Though I’ve known that Amazon has had a streaming show based on The Silmarillion for quite some time, there has been so little information available about it that I had shoved it to the back of my mind to make room for other pop culture. I don’t find it fun to speculate about a show I have zero information about. Even the news that Morfydd Clark (and actor I’d never heard of before) had been cast as Galadriel failed to make an impression, as that provides precisely zero details about when in the grand history of Middle-earth the story would be set. After all, Galadriel saw three ages of the world before she departed into the West in the first years of the Fourth Age.
This past Wednesday, though, Amazon released a teaser announcing the name of the show (at long last), and provided a bit of information regarding the timing of the story: the latter parts of the Second Age, when Celebrimbor forged the rings of power: three for the Elven-kings, seven for the Dwarf-lords, and nine for mortal Men.
According to the Prime page for The Rings of Power:
“From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests 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.”
In the teaser, we see molten metal running through channels carved into wood, as though they are forming the rings that Morfydd Clark speaks of in her voiceover, which is the poem that every Tolkien fan knows by heart:
“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
And one for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”
A wash of water floods the scene, creating mist that obscures the scene until the camera twists and pans away to reveal the title: The Rings of Power.
So now we know the title of the show.
We’ve also learned that Howard Shore has been confirmed as a composer for the score, meaning there will be a musical unity from The Rings of Power to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. Also, the show has a TV-14 rating, which places it on the same level as the films (which each had a PG-13 rating), which should soothe the fears of those who worried that Amazon was trying to make something to mimic HBO’s Game of Thrones, which was rated TV-MA for all eight of its seasons. Personally, I’m happy to know that there won’t be excessive gore or sex, as that quickly grew old in Game of Thrones. The race to get the ‘next Game of Thrones’ shouldn’t be taken to mean that showrunners are looking for stories full of sex and violence. I’ve always taken it to mean that producers are looking for the next fantasy show that will garner as much acclaim, win as many awards– and more importantly– generate the same numbers of viewers (and therefore revenue) as Game of Thrones. The Wheel of Time was looking to do that, though I think they’ve mostly failed to do so with a first season that is, mostly, just fine.
And now for a bit of speculation, given what we’ve seen in the teaser and what Amazon has released regarding the time and place of the story.
Potential spoilers for The Rings of Power?
It’s based on a book that was published nearly forty-five years ago.
But there may be spoilers ahead.
Aside from outright stating that we’re going to see Númenor, the timing of Morfydd Clark’s narration would seem to indicate that we will see the downfall of Númenor, as the water drowns the scene just as she says, “Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die”. The fall of Númenor happened near end of the Second Age, after Sauron deceived the Men of Númenor and led them down the path of pride that saw them turn against the Valar and begin doing like horrid things like practice human sacrifice before they decided they would storm Valinor and demand immortality for themselves. This led to the drowning of Númenor and the eventual diminishing of the Dúnedain that we see in The Lord of the Rings. So there is an excellent chance that we will see Elendil, Isildur, and Anarion escape the drowning of Númenor with the rest of the Faithful and land on the shores of Middle-earth.
The fact that the show is called The Rings of Power and the teaser references the forging of rings tells us that Celebrimbor will be part of it. Perhaps we will see the moment when, after forging the three rings of the Elves, Celebrimbor heard from afar Sauron chanting the Ringspell as he forged the One. Will we also get to see him give two of the three, Vilya and Narya, to Gil-Galad? Does this mean we’ll see Gil-Galad as more than a passing figure in a prologue? I hope so.
That we will potentially see the forging of the nine indicates that we might also see the Men they are given to- one of whom will become the Witch-king of Angmar, the greatest of the Ringwraiths. Though the leader of the Ringwraiths has no canonical name, it will be interesting to see if the showrunners flesh out his background and provide some (non-canonical) context to his rise and fall, and what prompted him to be given a ring at all. Alas, that his kingdom of Angmar did not rise until the Third Age, see we won’t see Glorfindel make his prophecy that the Witch-king would not fall by the hand of man.
And finally, (and I forget where I saw it, as I flipped through a lot of things to do with The Rings of Power on Wednesday), there is an indication that the show might, across its five scheduled seasons, build up to the Last Alliance at the end of the Second Age, where the prologue of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films picks up. If they pull it off, it will be an epic setup, but a sad one, too, as great leaders of both Elves and Men fall in that battle.
So now we know roughly when the action of The Rings of Power will take place– in the latter half of the Second Age. There is a lot of time to cover there (nearly 2000 years), so there is still a lot of room for speculation, but now that we have a few details, the speculation can start getting more interesting.
I wasn’t terribly interested in the Prime show because of the dearth of information that was available, but now that they’ve released a handful of details, I am cautiously optimistic. There’s still a chance the whole thing could flop, but at least we’ll have these next eight months of speculation to look forward to.
One last note: Morfydd Clark’s pronunciation of ‘Mordor’ is spot-on, and is quite similar to J.R.R. Tolkien’s own pronunciation, so huzzah for her!