The Letter for the King
The Letter for the King is another medievalesque fantasy series, based on the 1962 novel by Dutch author Tonke Dragt. The Netflix six-episode run, with its coming-of-age and fulfilling-destiny storyline, contains all the ingredients to make it a clichéd but equally bingeable series. Like Netflix’s less PG fantasy offering The Witcher, there’s magic and sorcery. Like Game of Thrones, there’s the politics of kingdoms and betrayal. It even shares the sweeping scenery of Lord of the Rings (with several familiar cast members too). However, the simplest comparison is perhaps 1917: a protagonist is tasked with hand-delivering an important message past a multitude of obstacles. What could possibly go wrong?
Amir Wilson stars as young, hapless, but earnest knight-in-training Tiuri. His accidental adventure is prompted solely by being the nearest person around to receive a crucial secret letter for the King from a dying knight – it’s hardly convincing, but luckily this is a show centred around fate. What follows is essentially horse chase after horse chase, with multiple borderline comical search parties, in a land blatantly smaller than it looks because characters keep running into each other. Other increasingly significant strands of the plot include the introduction of sassy companion Lavinia (newcomer Ruby Ashbourne Serkis, who stars opposite her father Andy Serkis) and series villain Prince Viridian, who is unfortunately as one-dimensional and stereotypical as his bad-guy haircut.
This adaptation so badly wants the viewer to get behind the hero’s both epic and personal journey across the land. Wilson, more admirable than his on-screen persona, manages to add a bit of personality to an otherwise bland character. The same applies to the rest of the cast, especially those playing his quirky fellow wannabe knights. However, it’s not quite the iconic ensemble of characters that audiences of other fantasy series may be accustomed to. Tiuri’s heroic horse, alongside the breathtaking Middle Earth landscapes, are the standout stars of the show.
There’s certainly potential as plot strands and twists are gradually tied together. The Letter For the King does an impressive job of creating kingdoms that will appeal to a YA audience. Despite its PG status, it doesn’t shy away from death and danger, but ultimately it feels like a safe story with a familiar structure. For only six episodes, it still feels like a slow burn, but it’s perfect for any bingers seeking to discover a new realm of escapism.
The Letter for the King is released digitally on demand on 20th March 2020.
Watch the trailer for The Letter for the King here: