Fans of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar Universe can look forward to a TV series adaptation. The good news is that the creative team is keeping the queer stuff at the forefront.
According to Deadline, the upcoming TV version of the Valdemar book series is being worked on by producer Radar Pictures (Jumanji). Kit Williamson (EastSiders) will be adapting with author Brittany Cavallaro (Charlotte Holmes).
Even though there are tons of books and short stories to choose from, spanning thousands of years in the book’s lore, the first season will adapt the Last Herald-Mage trilogy. And that’s a good thing.
The first book in the trilogy was published back in 1989 and starred an openly gay heroic protagonist named Vanyel. While the story made Vanyel go through a lot of hardships to protect the world, it also focused on his sexuality and finding love. He went on to become a legend in Valdemar lore. So, I’m here for such a long-running fantasy franchise being introduced to viewers on the small screen by a queer lead. Such a decision already sets it apart from the upcoming Lord of the Rings live-action series on Amazon and other fantasy content out there.
Also, while I appreciate certain studios trying to be more queer-inclusive in their storytelling, seeing an already queer character get the spotlight just hits different when compared to seeing fictional characters come out as queer (some would say “retconned” for brownie points) down the line. The discourse over Iceman coming out as gay in the X-Men franchise still exists. Sigh!
Williamson shared, “Vanyel in The Last Herald Mage series was one of the first gay characters I encountered, and as a recently out 16-year-old, I can’t stress enough the impact that these books had on me. The Valdemar series was far ahead of its time in the portrayal of LGBTQ characters, and Lackey’s writing afforded them a level of depth and complexity that is still very rare, especially in genre storytelling.”
“It’s an absolute dream to be adapting the Valdemar books alongside Radar Pictures and Kit Williamson. Twenty years ago, Kit and I became friends at boarding school, and bonded over our love for Mercedes Lackey’s work, and we’re so excited to begin the process of bringing it to the screen,” added Cavallaro.
The fact Williamson and Cavallaro became friends due to being fans of the Valdemar book series just sounds wonderful. I’m definitely excited about this development. However, there are some concerns popping up in the fandom about the story feeling too dated, especially when it comes to the queer-centric issues Vanyel has to face and the representation of certain clans.
For now, I’ll just say that I trust Williamson and the team he’s working with. These are early days. We will get a better picture of what to expect soon. And while we wait, I’m looking forward to the fan casts appearing on Twitter!
While I’m not saying the series should cast an out queer actor as the lead, I’m just sharing I wouldn’t mind an out queer actor getting such a role. Whether or not queer roles should always be played by queer actors is an ongoing discussion that will hopefully lead to more opportunities for queer talent in Hollywood.
My opinion on the matter is that a queer-inclusive project should offer opportunities to everyone across the board. Non-queer acting talent can definitely be part of queer projects (even lead or co-lead them in certain cases) as long as said projects are also giving queer talent a platform to shine. Basically, sprinkle the love and acting opportunities around.
Feel free to share your thoughts about the Valdemar Universe getting a live-action TV series.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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