With several months between now and when the fifth season of HBO's stellar "Game of Thrones" series returns, you may find yourself itching for something, anything involving swords, intrigue, martial arts, horseback, and armies. Netflix is hoping to fill that void and capitalize on "Thrones" absence with "Marco Polo," its first foray into historical fiction programming. 

The 10-episode series is loosely based on the Italian merchant's early adventures in the court of Kublai Khan. Creator John Fusco, who previous was nominated for an Academy Award for his film "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron," says the idea for the series came to him while he was horseback riding with his son through Mongolia. Their guide, a historian, kept telling stories about Marco Polo - sparking interest in Fusco to learn more about the explorer. What he discovered was a man largely unknown (beyond your average history class and/or childhood pool games) and incredibly fascinating. 

"They have no idea that Marco Polo was basically adopted as a son by Kublai Khan, the most powerful ruler on Earth, the grandson of Genghis Khan," Fusco told the LA Times. "And that he was trained in the scholar-warrior tradition — in archery, Mongol warfare, Chinese martial arts, languages, letters. He went through this incredible education that was really this cultural awakening."

Despite some dramatic liberties with the story, Fusco says he was determined to keep the history intact. 

"It's historical fiction, but the historical signposts along the way keep it rooted in history," he said. 

Look for the full season of "Marco Polo" to stream online December 12th. 

Related on MNN: 

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Netflix takes on 'Game of Thrones' with 'Marco Polo'
New dramatic series will chronicle the Italian merchant's early years in the court of Kublai Khan.