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The Rings of Power: What Tolkien fans can expect from the web series on Middle-earth

The eight-episode Prime Video show is going to drop on September 2

Chandreyee Chatterjee Calcutta Published 25.07.22, 05:29 PM
A glimpse of the kingdom of Numenor.

A glimpse of the kingdom of Numenor. YouTube

Tolkien fans have been feverishly – though with trepidation – piecing together information about Amazon Prime Video’s mega series, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, from teasers, photos and anything they can glean from scouring the internet. But it wasn’t until the two full trailers, dropped within a week of each other, that they got a real look and feel of what the show had in store. With five seasons planned, The Rings of Power could become the most expensive TV series ever, with a budget estimated to reach one billion dollars. The first season of eight episodes drops on September 2 and here’s all that we have gathered about the show so far.

What is it about?

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The Rings of Power is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which took place in the Third Age. From what we have gathered, the show starts after the first Dark Lord, Morgoth, is defeated in the 40-year War of Wrath by an alliance of the elves, men and Valar (a pantheon of gods), ending the First Age of Middle Earth.

The story begins at a time of relative peace after the war, as the elves get busy mopping up the remaining followers of Morgoth, especially Sauron, who have gone into hiding. It covers all the events leading up to the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings including the rise of Sauron, the forging of the 20 rings of power and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men that starts the Third Age of Middle-earth. Gleaned primarily from the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings books, The Rings of Power moves from the dwarves in Khazad-dum under the Misty Mountains to the elven kingdom of Lindon to the men of Numenor.

Familiar names and places: Galadriel to Numenor

Both trailers open with Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), who in the LOTR books and movies is seen as an elderly elven stateswoman. But the Galadriel we see here, one of the central characters of the story, is much younger and, as described by Tolkien, a strong fighter.

A young Elrond (Robert Aramayo) also plays a pivotal role in the show and can be seen asking Galadriel, who is convinced that evil still lurks in Middle Earth, to hang up her sword. And High King Gil-Galad (Benjamin Walker), who we see a glimpse of in the prologue of LOTR, rules over Lindon and leads the elves into battle with Sauron.

We also see Elendil (Lloyd Owen), a human sailor and the future king of Arnor and Gondor who leads the men in the war against Sauron, and his son Isildur (Maxim Baldry), who in LOTR chops off the One Ring from Sauron’s hand.

Numenor is long gone by the time the events of LOTR take place but we are familiar with the birthplace of the Numenoreans of whom Aragorn was a descendant, so it is exciting to see glimpses of the kingdom of powerful men. It is also exciting to see Khazad-dum, which LOTR fans will know as the Mines of Moria where Gandalf fought the Balrog (who we also see) when it was full and thriving.

The new and the not-so-familiar

Some of the names, places and lores may be familiar to Tolkien book fans but not so much to those who have just followed the films. This includes a glimpse of the Trees of Valinor that gave light to the world before the sun and moon were created, places like the elven kingdom of Lindon, names like Durin III and Durin IV, the king and prince of Khazad-dum, Celebrimbor, the Elven smith who forges the Rings of Power and Tar Míriel, the queen regent of Númenor.

There is also the Harfoots, one of the three types of Hobbits, along with the Stoors and Fallohides.

There are many new characters introduced particularly for the show like the human Halbrand, Silvan elf Arondir and human healer Bronwyn (who have a forbidden love affair much like Aragorn and Arwen), Bronwyn’s son Theo and all the Harfoots.

The maybes: Will we see Gandalf or Saruman?

Biggest maybe is if the guy who lands as a comet in a circle of fire that looks very much like the eye of Sauron is actually Sauron. There is also discussion about whether Anson Boon’s character is actually the humanoid version of Sauron. In Tolkien lore, Sauron is a celestial spirit called a Maia, like Gandalf and Saruman, who helped the Valar create the world.

Sauron became a lieutenant of the Dark Lord Morgoth and during the Second Age started amassing his true power and then ascended to the title of Dark Lord during the end of Second Age and through the Third Age.

In the Second Age he often disguised himself as Annatar or The Lord of Gifts to practise his trickery. As Annatar, he befriended the Elf smiths of Eregion, including Celebrimbor to whom Sauron gave the knowledge and encouragement in forging the Rings of Power, while he forged the One Ring in secret.

Elves are immortal but so are the Maiar, so will we see Gandalf or Saruman? Who knows. They were present in the Second Age, just not on Middle Earth, so maybe some sorcery can make their appearance possible.

The trepidation

A lot of Tolkien fans are rallying against what we have seen of the show so far. Not only are the dialogues very un-Tolkien, for example the exchange between Galadriel and Elrond which goes: “You have not seen what I have seen.” “I have seen my share.” “You have not seen... what I have seen.” They are sometimes the antithesis of Tolkien’s philosophy like Elendil saying, “The past is dead. You either move forward or die with it.”

They are wary of the new characters and what they will bring to the tale of an Age Tolkien wrote only 150 pages of Appendices about.

The Hobbit, stretched over three movies, felt like a disservice to Tolkien, especially after director Peter Jackson’s original LOTR Trilogy. We hope The Rings of Power will not go the same way. The only thing one can do is wait and watch.

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