American Gods explainer (Alex Moreland)
Are you ready for the action? (Picture: Starz/FremantleMedia North America)

No doubt you’re aware of ‘Game of Thrones’, the hit fantasy epic based on George R. R. Martin’s acclaimed book series.

But with that coming to an end, you’re probably looking for something to replace it.

Might we suggest ‘American Gods’, in that case?

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It’s an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s magnum opus for television, which brings together a pantheon of talented actors and creative figures.

And much like ‘Game of Thrones’, it’s shaping up to be a huge hit.

You’d be a fool to miss out.

What is it?

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(Picture: Headline Review)

American Gods is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 2001 fantasy novel of the same name.

The series draws on different mythologies and belief systems and presents a fight between them – a war between the old Gods like Odin and Anubis and the new Gods like Media and the Technical Boy.

Caught in the middle of this is Shadow Moon.

After three years in prison for assault, he finds himself working for one of the Old Gods, and is drawn into a world beyond his understanding, at the same time as the return of his dead girlfriend, Laura.

Who’s in it?

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Bryan Fuller, Michael Green, Ricky Whittle and David Slade with author Neil Gaiman (Picture: Jan Thijs/FremantleMedia North America)

There’s a huge host of impressive talents attached to this project.

You’ve got Ricky Whittle, fresh off his role as Lincoln in The 100, in the title role as Shadow Moon.

UK audiences might remember him from Hollyoaks, in which Whittle played Ricky Valentine, or perhaps from the 2009 series of Strictly Come Dancing, where he came second.

Ian McShane is starring as Mr Wednesday.

You’re likely to recognise him from Lovejoy, Deadwood and Game of Thrones on the small screen, or perhaps his villainous turn as Blackbeard in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

On top of that, McShane has previously played Mr Bobinsky in Coraline, making him no stranger to adaptations of Neil Gaiman’s work.

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Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle in American Gods (Picture: FremantleMedia North America)

They’re far from the only ones, though.

We’ve also got Peter Stormare as Czernobog, Crispin Glover as Mr World, and Gillian Anderson as Media, alongside Yetide Badaki as Bilquis, Bruce Langley as Technical Boy, and Pablo Schreiber as Mad Sweeney.

Emily Browning will also be starring as Laura, one of the series’ female leads.

The book is really long, how much of it will the show cover?

Yetide Badaki
(Picture: Starz)

Gaiman’s original novel was a whopping 200,000 words long (it’s usually around 500 pages in print), with some extended anniversary editions pushing the total even further.

Executive producer Bryan Fuller has said that the first season of American Gods won’t cover the entirety of the book, but rather only the first third.

For those who’ve read the book, the Lakeside scenes will make up most of the second season.

There’s no need to worry about the show running out of content, though – Fuller has commented that they’ll partially adapt some of Gaiman’s other works for this series, most notably Anansi Boys.

Why should I watch it?

Bryan Fuller of Hannibal fame is going to be the head writer as well as the executive producer on this program.

Fuller’s a genuinely talented auteur who will no doubt bring his distinctive storytelling and visual style to American Gods, elevating it far above the average television show.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, there’s the fact that this show is building on a very rich and compelling source material – Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is one of the best fantasy novels of the past few decades, if not ever.

These combined will spell a fantastic television show – likely one to rival hits such as Game of Thrones or Westworld.

When’s it on? How can I watch it in the UK?

The show is set to make its global premiere at SXSW on March 11 and it will be available sometime after that – the exact release date has yet to be announced.

UK distribution rights have been snapped up by Amazon Prime Video, so you’ll need to pay for that service (or at least get the free trial).

Alex Moreland is a freelance writer and student based in London. You can read more of his work here.

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