Of all the great fantasy franchises, none is so detailed or so realised as The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s world, which came from a simple children’s book on 13 dwarves, has an unbelievably long and thorough history that spans thousands of years.
Slotting nicely into that history is Amazon’s new series Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
Launching today (2nd September), this fantasy prequel takes place thousands of years before The Hobbit and thousands of years after the events of The Silmarillion (we said it was long).
When chatting about the formation of the series with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Patrick McKay said: “We were not interested in doing a show about the younger version of the same world you knew, where it's a little bit of a prequel.
"We wanted to go way, way, way back and find a story that could exist on its own two feet. This was one that we felt hadn't been told on the level and the scale and with the depth that we felt it deserved."
Well Tolkien fans should certainly be prepared for both scale and depth, as the eight-episode arc will cover miles of Middle-earth. Ranging from the smallest Harfoots to the tallest mountains, all the while filling in the gaps that fans have been craving.
Where does The Rings of Power fit in the Lord of the Rings timeline?
The Rings of Power is set in what is known as the Second Age of Middle-earth, or the Age of Númenor. Lasting 3,441 years, this age runs from the creation of the two great Elven and human kingdoms, all the way up until the first defeat of Sauron.
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Most movie fans will recognise where the Second Age ends, as the events of Sauron’s downfall are closely described in the opening monologue of The Fellowship of the Ring by Cate Blanchett's Galadriel.
Yet looking back, so much happens in this chronicled period that even three of Peter Jackson’s films couldn’t cover it.
Starting with the Elves, this period saw the founding of the Elven capital Lindon. Ruled over by High King Gil-galad, played by Benjamin Walker, this region included the Grey Havens – the port city where Frodo and Bilbo Baggins would eventually leave Middle-earth from.
During this time, many Elves broke away and created the realm of Eregion, which also appears in The Rings of Power. Led by an elf named Celebrimbor, played by Charles Edwards, this became an area of crafting and science and was where the idea for the One Ring first started. Towards the end of the Second Age, the smiths of Eregion attracted the attention of Sauron, who convinced them to create the rings of power.
Lord Elrond, who is best known for being played by Hugo Weaving in Peter Jackson’s trilogy but now appears as Robert Aramayo, also split from Lindon in this age to create the well-known haven of Rivendell.
Alongside the Elves, the Dwarves made their move to the mines of Khazad-dûm. This name might be unfamiliar to the less lore-obsessed Lord of the Rings fans – however, nobody could forget the name Moria by which the mines eventually become known. We meet the Mines of Moria again thousands of years later when the Fellowship come across cave trolls, goblins and the monster that almost brings down Gandalf.
In The Rings of Power, we get the chance to see the caves of Khazad-dûm when they are still thriving and prosperous under Prince Durin, but who knows what they’ll encounter as the series progresses.
Lastly there is man, who at this time mostly live in a dark age of tribal societies. Through actress Nazanin Boniadi’s character, Bronwyn, we get to see some of these smaller settlements in The Rings of Power.
However, the series will also be showcasing the glorious island of Númenor, which formed and fell within these 3,000 years. From this nation also came the city of Gondor which, most will know, made the bloodline of Kings that ended with Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn.
It’s not really clear where Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will run up to, but with whispers of Sauron, and Galadriel clearly on a mission, it seems like war is coming. We may have to wait a few years, but it’s possible that we’ll get to see Cate Blanchett’s opening monologue played out in full.
What is clear, however, is that we won’t be seeing too many familiar faces in this epic prequel and will instead have to see where their ancestors leave it.
Read more on The Rings of Power:
- Rings of Power release schedule: When are Lord of the Rings episodes out?
- How to watch The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies in order
- Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power review – Dazzling prequel doesn't let Tolkien fans down
- Meet the cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
- What is Valinor in Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?
- Who is Halbrand in The Rings of Power? Theories for Charlie Vickers’s character
- What are Harfoots? The Rings of Power Hobbits and history explained
- Who is Morgoth in Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?
- Who is The Stranger in The Rings of Power? Daniel Weyman role theories
- Who is Galadriel’s brother? Meet Finrod actor Will Fletcher
- Who is Galadriel actress Morfydd Clark in The Rings of Power?
- Who is Elrond actor Robert Aramayo in The Rings of Power?
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episodes 1 and 2 are streaming on Amazon Prime Video from today – you can sign up now for a free 30-day Prime Video trial.