The MTV (I know, I know, just get past it) fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles first came to my attention via social media, and while the series has been broadcasted in its entirety in America, here in the UK, we’re six episodes in and I can’t get enough of it!
So let me give you a basic run-down before we get into the details and, ahem, spoilers. The series is based on the book The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, which is the second book in his original Shannara trilogy. He has since written a mind-blowing 22 other novels set within his world of Shannara, and was heavily involved with the creation of the TV series – always a good sign. Also, a little trivia, the series stars John Rhys-Davies, Manu Bennett and Jed Brophy, who all had places in Peter Jackson’s films set in Middle Earth.
The story goes something like this. Wil Ohmsford is a young half-human, half-elf who inherits the magical elfstones from his deceased father. Meanwhile, Amberle Elessedil is an elven princess who is selected in an annual ritual as one of the seven Chosen, tasked with protecting the ancient Ellcrys tree, however, for the first time in history the Ellcrys is showing signs of sickness. Enter the druid, Allanon; he reveals that the Ellcrys actually harbours magic that protects the Four Lands from a demon uprising, and with the dying of the tree, the magic is failing. So Wil and Amberle set out with Eretria – a human girl of questionable motives and loyalty – to a place known as Safehold, where they hope to unriddle the mystery of restoring the Ellcrys. But there is danger at every turn, for as the Ellcrys’s health wanes, the Dagda Mor creates an army of demons to cover the Four Lands in darkness, and sends out his pawns to destroy anyone who opposes him.
Does that synopsis tell you I love it enough? This series is just as gripping as HBO’s Game of Thrones, only on a slightly smaller scale, in virtually every area. It’s not as complex in narrative, there aren’t as many characters or locations to keep track of, and the budget is much smaller too. But everything it does, it does incredibly well, and I think that comes in part from its roots in highly successful novels, and the involvement of the author contributes to this in a big way. I’ve become really invested in this series really quickly, and I’m already hoping for a second series to be commissioned as well!
All the episodes so far are available here and run at 45 mins each, so they’re not a massive commitment (the adverts on the website only last about 60 seconds which is quite nice). So if you’re a fan of fantasy, or even if you’re not, give it a try!
Okay, so I feel like that’s given it a pretty good introduction. Episode six of The Shannara Chronicles aired this week (on 5STAR at 9pm if you’re interested, and I would avoid reading ahead if you don’t want anything spoiled for you), and in my humble opinion, it was the best one yet!! The love triangle situation was on top form, and the Changeling situation worsened … again.
Well now the Changeling demon has morphed itself into King Eventine, we were all expecting things to take a turn for the worst. However, the demon managed to do a very clever thing by turning the not-so-favourite son’s ambition into a cunning plan to work against the kingdom. Hurray. It baffles me that Arion didn’t smell a rat when his father suddenly warmed to him, even claiming “you’re the only one I can trust,” but I suppose ambition can get in the way of intuition when you’re an arrogant son of a b*tch.
Anyway, this all led to the finding of an ancient sword that the “king” claimed could save them all from the demons, and had been hidden from them by the untrustworthy Allanon. Cue Arion’s untimely swordsmanship and he runs Allanon through just as he is about to expose the Changeling! Frustration!! Nooooo Allanon can’t be dead yet, there’s still so much for him to do! It remains to be seen whether the druid is actually dead, or this is a magical ruse and he’ll return just at the right moment (yes I’m still hoping).
And they weren’t sparing on the action with our little questers either: a dream involving a little something between Wil and Amberle, to keep the promise of romance up in the air; a treacherous mountain pass that looked rather like the Pass of Caradhras to me; the supposedly abandoned fortress of Pykon, which featured a banquet table reminiscent of THAT Pan’s Labyrinth scene, surely bringing back some memories for Ivana Baquero; some good ol’ fashioned torture threats (fear not squeamish ones, there’s no actual torturing that goes on); we may or may not have seen Eretria’s dreams crushed – we just don’t know where she stands in this whole situation, does she even have a heart? – in some classic love triangle drama; and the episode ended on the most enticing cliffhanger yet … we don’t even know if our heroes are alive!! (Although I’m fairly certain it’s safe to assume they are, as we have another four episodes left).
Tune in on 5STAR at 9pm next Thursday for episode 7. I don’t know about you but I can hardly wait!!