The Dutch book De brief voor de Koning (1962) by Tonke Dragt has finally been developed into a TV series by Will Davies for Netflix.
Premise: 16-year old aspiring knight Tiuri finds himself on a perilous mission to deliver a secret letter to the king who lives across the Great Mountains.
Review: The premise is not the most original one out there. Reading it, it’s obvious that you’ll be cheering for an underdog, an unassuming mildly skilled naive boy, who is thrust into a dangerous situation he’s not happy about. A guy, who’ll do the right thing because he must…well not exactly.
We spent a good chunk of time getting to know Tiuri, and although he’s a nice guy, he doesn’t go out of his way to be helpful. He minds his own business and tries to be a decent guy, but not a hero.
Tiuri keeps getting reluctantly pushed into things, his step father, Sir. Tiuri, wants him to become a knight, and then he tries to assist one person and it snowballs into a mess he’s in the middle of. In fact, Tiuri actively tries to get out of that mess but gets sucked back in every time. He only truely accepts his quest when he has no other choice.
From the start Tiuri was told not to trust anyone and I appreciated that most characters were shown to not be trust worthy. Yet Tiuri was so naive and gullible for a 16 year old that it was frustrating. I didn’t want him to be a Gary Sue but not an idiot either.
Different characters shined for various reasons. Prince Viridian sounded evil but looked too pretty particularly for a harden warrior. They tried to pass him off as a vilain who thought he was a hero but that didn’t take.
Sir Tiuri was interesting to me, he’s hard, mean even, and yet he is his stepson’s the biggest champion – at least in public. There were contradicting things about him, it was like he knew something we didn’t but that got nowhere.
Piak was instant like for me, the rest of the novices felt real in their overconfidence in their own skill and doubts about what was going on. The representation throughout the show is quite seamless, race, gender and sexuality are represented but a lot of the characters were selfish and/or greedy, making you wonder why does Tiuri trust anyone so easily.
The Letter For The King‘s story builds up nicely introducing characters, places, while slowly revealing plot points. It hits a crescendo but then slows down almost to a crawl. There are a few twists but they don’t make much of an impact. It is a fantasy series with magic and a quest but it wasn’t epic enough, my excitement level dropped half-way through.
When it comes to visuals, imagery the show has its moments like, that jump – in the first episode – was just magical, a nice shot, reminiscent of E.T.; and then the final “battle” had a lot of screengrab worthy moments that you could frame.
The Letter For The King is quite entertaining, it has its moments, the visual effects are good, but the writing is a little uneven. I would watch a second season but in a “I’ll get to it when I have time” kind of way.