In Sabaa Tahir’s debut YA Fantasy series, Laia is a young girl living in poverty under the Martial Rule of the Empire in a world reminiscent of Ancient Rome, and must become a spy for a covert rebellion group her parents were a part of in order to get answers and secrets from the most dangerous and cruel general in Serra, but discovers more than she could’ve ever imagined….
Elias, the son of the very same general and star pupil at military training camp, secretly wants a life of freedom and to run away from the scrutiny and expectations that have weighed him down for as long as he remembers, but unexpected events leads to a tournament where he must compete against his fellow classmates in order for a new emperor to be crowned puts everything on pause…
Meanwhile, dark forces are at work, and a malicious shadow known as the Nightbringer is developing a sinister plot that could mean the end of life as we know it…
Check out my review of book #1: An Ember in the Ashes – Click HERE
Check out my review of book #2: A Torch Against the Night – Click HERE
Check out my review of book #3: A Reaper at the Gates – Click HERE
Check out my review of book #4: A Sky Beyond the Storm – Click HERE
Here’s my official Fancast/Dreamcast:
Laia of Serra: Sophia Ali, or Shiva Negar
This one was a little harder to do because there aren’t a whole lot of well known, Middle-Eastern/Pakistani/Muslim actresses out there that I felt would be fitting of the role. However I did remember these two women; Sophia has been on the more recent seasons of Grey’s Anatomy playing a young intern, and Shiva was in American Assassin.
Elias Veturius: Eliran Biton, or Jorge Del Rio
Elias was incredibly hard to cast! A lot of other fancasts that I’ve looked at have made him caucasian, but I remember reading somewhere that Sabaa Tahir said he wasn’t. Toni Mahfud has been a popular choice to fancast him since, but for me, something about him just didn’t fit the bill. I found this guy on Instagram, found out he’s of Israeli descent, and so I thought he looked much more like what I imagined Elias to appear as. Jorge is another choice based off his hypnotic eyes, but he may not fit the ethnic background that Elias may fall under.
Helene Aguilla: Claire Holt
I’ve loved her ever since her days as Original Vampire Rebekah Mikaelson in the CW’s The Vampire Diaries. Like Rebekah, Helene doesn’t seem like much more than an a spoiled, elitist brat, but develops into a strong, brave & admirable young woman, so I believe that Claire would successfully showcase that if they cast her into the role.
Cain: Paul Bettany
Paul has basically been my go-to guy for casting in strange, otherworldly male roles. He’s a terrific actor, has a unique look to him, and has a soft, yet powerful presence like his role as Vision in Marvel’s Avengers movies, so I believe he’d be absolutely wonderful as the mysterious Augur, Cain.
Marcus Ferrar: Willy Monfret
I also would’ve cast Jesse Williams possibly, but I always cast him into roles and he seemed a little too old to play Marcus, but this model (who is seen in several Nicki Minaj music videos) would also serve to play the egocentric, crazed, power-hungry antagonist, Marcus.
Darin (Laia’s Brother): Deniz Akdeniz
I’ve seen this guy play Aladdin on ABC’s Once Upon A Time, he’s also been on Jane the Virgin, and Agents of the S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s got a look that reminds me of Darrin, and seems good at playing the older brother of our Heroine, Laia.
Avitas Harper: Sean Sarantos
Avitas Harper was also a hard one to cast; not too much is given to us as to what he looked like. Sean is known more in the fitness world than Hollywood, but this half korean/ half greek model has a perfect look I had in mind for Avitas Harper, since the character is of Eastern Asian descent, according to the author!
Afya Ara-Nur: Priyaka Chopra Jonas
For some reason, I originally cast Angela Bassett as the role…I think I was riding a high from her iconic-ness from American Horror Story, but after looking into it and realizing that she didn’t look anything like the role, and was way too old to play this Tribal-woman! I thought Priya would be able to harness the power that Afya possesses as being the leader of the tribe that takes in Elias and Laia in the second title, A Torch Against the Night.
Keris Veturius (The Commandant): Cate Blanchett
I mean…do I really have to explain myself with this one?
Keenan: Ken Bek
There aren’t a whole lot of ginger men in Hollywood, at least younger ones. Most people would probably cast Eddie Redmayne or Sam Claflin, but neither felt right for this role. He’s not an actor, but this male model has a bit of danger in his eyes, a bit of swagger that I imagine Keenan had as he prowled the streets of Serra in search of causing a little chaos as he helps the rebellion cause.
Izzi: Scarlett Leithold
This model has what I imagine the similar features as our kitchen maid, Izzi. There’s no eyepatch, but she has young features, is absolutely gorgeous but not too prominent about it, and has a little more on an innocent vibe than other young blonde actresses that I could find.
Cook: Bahar Soomekh
So the cook is such an interesting character…I really can’t say why, but this actress who I know from movies like Crash and Mission: Impossible 3 kind of, sort of fits my bill for what the Cook could possibly look like, especially as we get to know her character more and more.
Spiro Teluman: Nuufloeau Joel Seanoa
This guy is actually a WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) Superstar with his ring name being “Samoa Joe.” He fits the bill for what I imagined Spiro Teluman to look like; a big, brutish man who secretly makes weapons to aid the rebellion.
Zacharias Ferrar: Kendrick Sampson
Another go-to of mine when it comes to POC male characters with lighter eyes, but I thought he’d still be able to pull off the quieter, more softer brother to Marcus.
Shaeva: Sabaa Tahir
Why not have the author of the dang series make an appearance if they ever make it a cinematic adaptation? I think if she ever wanted to go into acting, why not have her play the role of the Soul Catcher we meet in the second title?
Musa of Adisa: Sam Asghari
I could be WAY off base with this one, but based off my impression of Musa (aka “The Beekeeper), he’s this model-esque hunk of dream boat, and the man who’s dating Britney Spears seemed to physically fit what I imagined the smug, charismatic prince consort who has the magical ability to control lesser fey creatures.
Thanks for Reading!
— Nick Goodsell