Watching Shannara Chronicles

What I’m Watching: The Shannara Chronicles
When: Season one, 7 episodes so far
Where: Television; MTV
Why I watched: Terry Brooks is a classic fantasy author I’ve never read.

My verdict for the show: Loving it

The Shannara Chronicles is an addictive, enjoyable trip into a classic fantasy world. With pretty young actors and lightning fast world-building, MTV’s presentation marries surprisingly well with fantasy. The story feels very YA, with young characters trying to find their place in the world and save it from destruction in the process. Sometimes the dialogue is too full of info-dumping, but it’s a tradeoff to keep the story moving at lightning speed. Strong acting and fast pacing make MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles an addictive experience.

The world of Shannara is a high fantasy world set in a dystopian future. Artifacts of the modern world linger on in gorgeous fantasy landscapes. Gnomes, trolls and dwarves are human offshoots, after the fall. It’s a fascinating genre mix that leaves me searching the screen for details and eager to read the series. Not everyone will appreciate the YA MTV treatment, but for me it’s making a missed classic feel fresh and exciting.

Sound off!

Are you watching? Interested?

What do you think? Whether you’re new to the world or a book fan, sound off in the comments! Please clearly mark any spoilers, including whether they’re show, book, or whole series spoilers!

Based On:

Elfstones of Shannara - Book Two of the Shannara Chronicles by Terry BrooksThe Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Series: #2 of The Original Shannara Trilogy
The Summary: A magical tree is dying, and its protection against demons dies with it. An Elven princess and a half-elf boy set out to save the tree and stop the demon army.
My progress: Never read the series, but I want to now.

For comparison, check out a book fan’s reaction to the show.


Watching The Magicians

Introducing a new feature: What I’m Watching
Any science fiction & fantasy fan will tell you it’s not just about the books. So I’m trying a new blog feature. I’ll feature something I’m watching, on television or in theaters. It could be brand new or decades old, but I’ll try to talk about current stuff asap. Let’s talk television and movies!

What I’m Watching: The Magicians
When: Premiered Monday, Jan 25
Where: Television; SyFy Channel
Why I watched: Classic fantasy tropes grow up big time. Whether you think of it as Harry Potter: The College Years or a story about a boy who never forgot Narnia, there’s something here for all long-term fantasy fans. I enjoy the books, and I’m hoping it translates well on the small screen.

My verdict for the show: Optimistic

Three episodes in, I’m enjoying Magicians. It’s a complex story with a lot of different layers, but so far they’re doing a good job balancing plot lines. The characters are close to how I imagined, and the magic feels both exciting and scary. SyFy has delivered both intense action (episode 1) and strong character work (episode 3), so I’m hoping they’ve got the range to do Magicians right.

As a book fan, I’m satisfied so far. And my husband and sister-in-law, who have not read the books, are enjoying it too, so it seems to pass the newbie test as well. It’s too early to call it a win, but I’m liking its chances!

Sound off!

Are you watching? Interested?

What do you think? Whether you’re new to the world or a book fan, sound off in the comments! Please clearly mark any spoilers, including whether they’re show, book, or whole series spoilers!

Based On:

The Magicians by Lev GrossmanThe Magicians by Lev Grossman
Series: #1 of completed trilogy
My rating for the book: 5 stars – I had intense emotional reactions while reading, both positive and negative. But I obsessed over it for weeks afterwards. So five stars for provoking such a complex, layered response.
My progress: I read book one several years ago, and am planning to read the completed trilogy this year.


Ten Books to Make into Movies

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Movies

Retrieval Artist series, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Book 1: The DisappearedRetrieval Artist (series), Kristine Kathryn Rusch (2002-now)
What format: Television series
Genre: Science fiction, Mystery
Why: This noir-influenced science fiction series would make a fantastic television series. With its private detective and police officer leads, it would tap into a long tradition of procedural and crime shows, and mix it with a science fiction setting. Well-developed characters and a larger conspiracy provide long term potential, while shorter individual cases allow season by season closure.

Rat Queens graphic novel series by Kurtis J. WiebeRat Queens, Kurtis J. Wiebe (2013-now)
What format: Web series
Genre: Fantasy RPG style adventure
Why: Geek culture would easily support this, and a web series would be the perfect format. With series like The Guild and Video Game High School, we’ve already shown we’ll devour gaming-centric series. And since this series is still new and not very long, a web series would support short seasons (and variable episode lengths) and sporadic production. Give us Rat Queens!

Sigma Force series by James Rollins, book 1: SandstormSigma Force (series), James Rollins (2004-now)
What format: Movie (or movie franchise)
Genre: High octane thrillers
Why: The story: Scientists and special forces operatives race to save the world from any number of large scale disasters, often while staying one step ahead of a shadowy group of international spies. No way that wouldn’t make an awesome movie. Each story could make its own movie, but the characters and organization have enough depth to easily become a blockbuster franchise.

Red Rising by Pierce BrownRed Rising, Pierce Brown (2014-now)
What format: Movie Trilogy
Genre: Science fiction dystopia
Why: With its Hunger Games style book one (but BETTER), and even bigger scale for book two’s interplanetary war, Red Rising is perfect for the big screen. And Hollywood agrees with me, because the rights have been sold and Universal Pictures is planning Red Rising’s trip to the screen now.

Harley Quinn in Batman Adventures: Mad LoveHarley Quinn, DC Comics universe
What format: Any format
Genre: Comic book superheroes
Why: As one of the most popular women in the DC lineup and Joker’s right hand woman, Harley Quinn is long overdue for a screen adaptation. With as many times as Joker’s been featured, it’s a crime she hasn’t been seen yet. This problem is being fixed finally with the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, but Harley’s been on my list for years.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. DickThe Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick (1962)
What format: Television series
Genre: Alternative history
Why: Alternate histories are chilling, yet we don’t see them on screen that often. This what if novel from Philip K. Dick is the perfect solution, as his stories so often make good movies. To get the atmosphere of the world right, it needs more than a two hour movie, so I’m thinking television series. AND apparently there was a Man in the High Castle pilot with Ridley Scott at the helm, which will be returning in 2016! I didn’t know that until prepping this list, but I’ll be on the lookout for it now. 🙂

The Navajo Mysteries by Tony Hillerman, Book 1: The Blessing WayNavajo Mysteries (series), Tony Hillerman (1970-until they start to suck)
What format: Television series
Genre: Crime Drama
Why: Mystery series with a strong sense of place seem to have done well recently, and they certainly feel different next to the cookie cutter clone procedurals (not that those can’t be great too). See Longmire, Wallander, True Detective, The Fall, Top of the Lake, Broadchurch, and The Bridge for examples. The desert vistas and tribal lands of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo mysteries would be a great addition.

The Silo series by Hugh HoweyThe Silo Series, Hugh Howey (2011-13)
What format: Movie
Genre: Science fiction dystopia
Why: The Silo series (a.k.a. the Wool Trilogy) would be awesome to see visually. The claustrophobic intensity of the silos, the depth and hardship of the endless stairs, and the vast openness of the tainted sky would be stunning on screen. I’d also be very interested to see how they transformed it structurally to make it work as a movie (or movies).

The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, Book 1: Dead Witch WalkingThe Hollows (series), Kim Harrison (2004-2014)
What format: Television series
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Why: I’m honestly not sure whether this would work as a television show, because it’d be hard to get Jenks (a pixie) right as an equal partner and they’d break the series if they tried to take him out. But it’s one of my favorite series, with a lot of fans, so I’d love to be surprised. If they could do it well enough to last until the overarching plot starts to play out, it’d be a fantastic series. But I’m not sure it would translate as well as I’d like it to, so it’s stuck at the #9 spot on my list. (Yes, these were ranked. Not by likelihood, but by how well they’d suit their chosen format and how awesome I think they could be.)

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. VaughanY: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan (2003-2008)
What format: Television miniseries
Genre: Post-apocalyptic dystopia
Why: When every male (but one!) in the world dies, life is altered in an instant. Strong characters and a compelling concept provide the hook for a miniseries. I’d like to see this one adapted freely to only loosely follow the books (including a better ending) by a female showrunner, as it’s a series with great potential but a lot of flaws in execution. I think with its mostly female cast it’d also be a great demographics draw for direct exclusive approaches, like Netflix or Amazon.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.