The first season of the Shannara Chronicles introduced us to the world created by author Terry Brooks and gave us an adaptation of the second book in the series, the Elfstones of Shannara. The show got some good attention, but it was hiding out over on MTV and some people looked at it as just another fantasy epic in the vein of Lord of the Rings. And for the first season, that was kind of true… but season 2 is an all together different beast.
Season one was a fairly faithful adaptation of the novel with a few character additions. Turns out, those additions were being added to pay off in season two. The series is an epic fantasy spread out of many years. Other than the druid, Allanon (Manu Bennett), the other characters only appear in the one novel. When season one wrapped, they couldn't just move on to the Wishsong of Shannara without getting an almost entirely new cast. And since the audience was built on seeing characters like Wil (Austin Butler), Eretria (Ivana Baquero) and Amberle (Poppy Drayton), you couldn't just jump 50 years and retain your audience. With the blessing of Brooks, the series created a new storyline to follow, staying with Will, Allanon and Eretria along with characters created for the series like Bandon (Marcus Vanko) who seemed like a small role in the first season, but is one of the villains here.
The new season is four episodes in and it's moving along at a breakneck pace. The first season followed the path laid down by the novel and the whole thing was simple… go find the seed that will regrow the Ellcrys to save the four lands. More of course happened, but that was the basic "quest" for the season. Season 2 is more like an MMOPRG where you get quest after quest driving an overall story line. But there is conflict and resolutions taking place in every episode. Find Wil, enlist aide, rescue Allanon, retrieve the sword… And there are more villains to deal with. Not just a bunch of minions, you get some very cool battles like Graymark or going up against the Dweller. The writers aren't confined by the pace of the novel anymore, allowing them to write each episode as it's own story rather than just a piece of a bigger puzzle.
Normally I'm not one for series straying too far from the source material, and I am a fan of Terry Brooks' work… but in this case, the story that the shows writers are crafting is really good, quick paced and pulls you in. You're still following the characters that you met and bonded with last season, but now they're older, wiser and more bad-ass… and that is definitely worth tuning in for.
The Shannara Chronicles airs Wednesdays at 9 PM on Spike.