TV Review: The Shannara Chronicles
Updated: May 27, 2019
This is an adaptation from novels written by Terry Brooks with the original trilogy being written between 1977 and 1985. This show is an adaption of the second novel in the series ‘The Elfstones of Shannara’. The television rights had bounced back and forth a couple of times until the last bounce in 2012 allowing the adaption to hit television airwaves. I wasn’t exactly sure what part of the Shannara series it would be based on at first but as time passed more and more information slipped, it was known that it was going to be in the original trilogy.
I have been trying to keep an eye on this from the first time I heard the announcement that the show was being made. I was ecstatic to say the least because I have loved these novels ever since I read the original trilogy when I was a kid. The novels that have since come after now I think somewhere in the area of 25 novels deep of lore and story over centuries in the Four Lands following the Shannara bloodline from the days of Jerle Shannara to the Ohmsfords and of course the Druids of Paranor like Allanon and Walker Boh.
At first I said that I wasn’t going to binge the first four episodes because I didn’t want to have to wait a couple of weeks for new material after watching just a few minutes into the premiere I caved and grabbed them all. I have since watched the first chunk of episodes like half a dozen times. I don’t know if I will get sick of this series, I could potentially but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I did have a little bit of an issue with the show however when it caused Manu Bennett to cancel at the local ComicCon because of shooting in New Zealand. I was pretty bitter because he was the one celebrity I wanted to really get a photo with but then I realized it was for Shannara and now after seeing it I can handle the delay of him until this year’s convention.
The production value of this show is spectacular and it truly allows the story to be told in a way that would made Brooks proud. The sets and costuming are great and of course a lot of the landscapes used in the show are filmed in New Zealand which I think pretty much any medieval fantasy show or movie uses. As a fan of the Brooks’ novels I could only imagine what the realm looked like and for me to see it visualized with the help of Brooks it just puts the icing on the cake. Even someone that I work with noticed the show through ads on television and asked if it was Lord of the Rings-ish I explained a bit of the storyline and I think she was sold and that was mainly just on the visual aesthetics from the ads so I think it is going to hit not just the fans of the novels but anyone that is interested by the fantasy genre.
After taking a look at the cast I was blown away to hear that Manu Bennett was playing Allanon. I may have squee’d a little. Ok, perhaps a lot knowing that he would be perfect for the role of the secretive Druid who bears a similar role to that of Merlin in the Arthurian mythos. John Rhys-Davies as Eventine Elessedil, king of the Elves of Arborlon is wonderful. Most people will remember him from his role as Gimli in Lord of the Rings and from the show Sliders (if you haven’t seen it go do it now!). The rest of the cast seem relatively unknown but it’s still early they may bring another heavy hitter or so in a little later in the storyline.
I know they aren’t going to stick with the story 100% true to the novels and that is okay as long as the major essence of it remains intact and they don’t completely re-write it just for Hollywood’s sake. So far with the episodes that have been released I cannot complain about what they have done with the storyline and the characters so far. I know that the Rover Eretria is going to have a larger role in the show compared to the novels and that is alright as long as that essence is maintained. The fact that she is rather easy on the eyes I may let it slide that she is a little more involved than her original role in the novels.
Who should watch this series? Anyone that has read any of the novels it is must see in my opinion. I don’t think that anyone who is a fan of the novels can be completely disappointed with the television series so far. Anyone who is a fan of the fantasy genre like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Kingkiller Chronicles should definitely give the series a shot and it may introduce them to another series of novels and television that they will enjoy in a similar genre. To be honest, I think everyone should give this series a shot whether it is the television show or giving the novels a read. And to quote the infamous Shia LaBeouf ‘JUST DO IT!’