Hong Kong financial firm Starlight Culture Entertainment, best known for backing film projects like Crazy Rich Asians and Marshall, is beginning a foray into television by securing the adaptation rights to The Poppy War fantasy novel trilogy by Chinese American author Rebecca F. Kuang (The Nine Curves River), as reported by Deadline. A showrunner who will dictate the look and tone of the series has not been attached yet, although Kuang admitted on Twitter that she would be most partial to an animated adaptation in the style of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender.
idk how much say i get so this is just me talking about my wildest dreams but i would loooove an animated series like a darker, more mature ATLA
— Rebecca F. Kuang (@kuangrf) December 8, 2020
Publishers Weekly describes The Poppy War cycle as a large-scale military fantasy told against the backdrop of Chinese history: “The series… follows an orphan with special powers who is called to fight for her country when a neighboring nation invades… [It] nods to everything from the Song dynasty to the Second Sino-Japanese War.” The first book in the series, for instance, contains a whole chapter directly inspired by the 1937 Rape of Nanking, according to BookRiot. Kuang told Publishers Weekly that the arc of the series’ main character, Rin, was even based in part on Mao Zedong, the former Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party: “A big question of the trilogy is what could make a dictator like Mao commit the sort of atrocities that he did. What has to happen to turn you into someone that could do those things? […] What experiences and ideologies would have to shape you? And if you could change the path of those events, that history, would you?”
Starlight founder Peter Luo (Midway) allegedly has a lot of confidence in the project’s success. “The combination of a strong female teenager protagonist, an inspiring theme of an outcast fighting for recognition, and a compelling historical military fantasy grounded in the history of China make this an epic TV package… that plays universally,” he explained, via Deadline. Starlight is partnering with SA Inc to develop and fund the project, Deadline reports.
The third book in The Poppy War trilogy, The Burning God, was published in November 2020. The Poppy War, The Dragon Republic and The Burning God are all available through most online book retailers. The Drowning Faith, a collection of three scenes narrated from a supporting character’s point of view can be read concurrently with The Burning God and is available to read for free on Kuang’s official website.