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Re:cap – The Shannara Chronicles!

Jondee here at Arborolon,

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What is Shannara? The Shannara Chronicles debuts on Tuesday, January 5th, with a two hour pilot on MTV. The series is based on the Shannara series by Terry Brooks and this intrigued me since I read Sword of Shannara before Lord of the Rings. The show runners are Alfred Gough and Miles Millar who created the Smallville series. The executive producer is Jon Favreau who launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man (2008). So this series has a great pedigree behind it. In 1977, Star Wars was in the theaters, on the book shelves was an interesting cover. An elf with a bow, a ranger with a cloak, and a Dwarf are in a chamber reaching out to a glowing sword. Yeah, Lord of the Rings, especially with the Brothers Hildebrandt cover. They were well known for their Tolkien work as well as the Star Wars poster with Darth Vader’s helmet and the figures of Luke and Leia that was on many t-shirts. Inside the novel was a handful of illustrations by the Hildebrandts that was like opening the door to fantasy.

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The novel weighted in at 736 pages and was really the start of fantasy trilogies at doorstopper size. The Sword of Shannara is set in the Four Lands known by the points of the compass; Northland which has Trolls and Skull Mountain, the lair of the Warlock Lord, the Eastland which is the home of Dwarves, the Westland with the Elven city of Arborlon, and the Southland, the rural homeland that contains the village of Shady Vale. We find there the Ohmsfords with older son, Flick, and his adopted half-Elf brother, Shea. They are met by the mysterious Allanon, who is not a recovering alcoholic, but the last of the Druids Gandalf-style. He reveals that Shea is the last of Shannaras, the Elves that have crafted the Sword of Shannara that can defeat the Warlock Lord. Alannon gives Shea the Blue Elfstones to protect them against the Skull Bearers. They start collecting their fellowship, their clever cousin, Menion Leah, Balinor, a prince who must save his kingdom, two elves, Durin and Dayel, and a Dwarf, Hendel.

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It becomes apparent in the first book that there are hints of a fallen world. The different races  including the short and vicious Gnomes have emerged from the apocalyptic Great Wars which was covered in the Genesis of Shannara series. The setting is detailed in The World of Shannara companion book by Brooks and Teresa Patterson. This brings us to the pilot of the Shannara Chronicles. It opens with the events of Elfstones of Shannara, the second book of the series that went in it’s own direction apart from Tolkien. It shifts away from Shady Vale to Arborlon where the Chosen are tending to the Ellcrys tree. This tree is said to hold back the Demons with the spell of Forbidding, but they notice it is starting to wilt. The Demon, Dagda Mor, has broken through along with the Reaper and the Changeling.

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They head to Arborlon to destroy the Ellcrys. The ruler of Arborlon, King Eventine Elessendil (played by Gimli actor John Rhys-Davies!) has found a way to bring a new Ellcrys from the Bloodfire fountain. He is met by Alannon (played by Manu Bennett who played Azog in the Hobbit films and Deathstroke on Arrow). Who may know the location of the Bloodfire. The Druid goes to the village of Havenstad and finds the healer, Wil Ohmsford (Austin Butler who played Chase in the Arrow show), grandson of Shea Ohmsford. He is given the Elfstones which can unleash its power since he is part of the Shannara bloodline. Alannon also finds there Amberle Elessendil (Poppy Drayton) whose grandfather is the king, Eventine. She was a Chosen, but left because of the distrust of the other Chosen since she is a woman. Amberle is the only one to carry the seed of the Ellcrys to the Bloodfire and bring back the Forbidding.

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Along the way, they encounter Eretria (played by Ivana Baquero who apparently grew up since her appearance in Pan’s Labyrinth), not the town in Greece, but a human woman who is a part of the Rovers. They are a band of gypsy-like wanderers and mercenaries. The series looks to focus on the love triangle between Wil, Amberle, and Eretria. Also, to expand on their back stories so Wil travels from Shady Vale to learn to become a healer. Amberle becomes a Chosen and Eretria finds her place among the Rovers. I know the follow-up book, Wishsong of Shannara, follows Jair and Brin Ohmsford, the children of the characters in Elfstones. It is possible that the series can continue in its own direction with the characters. They can also place the actors into Wishsong or cast entirely new actors. The story of generations of characters remind me of a certain film with the next generation of Skywalkers so it nice to finally see an adaptation of Shannara.