Shannara Chronicles – Apples to Oranges
MTV’s Shannara Chronicles Season 1 vs the Terry Brook’s Elfstones of Shannara
Disclaimer: This blog post contains spoilers from the first season of MTV’s Shannara Chronicles and a novel called the Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks. The fate of Amberle Elessedil, with information known beyond the pages of the Elfstones of Shannara, will also be discussed below.
The tree is what got me hooked on the Elfstones of Shannara. Every leaf on a tree known as the Ellcrys contains a demon. As long as the tree survives, there is peace. If the tree starts to fade, every fallen leaf will release a demon back into the world. What a brilliant sci-fi fantasy concept to explain how Elves could cherish life and still defeat their enemies while being a great visual for a television show to heighten the tension with every decaying leaf.
Let’s dive right in. What version did I enjoy best? Drum Roll Please… the Television Show!
Shocked? So was I.
It boils down to the book being a plot-driven adventure while the show is a character-driven emotional journey. I care about unique characters finding their inner strength to persevere more than reading about the physical obstacles and their special effect splendors.
I realize that I’m in the minority with my opinion as 50% of the pollsters loved the books. The Shannara Chronicles has a legion of devoted fans. They speak of this series with a look in their eyes that I have when I’m talking about Harry Potter. Even my best friend can remember reading this series in 4th grade and how it began his love affair with the Sci-Fi Fantasy genre.
Why did I pick the Television Show? Eretria and Amberle
It was the portrayal of these two main female characters that swayed me towards MTV despite the fact that every episode is hypersexualized for the show’s young target audience.
Eretria: In the book, she is not introduced until page 146 when readers are 24% into the story and they already know that Will and Amberle are the stars. In the show, she is part of the trio of major characters and can hold her own in this dangerous world. She has her own origins storyline and her blood is integral to defeating the enemies. Her complex relationship with her villainous “father” is expanded and her chemistry with Will truly creates a love triangle. Even though she is set in this sci-fi fantasy world, she is a heroine for our times.
Amberle: In the book, Amberle is introduced as an outcast that disgraced her family and abandoned her role as a Chosen. She sees herself as weak and that imprints onto the reader. It isn’t until page 491, or 83% into the story, that her truth is revealed and by that time the damage is done. In the show, we learn in the pilot episode that Amberle is shown fatal images from the Ellcrys and she flees, in part with the hope that her absence might change that future vision. This early revelation gives viewers a deeper understanding of her character and how difficult it was for her to return and to sacrifice herself by becoming the next Ellcrys.
(Spoiler Alert: stop reading if you don’t want to know more about Amberle) My best friend gave me a confused look when I shared with him all the ways I thought Amberle could play a part in the next season until Will and Eretria rescue her from the tree. He explained that Amberle gave the ultimate sacrifice and that was the end of her story. This is unacceptable to me. If the show follows the books, we are pretty much done with Will, Amberle and Eretria as the next book focuses on new characters. I don’t usually like it when media adaptations divert from what happens in the books but for this case, I need them to create new content to keep these three characters in Season 2.
The show has already made changes from the book that I enjoy:
The consequences of using magic: Will learns that there is a price to pay for using magic. His father was a hero but all Will ever knew was a wasted man. It isn’t until he starts using the elfstones and experiences the painful consequences that he begins to know his father’s sacrifices for the greater good. In the book, Will struggles with the elfstones because of his DNA. He originally believes that he doesn’t have as much elf blood as his father so the stones don’t work as well but it’s all a mental block.
Allanon’s Youth: In the books, Allanon only starts to look old after the final battle. In the show, Allanon suffers great injuries and is brought back to youth and health with Druid magic. The way they introduced this character by being called back to “life” was awesome.
New characters: As much as I was disappointed not see Hebel, Drifter and Wisp, the show gave us some really fascinating characters in Bandon, Catania and their interesting relationship.
Since they have already made positive changes to the story, I believe they can find a way to keep these three characters the focus on Season 2.
Clearly I am in denial.
Next month, I’m going back to my comfort zone with Matt Damon. But this time, we will be discussing the Bourne Identity. Which version did you enjoy best?
Columnist: Jessie lives in Oregon and writes to avoid the rain. She only feels compelled to kill her characters when she starts a new diet and if she hates the ending of a TV episode she’ll rewrite it to give everyone a happily ever after. Currently Jessie is an unpublished author but she works tirelessly to removed two letters – un – from that word.
Column book and movie tape drawn by Evangeline Owen
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