Netflix‘s young adult fantasy series The Letter for the King follows novice knight Tiuri (Amir Wilson) on his quest to deliver a mysterious letter to King Favian (Yorick van Wageningen), and in season 1’s ending he finally achieves this goal. However, the warning comes too late to stop Prince Viridian (Gijs Blom) from using dark magic to attempt to overthrow his father’s rule.
The Letter for the King is based on a classic Dutch children’s book by author Tonke Dragt, and was adapted for TV by William Davies. Much of the series is spent setting up Tiuri as a prophesied wielder of powerful magic, but in episode 5, “Spiral,” a twist reveals that all of the feats of incredible magic supposedly done by Tiuri were actually the work of Lavinia (Ruby Serkis). This means that Lavinia is the great mage who was prophesied to defeat the darkness on the night of the blood moon, and while it’s Tiuri’s job to deliver the letter, it’s her destiny to actually battle Viridian.
While The Letter for the King works well as a miniseries, the ending also teases a possible return for Viridian if Netflix chooses to move ahead with season 2. Here we’ll break down the biggest events of The Letter for the King’s ending, and what they could mean for the future of the series.
Tiuri and Lavinia have something in common: both grew up knowing only one of their biological parents. Tiuri’s father was a shaman who was killed during the long assault on Eviellan, while Lavinia’s mother was a noblewoman who came from Dangria, a town in the country of Unauwen. Given their family histories, it’s natural to assume that the fantastical displays of magical power are done by Tiuri. However, while magic flows through Tiuri, allowing him to experience visions and hear voices (in a similar way to young Amaris in Foldo’s fireside story), it’s Lavinia who is actually the “Great Mage of the North” prophesied to defeat the darkness. The clue is in the prophecy itself, since Tiuri is originally from the south, but Lavinia is the daughter of the two northern kingdoms. Tiuri’s visions and voices weren’t a manifestation of his own power, but rather were the magic guiding him to Lavinia.
In episode 2, “Isn’t She a Sweetheart,” Jabroot (Tawfeek Barhom) reports to Viridian that there are two graves missing from the list of Eviellan shamans and their families – graves that would have belonged to Tiuri and his mother, had they not escaped death and been taken in by Sir Tiuri the Valiant (David Wenham). The people of Eviellan are known for actively practicing magic, and Viridian immediately fears that a child with shaman’s blood flowing through its veins could be a threat to his plans. It’s unknown if Lavinia’s mother also had magic, or if magic manifests itself randomly in people – though The Letter for the King season 2 could shed more light on this by reuniting Lavinia with her mother.
At the center of Prince Viridian’s plans in The Letter for the King is a prophecy that Tiuri discovers while staying in the home of the Black Knight. Unlike his brother, Prince Iridian (Jakob Oftebro), who is the eldest and the heir to the throne of Unauwen, Viridian has fought long and hard in the war against Eviellan. He succeeded in conquering the land, but the years of bloodshed have taken their toll on him and he has come to see the pampered noblemen and women of the north as the cause of all the world’s ills. Viridian is aware of the blood moon prophecy, which goes as follows:
“First came the earth and all we desire. Then came the beast, the dark spreading like fire. Cloaking the lands on the reddest of moons, only once every century does the sky make it bloom. But the Great Mage of the North will bring light to the shadow, while the amaranth flowers and the fields lie fallow.”
Crucially, Viridian doesn’t believe that he is the beast in the prophecy; he believes that he is the Great Mage of the North, and has been stealing magic from shamans in order to grow his own power. At one point we see him crushing a bird in his hand and then bringing it back to life, which sets the scene for Viridian later rising from the dead after being killed by Iridian. The blood moon is what allows his power to bloom, and we see Viridian become a darkness that consumes everything around it, and eventually would consume the whole land. However, just as the prophecy foretells, Lavinia brings light to the shadow and defeats Viridian.
A crucial turning point in The Letter for the King comes when Iona (Thaddea Graham) is revealed to be a traitor who has sold Tiuri out to Jaro (Peter Ferdinando) and the Red Riders. In hindsight, however, this betrayal was given away from Iona’s very first line in the series. As Tiuri prepares to be tested alongside the other novices for his potential knighthood, Arman (Islam Bouakkaz) turns around and draws a line across his throat threateningly. As Tiuri looks at him, Iona cuts in and says, “Ignore Arman. It’s me you should be worrying about.”
Sure enough, though Arman is set up as the clear traitor in the group of young knights due to his antagonism and repeated insistence on handing Tiuri over to his father, it is ultimately Iona that Tiuri should have been worrying about. After the Red Riders arrive in “Spiral,” Arman is immediately accused of having called them, but Iona is revealed to be the turncoat and never shows any remorse for what she has done. At the end of season 1 she and Jaro ride off together, setting the two of them up to return as a villainous duo in the future. Meanwhile, Arman actually sees the error of his ways and is responsible for bringing Tiuri back to the group when he has given up all hope.
Though Lavinia is ultimately able to defeat Viridian and the group of young novices graduate to become knights, The Letter for the King’s season 1 finale isn’t entirely happy. The light-hearted, lute-playing knight Jussipo (Jonah Lees) dies from a wound sustained fighting the Red Riders, tragically soon after starting a romance with Foldo. The ending also teases that Viridian isn’t entirely gone, as a murmuration of starlings over the knighting ceremony suddenly form the face of the undead prince. Though the darkness may have been driven back by Lavinia, it seems that it still exists in the world and continues to pose a threat.
The original book offers little in the way of clues as to what direction The Letter for the King season 2 might take, as no sequel was ever published and the Netflix series is already a very loose adaptation of the source material. Though the letter itself now delivered, there are still plenty of unanswered questions that the series could explore, starting with Lavinia’s mother and Lavinia herself developing her skills with magic, and of course the lingering shadow of Prince Viridian. If a second season doesn’t happen, however, The Letter for the King also works well as a self-contained story that should please young fantasy fans.
Read more: screenrant.com