Today was the last episode of the Shannara Chronicles. As someone who grew up with Terry Brooks’ books, I was super excited when Eflstones of Shannara was announced for a TV series, and I’ve been following it as it built up, and then of course, each week as it came out. I’m writing my final review here, but be warned there will be SPOILERS.
Story- 5/10: This is honestly where most of my problems were. They diverged from the original story far too much that it didn’t even feel like the same story anymore. They started the story slightly earlier than the actual book, and that wasn’t that much of an issue. The first major flaw I saw was when they changed the Chosen into a contest rather than a random choosing. Additional characters were added and while many had little impact on the story, there was one in particular that changed a lot of the feel- Bandon. I’m still not 100% sure what they were trying to do with him, but it didn’t add to the story at all. Eretria and the Rovers were introduced much earlier in the story as well. They tried to fill in the blanks in Eretria’s story, but it was rather weak and only left more questions than answers. Cephelo had a much bigger part, and I felt like they were trying too hard to make him a good guy. They took away alot of Ander’s greatest hits, and made his rise to the throne seem like it was forced, rather than something he earned throughout the story. They completely skipped over a lot of the journey to Wilderun and the sacrifices that the Elven forces made along the way, although I feel that wasn’t completely detrimental to the story (as they were pushing it into a 10 episode miniseries, was expecting to lose some pieces). They did some weird things with Eretria near the Bloodfire part as well. At least, in the end, they pulled the story closer to the original close with Amberle’s quest completed, and the battle against the demons won with many sacrifices. I was hoping for the story to stay more closer to the original. I understood some changes were necessary, but it felt like they were pushing too hard to modernize it, and make it something that would sell rather than keep it to its original feeling. The final scene in the series was unsettling and once again, felt out of place. The pacing was really well done, despite the changes to the story though, so that was a plus.
Characters 8/10: While the story hurt me a bit, the characters were well portrayed for the most part. Many of the characters were spot on to their personalities, even with the change of story, like Allanon, Wil, and Eretria (and others). I felt they tried to harden Amberle more and make her more “badass,” but her gentleness was part of her character that was lost. To be fair, I never cared for her much either way, but I do understand why they tried to strengthen her, and I could handle it. I felt they were trying to play Ander up as a “work in progress” type character, but they managed to rectify that rather quickly and make him the sweetheart I grew to love in the books. He lost a big portion of his character development, but he did see growth, especially in the last several episodes of the series. Lorin got a lot of character development early on, and with Amberle starting in the capital as opposed to already running away, there were some developments between the two. It felt a bit strange to me, and seemed more like a marketing ploy than actually plot conducive. There were three major additions in regards to characters; Commander Tilton and Catania were both decently balanced characters, both of whom could have existed in the story without too many changes. Bandon was the new character I couldn’t get behind. His role in the story seemed nonsensical and every scene he was in seemed forced. I feel the series would have done better without him.
Casting 9/10: Even from the get-go, I was in love with the cast. As soon as they started announcing them, I saw how they could be the characters. When they were made up as the characters, it was so perfect. Watching them in the series, they all acted their parts well and during the emotional scenes, it was easy to see how in-tune with the characters they were. It was enjoyable watching them, even the characters I didn’t like as much.
Special Effects/Scenery 10/10: The imagery from the pages of the book came alive with their setting and special effects on the show. It was a gorgeous backdrop for stunning characters. I felt it was all how I imagined it reading it as well. The Ellcrys was especially breathtaking. Seeing it drift towards its end then spring back to life was dream-like. I would love to visit Aborlorn someday. The setting helped bring the characters and story together.
So, all in all…if you haven’t read the book, the series is quite enjoyable, but as someone who has read it, I give it a 7/10. I was honestly very disappointed with it as a whole. There were many good aspects to the series, but it struggled against the parts I felt were ruined. I would definitely recommend this to fantasy lovers as a whole, but recommend readers of Terry Brooks’ work may come out grumpy.