Update: We now have a release date and first look at The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The show, being produced by Amazon Studios and the Tolkien Estate in collaboration with Harper Collins, will premier on the streamer on September 2nd, 2022 and adopt a weekly release structure akin to The Mandalorian, as opposed to dumping it all online at once to binge. The first look image doesn’t reveal much, but a good bet would be that this is our first look at Númenor, the island that was the final piece of the puzzle during the initial setting reveal in 2019, or the Undying Lands. Original story follows.
We got a plot synopsis for the upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel series, which is set to premiere on Amazon later this year. The show will take place during the Second Age, which is a period of history thousands of years removed from the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
So, who could some of these returning characters be? Well, rest assured, Legolas is not one of them, as he was actually born in the Third Age. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see other elves on the show. One familiar character is confirmed to be part of the ensemble cast, with Morfydd Clark cast as a younger Galadriel while Elrond is rumoured to be part of the tale as well, while the “greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen” is Sauron, who will likely be in an elvish “fair” form, and not in his sinister evil form just yet based on the timeline by this time. He’s in the middle of a “re-emergence”, per the synopsis, meaning he’s probably just waking up after being dormant for hundreds of years after Morgoth’s defeat in the First Age. As such, expect him to eventually claim Mordor as his own territory and will be set on building Barad-dûr and the Black Gate at some point. Morgoth may not be around, but many of his creatures will be, including orcs, trolls and maybe even balrogs. Time will tell if Celebrimbor, the elf who forged the Rings of Power (and co-star of the wildly popular Middle-Earth video game series) will make an appearance at some point. If I had to guess, I’d say so.
Likewise, I’m sure Gil-galad, the last High King of the Ñoldor, will also be a recurring character, as he and Elrond begin their campaign against Sauron’s forces by the likely climax of the series. Gil-galad is the one who formed that “last alliance” between men and elves to fight Sauron in the opening scene of The Fellowship of the Ring. And while Legolas and Aragon are nowhere to be found, we may perhaps see Thranduil, Legolas’ father, show up at some point, but just like how Galadriel will be played by a different actress, despite this being within the same continuity as Peter Jackson’s iconic Lord of the Rings films, Lee Pace isn’t listed on the cast list anywhere as the elven king either.
So if you’ve seen the movies, you likely know the Misty Mountains, but what of the other two locations mentioned in the synopsis? First off we have Lindon, a region where you can find the Gray Havens, the Elvish city that appears in the final moments of The Return of the King, where Frodo ventures off with Gandalf and the remaining elves. In the Second Age, however, it’s there Gil-galad placed his kingdom. From his various ports, Gil-galad would eventually welcome the Númenóreans, who are a race of Men gifted with longer life and wisdom than other humans in Middle Earth. As a reminder, Aragon is of the Númenórean bloodline and is largely Tolkien’s metaphor for the Atlantis myth. The furthest regions of the map could be anything really, but some guesses could be Mordor, Rhûn, a location to the east that saw many factions of Men fight under Sauron’s banner, or Harad, a location to the south of Mordor which also saw men fighting for the Dark Lord. They rode Oliphants in the film series. As you can see by my guesses, I’m sure Sauron’s shenanigans will be the driving force throughout the show’s run.
Now, since there’s a commitment to make five seasons of this show, we’re likely going to cover a lot of ground, as so much happens in the Second Age. There are two major arcs concerning Sauron, who will first try and trick the elves into giving him the knowledge to craft Rings of Power for himself by posing as a representative of Middle-Earth’s gods. Naturally, this doesn’t work and after his first defeat, he’s imprisoned on Númenor, where he sowed the seeds of corruption from his cell, ultimately leading to the downfall of the island kingdom.
That’s all I’ve been able to access from the synopsis but if you have your own theories or knowledge you’d like to share, let us know in the comments!