“The Rings Of Power” Unveils New Title In Epic 1st Teaser

I still find it hard to believe that all of this is actually happening. Just over four years ago, when Amazon Prime Studios bought the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings and announced their intention to tell never-before-seen stories in the world of Middle-earth, I had no way of imagining what the streaming service had in store. At the time, I had no real interest in the entertainment industry and Amazon Prime was therefore still just a shipping company in my mind.

Rings Of Power
The Rings Of Power | empireonline.com

It was largely because of my growing excitement for what, three years ago, I and many others in the Tolkien community still believed to be the story of a young Aragorn’s adventures, that writing about film and TV became a passion of mine. The revelation in early 2019 that Amazon actually planned to tackle the sprawling Second Age of Middle-earth in their massive series was the tipping-point, finally convincing me to start a blog where I could talk about The Lord Of The Rings – and all my favorite films, TV shows, and franchises, but first and foremost, it’s always been about The Lord Of The Rings for me.

Over the past two years, I’ve followed this series’ long and tumultuous production every step of the way, going over each new casting announcement and filming delay with all of you. Together, we’ve rejoiced over Howard Shore’s return to Middle-earth, discussed Amazon’s controversial decision to move production to the United Kingdom, and had great fun exploring all the nooks and crannies of the Second Age in preparation for a series that is somehow too far away and yet scarily too close. Today, it feels closer than ever, and…I’m not prepared. Not physically, not mentally, certainly not emotionally. I’m a wreck, that’s all there is to it.

As you might have heard, or guessed, or realized from the video embedded at the top of this post, the cause of my emotional distress is the first brief teaser for Amazon’s The Lord Of The Rings – or should I say, The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power. It shows not a single frame of footage from the series, which premieres on September 2nd. Trailers and such are still many months away (and please, Amazon, I beg of you, warn us all beforehand when the first trailer is about to drop, because I can’t just randomly wake up to that one day).

So what is this teaser, then? Well, simply put, it’s a title reveal. But it’s also quite literally a work of art. What at first appears to be a compilation of wholly CGI shots of molten metal flowing through spidery grooves in a wooden background, bubbling and cooling into the forms of thin silver letters (forming the title) is in fact actual footage of the actual forging of this piece at an actual blacksmith foundry by an actual blacksmith, named Landon Ryan. Members of TheOneRing.net’s staff were invited to witness the forging of the title, and shared details of their behind-the-scenes experience on their website.

The teaser is enhanced by what may be our first taste of Howard Shore and Bear McCreary’s score for The Rings Of Power, and by voice-over narration from Morfydd Clark, who recites the iconic verse of poetry inscribed on the One Ring, greatest of all the Rings of Power. I doubt I need to remind you of what it says, but I can’t help myself because I get chills even typing out the words; “Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky; seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone; nine for Mortal Men doomed to die; one for the Dark Lord on his dark throne; in the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie”.

Rings Of Power
Three Rings for the Elven-kings… | winteriscoming.net

Clark is all but officially confirmed to be playing Galadriel, so her narration here establishes a clear link with Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, which also began in the Second Age with voice-over from Cate Blanchett’s version of Galadriel. As one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth, and certainly among the most active in all three Ages of the world, she’s simply the ideal choice for a narrator. Elrond and Gil-galad are too young, nobody knows Círdan (to be fair to Círdan, that was by choice; dude’s most notable accomplishment was giving his own Ring of Power to Gandalf the first chance he got), and Glorfindel is still dead…for now.

Of course, the flashbacks to the Second Age in Peter Jackson’s films were necessarily brief, condensing thousands of years worth of lore from J.R.R. Tolkien’s appendices to The Lord Of The Rings into a short and succinct prologue sequence. But The Rings Of Power, according to showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, “unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age”, including “the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men”.

Their words would seem to indicate that, despite mounting evidence that Isildur and his family are major characters in season one of The Rings Of Power, events long before their time – such as the actual forging of the Rings in Eregion and the war of the Elves and Sauron – will also be adapted in great detail and depth. Unless The Rings Of Power jumps across timelines in the style of The Witcher‘s first season, what we might be seeing is a case of a compressed timeline; all the major events of the Second Age happening roughly simultaneously, instead of spaced out across 3,441 years.

I know that would be divisive with some fans, but unless the rumors of Isildur are all baseless (which at this point seems highly unlikely), it’s the only scenario I can see where the forging of the Rings isn’t squeezed into the first two episodes, which apparently form a roughly three-hour long prologue to the main events of the series (at least according to TheOneRing.net). And given that the Rings of Power now feature in the title, it’s difficult to believe that their creation will again be abbreviated for a prologue – even a supersized one – when the series could easily dedicate multiple episodes to their forging.

There are very few other clues in this teaser as to what stories will be adapted in season one, although the wave of water that floods the screen just as Galadriel reaches the line in the Ring Verse that talks about “Mortal Men doomed to die” is a nice bit of foreshadowing for one of the cataclysmic events that brought the Second Age to its end. If you know, you know.

Rings Of Power
Sauron | comingsoon.net

Honestly, none of us really know what to expect from The Rings Of Power. We have this one teaser, one screenshot from the first episode that is more confusing than illuminating, and a vague synopsis. But the marketing campaign has officially begun, and a full-length trailer, first look photos, interviews with the cast and crew, and plenty of other goodies are coming. The months between now and September 2nd will fly by as swiftly as the four years we’ve spent waiting for this exhilarating moment, and I can only hope that when that day arrives, I will be ready.

Because right now, as I finish off this review and think about how I’m going to dissect and examine this minute of footage for the next month, how it is literally going to consume my life until I get another crumb of content and make that my new obsession, one thing is for sure; I’m not ready yet.

Is Isildur The Star Of “The Lord Of The Rings” Season One?

Amazon Prime’s The Lord Of The Rings is now slightly less than a year away from release, and we still know shockingly little about the most epic (or at the very least expensive) streaming series ever made. Every tidbit of new information we learn seems to point in a different direction, leading fans on wild goose chases as we try to piece together when the series is set in the sprawling chronology of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, how much time and space it will cover over a reported span of five seasons, and whom exactly it will follow.

The Lord Of The Rings
Isildur | looper.com

If you’ve been following my coverage of The Lord Of The Rings for a while, you might know the basics, but here’s a refresher before we get to the latest round of rumors. First of all, despite the fact that it’s still being referred to as The Lord Of The Rings, Amazon’s series is a prequel, not an adaptation of Tolkien’s novel or a remake of Jackson’s trilogy. Up until two days ago, our only certainty was that the series would take place sometime in the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth – which doesn’t exactly narrow it down much, seeing as the Second Age is a period of three-thousand, four-hundred and forty-one years.

Only adding to the confusion, Amazon’s first officially released image from The Lord Of The Rings – purportedly a stunning screenshot from the first episode – depicts a scene from long before the Second Age began, during the Years of the Trees; exponentially widening the scope of the tale.

But perhaps we may finally be able to zero in on a specific character, and a tangible timeframe. New reporting from Fellowship Of Fans suggests that one of The Lord Of The Rings‘ central protagonists, from episode three onwards (presumably to the end of the show), will be Isildur, a Númenórean prince who became the first king of Gondor and played a major role in setting up the events of The Lord Of The Rings proper, when he cut the One Ring from the dark lord Sauron’s hand. Additionally, Redanian Intelligence reports that Maxim Baldry – who was among the first actors rumored to be cast – will portray Isildur.

This won’t be Isildur’s first time appearing onscreen. Both Peter Jackson and Ralph Bakshi’s adaptations of The Lord Of The Rings open with memorable depictions of Isildur defeating Sauron at the end of the Second Age and of Isildur’s own death at the dawn of the Third Age when the One Ring slipped from his finger and betrayed him to the orcs. As far as Second Age characters go, he’s one of the few that casual fans of the franchise might recognize, so it’s not entirely surprising that Amazon would want to establish him early on in the show. But his inclusion in the very first season of Amazon’s series comes as a bit of a surprise.

Isildur was born in Second Age (S.A.) 3209, only two-hundred and thirty-two years before he defeated Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance which concluded the Second Age. Because of his Númenórean heritage, Isildur was extremely long-lived by human standards (he was killed at the age of two-hundred and thirty-four), but his entire lifespan is only a small fraction of the Second Age. By the time he was born, the heyday of the Elves in Middle-earth had ended, the Rings of Power had been forged, the kingdom of Eregion had been sacked and Khazad-dûm had closed its doors to the outside, while Sauron was already wielding the One Ring.

In both Jackson and Bakshi’s adaptations, this nuance is largely lost because the entire Second Age is reduced to just two pivotal events in the history of the One Ring – the forging of the Rings of Power between S.A. 1500 and S.A. 1600, and the War of the Last Alliance in S.A. 3441. Canonically there’s a gap of almost two-thousand years in between these events, but in the films it’s implied that they happen pretty much back-to-back. And now that we have two reliable outlets reporting that Isildur is a protagonist of Amazon’s The Lord Of The Rings, I think we can expect to see the timeline of the Second Age similarly tailored to fit the story Amazon is telling.

Some people have come to the conclusion that Amazon is skipping over the forging of the Rings entirely, jumping straight to the end of the Second Age. But I feel very strongly that that’s not the case, and there’s evidence to support my argument. Think back to the very first map of Middle-earth that Amazon released to promote the series – the map that unmistakably showed the kingdom of Eregion and its capital of Ost-in-Edhil still standing. By Isildur’s time, Eregion had been in ruins for over a thousand years. That same map doesn’t depict Barad-dûr at all, though the fortress was completed in S.A. 1600.

Take a look at Amazon’s official synopsis for The Lord Of The Rings, too. Though it’s fairly vague, there’s one significant line that doesn’t support the theory that Amazon’s series takes place after the forging of the Rings. “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.” If the series were truly set after the forging at the end of the Second Age, Sauron would already have been at war with the Elves and with the Númenórean empire for centuries.

The Lord Of The Rings
Maxim Baldry | primetimer.com

So no, I don’t think that Amazon is skipping over the forging of the Rings, arguably the single-most significant event in the Second Age. My personal belief is that Amazon will simply move the forging backwards to nearer the end of the Second Age, to around the same point at which Isildur first enters the histories of Middle-earth as a young prince of Númenor navigating an increasingly complex political crisis in the royal court. It would require a lot of reshuffling, but that way a lot of events that canonically took place thousands of years apart will now occur almost simultaneously.

There are several benefits to this approach. It would remove the need for potentially jarring time-jumps between seasons to cover all of the events of the Second Age. We’d have more time to get to know our core group of human protagonists and develop a connection with them, without constantly having to worry that by the next season they’ll be dead and we’ll have moved on to their great-grandchildren. And it makes sense to focus exclusively on what Tolkien wrote about the Second Age, so that the writers don’t have to fall back on entirely original plotlines to fill that three-thousand year period.

On the flip-side, I think there’s something to be said for why the use of time-jumps and a constantly rotating cast could have helped reinforce the primary themes of the Second Age – mainly the growing restlessness amongst humans as they become more and more fearful of their own mortality and begin searching for ways to cheat death. If the showrunners could have made us feel some of the same envy and resentment of the immortal Elves that emboldened the Númenóreans to try and wrest the secret of deathlessness from the land of the gods, that would have been an extraordinary feat.

And I can understand why many fans might feel upset that the timeline is again being tampered with dramatically – not to the same extent of Bakshi and Jackson basically taking the two events they needed and ignoring the rest of the Second Age entirely, but still seemingly prioritizing those same two events. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for me, because I think it was always clear that there were going to be adjustments to the timeline one way or another simply because Tolkien himself left behind so many versions of the timeline in which there are countless slight variations, but I get where it might be for some.

As for the news that Maxim Baldry is potentially our Isildur – that definitely makes sense. I was rather hoping he’d be revealed to be playing one of the “fair forms” that Sauron took during the Second Age, but he has the build and beautiful flowing hair of a Númenórean prince, and though my only experience with his acting was through a small role in the last season of Doctor Who, I think he could certainly convey Isildur’s best qualities, his valor and selflessness, which the One Ring swiftly manipulated.

Isildur’s appearance strongly suggests that several other members of his family will also show up in the first season – including his father Elendil and younger brother Anárion, who both died during the War of the Last Alliance; his grandfather Amandil, who died at sea on an ill-fated mission to beseech the gods on Númenor’s behalf; and of course his more distant relatives, Ar-Pharazôn and Tar-Míriel, who became the last king and queen of Númenor and perished in the kingdom’s tumultuous downfall. Isildur’s family weren’t the luckiest folks in Middle-earth.

By the end of the Second Age, Isildur, his sons, and his nephew, were the last remnants of the Númenórean royal family in Middle-earth. Three of Isildur’s sons were killed alongside him during the Battle of the Gladden Fields at the start of the Third Age, leaving only the youngest, Valandil, alive. Valandil inherited the kingdom of Arnor from his grandfather Elendil, while Isildur’s nephew Meneldil became king of Gondor. But while Arnor would fall during the Third Age, Valandil’s descendants would include Aragorn – who re-established both kingdoms and reunited them under his rule.

The Lord Of The Rings
Gondor | lotr.fandom.com

All of this makes Isildur a crucial figure in Middle-earth’s history, and a worthy protagonist for Amazon’s The Lord Of The Rings to follow across several seasons. However Amazon chooses to solve the timeline problems that they’ll  be creating for themselves, I hope that they’re handled carefully. Basically, what I’m saying is that if there’s anything in this series that’s even remotely evocative of Thranduil telling Legolas in The Battle Of The Five Armies to seek out the ranger Aragorn when he was canonically only ten years old, Amazon will not hear the end of it from me.

But what are your feelings on this decision? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Markella Kavenagh Joins Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings Series!

The Amazon Prime Lord of the Rings series has just tapped its first cast member, not long after several small announcements broke at The One Ring.net‘s panel on Saturday night at San Diego Comic-Con (news which was completely overshadowed by the Marvel panel that same night). Let’s dig into this news – I am literally so excited right now, I can’t even breathe.

Okay, the big news, the reason you’re here: yes, casting has officially begun for Amazon’s series based on the works of fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien – set in the Second Age, long before the events of Tolkien’s most famous novel, The Lord of the Rings, the series is set to explore things like the creation of the Rings of Power, the rise and fall of the civilization of Númenor, and the War of the Last Alliance (which fans of the movie trilogy will remember from the brief prologue in Fellowship of the Ring). I’m giving as simple a version of the story as I can, so that this post is accessible to people who haven’t read the books – but I’m actually dying to just rant for thirty minutes about obscure details from Tolkien’s posthumously published works, such as Unfinished Tales, or about the tale of Galadriel and Celeborn, or the – oh wait, I have news to cover. Right. Let me compose myself.


Markella Kavenagh Joins Amazon's Lord Of The Rings Series! 1

Markella Kavenagh, best known for her role on Picnic At Hanging Rock, has been cast for an undisclosed role in Amazon’s series – so far, the only detail about her character is that she might be named Tyra. Now, there is nobody in Tolkien’s works named Tyra, so we can assume that Kavenagh is playing an entirely new character: that’s not a complaint, because it was pretty much inevitable that, to make the show interesting, there would need to be some new protagonists and antagonists. We don’t yet have any details on whether Tyra will be a human or an elf – or, perhaps, a dwarf? Or a female orc?

As for the news from the Comic-Con panel, well, we’ve got confirmation that John Howe, one of the art directors for the original movie trilogy, will be working on the show; J.D. Payne, Patrick McKay and Gennifer Hutchison have been joined by possibly three more screenwriters; J.A. Bayona will direct the first two episodes; Amazon has an interest in exploring stories set in the kingdom of Angmar (a place you may or may not remember from The Hobbit trilogy: it was only briefly touched upon, doesn’t matter, moving on before I start ranting again); and there will be plenty of merchandise from the show, including high-quality jewelry – look out for replicas of all the Rings of Power.

How do you feel about this news? Are you as excited as I am? I don’t think that’s even humanly possible! Leave your thoughts in the comments below!!!