Back when I first discovered my love of high fantasy, after reading all of the available WHEEL OF TIME books TWICE (we were up to either nine or ten installments at the time, I can’t remember which), I was on a mission to find MOAR.
I’d stalk the shelves of Barnes & Nobles and Borders, inspecting outlandish and fantastical covers, trying to discover my next fix. I’d read back cover after back cover, trying to recognize any of the authors who’d endorsed that volume in particular.
But I was brand-spanking-new to the genre, and I had no frame of reference. I mostly picked whatever struck my fancy in that moment . . . Sometimes I got lucky (GRRM, Juliet Marillier, and Elizabeth Hayden), and sometimes I found a lifelong hatred (Terry Goodkind).
One series I never considered was anything that fell under the Shannara umbrella. It was one of those knee jerk reactions that was later reinforced by readers in the know, who derisively called it LOTR lite.
My initial refusal had to do with the name. I’m one of those contrary people who’s pretty darn sure a rose called a thistle would be more prickly than sweet, and Shannara . . . It just sounds like rainbows and shamrocks and pots o’ gold and leprechauns and BLAH.
Plus, by now, the series must have 20+ volumes, and who has time for that? #notthisgirl But even back then there were numerous spinoffs from the main series, prequels, etc. It felt like too much trouble to figure out where to start, and not really being interested in the first place . . .
This past weekend I was knocked down with a summer cold (the WORST kind), and after sleeping for like fourteen hours straight, I was still feeling pretty puny, but more sleep was not an option, so I did the logical thing and propped myself up on an ocean of pillows and tapped on the app we all know and love . . .
B/c wouldn’t you know, what’s hanging out at the front of the pack in Trending Now, Recently Added, and Top Picks for Jessica?
Got it in one: THE CHRONICLES OF SHANNARA.
Netflix: It’s pretty and shiny. You know you want to.
Me: I DON’T. I don’t want to.
Netflix: You DO. Our algorithms say so, and our algorithms are NEVER wrong.
Me: But, but . . . Leprechauns and rainbows!
Netflix: Produced by MTV. MTV can make even leprechauns and rainbows cool. Resistance is futile.
Me: Fine, fine, fiiiiine. But if I get even a hint of a happy freaking unicorn, I’m done.
Netflix: Victory is ours.
And if I had any self-respect, I’d downplay how awesome it turned out to be, but reviewers don’t get to have self-respect, they get to be painfully, humiliatingly HONEST.
We book lovers, we all have our quirks, the things that we love and we hate, that predispose us towards one thing and away from another. One of the things that gets me fangirling like a tween is when a fantasy type world, full of magic and creatures with magic, turns out to be a post apocalyptic version of our world.
So when the opening scene is scanning over the landscape, and what looks like toppled towers, covered in vines and other greenery are quickly panned over, followed by what is discernibly Seattle’s SPACE NEEDLE, I instantly perked up.
And as trite as it may be, I can’t help but root for a girl trying (based on merit, not b/c some version of “it’s not fair.”) to bust into a predominantly male scene, so when Amberle kicks ass at the race to determine which BOY elves will have the honor of protecting the sacred Ellkrys for the year, I was well and truly hooked.
I won’t lie and say every single moment was as epic as those first scenes, but those types of moments were consistent enough to more than hold my attention, and in between the points of epic, there was more than enough eye candy to keep me from changing to something new.
A cheap tactic? Maybe. Or simply evidence of maintaining the status quo. Who ever heard of an ugly elf, after all? And the demons and gnomes, etc. are plenty ugly enough to balance the pretty, pretty elves.
SO. Do you like mysterious mysteries surrounding what we humans did to destroy our world? A world now inhabited by fae creatures of magic? Do you like kick-ass heroines who refuse to play the part of a traditional female, who forge their own way? Do you like strapping young elf men who are frequently shirtless? Demon hoards who must be overthrown to SAVE THE WORLD, and the Druids who walk the earth alone, ensuring the world’s survival?
If your answer is a resounding YES, then get thee hence to your own preferred Netflix platform and binge immediately. Who knows? Maybe by the end of it, you’ll feel compelled to give the books a shot . . . Or, like me, you’ll just be chomping at the bit for season 2. Either way, highly recommended.