Review of “The Shannara Chronicles” (season 1)

* * C

The Shannara Chronicles is a series based on the fantasy novels of Terry Brooks. Fortunately, the series creators chose to skip the terribly written debut “The Sword of Shannara”, which was a Lord of the Rings clone. Instead, season 1 is based on the superior “Elfstones of Shannara”. And where the series sticks to the book, it is quite good.

The series revolves around half-elven Wil Ohmsford (Austin Butler), who is recruited by the druid Allanon (Manu “Deathstroke” Bennett) to help save the four lands when the forbidding, and elven magical barrier that keeps demons from entering the world, begins to fail. Along with elven princess Amberle Elessedil (Poppy Drayton) and rover Eretrea (Ivana Baquero), they battle the demons to save the four lands.

The series has some significant problems. The writing is truly terrible in places, particularly the teen drama dialog, which feels very out of place in what is (in the source material) an epic fantasy. Wil comes off as a complete bonehead. The elves are way more human than in the book, making them seem petty and weak, whereas in the book they are noble, and it is only the cunning of the demons that weakens them.

The fantasy world is far more obviously a future earth than in the book, with constant rusted out cars and other artifacts of modern day in the background. The effects are reasonable, and the poor writing is somewhat made up for by good supporting performances by Bennet and John “Gimli” Rhys-Davies (playing King Elessedil), though other supporting players are weak.

There are two more seasons, presumably based on the sequels to Elfstones, and the series has been renewed for a fourth. The first season is entertaining, but the book was far better. I’m not sure I will watch the second season, but if I do, I’ll review it here.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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