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The Shannara Chronicles: Everything You Need to Know Before the Premiere

The who's who of the Four Lands

Megan Vick

The fantasy genre will be invading TV in the winter, and at the head of that pack will be MTV's The Shannara Chronicles, the epic adventure series that looks like it used Peter Jackson's entire Lord of the Ringsbudget for every episode.

The Shannara Chronicles is based on the best-selling books by Terry Brooks, but since there's not enough time to devour the series before the premiere on Jan. 5, TVGuide.com has your guide to Shannara and the Four Lands so you're not completely lost during the lunch table conversation on Wednesday.

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It's not Middle-Earth, it's Future-Earth: Shannara takes place thousands of years in the future, in a time when technology has died out, magic re-entered the world and subsequently died out again. Elves are running things and humans are considered the subpar species. After enjoying hundreds of years of peace and calm, a demon army threatens to escape from its ethereal prison - a dying tree known as the Ellcrys -- and bring about the future-apocalypse. It's up to three unlikely, but super attractive (it's still MTV, after all), heroes to go on a dangerous quest to restore order to the Four Lands and vanquish the demons.

Amberle (Poppy Drayon) - A princes but not a damsel in distress: At the center of the hero trio is Amberle, the Elvin princess who is a lot more into death-defying obstacle course races than she is into finding a date for the ball. It's thousands of years in the future, but she's still combating a lot of sexism when it comes to proving to her grandfather and uncles that she's capable of doing a lot more than wearing a pretty dress. However, she's the first to realize that her world is in danger thanks to some gruesome nightmare visions. Amberle becomes the only person capable of saving the Four Lands and restoring the Ellcrys, forcing her to prove she's as tough as she's been trying to convince everyone that she is.

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Wil (Austin Butler) - The Seth Cohen of fantasy adventure heroes:If you're the kind of person that likes your heroes with a side of adorkable to go along with their impeccable abs, then Wil is your new dream man. He's an Elf-human hybrid orphan struggling to stand up under the weight of the giant chip on his shoulder when fate puts him on Amberle's path to greatness. Wil has a hard time accepting his great destiny due to his tendency to make terrible decisions. He has secret unlocked potential, though, that makes him the only person able to protect Amberle on this life-threatening mission. He's the charm and heart of the adventurous trio, and thanks to those abs, also the source of the sexual tension.

Eretria (Ivana Baquero) - The street-smart thief with all the best lines: Tumblr, meet your new queen. By the end of the first episode, Eretria will inevitably be your favorite thanks to her no-nonsense attitude and handy work with a knife. She's the misunderstood Rover, a nomadic thief, trying to free herself from her demanding captor and live life on her own terms. She operates in the moral gray area, hoping that eventually the ends will justify her means of survival, which makes her heroic to the audience but a serious pain for Amberle and Wil. Eretria has the most common sense out of the trio and the most likely to come up with the brilliant idea to get them out of the inevitable sticky situation. She also adds her own baggage to the trio's of varying degrees of daddy/parent issues (there's a lot of that on this show).

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Allanon (Manu Bennett) - The wise bodyguard who never just says what he means: When three teenagers are in charge of saving the world, they need a guru to show them their true potential. That's where Allanon comes in. Think of him as The Shannara Chronicles' Mr. Miyagi. He's the last living Druid and proof that magic still exists in the world. He's also the size of two linebackers, which comes in handy for fighting demons and putting Wil in place. He'll assist the trio in their journey, often by not giving them all the information they need in hopes they'll do the necessary maturing as they figure it out for themselves. He's also the most informative of the group and has the inside line on how far the demons are progressing in breaking out of the Ellcrys.

Eventine (John Rhys-Davies) - The king of denial: Eventine is Amberle's grandfather and King. All he wants is for one of his sons to be ready to take the throne so he can step down and spend the last years of his life doing normal grandfather activities and catching up on his Elvin reading. The death of his favorite son Aine (Amberle's father), his other sons' inability to grow up and the deterioration of the Ellcrys are putting a serious crimp in his retirement plans. He's not too excited that his only granddaughter is tasked with saving the kingdom. Thus, he tries to downplay how serious the situation is in hopes that things can be resolved quickly and he can go back to planning time off. Naturally, the plan backfires in a big way.

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Arion (Daniel MacPhereson) - The Prince with the chip on his shoulder: Arion wants to be king and the rise of a demon army making his father rethink whether he's ready to take the throne does not sit well with him. He is the eldest of Eventine's sons and the most bitter that Aine was not only the favorite but also died cementing himself with martyr status in their father's eyes. Arion looks a lot like his little brother Ander, so look for Arion's constant pout and snarky comments about not having power to tell the difference between the two.

Ander (Aaron Jakubenko) - The prince most likely to have an in-love-with-a-commoner-scandal: Ander could really care less about being prince or being royalty at all. He's become a surrogate father to Amberle since her father died years ago and his first priority is her safety. So he's equally not excited about the dangerous turn her fate has taken, but he's the first to believe in her potential to handle it. He's the kind of guy you, and Eventine, want to be king, but you'll have to suffer through the painful process of him realizing he has the ability to do it.

The Shannara Chronicles premieres Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 10/9c on MTV after Teen Wolf.