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.
Well, I don’t read high fantasy but I don’t mind watching it. I have never heard of this series in book form or on netflix so I must go search netflix and check it out. 🙂
Excellent! I hope you love it. There are only ten episodes, so not too huge of a time suck if if turns out to not be your thing. 😉
As if I don’t have enough to read and watch… I admit you almost lost me at “strapping young elf men who are frequently shirtless” but the rest sounded promising enough 😉
HA. Jo can have the strapping young elf men and you can have the pretty elf girls. 😉 ALSO, like I told Stormi, there are only ten episodes—I watched them all in one day. #cantstopwontstop
Yep. Definitely happening. Thanks for the rec Jessica!
Damn you! Now I have another show on Netflix I need to binge watch. But really, I we’ll written article and I will be adding it to my to watch list.
Thank you, thank you! Everyone needs a good binge now and then. Hopefully Shannara will get you your Netflix fix. 😉
Honestly speaking, I have never seen a bad show from Netflix. They do a great job on all their shows.
I tried Shannara years ago, and I just couldn’t. Maybe it was the prequel I picked, but it didn’t work for me. I’m glad that you enjoyed the show. I’ll have to give it a shot! I hope you’re feeling better.
I’ll have to look look up your Goodkind review. You have me curious.
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HA. I don’t know if I’ve ever reviewed Terry Goodkind—it’s one of those series I tried to read 10+ years ago, but the disgust has remained fresh. I feel like he used shocking and taboo subject matter in place of a well thought out plot, and just ughhhhhhhh.
Sorry, you didn’t have much luck with the Shannara books, but I really liked the show. 😉
I have yet to finish season one on Netflix, but like you I was skeptical about it at first. I thought it’s another LOTR-ish epic fantasy, but let’s face it, Tolkien owns the genre and his influence is inescapable. It wasn’t til episode two that the series win me over, I’m not a fan of the young actors, but the plot as a whole is great!
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You’re definitely right about the inescapability of Tolkien’s influence, but there’s influence and there’s influence . 😉
I didn’t mind the young actors b/c MANU BENNETT. And yeah, I love the plot (which was a HUGE surprise).
It take me a long time to finish shows on netflix also. I agree, Tolkien dominated this genre, but then J.K. Rowling came along.
I totally understand the Terry Goodkind reference, I paid $18 each for the last 2 books in hardback and ended up reading about 2 chapters and giving them to the Humane Society thrift store. I could go on a long rant about all the things I hated but basically I was reading the same book over and over 🙁 I have refused to pick up anything of his ever. As far as the TV series for Shannara I will wait to see if it makes it, I have been burned too many times in the recent past with amazing series that lasted 1 or 2 seasons and was cancelled plus MTV injects too much “social engineering” into their TV productions IMHO. If it hits season 3 and isn’t trying to tell me how to live my life I will give it a spin 🙂
*high fives* Another Anti-Terry Goodkind person. There are surprisingly few of us.
As for getting burned by TV series, I completely understand. The last season of BITTEN was pretty awful, IMO. But this first season of Shannara is a fully told and wrapped-up story. If it gets cancelled next year, I’ll be sad, b/c I think it’s a good show, but not b/c I’m left hanging. And any social commentary is standard don’t wreck the environment fare–I’m pretty sure the other humanoids (Gnomes, Goblins, Trolls, etc.) are the result of various levels of radiation poisoning. 😉
Shannara is on Netflix? Thanks for the tip. I’m going to watch this tonight for some light fantasy. Your review was really fun!
Thank you! And YES, it is. A fairly new development, I think. 😉 I hope you like it!
20+ volumes is a lot. It would be extremely hard to convince me to get into a series like that. But then again, game of thrones is on its seventh book. Harry Potter went longer than that. But they never got close to 20. Maybe I’ll have to check it out on Netflix also.
So I read the books up to a point, a very very long time ago. I think I was still in high school when I picked them up. I enjoyed them, but for the life of me can’t remember much. So, when I saw the title for this post. I had to go WHAT their’s a TV show for this series? No way? Can’t be? Then I read on and yes their is. Ok so, now my interest is peeked and I have to go out and find this TV show.
You should know to never argue with Netflix. They will find a way to make you obsessed. LOL Oh and darn it! So did you… now I have to mark this one to watch.
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I read the books way book and enjoyed them, well the first ones. But this series, no, it just did not work because I could not remember knowing that this was earth when I read those first ones, and it bugged me
Haha, I do love High Fantasy but never read the Shannara Chronicles either. Sounded too much like basically everything I already read 😀 I watched it and I loved it as well. Even my Partner loved it. And he didn’t even mind me drooling over Manu Bennett.
I join you on the Terry Goodkind-Hate Train. Didn’t even finish reading the first book and couldn’t stand the TV show.
Juliet Marillier rocks and Elizabeth Haydon as well! Even if Rhapsody is the Queen of Mary Sue’s 😀