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A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik Optioned For Adaptation Ahead Of Release

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BY February 10, 2021

Naomi Novik is an author that we talk about a lot in our author lists. We covered news about her upcoming fantasy series awhile back. The first book in the series – A Deadly Education – has been described as a ‘dark, twisted Harry Potter.’ That book is not due out until October. But studios are clearly excited about a new fantasy series set in a school of magic. Universal Pictures has picked up the rights to the Scholamance series by Naomi Novik for film adaptation, starting with A Deadly Education.

Naomi Novik New Series Image via Del Rey

The official synopsis for the film adaptation is pretty similar to the book summary.

“Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered. There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal. Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: You graduate or you die. El Higgins is uniquely prepared for the school’s many dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions — never mind easily destroy the countless monsters that prowl the school. Except, she might accidentally kill all the other students, too. So El is trying her hardest not to use it… that is, unless she has no other choice.”

Universal Wins Rights To A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Novik rose to prominence in the genre with her bestselling Temeraire series about dragons fighting in the Napoleonic War. Since then she has written several beautiful fairy tale retellings including Uprooted and Spinning Silver. While we are delighted by the prospect of Novik’s series coming to life onscreen, it is a bit curious that this new series is so coveted by studios. All of Novik’s titles could easily be adapted for film or television. The Temeraire series seems ideal for an alternate history fantasy show. Ideal for HBO who we know has that dragon CGI budget. Both the fairytale retellings of Uprooted and Spinning Silver would also be ideal for film adaptations, or as part of a larger anthology fantasy series. If we are going to start adapting Novik’s books, I would like to see some of her standalone novels come to life onscreen.

There is little news about what this adaptation will entail, or if Universal will adapt the entire trilogy or just the first book. The Hollywood Reporter says that Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman (The Aeronauts) will produce. No casting details are available yet. Apparently this was a pretty competitive battle over what studio would win the rights to the books.

Hopefully this move by Universal is indicative of more fantasy adaptations on the way. We will certainly be following news of the adaptation closely in the months to come. The book A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik will be out on October 6, 2020. Be sure to follow Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date.


Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

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