“The Wheel Of Time” Season 2 Release Date Revealed Alongside New Images


Mark your calendars for September 1st, everybody. Amazon’s The Wheel Of Time is returning after a hiatus of almost two years, and its second season promises to be even bigger in scope, nearly rivaling The Rings Of Power, Amazon’s flagship fantasy series. The journey of our main characters, antagonists included, can be traced through eight new photos obtained by Entertainment Weekly that reveal stunning locations, magnificent costumery, jaw-dropping production and set design, and some startling team-ups. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

(left to right) two Seanchan women, Loial, and Ishamael, striding across a sandy courtyard in Falme between rows of Seanchan warriors and civilians. The two women wear long-sleeved rust-colored jackets and coats over teal blue gowns. The woman on the far left wears a sinuous metal face-mask. The woman in the center has her hair shaped into wings on either side of her head, and wears a golden mask covering her entire face except her chin. Ishamael wears a black vest over a white shirt and black trousers, while Loial, behind him, wears a light blue-green tunic.
(left to right) two Seanchan women, Loial, and Ishamael | Twitter @TheWheelOfTime

This image of two unidentified but obviously important Seanchan women walking alongside Ishamael and Loial of all people seems specifically designed to generate heated discussion and fervent theorizing. It appears that the Seanchan have begun their invasion of the Westlands and what we’re seeing in this image is a triumphant procession through the streets of conquered and colonized Falme, the coastal city that hosts the climactic battle of The Wheel Of Time‘s second book (and presumably its second season). With that context, it becomes very likely that the masked woman occupying the center of the frame is the victorious Seanchan admiral, High Lady Suroth Sabelle Meldarath, a callous but clever villain in the books. The dead giveaway is the extraordinary length of her bladed fingernails, a sign of status amongst the Seanchan.

But for all her wealth, power, and military prowess, Suroth is a puppet on the Forsaken’s strings, and in this image she may be flanked by not one, but two of the Dark One’s most dangerous lieutenants. I mean, obviously that’s Fares Fares as Ishamael on her left, looking quite dashing in a cleaner, more streamlined version of his season one outfit. But at her right hand, with eyes downcast behind a sinuous metal face-mask resembling a spider’s web, could that be Moghedien, the weakest yet most devious of the Forsaken? Sure, it’s infinitely more likely to be Alwhin, Suroth’s so’jihn or herald (herself an interesting character), but the thought of multiple Forsaken appearing onscreen together in season two, foreshadowing the chaotic tea-parties they’ll share in future seasons, is the stuff of my dreams.

There’s no mistaking Loial, however, even though the Ogier, who looms over the rest of the human cast, seems almost matched in height by Ishamael. I can’t even begin to imagine how he got caught up in this procession, whether he’s in Falme as an honored guest of the Seanchan or as their prisoner, and what this means for his traveling companion, Perrin Aybara, who ought to be somewhere nearby.

(left to right) Masema, Aviendha, and Perrin Aybara, standing in an alleyway between sand-colored buildings. Aviendha wears garments of beige and brown leather, with a gauzy hood and a black veil covering the lower half of her face. She wields a short knife in her left hand, and hoists a spear in her right. Perrin, carrying no weapons, stands with mouth slightly agape, wearing a gray-and-green leather vest over a faded red shirt and green trousers.
(left to right) Masema, Aviendha, and Perrin Aybara | Twitter @TheWheelOfTime

Ah, there he is – definitely in Falme, judging by the scenery, though clearly under very different circumstances. The veiled woman beside him in this image is Aviendha, played by Ayoola Smart, a member of the Far Dareis Mai, or Maidens of the Spear, warrior-women from the Aiel Waste who have recently crossed the Spine of the World in search of the Car’a’carn prophesied to lead all the Aiel. Leaked audition-tapes for season two hinted that Perrin would share the screen with Aviendha, but seeing as the two have virtually no relationship in the books, there was some confusion and doubt over whether this would actually play out. It seems we can now confirm that, for better or worse, Aviendha and the Far Dareis Mai will be teaming up with Perrin in season two, leading me to the sad but inevitable conclusion that she is probably taking the place of Gaul, the Aiel man whom Perrin rescues from a cage and befriends in the third book of the series. Bain and Chiad, two Maidens married to each other and to Gaul in the books, have also been cast, and will appear in season two.

Rand al'Thor, wearing a brown cloak and hood, with a sword strapped on his back, walking through a sandy courtyard.
Rand a’Thor | Twitter @TheWheelOfTime

What keeps me hoping that Gaul will appear later in the series is that Aviendha can’t fill his role in the story entirely without literally being in two places at once – because her path leads back to the Aiel Waste alongside the Dragon Reborn, Rand al’Thor, at the same time that Gaul is headed in the opposite direction with Perrin. Speaking of Rand, we see him in Falme, flanked by banners bearing the symbol of the Seanchan Empire, cloaked and hooded, with his heron-marked blade strapped on his back. It’s impossible to say exactly what’s happening in this image without more context, but I’ll just point out that if Rand and Ishamael are in Falme simultaneously, I suspect there will be some kind of confrontation between them.

Egwene al'Vere, wearing a gray apron over a long-sleeved plain white dress, standing at a wooden table in the kitchens of the White Tower, organizing glasses and goblets.
Egwene al’Vere | Twitter @TheWheelOfTime

On the other side of the continent, far removed from the threat of the Seanchan invasion, Egwene al’Vere begins her training to become an Aes Sedai at the White Tower…and finds it a far less enjoyable experience than she’d imagined, as the Mistress of Novices puts her to work in the kitchen alongside Elayne Trakand, the Daughter-Heir of Andor and a channeler almost as powerful as Egwene herself. Egwene is pictured here with an expression of barely-disguised annoyance, as if daring anyone at the Tower, Novice or Aes Sedai, to get on her nerves after another day seemingly wasted scrubbing pots and washing floors.

Nynaeve al'Meara, wearing a plain white shift with her hair braided, standing in a darkly-lit stone chamber, looking over her shoulder to the right with an expression of concern. Behind her stands a silver-gray arch with wide columns.
Nynaeve al’Meara | Twitter @TheWheelOfTime

Nynaeve al’Meara, ironically, is moving much more quickly through the ranks of the Aes Sedai and can be seen mentally preparing herself for the rigorous test that Novices usually undergo several years into their training, following which they may either be “Accepted” or be rejected by the Tower…assuming they survive. The test takes place in the basement underneath the Tower, between three silver arches which together form a ter’angreal (a tool or practical object made using the One Power), which allows the user to face a manifestation of their greatest fears from the past, present, and future. Panicking once inside the silver arches will result in a fate worse than death; being lost outside time and space in a labyrinth of nightmarish alternate dimensions. And mind you, Nynaeve hasn’t even had a full day’s training yet and she’s already been pushed to the front of the line for this abhorrent trial.

Mat Cauthon, lying on a wooden couch with his head leaning against the arm-rest, a single tear running down his left cheek. He is wrapped up in his thin, ragged green coat, and stares blankly at a candle-flame in the foreground.
Mat Cauthon | Twitter @TheWheelOfTime

Deeper still than the kitchens and the basement are the White Tower’s dungeons, where it seems we’ll find Mat Cauthon languishing in the care of the Red Ajah, Aes Sedai who punish the misuse of the One Power by men like Mat, who may not be able to channel but might be capable of much worse if he discovers that he’s able to manipulate the Pattern around himself, like Rand, Egwene, Nynaeve, and Perrin. It’s uncertain whether The Wheel Of Time will continue to explore the idea, introduced in season one, that Mat is especially susceptible to the Dark One’s corrosive influence, or if that was only ever an excuse to get Mat out of the picture after the original actor, Barney Harris, abruptly left the series more than halfway through filming. Dónal Finn, our new Mat, sheds a convincing tear either for his current plight, or for the fact that he hasn’t gotten a costume change like the rest of his castmates.

al'Lan Mandragoran, wearing a black cape over dark walking-clothes, riding a black horse through a forest. He has a sword strapped to his back, and an expression of surprise on his face.
al’Lan Mandragoran | Twitter @TheWheelOfTime

He can take comfort in the fact that Lan Mandragoran apparently hasn’t changed either, and is probably the least remarkable of the returning characters because of it. He’s riding a horse, through a forest. That’s really all I have to say.

On to Moiraine! The undimmed star of The Wheel Of Time, Rosamund Pike’s iconic queer sorceress returns to her hometown of Cairhien in season two with a stunning new outfit reflective of her noble origins and her description in the book. Moiraine does surprisingly little in the second book of the series, but her role in the show took an unexpected turn when she was shielded in the first season finale, losing access to the One Power and the Bond between her and Lan, her Warder. Returning to Cairhien, the one place in the world where she doesn’t need the Power or the help of her Warder to give her authority, is therefore a smart move for her and for the show, which is now presented with an organic opportunity to explore her character’s backstory and flesh out her relationship with the Damodred family, humanizing her.

Moiraine Damodred in The Wheel Of Time season two, wearing a wide-sleeved dark blue dress over a white shirt, with a blue-and-gold belt. A gold circlet is nestled in her brown hair. She stands in a dusty marketplace, amidst a crowd of people.
Moiraine Damodred | Twitter @TheWheelOfTime

Now that you’ve seen all the new images from the second season, I want to hear from you. Who looks the coolest (for me it’s the Seanchan), who could have used a costume change (Lan, sadly), and whose upcoming arc are you most excited for (Egwene, without a doubt)? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Meera Syal Cast As Verin In “The Wheel Of Time” Season 2

After months of fervent speculation, the mystery of who Meera Syal is playing in The Wheel Of Time‘s soon-to-be-released second season is finally solved. Nerdist exclusively confirmed yesterday that the popular British actress and comedian, best known for her work on The Kumars At No. 42, The Sandman, and Doctor Who, and for the semi-autobiographical novel Anita And Me that was adapted into a 2002 film, will portray Verin Mathwin of the Brown Ajah next season on Amazon’s The Wheel Of Time, and presumably for many more seasons afterwards, given that the character has a prominent role in the source material, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s fourteen-book epic fantasy series.

British actress and comedian Meera Syal, standing against a dark background. She has short dark messy hair, dark eyeshadow and lipstick, and smiles as if she knows a secret. She is wearing a black blazer.
Meera Syal | scotsman.com

It’s been said many times already, but I cannot overstate this enough: do not look up Verin Mathwin if you do not wish to be spoiled for one of the most brilliant character arcs in fantasy literature! Too many readers have already learned the hard way that Google and other search engines will respond to even the most innocuous questions about the books with answers that hold nothing back, while slightly further down the first page of results you’ll find yourself bombarded with answers to other readers’ unrelated questions about events in the last book. Why take that risk, when you can sit back and let me explain to you who Verin is without spoiling anything for the books beyond The Great Hunt, where she first appears? I will be thorough, but brief.

Verin Mathwin was born and raised in the city of Far Madding, and would have happily stayed there and wed her childhood sweetheart Eadwin if the city’s strict rules against channeling didn’t forbid her very existence. Forced to leave behind her home, her family, and the life she’d always known, Verin saw no other choice but to travel to Tar Valon and seek training at the White Tower. She was “raised to the shawl” within eleven years, and chose to join the ranks of the Brown Ajah; archaeologists and scholars whose passion is the pursuit of knowledge and the reclamation of secrets lost during the Breaking of the World. Verin is the first Brown Aes Sedai we meet in the books, and inarguably the most important character belonging to that Ajah, but because she’s rather unusual amongst Brown Aes Sedai in that she is often outside the Tower, the books subsequently spend very little time in the Tower’s Brown quarters, which is a bit of a shame. Hopefully, with Egwene and Nynaeve returning to the Tower in season two for their own training, every Ajah will be eager to take them on a tour of their separate, distinctly decorated corners of the Tower. I’m most excited to get a peek into the Brown’s extensive archive of ancient, magical relics.

The Hall of Sitters in the White Tower, viewed from high above. White stone seats on low stone plinths form a ring around the edge of the Hall, and seated here are groups of Aes Sedai belonging to the seven color-coded Ajahs, though only the Green and Red Sitters are visible. Between these two groups is a large throne, and here is seated the Amyrlin Seat. Before her stand two women, while a third, wearing blue, kneels on the ground.
The Hall of the White Tower | pajiba.com

Anyway, back to Verin. In book two, The Great Hunt, she and her Warder Tomas arrive in Fal Dara alongside the Amyrlin Seat Siuan Sanche, which is a sequence I think will be altered for the show so that Moiraine and Siuan don’t meet again so soon after their emotional parting in the first season. Maybe Verin will come in place of the Amyrlin, or maybe things will unfold very differently, but however she’s introduced, it’s an important development early in the book that Verin ends up being entrusted with many of Moiraine and Siuan’s closely-guarded secrets after independently deducing that one of the boys from Emond’s Field is the Dragon Reborn. Leaving her Warder in Fal Dara, Verin then decides to follow Rand and Perrin (again, independently) as they hunt for the stolen Horn of Valere. That may not be possible in the show with Rand and Perrin being on separate paths, but I could envision a scenario where Verin follows Perrin while Moiraine goes after Rand and Siuan takes Egwene and Nynaeve, ensuring that each of these unpredictable ta’veren has a trustworthy Aes Sedai looking out for them at all times (Mat’s already accounted for, in the hands of the Red Ajah).

I’ve also seen speculation that, in a departure from the books, Verin could be introduced in the city of Cairhien – an important stop on Rand’s journey in The Great Hunt – and that if Rand ends up there earlier than in the book just by wandering aimlessly south from the Eye of the World, he might start learning from her about what it means to be the Dragon before reuniting with Moiraine. In the book, Verin does give him some valuable lessons on the mechanics of Portal Stones, mysterious gateways built before the Age of Legends that allow their users to pass out of time and space, through “Worlds that Might Be”, which we might call alternate realities. This is very similar to the Ways introduced in season one, however, and I could see where some viewers might get confused or frustrated if the show keeps inventing new techniques to get characters from one side of the continent to the other in minutes, without major consequences.

Moiraine Damodred, wearing a blue riding-cloak, sits on a white horse in a field of short grass looking up at two monumental brown stone pillars standing on a low plinth with steps carved in it. It appears to form a gateway, yet there is nothing on either side of it.
Moiraine at the Waygate | meaww.com

My lips are sealed regarding Verin’s role in The Wheel Of Time going forward, but I can absolutely assure you that she’s a far more important character than she might seem at first glance, and with Meera Syal in the role, I’m sure she’ll be as instantly lovable and funny as she was in the books. Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below, but make sure not to spoil anything for new readers and fans of the show!

Remember Gollum? The Game’s 1st Trailer Is Finally Here

I had to dig through my site’s archives to find the first post I wrote about Gollum, but even so I was shocked to discover that it’s been over two years since the first footage from the game was revealed to the public. I can just barely remember feeling disappointed with the titular character’s unexpressive face and janky movements at the time, but it seems I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, because Daedalic Entertainment has spent the last two years reworking the game. I would have probably forgotten about it entirely, were it not for a new full-length trailer for the game released on Thursday that tentatively hints at a 2023 release date and urges gamers to add it to their wish-list now.

Gollum, from the game of the same name, a pale, bony, vaguely humanoid creature with big eyes, wearing tattered trousers. He is glaring over his shoulder at the viewer while etching the symbol of a ring into a rock.
Gollum | nintendoeverything.com

Gollum follows the character’s circuitous journey across Middle-earth in pursuit of Bilbo Baggins during the sixty-year interlude between The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, a journey that takes him from the Misty Mountains to Mordor, where he is detained in the dungeons of Sauron and tortured until he reveals who took his precious Ring, and then to Mirkwood, where he is detained in the dungeons of Thranduil and tortured until he reveals what he revealed to Sauron, and then back to the Misty Mountains to continue his long-delayed original mission, only to unexpectedly run into the Fellowship of the Ring led by Bilbo’s nephew Frodo Baggins and begin hunting them. The game promises to flesh out these events with new material and original characters to keep Tolkienites and casual gamers alike on their toes, but Gollum’s goal, the player’s goal, is the same – survive, and find the Ring.

With everyone and everything in Middle-earth out to get you, this goal can only be achieved by being strategic about when to lean into the character’s violent tendencies as Gollum and when to unlock their deeply suppressed better qualities as Sméagol, something that is sure to be one of the game’s most interesting and unique features. Reinforcing the idea that Gollum stands in the middle of the rift between Middle-earth’s cosmic forces of light and darkness, the character’s potential allies come from both sides of the conflict, including an Elven woman named Mell who appears to hail from Mirkwood and Shelob, a monstrous demon in spider-form.

Even though many of the game’s characters are recognizable by name to even the most casual Tolkienite, including Shelob, Gandalf, Thranduil, and the Mouth of Sauron, their designs are remarkably…original, borrowing far more heavily from the bizarre, whimsical Rankin/Bass 1977 animated adaptation of The Hobbit and Ralph Bakshi’s borderline-psychedelic 1978 animated adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings than from either of Peter Jackson’s hyper-realistic film trilogies or Amazon’s The Rings Of Power. Gollum‘s Elves, for instance, are sinuous, reed-thin creatures with hooded eyes, drowning in layers upon layers of voluminous fabric and enormous, ornate headdresses. It’s the kind of game where a Tom Bombadil cameo wouldn’t seem entirely out of place, and that’s saying something.

Gandalf and Thranduil from the game Gollum. Gandalf, gray-bearded, wears a heavy fur shawl and pointed hat, and carries a staff. Thranduil, thin with gaunt features, is draped in heavy green robes and wears a crown of branches and dense foliage.
Gandalf and Thranduil | rockpapershotgun.com

Whether the gameplay matches the quality of the visuals remains to be seen, but I’ll leave that to professional gamers to determine: for me, as a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works who simply enjoys analyzing new adaptations and debating the thematic consequences, great and small, of making changes to the source material, the main appeal of Gollum is the agency it gives to the player to make choices that will decide Gollum’s ultimate fate. I don’t know yet if the game allows you to go running off in any direction, with alternate endings depending on how you choose to play, or if it eventually forces you back on the path that leads Gollum to his canonical confrontation with the Fellowship of the Ring, but I’m excited to see how the developers at Daedalic have integrated the character’s internal struggles into every aspect of their game from the narrative to the actual gameplay.

Trailer Rating: 7/10

Who Will Become A Ringbearer In “The Rings Of Power” Season 2?


New year, same niche interests.

Amazon’s The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power has been lingering in the back of my mind ever since its epic season finale, which saw the human Southlander Halbrand revealed to be the Dark Lord Sauron in one of his many fair-seeming forms. With his plan to conquer Middle-earth unknowingly set in motion by the characters of Adar, Celebrimbor, and Pharazôn, the stakes are higher than ever – and the only thing standing between Sauron and his ultimate goal is Galadriel, to whom Sauron’s ambitions were made terrifyingly clear when he offered her a place at his side in the new world he intends to build from the old one’s ashes. Heading into season two, the Three Rings forged by Celebrimbor will come into play, giving the Elves an apparent advantage over Sauron that the Dark Lord will seek to circumvent by approaching Celebrimbor in a new disguise and persuading him to create more Rings with his help; Rings through which he can control the other Free Peoples, Men and Dwarves.

The Three Rings of Power made for the Elves in The Lord Of The Rings, arranged in a triangle on a brown stone slab, viewed from above.
The Three Rings of the Elves | nerdist.com

With a grand total of nineteen Rings of Power floating around in season two (minus the One Ring forged by and for Sauron alone), audiences can look forward to appearances from the future owners of the Seven Rings made for the Dwarves and the Nine Rings destined to enslave Men. On top of that, the first season came to an abrupt end before the Elves gathered to witness the forging of the Three Rings could decide who among them should wield these precious artifacts, leaving open the possibility that multiple high-ranking Elven-lords and ladies will vie for a Ring of their own before they inevitably come to rest on the hands of Galadriel, High King Gil-galad, and Círdan the Shipwright. The books and posthumously published writings of J.R.R. Tolkien are largely unhelpful for theorists, offering only a vague account of how the Rings of Power were distributed – which means there’s no predicting how Amazon’s adaptation of this story will play out.

At one point, Tolkien toyed with the idea that the Rings of Power had originally all been made for Elven wearers, and that it was Sauron who later went amongst Dwarves and Men, handing out the sixteen Rings he had stolen from Celebrimbor’s forge when he sacked the city of Eregion. I can easily believe that Men, with their short lifespans and shorter memories, would fall for that trick, but it’s never made much sense to me that the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm, who promptly closed their doors in Sauron’s face after Eregion was sacked, would reopen them for any mysterious stranger bearing Rings that could only have been made in Eregion. I’ve always preferred the account passed down by the Dwarves themselves; that Celebrimbor himself presented a Ring of Power to King Durin III, making at least one out of the Seven a true token of friendship between Elves and Dwarves.

The identities of the other Ringbearers also eluded Tolkien, or else he never gave the matter much thought. It is generally assumed, for good reason, that the rest of the Seven Rings were given to the heads of the seven Dwarven clans (Longbeards, Firebeards, Broadbeams, Ironfists, Stiffbeards, Blacklocks and Stonefoots), but I do not believe that this is actually confirmed anywhere. It’s theoretically possible that two or more Dwarf-lords of a single clan each received a Ring, and that some clan leaders steadfastly refused to accept Rings at all. Seeing as the Dwarves were generally far more resistant to the corrosive powers of the Rings than Men or even Elves, it would not surprise me if that were the case. The names of the nine Men who became Sauron’s Ringwraiths were either lost to time or suppressed, all save one; Khamûl, the Shadow of the East, who was second-in-command to the Witch-king of Angmar.

That’s the story we’ve been told, anyway. Amazon intends to tell their own, and it seems to me that there are already a few original characters (i.e. characters invented for The Rings Of Power, who didn’t exist or weren’t named in Tolkien’s works) that have been set up in season one to become Ringbearers in season two, amongst them Durin IV and Disa of Khazad-dûm, Bronwyn and Theo of the Southlands, and Kemen of Númenor. The concept alone may offend some Tolkien purists, but allow me to lay out the argument for each of these non-canonical candidates.

(from left to right) Elrond, Durin IV, and Disa from The Rings Of Power. Elrond is the tallest of the three, dressed in silver robes. Durin has a long reddish beard, and wears red-brown armor. Disa is wearing a gray gown with gold jewelry, and her hair is down.
(from left to right) Elrond, Durin IV, and Disa | fantasytopics.com

Representing the prestigious Longbeard clan as the main Dwarven viewpoint character in the series, Prince Durin IV is the most obvious choice to receive the Ring of Power given to his father by Celebrimbor in the semi-canonical version of the story only sketched out by Tolkien. He is, at any rate, far more likely to accept the gift without questioning its origins than his father Durin III, who in Amazon’s retelling is deeply distrustful of the Elves and all their handiwork. The Ring, with its tendency to “inflame [the bearer’s] heart with a greed of gold and precious things”, would bring out the worst qualities in Durin IV, who unsuccessfully sought for six episodes to convince his father that the value of mithril (a precious metal coveted by the Elves, but only found in narrow crevices deep below the foundations of Khazad-dûm) far outweighed the dangers of mining it. With a Ring on his finger to assure him of his own infallibility, he would become insistent upon digging ever deeper in search of mithril, inevitably awakening the monster nestled in wait at the mountain’s roots.

I see these tragic events unfolding in Durin IV’s future as clearly as if they were already filmed, but whether his wife Disa make it out alive or not will depend entirely on whether she learns too late what Gandalf told Saruman in The Fellowship Of The Ring; that “only one hand at a time can wield [a Ring of Power]”, meaning that its bearer will soon become possessive of it and irrationally suspicious of anyone who offers to share it, even if only to ease the mental and physical toll it exacts. I fear that this once inseparable power-couple will break under pressure, and that while Durin is dragged down by the weight of his Ring to a dark and terrible place, Disa will be put in an extremely difficult position where she can choose to stick by his side, either for true love’s sake or in the naïve hope that she can make the Ring work for her too, or she can get out before she’s buried with him beneath falling monuments to their selfishness and greed, the only thing they ever truly shared.

We have yet to see any Dwarf-lords from the other six clans scattered across Middle-earth from the Ered Luin to the Iron Hills, and I doubt that The Rings Of Power will ever find the time or space to flesh out their stories anyway, but I imagine we’ll see the other Dwarven Ringbearers gathered in at least one scene, solely so that Amazon can replicate that iconic moment in the opening sequence of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship Of The Ring, where the seven nameless Dwarf-lords hold up their Rings as one. Personally, I’m hoping for a little more diversity in Amazon’s version, because if Galadriel can get grouped in with the “Elven-kings” in the famous Ring-verse despite being a woman (and explicitly not even equivalent to a king amongst her own people), then there can be some Dwarven-women among the “Dwarf-lords” mentioned in the next line.

That brings me to the next character I believe might be tempted to get her hands on a Ring – Bronwyn of the Southlands, a humble human apothecary who became unexpectedly crucial in deciding the fate of Middle-earth after leading her people to a victory against the Orcs that was only overturned when Orodruin suddenly erupted, forcing her to flee to Pelargir with her family and other refugees at the end of season one. Not only is she now acquainted with the Dark Lord Sauron (albeit in the fair form of Halbrand, long-lost king of the Southlands), giving her the means to obtain a Ring of Power, she also has the motive to want one: she’s in love with an immortal Elven warrior named Arondir who has been around since the First Age and will still be around long after Bronwyn’s great-grandchildren are dead, which is sure to pose a problem in their relationship as they start to wonder what’s next for them now that they’re comfortably settled down in Pelargir.

Bronwyn and Arondir from The Rings Of Power, standing at a forge while Arondir holds a black sword-hilt. He is wearing gray armor made from wood, with a leering face emblazoned on his breastplate. Bronwyn wears a simple blue dress and a heavy gray coat.
Bronwyn and Arondir | express.co.uk

By a complete coincidence, the nine Rings of Power given to Mortal Men have the side-effect of extending their bearer’s lifespan long beyond its natural endpoint, something that sounds really appealing until you realize that the Rings can’t do anything to preserve your physical body or your mind, but will continue to puppeteer your undead husk for centuries until even that has crumbled away and finally all that remains is an overworked and exhausted soul tied to the world by the Ring on its nonexistent finger. If that fate awaits Bronwyn, it will be far worse than dying of old age, for death would come as a sweet release after an eternity of numbness.

Frankly, I’ve always felt that Middle-earth needs more women who are morally ambiguous in all the ways that men have always been allowed to be, so I wouldn’t necessarily object to Bronwyn becoming a Ringwraith, but I do have concerns that if her story goes down this route, it might gradually become the story of Arondir’s attempts to save Bronwyn from herself, rather than remaining focused on her – very relatable, and extremely Tolkienesque – struggle with the fear of death, so I’d like to hear opinions from women about how (or whether) it can be depicted without that happening.

Bronwyn’s son Theo has a rather more straightforward motive for desiring a Ring of Power. Ever since Waldreg stole the mysterious sword-shaped key that Theo had been using to stab himself so he could get high on blood loss and used it to activate Orodruin (why was the key shaped like a sword, anyway? I still have far too many questions regarding the key, the keyhole, and Sauron’s bizarre plan to anti-terraform the Southlands for there to ever be good enough answers), Theo has spoken about feeling powerless without it and wanting revenge on the Orcs to fill the gaping void in his life. While Sauron might not allow him to go that far, he can offer Theo something else – an even stronger drug that will silently kill off the parts of him that are good and innocent, reducing him to a vacant vessel ready to be filled with Sauron’s malice. The alternative, in my opinion, is that Theo becomes the King of the Dead, and either way he’s going to be trapped between life and death for a long time before getting peace.

Kemen, the weakly rebellious son of Pharazôn, is by far the least interesting and least sympathetic character who could potentially end up wearing one of the Nine Rings, but I have to believe there was a reason for writing him into the series, and this is the only one that makes any sense to me. Throughout the first season, in the few and far-between glimpses we caught of Kemen and his father interacting, we watched with second-hand embarrassment as the young man almost reluctantly matured – though only after his puppy-like attempts to please his father (“I was only trying to be clever”) were met with contempt. Kemen’s guilty anger emboldened him, and he thwarted his father’s imperialist agenda by blowing up a ship intended to set sail for Middle-earth, although he barely made it out of the conflagration alive. In season two, I expect Kemen to go to even greater lengths to sabotage (and at the same time, subconsciously impress) his father, and it would be most ironic if he only succeeded in enslaving his will to the Dark Lord.

Besides Kemen, it’s possible – though very unlikely, in my opinion – that another Númenórean, Eärien, will become a Ringwraith. I personally believe she will be lured to the dark side not by promises of power or eternal life, but by the opportunity to build the Temple of Morgoth in Armenelos where Sauron and Pharazôn will sacrifice prisoners-of-war and members of the Faithful arrested on false charges of treason, including Eärien’s own family. I will support her every step of the way, mind you, no matter what unspeakable crimes she commits to become the greatest architect in Middle-earth for one brief shining moment before it all comes crashing down around her, but for that climax to be truly satisfying I believe Eärien must surely die in the building she designed to last for centuries, like Thomas Andrews going down with the Titanic.

Earien from The Rings Of Power, a young woman with brown hair wearing a dark orange gown styled after Ancient Greek garments
Eärien | bt.com

With the cast of The Rings Of Power expanding in season two, there’s a very strong chance we’ll soon meet other future Ringwraiths from Númenor, Middle-earth’s Southlands, and the currently uncharted regions of Rhûn and Harad. But I don’t know anything about these characters, and Tolkien left nothing for me to work with, so this is where I must sadly end. Of course, there is one more Ring, one of which I have not yet spoken, but that One was made for the Dark Lord’s hand alone, and it was only by chance (which some might call the divine intervention of Eru) that it was cut from his finger and later lost in the murky waters of the Anduin, only to be picked up by a hobbit or something akin to one, anyway. For the record, however, I do believe the One Ring will be forged in the season two finale, concluding Sauron’s irreversible descent into darkness.

So…which of the characters I’ve mentioned will actually get their hands on a Ring of Power when all is said and done, and which will become corrupted, transforming into horrible Ringwraiths? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!