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Why I Drink, Dude-Bro Edition: 'Shannara' Heading to MTV

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | December 9, 2013 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | December 9, 2013 |

Terry Brooks wrote one of the better second generation fantasy series with Shannara, which like a lot of that period’s fantasy, is so derivative of The Lord of the Rings that you can practically do a search and replace on names to recreate the original story. The first book was pretty good and entertaining enough, and is the one most guilty of lifting plot from Tolkien. But the second and third books rise above that and stand on their own as very interesting takes on the genre, with genuinely dark and heartbreaking stories. Things went down hill from there.

There was a four book series next that was entertaining, but nowhere near the quality of the previous ones. Then there were several more trilogies and stand-alones that varied in quality from merely terrible to actually making Dragonlance novels look like Drizzt’s novels. If you don’t get that, don’t worry, we’re down the hobbit hole of old school nerdery now. It will never wash off now.

In the midst of those latter-year novels, there were some fantastic gems though. His Running with the Demon novels that tell of the disintegration of society into chaos are quite good and a complete departure from the rest of his works.

But in this trip down literary memory lane, we’re missing the purpose of this article, to report that MTV is adapting Shannara into a television series, which they envision as being their answer to A Game of Thrones.

There is so much wrong with that last sentence, you could probably spend a semester dissecting it in a laboratory. Shannara is not dark and edgy. It just isn’t. It’s high fantasy with happy, if sometimes bittersweet, endings. It is precisely the sort of quaint fantasy that George RR Martin explicitly wrote A Song of Ice and Fire as a response to.

It also is extraordinarily wholesome and almost naive. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But trying to imagine it on MTV? The cynical kingpin of commoditizing everything? Of self-reference and mugging for the camera? The end product would be so unrecognizable that I can’t imagine that they’ll actually even try. They might lift character and place names from the novels, but the chance of this being a faithful adaptation is less than zero.

Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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