Chinese-based DMG Entertainment has snapped up the rights for Ken Liu’s 2015 epic fantasy novel The Grace of Kings, according to Variety. The company is looking to turn the novel series into a larger film franchise.
'The Grace of Kings' is an ambitious and exciting epic fantasy
The Grace of Kings is Liu’s debut novel, and is an incredibly ambitious and exciting work of epic fantasy. The first of a projected trilogy, Liu’s novel follows a bandit, Kuni Garu and the son of deposed royalty Mata Zyndu as they lead an uprising against the brutal emperor of the Dara Islands. The novel charts the rise and fall of the pair as they become close friends and then bitter enemies, set against the backdrop of fantastic technologies, politics, and gods with their own agenda. Earlier this year it earned Liu the Locus Award for best novel, and a Nebula nomination for the same. A sequel, The Wall of Storms hit bookstores earlier this month. The novel that is truly grand in scale. and it will be interesting to see just how this becomes a film franchise — if it materializes.
What sets The Grace of Kings apart from the rest of the larger pack of epic fantasy doorstops (and, these are very thick books) such as George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones or Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicles is Liu’s approach to the subject matter. Where most traditional fantasy novelists tend to bring in more European influences to their works, Liu tackled the epic as a sort of "re-imagining of the foundational narrative of the Chu-Han Contention as an epic fantasy," by bringing in elements of Chinese literature into the story. While ancient epics such as Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey played some role in the novel’s genesis, it was designed "consciously to be very different from contemporary epic fantasies." This approach has divided some fantasy readers: The Grace of Kings seems to fall into a love-it-or-hate-it category.
China is becoming an increasingly important target for US film studios
However it turns out, this project does feel as though it is well-suited to the changing nature of Hollywood. China is becoming an increasingly important target for US film studios: earlier this year, Duncan Jones’ epic fantasy Warcraft was met with lackluster box office totals in America, but found a huge audience in China. Originally an ad agency, DMG Entertainment began distributing films to China before branching out into producing its own. It later began to help co-produce films such as Looper, Iron Man 3, and Transcendence, and has helped Hollywood access a growing consumer market in the country.
Liu has been an ascending star in the science fiction and fantasy literature world. He’s authored hundreds of short stories over the course of his career, and in 2011, he earned a Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award for his short story The Paper Menagerie (which you should read right now). In 2015, he jointly earned a Hugo Award with Cixin Liu for translating The Three Body Problem into English. Liu is also a busy author: already this year, he’s released a short story collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, a translation of Cixin Liu’s Death’s End, The Wall of Storms, and next month, Invisible Planets, an anthology of translated Chinese science fiction.
(Disclosure: Liu contributed a short story for a book I edited, War Stories: New Military Science Fiction)