Comic-Con: MTV's 'Shannara Chronicles' Debuts First Footage, Sets January Premiere

Shannara Chronicles - H 2015

MTV's Shannara Chronicles unleashed its first look to a thunderous Comic-Con crowd.

The footage showed sweeping landscapes and ambitious sets akin to a more stylized and edgy The Lord of the Rings. The 10-episode adaptation of Terry Brooks' fantasy novels will debut in January.

"I have been very picky about the people I work with," said Brooks, who added that for years he envisioned the adaptation of his fantasy novels as a movie, but that ultimately the story proved too sprawling to fit into a feature.

"It's more akin to Star Wars," said co-showrunner Al Gough of the feel of the novels.

The series follows the Shannara family, whose members can tap into ancient magic to help reshape the world's future. Season one will adapt the second book, The Elfstones of Shannara, with production taking place in New Zealand. MTV hopes Shannara will do for it what Game of Thrones has done for HBO and Outlander has done for Starz.

"The producers have gone for youth and beauty, but they've also managed to find youth and beauty that has real talent and really good acting," star John Rhys-Davies (King Eventine) said of his young co-stars. He got huge applause by mentioning that he'd been in a few big projects before — like Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.

"You get the smell of the great ones," said Rhys-Davies. He had the feeling early on that "there's something about this one that is going to make it into an astonishing and important series."

Rhys-Davies, whom the Comic-Con crowd loves for playing the dwarf Gimli in the LOTR trilogy, had the crowd laughing and cheering when he noted he's playing an elf king in Shannara.

"From dwarf to elf king. Eat your heart out, Orlando Bloom!" he said.

Manu Bennett (the druid Allanon) said that when he was young he lost his mother, and he has used that as an actor. He noted that lead Austin Butler (Wil) recently lost his mother as well, and that key to his character is the young man's journey following his mother's death. That adds an extra layer of poignancy to Butler's performance.

The sprawling cast also includes Ivana Baquero (Pan's Labrynth) as Eretria, a human described as being from the wrong side of the tracks. Raised by a group of thieves called the Rovers, Eretria has had to use her good looks to survive. After rescuing Wil from danger, she becomes a part of Amberle's (Poppy Drayton) journey to save the Four Lands. Also in this mix are Brooke Williams (Spartacus: Blood & Sand) as the wise elf Catania; Australian soap star Daniel MacPherson as heir to the elfin throne Arion; Dexter's James Remar as Cephelo, the leader of the Rovers; and Marcus Vanco (Unbroken) as Bandon, who has mysterious visions and may be key to saving the Four Lands.

The Shannara book series began with 1977's The Sword of Shannara and has grown to include more than 25 books made up of multiple trilogies and a prequel. The books are estimated to be the highest-selling unadapted fantasy series in the world, and Brooks is considered the second-highest-selling fantasy author, trailing only Harry Potter's J.K. Rowling.