The Shannara Chronicles, that plucky, haphazard MTV-attempt at fantasy based on a series of novels by best-selling author Terry Brooks, has been renewed for season 2. The question is, how do they continue?
First of all, allow me to apologize for completely dropping the ball on reviewing this show. I bit off more than I could chew, review-wise, and a few of my shows fell by the wayside. That, coupled with the fact that despite my early excitement I was a bit disappointed in the adaptation of one of my favorite books, meant that I eventually dropped this show from my weekly watch list. Now that the show is on hiatus and is definitely returning for a sophomore season, I will probably pick it back up, if only to give more insight to the questions that I immediately thought when hearing this news. Namely, where the hell do they go from here?
WARNING: Spoilers for season 1 of The Shannara Chronicles.
The first season of The Shannara Chronicles is based on Terry Brooks’s The Elfstones of Shannara, the second book in a trilogy that is really the first trilogy in a massive series. The series spans centuries, even millennia, and mostly focuses on the descendants of an Elf named Jerle Shannara (who is introduced in the sequel-prequel The First King of Shannara). The problem with this is that the plot of Elfstones is entirely self-contained within that novel. Other than Allanon (played on the show by Manu Bennett) none of the characters from that book reappear in any of the other books except in name only.
The show naturally deviated from the source material – as most adaptations do – in some places more heavily than others. Amberle’s fate – sacrificing herself to save the Ellcrys and her people – luckily stayed the same. However, Bandon running off and being set up to be the main villain next season is completely fabricated for the television show, since Bandon wasn’t in the books at all and, as I said, the plot of Elfstones doesn’t leak into any of the other books. (Well, that’s not entirely accurate; the Forbidding is an issue again later in the series, but it’s hundreds of years later in canon, so it doesn’t matter.)
In the book, after the battle, everything wrapped up in a bittersweet-ever-after. No one’s fate was unclear because the story was over, on to the next one. The next book in the series is about Wil’s kids and takes place twenty years after the events of Elfstones, and it is a story I was looking forward to because Brin (Wil’s daughter) is amazing and really should exist in reality.
I guess everything the show has done seems to hint towards continuing Wil and Eretria’s stories rather than skipping to a different book in the series, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. I liked Elfstones because of Amberle, Eretria, and the focus on Elf culture and history that isn’t featured in a lot of the other books. I’m ambivalent towards Wil, although I found him a little whiny and annoying in The Shannara Chronicles. He has an interesting backstory (which they changed for the show, of course) that is important for his future and the plot of the next book, but I don’t know if they’ll eventually steer the characters in that direction. Basically, anything at this point is going to be “filler” stories that don’t currently exist in canon.
To be honest, I’d rather they chose another book in the series and went with that instead. I was hoping for something a little more American Horror Story, where it’s a different cast and story each season. After all, “chronicles” implies more than one event, and if they didn’t intend to introduce more of the books on the show, they could have just called it Shannara or simply Elfstones since that’s all they seem to be doing. I was just really excited at the prospect of seeing more of the world and experiencing more of the stories than just Elfstones, even if it is my favorite.
My question to you guys is this: would you rather they continue with the current storyline and characters, or would you like to see some of the other books get adapted? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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