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5 Starz Series You Might Not Know Are Based on Popular Books

A.k.a. things to read in-between seasons of 'Outlander.'

The Spanish Princess Poster with Charlotte Hope as Catherine of Aragon

While many just know Starz as the channel with recently released movies, the network actually has hosted a variety of pretty popular original shows. Outlander, Black Sails, and Power prove this nearly 30-year network can do long-form, multi-season programming. This programming also includes a few book adaptations with more on the way. Recently, Starz ordered Danger Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos and currently has The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez in development.

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Before going any further, I must warn you to put some shades on because this list is very white. Yes, I’m very up to date with many of these shows down below, and the network does have a tiny handful of stories by people of color about people of color. That last part is key so don’t come for me because I know the first author comes from Mexican-American heritage. The stories about people of color in Starz current and past line-up are just not adapted from books, and this is a book list. (Starz, do better.)

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Image: Dell.

Okay, so maybe you did know about this one. This is likely one of three shows keeping this network alive and subsidizing smaller projects. Despite her impressive background in STEM-related projects and research, Dr. Galbaldon is very interested in history. Because it was something that she could do immense research on, she decided to try a hand at writing historical fiction and fantasy. She’s pretty hands-on with the now six seasons of the show and just published book 10 (of 12.)

Scottish Highlands, 1945. Claire Randall, a former British combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of a world that threatens her life, and may shatter her heart. Marooned amid danger, passion, and violence, Claire learns her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.

The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory (and a bunch more)

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. Image: Washington Square Press.
(Washington Square Press)

Part of The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, Starz’s The White Queen (co-produced with the BBC), and its two spin-off series (The White Princess and The Spanish Princess) all come from Gregory’s historical novels. Gregory’s best known for writing about the real-world women who influence Europe, mostly from 1430 to 1568. This includes the book The Other Boleyn Girl, adapted into the popular 2008 movie. I included this even though it’s biographical because these are written in novel form and Gregory is putting together a story.

Elizabeth Woodville is a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition. Her mother is Jacquetta, also known as the mystical lady of the rivers, and she is even more determined to bring power and wealth to the family line. While riding in the woods one day, Elizabeth captures the attentions of the newly crowned King Edward IV and, despite her common upbringing, marries him in secret.

When she is raised up to be his queen, the English court is outraged, but Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for her family’s dominance. Yet despite her best efforts, and even with the help of her mother’s powers, her two sons become pawns in a famous unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the lost princes in the Tower of London.

In this dazzling account of the deadly Wars of the Roses, brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize: the throne of England.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Image: William Morrow & Company.
(William Morrow & Company)

With everything we know about American Gods, this inclusion is not an endorsement to watch the show. However, if you already did or were still interested in the story, you’re still in luck because the show was based on a book. For those with no idea what I’m talking about, this Hugo and Nebula award-winning book imagines a modern-day (2000) America ruled by our own set of gods.

It is the story of Shadow–released from prison just days after his wife and best friend are killed in an accident–who gets recruited to be bodyguard, driver, and errand boy for the enigmatic trickster, Mr. Wednesday. So begins Shadow’s dark and strange road trip, one that introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. For, beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing–an epic war for the very soul of America–and Shadow is standing squarely in its path.

Sweetbitter by Stepahnie Danler

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. Image: Vintage

Newly arrived in New York City, twenty-two-year-old Tess lands a job working front of house at a celebrated downtown restaurant. What follows is her education: in champagne and cocaine, love and lust, dive bars and fine dining rooms, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen. The story of a young woman’s coming-of-age, set against the glitzy, grimy backdrop of New York’s most elite restaurants, in Sweetbitter Stephanie Danler deftly conjures the nonstop and high-adrenaline world of the food industry and evokes the infinite possibilities, the unbearable beauty, and the fragility and brutality of being young and adrift.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley. Image: Back Bay Books.
(Back Bay Books.)

Myfanwy Thomas awakens in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, she must trust the instructions left by her former in order to survive. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization, and this person wants her dead.

Battling to save herself, Myfanwy will encounter a person with four bodies, a woman who can enter her dreams, children transformed into deadly fighters, and a terrifyingly vast conspiracy.

(image: Starz)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.

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