Why You Should Be Excited for MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles

by Dylan - first posted June 5, 2015

I’ve been a HUGE fan of Terry Brooks’ Shannara series ever since grade 9. A friend lent me his copy of First King of Shannara and I’ve been an avid reader of the series ever since. With the massive success of HBO’s Game of Thrones, MTV decided they wanted a piece of that fantasy pie and greenlit The Shannara Chronicles, a fantasy series based on Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara.

It’s based on The Elfstones of Shannara

The Shannara Chronicles is based on the second book in the Shannara series, which is the series best one in my opinion.

The Elfstones of Shannara follows a young man named Will on his journey to escort a young Elf girl Amberle to the mythical Blood Fire so that the Ellcrys can be reborn. The Ellcrys is an ancient tree that powers the Forbidding – a realm where the Elves of old banished the demons. While Will and Amberle embark on their journey, the druid Allanon aids the Elves in defending their homes against the oncoming demon hoard.

I’d also like to point out that The Elfstones of Shannara has some of the best characters in Allanon, Cephelo, and Stee Jans.

The casting looks very promising

As mentioned above, The Elfstones of Shannara has some of the most memorable characters, and a large part of that is Terry Brooks’ writing style. Brooks doesn’t just write about what a character does, he goes in depth about why the character acts the way they do and what they are thinking and feeling. This creates a connection with the reader and allows for a deeper understanding of the characters. The problem with this style is that it will be very hard to translate to a visual medium unless the characters end up pulling a Frank Underwood and constantly monologing to the ‘audience’. This is why I am personally ecstatic at the casting choices so far.

Manu Bennett as Allanon

Source: MTV

Source: MTV

If you are a fan of The CW’s Arrow, then you best know Manu Bennett as hero turned villain Slade Wilson. When I first heard that there was going to be a Shannara TV series I never even considered Manu Bennett for the part, but now I can think of no one better to portray the powerful, secretive, and wholly enigmatic druid Allanon.

John Rhys-Davies as King Eventine

Source: MTV

Source: MTV

It’s freaking Gimli! From the Fellowship’s token Dwarf to king of the Elves, John Rhys-Davies certainly brings expertise and acting chops to the show. Although I was surprised at the casting choice at first, I think John will be able to portray the Elven King in the correct light: confident, wise, and strong.

Austin Butler as Wil Ohmsford

Source: MTV

Source: MTV

Another Arrow alumni, Austin Butler will be portraying the gentle healer and mixed race (Elf and Man) Wil Ohmsford.

I personally think that a large part of Wills character is his lack of faith in himself – a theme that permeates a large portion of Shannara’s lead characters. I imagine that a large portion of the show will deal with Will’s inability to use the Elf Stones and the all encompassing doubt that accompanies that. I have high hopes that Austin will be able to bring that inner turmoil and self-doubt to the screen.

Intriguing Villains

There are three main demons that plague the world of Shannara and all three present some pretty cool opportunities on screen.

The Dagda Mor

The Dagda Mor is the leader of the demons and extremely powerful. Described as humanoid enough to be mistaken as human from a distance, I see his twisted personality presenting a great opportunity for an accomplished actor to step in and punch it up. I think a large part of his portrayal will be on how the actor uses body language and movement to capture the hatred, power, and alienness of the character.

The Reaper

The Reaper is the Dagda Mor’s weapon, and I quite literally visualize the demon as the incarnation of Death itself. Like death, The Reaper is an unstoppable force, chasing Will and Amberle with only one goal in mind.

The Changeling

The Changeling is a shapeshifter that can perfectly mimic the appearance and traits of any living thing. The last thing I want to do is give away any important spoilers, so I’ll leave it to your imagination on how The Changeling decides to infiltrate King Eventine’s camp and divulge the most secret of information to the Dagda Mor.

TV Story Edits

Now this one is a very touchy subject as anything that changes the beloved source material is figuratively Satan. However, with that said there are some very drastic changes to the story and characters, and I think that many of them are for the better.

Brand New Characters

I was very confused when MTV made casting announcements for major characters I’ve never heard of before. Brooke Williams will be playing Catania who is Amberle’s handmaiden, and Marcus Vanco will be playing Bandon who has mysterious visions – and neither ever make an appearance in the book. I do however understand MTV’s need to create new characters as they will be important for the leads to bounce dialogue off of so that we know what they are thinking.

Existing Characters Changing

In the novels, Ander the second oldest Elven prince, was a reserved man who although proved to be very intelligent and capable, never had any intentions to become King; ruling was his brother Arion’s job. The Shannara Chronicles Ander, however, is known for his party boy reputation who has yet to find his way in the world. Although this is arguably a drastic change to his character, the original Ander would make for quite the boring character on TV. Making him a bit of a party boy is much more entertaining and allows for greater character growth.

Story Timeline Changing(?)

It seems that the timeline will be changing to allow for characters to appear much earlier than they would if they kept strictly to the source material. An example of this is the inclusion of Amberle’s handmaiden Catania, which implies that at least some of the early episodes will show Amberle in the Elven capital city of Arborlon. I think it’s safe to assume that other changes will be made in order to introduce the audience to the main characters sooner than the novel.


VIEW COMMENTS






  • Francesco M. DiGiovanni

    And apparently some characters like Stee Jans, the Free Corps soldiers, perhaps Amantar and Browork, too, Kobold, and possibly Emer Chios, being left from the show who do appear in the book.

    • Dylan Forde

      It’s true that so far there has been no mention of them, but I find it very hard to believe they would dare leave Stee Jans out. Not only is he one of my favourite Shannara characters, but I feel that his character would translate to the screen very well.

      • Francesco M. DiGiovanni

        They have left Stee Jans out (this is something TPTB on the Shannara Chronicles have openly acknowledged) because the director decided he was a tertiary character not needed to tell the story. Although I haven’t seen anything on the subject, we may find they left out Amantar and Browork, too.

        I am hypothesizing that one reason Jans and the Free Corps have been left from the adaptation is budgetary constraints. As a TV show it probably doesn’t have the budget a big screen movie like Lord of the Rings had. The horses necessary to depict a 600 man cavalry unit in battle scenes, even if they only had, say, 25 to 50 horses and used computer image duplication to make it look like 600 riders, the feed, the housing, the attendants for the horses, likely would have been very expensive, perhaps even a budget-buster.

        • Dylan Forde

          Thank you for the info, Francesco. It saddens me that such a great character is confirmed to not be making an appearance in the show.

          It is quite possible that one of the reasons is budget constraints, but after seeing the teaser trailer for the show, it really looks like MTV has spared no expense when it comes to things like CGI.

          Even though they have consistently asserted “This is NOT Game of Thrones”, MTV is certainly aiming for the same crowd (albeit more family friendly) with The Shannara Chronicles, and let’s not forget that large epic battles will almost need to be a staple of the show with the Demons marching on Arbolon.

          • Francesco M. DiGiovanni

            Speaking of fantasy books adapted to television or movies, another series I wish would be adapted is the Dragonlance Chronicles as a movie or episodic show.

        • Thank you for the info, Francesco. It saddens me that such a great character is confirmed to not be making an appearance in the show.

          It is quite possible that one of the reasons is budget constraints, but after seeing the teaser trailer for the show, it really looks like MTV has spared no expense when it comes to things like CGI.

          Even though they have consistently asserted “This is NOT Game of Thrones”, MTV is certainly aiming for the same crowd (albeit more family friendly) with The Shannara Chronicles, and let’s not forget that large epic battles will almost need to be a staple of the show with the Demons marching on Arbolon.

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