'A Wizard of Earthsea' Books Coming To TV, Will This Time Be Different?

A new adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's landmark young adult fantasy series Earthsea will be developed by A24 (Midsommar, High Life, Eighth Grade) and Jennifer Fox (Michael Clayton, Nightcrawler), Deadline reports. In development for television, the Earthsea TV show replaces previous plans for a series of movies from rightsholder Fox, who optioned the series in 2018.

In A Wizard of Earthsea, first published in 1968, a promising young wizard leaves his island to study at a school of magic. After accidentally summoning a shadow creature determined to take over his body, the student is forced into a life on the run. The narrative is set in a sprawling archipelago, navigated primarily by sail, where magical power is found in names.

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The cover to the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt reissue of "A Wizard of Earthsea" by Ursula K. Le Guin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Le Guin followed A Wizard of Earthsea with two more novels, The Tombs of Atuan (1971) and The Farthest Shore (1972), with two more novels following decades later in 1990 and 2001. A final Earthsea short story, "Firelight," appeared in The Paris Review in 2018.

"She is second only to Tolkien in influence in this genre, and before she died last year, she agreed to put her most beloved work in my hands," Fox told Deadline. "This project is, therefore, a sacred trust and priority for me as well as an opportunity to create an iconic piece of American culture."

While Earthsea has been adapted previously, both a Sci Fi Channel and Studio Ghibli movie differed substantially from Le Guin's novel series, occasionally attracting criticism from the author herself. She particularly objected to the whitewashing embodied in the cast of Sci Fi's Earthsea.

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Ursula K. Le Guin in the trailer for documentary "Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin." Arwen Curry

"My protagonist is Ged, a boy with red-brown skin. In the film, he's a petulant white kid," Le Guin wrote for Slate in 2004, commenting on the show's transformation of the diverse archipelago. "All they intended was to use the name Earthsea, and some of the scenes from the books, in a generic McMagic movie with a meaningless plot based on sex and violence."

This adaptation might be different, however. Le Guin gave her approval to Fox in 2018. The late author's son, Theo Downes-Le Guin has also expressed optimism that this version would be more true to the series.

"Ursula long hoped to see an adaptation of Earthsea that represented a collaboration between her ideas and words and the visual storytelling of others," Downes-Le Guin said to Deadline. "I feel very fortunate that, with Jennifer Fox and A24, we have a bedrock of producing and development experience that can bring the sweeping narrative and moral truths of my mother's work to screen."

'A Wizard of Earthsea' Books Coming To TV, Will This Time Be Different? | Newsgeek