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The Rings of Power: 3 reasons to watch Prime Video’s Lord of the Rings prequel series
Amazon is bringing the Second Age of Middle-earth to life in The Rings of Power. From familiar faces to a heart-warming tale of friendship, here are our reasons to tune into Tolkien.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is one of the most highly anticipated shows of recent times, and with a rumoured budget of $465 million being spent on season 1 alone, Amazon has clearly spared no expense on the enormous production.
It’s no surprise that interest in the show is so high, given the monumental success of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Not to mention, the global success of a certain HBO fantasy TV series which is also setting off on its own prequel journey this autumn - House of the Dragon.
We look at three reasons why you should be excited to watch The Rings of Power on Prime Video and get ready to revisit Middle-earth in a completely new era.
1. Delve deeper into Tolkien’s fantasy world
The Rings of Power will expand on the Tolkien universe familiar to viewers from the Oscar-winning movies by taking us back to the Second Age of Middle-earth; The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were set in the Third Age.
The Second Age was when the Rings of Power – including the One Ring at the heart of the Lord of the Rings - were initially forged. It was also the time of the War of the Last Alliance, which was fought between Sauron and an alliance of elves and men.
Fans of the Lord of the Rings movies will recall that was shown briefly at the start of Peter Jackson’s first LOTR film, The Fellowship of the Ring.
The series is mainly based on the incredibly detailed appendices in the Lord of the Rings books as Amazon does not have the rights to Tolkien’s entire back catalogue.
They purchased the rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but The Silmarillion, The History of Middle-earth and The Unfinished Tales are off limits, which has limited the potential stories and eras that can be told.
Showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay have confirmed that they’re likely to compress the timeline of the Second Age; in Tolkien’s notes, the events that unfold happen over the course of 3441 years, which means the human characters would be dying off every season.
Fans disappointed that such a big-budget production is straying slightly away from the books can take comfort from the involvement of Tolkien’s estate in the project – the first time it has been involved in an adaptation.
The fact that world renowned Tolkien scholars are also assisting with the production of the show suggests that fans should be excited for what the show's makers have in store.
“We talked with the Tolkien estate,” Payne explained to Vanity Fair.
“If you are true to the exact letter of the law, you are going to be telling a story in which your human characters are dying off every season because you’re jumping 200 years in time, and then you’re not meeting really big important canon characters until season four.
“Look, there might be some fans who want us to do a documentary of Middle-earth, but we’re going to tell one story that unites all these things.”
2. Meet some familiar characters – and even more new faces
Many beloved characters from the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies return in the Rings of Power, with most getting a fresh, younger look thanks to understandable recasting.
The younger elven queen Galadriel – played by Cate Blanchett in the movies – is portrayed by Morfydd Clark, above left. She revealed in a Prime Video featurette that Galadriel has “been on a quest for over a thousand years, scouring Middle-earth searching for this elusive, undiscovered, very real evil”.
The trailer hints that we won’t be seeing the full-strength, omniscient Galadriel that we see in the Third Age, so we may get to see how she transformed before her encounters with Gandalf’s Fellowship of the Ring.
Elven ring-bearer Elrond is also confirmed to be in the Rings of Power after featuring in both movie trilogies. The films’ Hugo Weaving is replaced by Robert Aramayo above right, who fans may recognise as playing a young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. Like Galadriel, we will meet a far less powerful version of Elrond in The Rings of Power.
Sauron – the titular Lord of the Rings - is set to feature heavily in all five scheduled series of The Rings of Power. Tolkien book fans will know that Sauron took the form of an elf-like being called Annatar to gain the elves' trust.
Although Amazon are tight-lipped regarding character and plot details, a new three-minute trailer strongly insinuates that the character is set to appear, with fans speculating that the white-haired character above could be the disguised Dark Lord.
The clip also hints that the fearsome Balrog that was thwarted by Gandalf the Grey in the Mines of Moria - one of the most iconic moments in the films - will be making an appearance, as will the terrifying orcs who served Sauron in the books and films.
Unfortunately, most of the cherished characters from the Lord of the Rings will not be in the Rings of Power. Gandalf, who featured heavily in both film series, is highly unlikely to be in the show, as he only appears in Middle-earth from the Third Age, as do the humans, dwarves and hobbits we came to know and love.
This does give room to develop new characters such as the Hobbit-like Harfoots and stories - including the tale of Isildur mentioned in flashback in the movies - which led to the creation of Tolkien’s Third Age in which Bilbo, Frodo and co set out on their quests.
3. It’s a show for – almost - everyone
There were some initial concerns during production that Amazon would look to create a show very similar to Game of Thrones, replete with sexual content and political overtones.
This fear was intensified when Game of Thrones executive-producer Bryan Cogman was hired and an ‘intimacy coordinator’ was reportedly added to the crew. However, showrunner Patrick McKay quickly quashed those rumours and stated that the show would be designed for everyone.
He stated that the show would even be “for kids who are 11, 12, and 13, even though sometimes they might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it’s a little too scary".
The rating given to the show in the US of TV-14 (‘Parents Strongly Cautioned’) confirms this, and Tolkien fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief that their author’s works aren’t about to be Thrones-ified.
“This is material that is sometimes scary - and sometimes very intense, sometimes quite political, sometimes quite sophisticated - but it’s also heart-warming and life-affirming and optimistic,” McKay told Vanity Fair.
“It’s about friendship and it’s about brotherhood and underdogs overcoming great darkness.”
Watch the first two episodes of The Rings of Power on Prime Video in the UK from 2am on Friday 2 September. The rest of the eight-episode first season will be released at the same time each week from September 9 to October 14.