MTV is stepping out of its comfort zone and into the fantasy game with its newest series, The Shannara Chronicles.
Bassed on Terry Brooks’ best-selling Shannara book series, first published in 1977, the epic sci-fi/fantasy TV show follows reluctant hero Wil Ohmsford (Austin Butler), a half-human/half-elf who gets caught up in an adventure because of his mysterious connection to an old elf king, leaving the fate of the entire world to hang in the balance. The stakes have never been higher, people!
Throughout the sweeping saga are beautiful, futuristic, post-apocalyptic landscapes, incredible CGI-ed creatures, outstanding and creative costumes, action-packed fight sequences and battles, and, of course, beautiful people fighting their feelings for each other while working to defeat the powers of evil. It’s everything you could possibly want from a fantasy series!
The small screen’s The Shannara Chronicles won’t only be for those well-versed in the book series. Nerdist got executive producer Miles Millar on the line to preview what’s coming up this season, how the show will be different from the books, and more. Check out our full Q&A with him below!
Nerdist: When did you first become involved with MTV’s adaptation of for a long time before it actually landed The Shannara Chronicles? I know the books were being optioned as movies and as a TV show.
Miles Millar: It was actually about two and a half years ago. It was in features development for many years and people had struggled with how [to] get that epic lens from the book and condense it into a few hours. That was the huge struggle. But, obviously, we live in an era of longform television and serialized television, so it really was the perfect marriage of material and medium. So we were excited to jump on board and develop it for television instead of a movie.
As a fan of the book series myself, I noticed the premiere seems to skip an entire book …
Yes, we begin the premiere at the start of book two, The Elfstones of Shannara.
Where did the decision come from to begin the show with book two, instead of The Sword of Shannara?
Actually that was Terry’s idea. He really loved Elfstones, and we read it and thought it really opened the world and had a great story with three young characters that we thought we could really explore and develop. They’re dynamic television characters.
Will season one tell the full story of book two and conclude where the book ended, or will it stretch it out for multiple seasons?
The first season really follows the structure of the second book. The season is the complete book. The books are generational. That means we’ll be dealing with some things in future seasons. Each season will follow one book. That’s our plan as of now.
Will the show ever go back and tell the story of book one?
We’ll begin with book two, and there are elements and characters that we may introduce in later seasons, but we really thought Elfstones was the strongest story. We liked how, in book two, there were these two very strong female characters at the center of the story. So often, with things like Lord of the Rings, it’s very male-dominated. Terry was very much ahead of his time with female characters. So we love how there is a love triangle between Wil [who is] half-human and half-elf, Amberle (Poppy Drayton), an elf princess, and Eretria (Ivana Baquero), a human rover girl. That’s what gives it an edge over other fantasy shows.
How different will the show be from the books? Have you made any major changes from the page to the screen?
We definitely made changes but we were very much in lock step with Terry. We always got his blessing before making changes. It’s just impossible to condense a book of that size and that scope into television. [There are] numerous epic battles in the book we couldn’t afford to do. We are going to go inside and explore the characters more. That said, it’s still an epic 10 hours of television. We do the books justice. Virtually all the characters people loved in the book are in the series. Only a couple are missing. If you’re a fan of the books, you’ll be a fan of the series.
What do you think of MTV’s decision to begin The Shannara Chronicles with book two? Are you bummed you won’t see The Sword of Shannara story play out onscreen? What are you most excited to see from MTV’s new series? Hit the comments section below to weigh in now!
The Shannara Chronicles two-hour series premiere airs tonight at 10 p.m. on MTV.