The Chosen are the Elves who are chosen on an annual basis by the Ellcrys to care for and protect her. The Ellcrys is a magical tree that imprisons the Demons in a dimension called the Forbidding to keep them from escaping into the Four Lands.
At the dawn of each new year, which for the Elves is the summer solstice, all Elves who have crossed over into adulthood within the last year are brought before the Ellcrys. Each Elf pauses momentarily in front of the tree, and those whose shoulders are touched by the tree become the new Chosen. While touching her Chosen, the Ellcrys will speak the Chosen's name by placing an image in her Chosen's mind. This is generally the only time the Ellcrys will speak to her Chosen, though there have been a few exceptions to this rule.
How the Ellcrys makes her choices as to who will serve her for the next twelve months is a mystery no one has solved. The tree tends to choose no less than six and no more than eight members for the Chosen. It is a highly coveted honor to serve as a Chosen, and those who serve often go on to places of honor later in life.
The Elves chosen to serve tend to be overwhelmingly male, though in the time of the Great Wars it seems that women were commonly chosen to serve as well. In the time of King Eventine Elessedil, his granddaughter Amberle Elessedil is the first woman to be chosen in five hundred years.
In The Shannara Chronicles, the selection process is changed into a blindfolded race through the woods known as the Gauntlet. The first seven Elves to complete the race become that year's Chosen. Perhaps because physical violence between contestants running the Gauntlet is common, Amberle is the first woman to even attempt competing.
The Chosen work in the Gardens of Life, caring meticulously for the grounds near and around the Ellcrys. They tend to the Gardens and to any perceived needs of the sentient tree for every day of the term of their service.
Every morning the Chosen greet the Ellcrys with a ritual that would seem to be as old as the origins of the Chosen itself. One member of the Chosen stands with their hands on the tree while the rest recite a greeting. They do this every morning as the first light of the dawn strikes the top leaves of the tree. The Chosen do not miss this ritual for anything.
The Chosen serve the tree for one year only, after which time they relinquish their duties to a new group of Chosen. For the year that they are Chosen, caring for the Ellcrys is the only duty that these Elves are required to perform within Elven society.
At times of great need, the Ellcrys has asked one or more of the Chosen to perform a special service for the tree. During the time after the Great Wars, the tree asked her Chosen to find the Loden and use it to move the Elven homeland to safety. During the reign of Eventine Elessedil, the dying Ellcrys tasked the last of her Chosen, Amberle Elessedil, with carrying her seed to the Bloodfire to allow the tree to be reborn and save the Elves. Amberle and the seed were ultimately transformed into a new Ellcrys.
It is later revealed in the time of Arlingfant Elessedil that female members of the Chosen who end up being selected to become a new Ellcrys are all from the same bloodline as the Elf girl who became the original Ellcrys, Aleia Omarosian.
Elfstones of Shannara
- Amberle Elessedil — Granddaughter of the Elven King Eventine Elessedil and the first woman to be chosen by the Ellcrys in five hundred years. Initially proud and excited by her choosing, Amberle soon becomes frightened and disturbed by the special attention and strange visions the sentient tree starts giving her and she leaves Arborlon, spurning her duties. She is convinced to return to Arborlon by Wil Ohmsford and the Druid Allanon. Ultimately Amberle takes the Ellcrys seed to Safehold, where she immerses it in the Bloodfire. She returns to Arborlon just as the Demons have begun their onslaught on the Gardens of Life, and she is transformed into a new Ellcrys, banishing the Demons once more.
- Lauren — Lauren had bright red hair. He was the youngest Chosen in his year's group and the only one of the six male Chosen to be friendly to Amberle, the seventh Chosen, in any significant way. After Amberle fled Arborlon, he was the first of the six to notice the wilt on the Ellcrys and the first the tree spoke to when she told them she was dying. He and the other male Chosen were killed by the Reaper in an attempt to prevent a rebirth of the Ellcrys. In The Shannara Chronicles, Lauren's name was changed to Lorin and he was made Amberle's boyfriend. Lorin was killed by the Changeling.
- Jase — Jase grew up in Arborlon and served with Amberle and Lauren. He was the eldest Chosen in his year's group by a few months, and as such he was their accepted leader. He and the other male Chosen are killed by the Reaper. In The Shannara Chronicles, Jase was dating Amberle's friend and lady-in-waiting Catania before he was killed by the Changeling.
Genesis of Shannara
- Kirisin Belloruus — He is charged by the Ellcrys to use the Elfstones to find the Loden and transport the tree to the safety of a new home. Kirisin is described as slender, with a mop of blond hair, slanted eyes and brows, narrow face, ears slightly pointed at their tips, and a way of walking that suggested he could take flight on a moment's notice. He is born in the year 2074.
Dark Legacy of Shannara
- Aleia Omarosian — As the Elf girl who became the very first Ellcrys during the Age of Faerie, Aleia could be thought of as the very first Chosen. Distraught that her forbidden love for the Darkling boy Charis had resulted in the Elves losing most of their Elfstones, she agreed to give back to her people by becoming the first Ellcrys. Charis wasn't intending to steal the Elfstones, but when the Ellcrys was formed he was banished into the Forbidding, meaning the Elfstones were transported with him.
- Arlingfant Elessedil — Unlike in Amberle's time, the Elves of Arling's time know just how the Ellcrys is reborn, so when the tree names Arling as her successor she is terrified by the idea. Supported by her older sister Aphen, Arling chooses to take up the quest and seek out the Bloodfire, but only because she is convinced that there may be another way to restore the tree. However, Arling soon begins seeing the scale of damage the Demons are doing to the world, and she realizes she is the only person who can save countless lives. Although she is still frightened, she ends up embracing her destiny. She returns to Arborlon and transforms into the new Ellcrys, banishing the Demons.