Billed by Netflix as a Game of Thrones for a younger crowd, this fantasy series has some pitfalls, but its choice of a hero makes up for most of what bogs down the story. Tiuri is instantly likable, a clear underdog who's pressured by his stepfather's position to be more than he is. He's not terribly strong, not great with a sword, and only serviceable in a jousting contest, which puts him at a severe disadvantage in the knight games that provide our first good look at him. His competitors laugh at him, and his stepfather seems ashamed. As the story wears on and Tiuri comes into his own, though, we see that despite what society tells him, it's not those qualities that determine his success.
The Letter for the King tries so hard to make its story a sweeping, engrossing saga that it sometimes loses itself in the magnitude it's attempting to convey. Viewers are inundated with characters and kingdoms (all with unfamiliar names, of course), prophecies and social constructs, stereotypes and mysticism right from the start, and it's a little too much to grasp at first. It takes several episodes for the series to really gain traction and the pieces to fall into place, at which point more interesting characters are introduced and factor into Tiuri's quest, either as allies or as those who hope to keep him from fulfilling it. One thing the series does very well is make the young characters far more interesting than the adults, and viewers will especially appreciate the complexities of Tiuri's and Lavinia's relationship and the dynamics that play out among the teens tasked with tracking down and capturing the young hero. The bottom line? This series can be laborious to watch, especially in the beginning, but it's beautifully adapted and it minimizes the violence and language that can permeate the fantasy genre.