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Shannara Explained: Ep 1

To understand the story of Shannara, you have to understand the history.

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So I as some of you might know, I have a couple of YouTube channels, one for various random silliness, and one for more focused explainer type videos, since one of the things that brings me the most joy is explaining things to people.

I have decided to post the transcripts of selected videos from my explainer channel here on Sillyness, to help get the word out. Without further ado, here is the first video, Shannara Explained, Episode 1: History.

Hey there Shannara fans. My name is Chris and I am a huge, huge nerd when it comes to this series. I have read every book, multiple times and met the author Terry Brooks on a number of occasions. When I heard there was finally going to be an adaptation of the series for the screen, I was excited, but worried as well.

Things like this could go very wrong. After watching the first season multiple times, with fans of the book and those who hadn’t read the books, I can honestly say that the show was done well. It wasn’t a perfect adaptation, but they did a great job.

I decided to do start these videos as a way to bridge the gap between the source material and the show, to hopefully answer some questions for fans of the show who haven’t read the books, and fans of the books who haven’t seen the show.

Right, we have a lot to cover, so let’s get into this.

In this video we’re going to talk about the world of Shannara, where it came from and how it connects to our world.

The first season of the show is based on the second book in the series, “Elfstones of Shannara”. Which was a great idea, for a number of reasons, but it did leave a few holes in the story, and most importantly, skipped over a lot of the establishing of the world that happens in the first book, “Sword of Shannara”.

To fully appreciate the world of Shannara, you need to understand where it came from, and how it came to be. These first videos will be a crash course in Shannara history.

In the beginning was us.

At first glance you might think that Shannara is just another fantasy series like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, and in some sense you would be right. It makes use of all the same ideas and themes. Hell even the races from Lord of the Rings are front and center.

The difference is that with Shannara, we are given a glimpse of a possible future for our world today. Basically we keep advancing until a point is reached that our weapons and lifestyle lead us to a war that basically destroys the planet, killing most of us with it.

There are also demons and evil involved in all that, but don’t worry about that right now. I’ll do a video in the future about the demons, The Word and The Void, etc. For now just focus on: we screwed everything up, had a war and basically ruined everything.

This war and its fall out, rewrote the face of the earth, changing where land masses and seas were and mutating the life that survived: plants, animals, even us.

Life Persists.

As the remnants of humanity worked to survive in this new world, they adapted to their new environments: some went deep in the mountains, some underground, some deep in the forests, etc.

While this was happening, a group of men and elves were protected by magic, so they survived untouched, physically and culturally.

Look I know what you’re thinking, Elves? I’ll explain in a later video, trust me. For now, just know that elves aren’t a mutated form of man like everyone else.

While isolated, these groups evolved into new species that have little in common with us today. After 100s of years of this isolation and evolution these new “races” started to venture out again and make contact.

When everybody came back together, man, because of course we did, gave each of the mutated races names based on the myths and legends they remembered.

Those that went into the mountains mutated to be hulking giants, with rough, tree bark like skin, they became trolls.

Some went deep into the forests to survive, they became expert trackers and hunters, who were short and stocky. They were named dwarves.

Lastly those that went underground became very small and wiry with pale skin and poor eyesight in the light, but great eyesight in the dark, so you guessed it, gnomes.

Wars & Druids

As you can imagine, things didn’t go well, which lead to new wars. Eventually members of each of these new races who had knowledge of the old world and its tech, as well as magic (elves!) came together to pool their knowledge and power to lead the races and hopefully stop this new world from being destroyed like the last. They called themselves Druids, after the wise, magic wielders of our myths.

At first the Druids went about assembling whatever knowledge they could find that survived the war that destroyed us, but the races didn’t trust the power that led to the destruction of the old world. Those that had some knowledge of magic (elves!) as well as some others, argued for outlawing science, and instead exploring the use of magic.

Eventually the science haters won, and power shifted from science to magic.

Things were going okay for a while, but eventually too much power, too much free time and too much ego produced a rebel Druid named Brona. He explores dark magic, is seduced by it, and renames himself the Warlock Lord, and decides the Status is NOT QUO.

He orchestrates a war that almost destroys this fledgeling new world, by exploiting the trolls and gnomes, and making magicly infused monsters out of the Druids that followed him. The good guys eventually stop him with a magical sword, created by the druid Bremen, wielded by, you guessed it, someone named Shannara.

During this war all of the druids are killed except for Bremen, and his apprentice, a boy named Allanon! After they kill Brona, people aren’t really hot on the Druids anymore. They see them as manipulators and hoarders of power, with no one powerful enough to check them.

Which is basically true. Time passes and peace returns after Brona’s death. The races rebuild, Bremen trains Allanon to be his successor, and the line of Elven Kings passes from the Shannara’s to their cousins, the Ellessedil’s.

As more and more time passes, everyone starts to doubt the historical record, playing down, or downright denying, the magical elements of what happened. Even the druids themselves become something or an urban myth. Magic disappears.

500 years pass this way, until one day Allanon pops up in a small, sleepy hamlet called Shady Vale, looking for the last child of the House of Shannara, Shea Ohmsford.

Twitter responses for Shannara Explained: Ep 1

To add your voice, tweet with the hashtag #sswiShExEp1.

  • Chris J. Davis @chrisjdavis

    Hey, I make videos & sometimes podcasts! Catch up on my Shannara Explained series before the next vid! #sswiShExEp1

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