MTV dove headfirst into the fantasy world with the new series The Shannara Chronicles last week with a supersized premiere. The adaptation of Terry Brooks’ famous Shannara book series stayed pretty true to the beginning of book two, The Elfstones of Shannara … at least in the series premiere. But for fans of the books who know the eventual fates of Wil (Austin Butler), Amberle (Poppy Drayton) and Eretria (Ivana Baquero), will that remain true for the entire season? Or did the showrunners decide to change up the ending to make it a surprise for both viewers of the show as well as fans of the books?
“That didn’t affect the way we’re going to tell the story onscreen,” The Shannara Chronicles executive producer Miles Millar tells Nerdist. “We particularly loved the ending [of the book]. The way this book ends is incredibly emotional. We loved the idea of really getting to know Wil, Amberle and Eretria and seeing what will happen to them at the end.”
In fact, the showrunners set a goal at the beginning to make sure they stayed true to the essential DNA of The Elfstones of Shannara.
“Fans know what will happen to them, and we wanted to be true to that and not cheat anybody or do any cheesy slight-of-hand,” Millar says. “But I think you will get to know the characters more fully than you do in the book. That’s particularly true of Eretria who has a bigger role and is more complex than the book. In the books, she almost instantly falls in love with Wil and follows him the whole time. But she actually has a really dark, tragic story. Her life has been really harsh. We wanted to get into that and make sure that she felt like a real full dimensional character. She was the one that really intrigued us in terms of finding more complexity and more shades for her.”
Millar credits the show’s success with the fact that the original author, Brooks, is also an executive producer on the MTV show.
“That was essential for us,” Millar says. “If you are going to do an adaptation, you really need and want the author’s blessing. For us, Terry’s written 26 of these books. It’s been his life’s work. He has an incredibly loyal fan base. When we realized that, we got his blessing and he was so supportive. He’s been an amazing collaborator.”
That doesn’t mean there won’t be some changes to the story, however. That’s to be expected, logistically, when adapting a novel for a TV show.
“Unlike some authors, Terry really understands that this is a different medium,” Millar says. “Changes need to be made. He’s been very open to changes and to adjustments and to, not radical changes but certainly adding things that aren’t in the books. He’s been really enjoying the process with us and it’s been a true collaboration. It’s been fun for us and a real honor.”
By the end of the supersized series premiere last week, a demon killed Amberle’s aunt and knocked out Allanon (Manu Bennett), leaving Wil and Amberle alone to fight off the demon themselves.
“The next move for these two is to survive,” Millar teases of tonight’s action-packed episode. “This is a journey of survival. Many of the people we meet along the way will not survive the journey. And it’s going to be a love story too, about these people and how they have literally the weight of the world on their shoulders and how they have to embark on this epic quest. It’s really interesting to see all the politics of that play out, how they deal with other races and how they conquer their own fears and backgrounds to accomplish what is needed.”
Are you glad the MTV series is going to be staying true to Brooks’ novel? Let us know what you think in the comments section below, and don’t miss Jessica Chobot’s interview with the cast:
The Shannara Chronicles airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on MTV.