36 thoughts on “So, I haven’t seen much talk about this in my circles. Thoughts, anyone?

  1. Magic Kingdom for Sale is utterly fantastic. I will stab people who say otherwise.

    I never read Shannara.

    So far the show seems solid. The characters are all interesting…but understand its an MTV show…so its rather CW-esque. All the pretty people being moody and pretty.

    It reminds me alot of the Flash in terms of tone and feel.

    So if you watch the Flash and think “this would be even better with elves and demons and Gandalf”… then you’ll like it.

  2. I saw the books around, many, many times, but never picked them up. I meant to get around to it, and they intrigued me, but not enough to stop other things I was doing.

    I’ve just finished the first four episodes, and they don’t seem too bad. My wife was instantly hooked and wants to find the books now.

  3. I love Elfstones and Wishsong. 

    I read them when I was 10. I’m sure they’d hold up just fine if I reread them now. No possibility of them not being as perfect as I remember. 

    … also, I felt Ralph Mazza’s “The Flash with Gandalf” from the trailers pretty hard. 

    Which means I’ll wait. If I hear good buzz I’ll binge watch the first season after its over.

  4. Loved Elfstones as a kid and still remember it fondly, it was definitely the high point of all the Brooks books. Like most things, I’m gonna take my lead from Brand on this one, if he is positive about them then I’ll watch.

  5. A friend at work who watches tons of TV and used to be into comics but not fantasy so much commented that it looked like the sort of TV you’d expect from MTV and the story came across very much like fantasy ‘of the 80s’. He wasn’t overly impressed given the quality of current output from other channels.

  6. The show is kind of dogshit but not entirely. There’s a bunch of mishmash fantasy shit and very little is explained. And there’s a lot of stupid teenage romance bullshit (which is not to say teenage romance is stupid bullshit, just that this is the stupid bullshit version of it). Emblematic, one character refers to another dealing with her problems with “elf boys.” I’m probably done with it.

  7. The dialogue is often unfortunate. They tried to modernize it in places to appeal to an adolescent audience, and it sounds insincere.

    I’ve seen so many people talking about how the original books were so derivative, but I keep trying to remind people that Sword was written at a time when there was literally no such thing as fantasy as we know it. Terry Brooks’s (and Del Rey’s) ability to sell something new that was kind of like Lord of the Rings made the modern fantasy genre possible.

    The problem with doing this series now is that it isn’t the only thing out there. By losing that context, they’ve put themselves in a position where they have to find other ways to make it stand out, and that’s where they’re failing. I think it would have been better if they had stuck to a really honest telling of the book. As it is, they will probably fail to hold either the established book fans OR the youth audience they clearly crave.

  8. The series is based on Book 2 and so far is pretty awesome. It certainly surpassed my expectations. Yes, its certainly aimed at a YA audience, but so were the books (though I read them in grade school). So I don’t mind dialog and pretty people that helps it feel like a CW show.

    Yes, not much is explained in terms of the setting, but, frankly, it wasn’t in the books either. You know what? It not necessary for the story; though, they do drop enough for you to understand what’s up and get that this is the Pacific Northwest after an apocalypse.

    As a footnote, by starting with Book 2, they avoid all the problematic comparisons of Book 1 and Tolkien as Elfstones was more of its own thing. Where one might think this leaves holes in explanations, it doesn’t. Anything you might need they slot in.

  9. Eric Simon I think a hefty part of enjoying anything is managing expectations. Game of Thrones this is not.Its intro actually has more in common with The 100 than any fantasy series I can name. Anyhow, I went into it expecting relatively low quality and having no clue what the story was. I’d half expected them to use one of the later books given the name of the series. Then the first scene shows a ruined Space Needle (I’m originally from Seattle), and its all uphill from there. As soon as names started flying I was like, “they did book 2, sweet! That’s the best one.” That it has John Rys Davis and Manu Bennet is also a big plus, and I was happy to see that the special effects are generally top notch. Sure, it is populated by a cavalcade of pretty young people (Elves + MTV will get you that), but I don’t mind. I’m sure that if I went in knowing it was Elfstones and with high expectations that I’d have a much more jaundiced perspective (instead of the occasional “seriously, how did she climb that?”). Instead I binged the first four episodes and am eagerly awaiting the next. Its like I’m seeing a part of my childhood done right instead of by Michael Bay, and that’s pretty cool.

  10. It’s pretty to look at. The dialogue is atrocious. Acting is a mixed bag, pretty good performances from a couple leads, and some really horrible ones. We just sort of lost interest about halfway through the first episode.

  11. Eric Simon I went to Wikipedia to confirm your account of Shannara’s impact, and while it’s true that Sword was a huge part of Del Rey’s initial success, and that Brooks and Donaldson basically founded what we now know as “epic fantasy” and it’s status as the preeminent style in the genre (at least as it exists/existed on store bookshelves), I think it’s maybe overstating things to credit Brooks with “fantasy as we know it”.

    I also think the pattern he and Donaldson established is a mixed blessing. E.g., The Belgariad.

    If people have enjoyed his Shannara work, great. If he and others have profited from his and his publisher’s efforts, great. Neither of those facts change my opinion of him as a writer.

  12. Sword was a huge part of Del Rey’s initial success, and that Brooks and Donaldson basically founded what we now know as “epic fantasy” and it’s status as the preeminent style in the genre (at least as it exists/existed on store bookshelves), I think it’s maybe overstating things to credit Brooks with “fantasy as we know it”. I also think the pattern he and Donaldson established is a mixed blessing. E.g., The Belgariad. If people have enjoyed his Shannara work, great. If he and others have profited from his and his publisher’s efforts, great. Neither of those facts change my opinion of him as a writer.]]>

  13. Mark Delsing I don’t say that he created fantasy as we know it, just that he blazed the trail for others. I value that contribution. As to what else fantasy could have looked like with a different trailblazer? I’m not sure I can adequately answer that. Maybe we would’ve had even more Conan-style fantasy, and I don’t know if I would’ve liked it as much.

  14. Eric Simon Okay, I had thought you were saying fantasy (the book genre marketed in stores) as we know it didn’t really exist before Brooks (which Wikipedia confirms), which I think is basically the trailblazing thing you’re saying here. Is that right?

    I won’t deny that contribution. When I was getting into fantasy in the early ’80s, Shannara was basically the mold from which everything on the shelves was cast. It, and the post-D&D wave of fantasy, certainly resulted in books I loved (e.g., Feist), but it also maybe led the way for a lot of crap.

    I guess I’m basically agreeing with you, but am grumpy about the results. 🙂

  15. Wait…wut?

    For a second there it sounded like Delsing was defending Salvatore? That couldn’t be, could it? I mean no one who thinks Brooks is a hack, could possibly label Salvatore as anything other than “even worse”, right? I mean say it ain’t so, Mark…

  16. Ralph Mazza Wha? No! I meant: “Don’t even suggest such a thing, Brand! The horror! THE HORROR!”

    Someone leant me the original Drizzt trilogy once and I think I made it maybe a page before giving the book back.

    I am a snob, I know.

  17. Series is a bit tropey, sometimes in a charming way, sometimes in an eye-rolly way. The visuals are pretty damn good. The acting is a mixed bag. There are lots of young people making googly eyes at each other (it’s MTV). Damn if Allanon isn’t spot-on though (sidenote this is where my fascination with Druids started).

    I don’t think this is going to be an instant classic, but it’s decent popcorn television with some cool post-apocalyptic fantasy elements.

    I liked the preview enough that I’ll watch the first season.

    Don’t expect to be blown away, but I definitely think it’s worth a spin.