First Impressions: Shanarra Chronicles
With the wild success of Game of Thrones, Outlander, and various other fantasy shows MTV has decided to join the fight with a dog of their own. That dog is none other than Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara trilogy which was originally written in 1977. This was a surprise to me personally since MTV and Sword and Magic has never quite gone hand in hand. Although after the success of Teen Wolf, which is the tale of young adults who wield supernatural forces and must combat other supernatural beings, this may have paved the way to such a deep fantasy as Shannara Chronicles.
I watched four episodes which are available online at the moment this article is being written on MTV.com and these are my thoughts on the series currently. A full review will be available after the show ends.
An Elvish tree, known as the Ellcrys, is dying. The bad news is that the tree has been the only piece of magic that protects the Four Lands from the Demon World. Amberle Elessedil is the only one who can save the tree. But she has to unlock magic that the Elves haven’t used in thousands of years. With the help of Wil Ohmsford, she travels to find the lost magic. But it won’t be an easy task. Written by Chris Green
The overall story is quite generic when it comes to fantasy, which is forgiven due to the story being originally written in the 70’s. It focuses on a humble half elf from a farm gets summoned by an ancient druid and is informed that he is the only member of a long lost royal bloodline and must train to save the world. His allies are an elven princess and a sassy female bandit, both of which are attracted to the humble main character.
Admittedly, I have never tired of the humble farmer trope nor the underdog attracting such powerful women through his kind actions rather than his brute strength or being physically attractive. It always rang as an inspiring story that conveys the message that not being a dick has major benefits.
As stated above, you have the three main characters who are from completely different worlds. The humble half
elf farmer boy who knows nothing of the world save that he is a good person and must help out whenever he can. The bandit or “Rover” human who knew nothing but lies and deception growing up yearns to be free of her life but is unable to fully commit. Finally you have the defiant elven princess who may be given special treatment but demands that she is made to be an equal to everyone else.
Those were shallow descriptions but accurate, if you dig deeper you’ll find that the Rover shows signs of having a heart of gold, the princess wanting to be loved deeply by another, and the humble farmer wanting to run as far as he can from the coming conflicts but is unable to due to so many powerful figures surrounding him. They are entertaining, easy on the eyes, witty, and act well enough to make the show as immersive as possible.
For the side characters you have the stoic yet powerful mentor, wise old king, power hungry conservative prince, evil overlord, and the gang leader obsessed with having the protagonist’s power for himself despite knowing they are the only people who can save the world. Again, classic fantasy characters and still entertaining!
Looking around the places the main characters travel in the Shannara Chronicles it is easy to find remnants of the old world, which is our modern world. Rusted trucks, skylines filled of broken buildings, and so many other signs of what the world once looked like prior to what ever calamity caused it’s end. In the present, it is similar to areas you would see in Lord of the rings with lush, green, grassy plains, vast forests, rocky mountain tops and so much more. It helps keep the immersion that the characters are from a fantasy world despite technically being in a post apocalyptic world.
They have four races: Human, Elf, Gnome, and Troll, all of which are different from traditional fantasy races. Elves come in different skin tones and height, trolls are barbaric mutations, gnomes have yet to be seen, and humans are mainly outcasts either living on farms or being ‘Rovers’.
It’s obvious that MTV dropped some pretty pennies over the design and special effects budget because every episode is far more appealing than the last from the armor to the magic and especially the demons whose entire being must be made digitally. Yet all of these effects are seamlessly woven into the show and look incredible enough to be taken seriously.
To wrap up my final thoughts on the Shannara Chronicles, I believe this show will do outstanding if it keeps to the same quality as the first four episodes. The banter between the characters is wonderful, combat is fair as everyone takes damage and struggles to deal death blows, costume designs and lore are respected and enforced, and the actors themselves are incredibly talented!
My favorite scene(s) so far in the Shannara Chronicles is between the princess and the half elf farmboy. In classic fantasy style, the humble farm boy meets the princess for the first time in the most awkward of ways: He calls out to her as she is bathing in a waterfall and then trips. The princess is alarmed, draws her blade and despite the humble farmer standing in front of her gorgeous form, he respectfully mind’s his eyes. She tells him “Eyes up here”
Later, there comes a point where the humble farmer must dive to the bottom of a lake to grab an ingredient they need. He disrobes in front of the princess and the princess is unable to look away from his ripped body and even drops her jaw slightly. This isn’t lost on the farmer as he says “Eyes up here” with a sly grin.
Like I said, the banter and humor of the show works for me and will definitely work on many others. If I had any complaints I would say that I enjoy the accents of the Druid mentor and the Elven king and wished that more characters had accents instead of the plain and basic american accent. The characters are all beautiful and I do hope a more relatable character might come along to balance out all the hourglass bodies, fine makeup, and ripped abs. Then again the accents and the extremely good looking actors might have been the price MTV had to pay in order to get their show to capture the hearts of so many.
I have to give it to MTV, they have a wonderful show on their hands and I can not wait to see their future episodes. If you are interested in watching the first two epsidoes, they are available on MTV.com’s Youtube Channel.