Will ‘His Dark Materials’ Be Able to Replace ‘Game of Thrones’?

It’s finally happened, Game of Thrones is officially over. Eight years later, Bran Stark has been crowned king, Dany is dead, and Jon Snow has been sent back to the wall. Regardless of where you stand on the quality of the final season, it’s sad to see one of the most influential shows in this decade come to a close.

That means there’s a prime time slot open for HBO, but it does beg the question—can any show fill a time slot haunted by the specter of Game of Thrones? It looks like HBO is taking a gamble and hoping the BBC’s new take on His Dark Materials has the gritty edge to slide into Game of Thrones’ old stomping grounds. Here’s what we know.

What’s it all about?

His Dark Materials is based on the book trilogy of the same name by Philip Pullman. Published in 1995, the first book, The Golden Compass, was transformed into a relatively unsuccessful movie. The plot focuses on a young girl named Lyra, in a world where every human’s soul is paired with a creature called a daemon. Lyra discovers a plot by the ruling religious organization, the Magisterium, to kidnap children and separate them from their daemons.

As the plot progresses, Lyra discovers pathways to parallel universes, and things escalate quickly. His Dark Materials has been a popular read for years, especially among younger readers.

HBO described the show in its press release, “The first season follows Lyra, a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. Her search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. As she journeys through the worlds, including our own, Lyra meets Will, a determined and courageous boy. Together, they encounter extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living — and the dead — in their hands.”

An all-star cast

British author Philip Pullman
British author Philip Pullm | DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

It looks like the BBC pulled out all the stops for this new iteration of the beloved series because the cast list is nothing short of impressive. Lyra will be played by Logan star Dafne Keen. Other all-stars include the inimitable Lin-Manuel Miranda. James McAvoy will be playing Lord Asriel, a pivotal character in the plot. Ruth Wilson will be playing the dangerous Mrs. Coulter.

As a matter of fact, according to Deadline, His Dark Materials will have one of the BBC’s biggest budgets for a television drama to date. The show has already been approved for a second season, so HBO viewers can rest assured that they won’t get jerked around with a single season and then cut loose.

Author Philip Pullman already seems very happy with what production company Bad Wolf has put together.

“I’m delighted that the production is underway, and I’m looking forward immensely to seeing how it looks,” said Pullman to BBC. “Bad Wolf has assembled a wonderful cast, and I’m sure every HDM reader is as keen as I am to see it all coming together.”

Screenwriter Jack Thorne says there’s a lot to look forward to. “His Dark Materials are the most beautiful set of books, taking us into a world of constant imagination. Reading them I was a massive fan, in adapting them I’ve increasingly felt in awe of them. It’s the constant invention, the way the story never sits still, and that the characters constantly surprise you.”

While we may be looking forward to the new show, we don’t yet have a release date. The most HBO has provided viewers with is “coming soon.”