Based on the second book in a 26 volume series, The Shannara Chronicles is MTV’s answer to Game of Thrones, but does it live up to the hype?
The Shannara Chronicles is the story of an Elfin Princess called Amberle who defies gender stereotypes to become the first female member of an organisation called the chosen. The seven chosen must spend a year protecting a magical tree called the Ellcrys. Though no one really believes the stories, the Ellcrys is said to be the only thing keeping the demon world separate from the Four Lands.
Unfortunately for Amberle, the tree is dying and with each fallen leaf another demon is allowed to cross over to their world. Also in the mix is Allanon, a human Druid, who comes out of a 30 year slumber to try fix the tree and he enlists a half elf boy called Wil Ohmsford who is the last of the Shannara line.
The two hour premiere did a pretty good job establishing the main characters and the world they inhabit. The visual effects rivalled what you’d see in movies and it’s clear that MTV have spent some big money on the show and are expecting it to be a hit. While it started off with some token feminism, it was nice to see that Amberle was willing to, literally, stomp on the competition and earn her place among the chosen.
With so many stories focused on a chosen “one”, it was refreshing to see seven chosen in Shannara Chronicles, even if six of them were killed in the premiere. Killing them off was a great way to show that the world is dangerous, but it would have been nice to keep them around for a little while longer if only to show that they deserved to be chosen in the first place. Five of them died in the same room, even though they had to compete in a gruelling physical test to become part of the chosen. Seemed a little to weak.
Having not read the books, it was a little unclear what species exist in this world. For a time I thought humans were extinct, but it seems like rovers are humans. This will become clearer as the show goes on, but it caused some head scratching when they found the helicopter and talked about ancient humans. Maybe Shannara Chronicles and Adventure Time can have a crossover episode. Wonder why in thousands of years no one cleaned up the debris from the long gone civilisation.
Eretria, the rover girl, seems like she’ll eventually become a good guide for Wil and Amberle. She has a much better understanding of the outside world than they do. It’s interesting that her character is all about making her own choices and leading her life, when the character is the only one of the main group who’s destiny hasn’t been spelled out for them. That has to be intentional on the part of either the writers of the show or maybe Terry Brooks’ when he wrote the book. On a side note, it’s hard to believe she’s played by Ivana Baquero who you may remember as the little girl from Pan’s Labyrinth.
Allanon’s past with Amberle’s aunt seemed like it was going to add another love story to the show, but then she was torn apart by a fury. Between her and Lorin, it seems like the most dangerous job in the world of Shannara is being the love interest of one of the main characters.
A really well executed beginning to what could potentially be a must watch show. If you haven’t seen it, there’s always time to catch up.