Kvothe’s seeing her as mysterious manic pixie dream girl as simply a product of his own mind.

      I don’t think that reading can be sustained until the end of the first book, though, and certainly not beyond it—the second basically legitimises all Kvothe’s self-conceptions. The Auri novella does similarly.

      Reply
      1. Hal

        I see a lot of fans of the book trying to use similar arguments in its defense. “Kvothe isn’t a Mary Sue, he’s an unreliable narrator!” They completely miss the point you make, that the second book makes it very clear that no, we are supposed to believe that Kvothe is amazing and spectacular and that the whole world revolves around his bullshit.

        Reply
  9. Signatus

    I quiet enjoyed many of the other Let’s Read, with the exception of the political book (too lazy to look up the title) mainly because that’s a genre that doesn’t interest me one bit. Having studied political science I eventually developed a heavy aversion to all relating politics. Too stressful. I’d rather talk about evolution with creationists.

    Anyways, I really liked Brandon Sanderson’s Lets Read. I went through the whole book (I had payed for it) and actually bought the second one, which I’ll read as soon as I finish Nation, and there was a lot of potential material to talk about. Pity you got bored, because I was enjoying that one way more than Goodkind’s book.

    It’s a pity we might not be hearing much about Qvothe because I would have really liked to see how they adapted the books to a TV series. Let’s see if we get a third book, because Rothfuss seems to be mimicking Martin. I’m not one who believes writers are indebted to us or something, they are free to write as fast as they wish. However, I do believe that the longer you take to write a book, the greater the risk that yours faithful readers might have moved to something else. I actually lost all interest in Song of Ice and Fire, and will probably not read the next book when it comes out. The fact that the last two books were a tedious bunch of fillers definitely doesn’t help.

    Reply
  10. reveen

    Even series that should theoretically be easily adapted tend not to pan out, remember the Dresden files series that lasted all of ten seconds?

    I think Game of Thrones actually becoming a thing is entirely due to HBO, which doesn’t tend to just trawl bestsellers lists looking for profitable IPs to buy and then forget about. Looking at wikipedia it seems that the original idea for the series was literally the showrunners reading the books then going “I like this, it should be on teevee!”

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      HBO in general seems to be pretty good at choosing projects to greenlight. A lot of channels/studios across movies and TV frequently make decisions that seem completely ludicrous (“there’s no way this will be a hit, why are they giving it a $200 million budget?”) whereas it seems like they’re smart about picking things that will actually find an audience.

      Netflix also seems very savvy in that regard.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s