After the dense and intense read that was Golda Meir’s autobiography, I wanted something more relaxed, and preferably back in my preferred genre of fantasy. And while I didn’t want to resort to one of my old favorites quite yet, I wasn’t keen to read another brand new book. So instead I chose a book that I’d only read once previously.
Well, only read once. But this is the novelization of the miniseries The 10th Kingdom. I remember watching it live on TV when it first premiered in 2000, and being utterly captivated. I have mentioned my love of fairy tales – well here’s a couple of ordinary New Yorkers who find themselves transported to the magical realm of the Nine Kingdoms and have to find their way home again. The Nine Kingdoms aren’t just full of magic though. Our fairy tales are their facts and history. Prince Wendell just so happens to be the heir to the House of White, Snow White’s grandson.
I’m sure that my mom picked up the book because of the TV series, but I couldn’t honestly tell you when it was, other than also in 2000. I know I saw the video before I read the book though. The book may have come in a box set with the tapes (yes, VHS tapes), but it doesn’t matter. I’ve watched those videos a number of times in the intervening years, and even acquired the DVDs when they were rereleased just a few years ago. So, like Harry Potter, I don’t often feel the need to reread The 10th Kingdom.
And, like The Princess Bride, this is a story that I can’t help reading in the characters’ voices, and visualizing scenes from the miniseries as I go. In fact, it’s worse, because while The Princess Bride was adapted into a screenplay and had a great deal cut out, The 10th Kingdom, being a novelization, has almost exactly the same content as the miniseries. The only addition is that we do actually get to see the characters’ thoughts, but since the body language is quite good, viewers can usually guess at what readers know for certain.
If I was to recommend only one version of The 10th Kingdom to others, it would probably be the miniseries. Not just because that was the originally intended production and the book was simply another way for Hallmark to make money, but because I think so many scenes are better when you can see and hear what the book describes. It’s not a “show, don’t tell” issue, but simply an acknowledgement of atmosphere.
I mentioned a while back that the movie Watchmen is an amazingly faithful adaptation of the graphic novel. What you might not know if you’ve never read it is that some of the songs used in the movie were actually quoted in the book, overlaying their relevant scenes. The creators may have hoped that the readers would have the songs playing in their heads as they read, but you can’t guarantee that it would be so the way you can with a movie, by dropping the audio track over the video. I usually am a proponent of the book being better, but in this case I not only have to go with my first exposure, but the acknowledgement that the book came later.
Also with a movie I can just read through the scenes that drive me crazy, most namely Little Lamb Village and Kissing Town. Seriously, least favorite parts of the story. I just despise liars.