There may still be hope for MTV‘s new fantasy series Shannara after all. As the casting of the series continues, fan favorite Manu Bennett has joined the cast in a pivotal role. He’s been on our nerdy radar since he first popped up in Xena, Warrior Princess as Marc Anthony. Since that role he’s been a gladiator, a fearsome Tolkien albino troll, and a chemically enhanced berserker that hates a particular favorite Bowman of ours. What fantasy role will he playing this time?
Bennett will be taking on the series regular role of the last Druid Allanon. To get an idea what the character looks like we should turn to the Hidebrandt Brothers artwork from the series, I remember seeing their artwork and being blown away as a kid.
That’s Allanon on the far right with the staff. We’ve seen Bennett go bearded quite a few times in his acting career, with everything from the sculpted and neat trimmed to the wild and bushy, so his growing and maintaining a beard isn’t an issue here.
The Shannara Wiki describes Allanon as:
…seven feet tall, with a booming voice and a hooded cowl which covers his disturbingly penetrating eyes. He is the adopted son of Bremen of the Druidic Order, and he carries on his father’s legacy as last of the Druids, preserving the knowledge of ancient times, but knowing that it is dangerous.
Because of this he is enigmatic and secretive, he appears only when needed, passing decades in a form of suspended animation called Druid sleep. He often calls on the aid of the Ohmsford family, the inheritors of the magic of Jerle Shannara, yet he is never completely honest with his companions. His words, which are few, are clouded in half-truths; his friends are always on a “need-to-know” basis. Some think he as the greatest of the Druids and the last Druid of the 2nd order.
Shannara takes place thousands of years after the fall of civilized man as we know it today. Allanon recruits Wil Ohmsford, who will be played by Austin Butler to save the Four Lands of Shannara.
The series author Terry Brooks has taken a lot of heat over the years from Tolkien fans who say the book is a shoddy rip-off of The Lord of the Rings series, and while there are points in that argument to be made, Shannara series has been a consistent seller since the first book, The Sword of Shannara, was published back in 1977. Whether you believe it is just watered down Tolkien or not, the series is a fun read and opened a flood gate of fantasy fiction in the late seventies and early eighties.
Word is that MTV’s Shannara series first season is based on The Elf Stones of Shannara, the second book in the series. That may mean that we’ll only see events from the first book, The Sword of Shannara as flashbacks, which Manu Bennett is no stranger to with his work on CW’s Arrow, or that they’ll work those needed events from that first book slipped into the second book’s events and timeline.
I wasn’t hopeful when I first heard the news that MTV was taking on Terry Brooks Shannara works, let’s face it, they don’t have a track record with and fantasy show and it just looked like a grab to get on the fantasy map. As the series casting has developed with Austin Butler as Wil Ohmsford , Poppy Drayton as Amberle Elessedil, Aaron Jakubenko as Ander Elessedil, and now Manu Bennett as Allanon, my hopes have started to rise.
Will MTV be able to successfully get on the fantasy band wagon with HBO‘s Game of Thrones? Miles Millar and Al Gough of Smallville will serve as Shannara’s show-runners, as well as executive produce with Jon Favreau, Jonathan Liebesman, Terry Brooks, Dan Farah and David Blocker. Liebesman, (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) will direct the first two episodes of the series.
Will you be tuning in to check Shannara out?