01 March 2022

More on The Rings of Power series

The Vanity Fair article, “10 Burning Questions About Amazon’s The Rings of Power,” actually came out a couple of weeks ago but it slipped by my notice until now. As its title indicates, it provides answers to 10 questions (including: “Should Fans Be Worried?”; correct answer: “Yes!”). While none of the answers makes me more pessimistic about the series, none of them make me more optimistic either.

I mentioned in my previous post on the series that there are two main periods of dynamic, violent change in the Second Age:

  1. The forging of the rings of power by Celebrimbor and Annatar (the disguised Sauron), followed by the War of Elves and Sauron (SA 1500-1700). 
  2. The struggle for power in Númenor following the reign of Tar-Palantir (with the ascension of Ar-Pharazôn), the capture of Sauron by Ar-Pharazôn, the subsequent downfall of Númenor, and (a century later) the War of the Last Alliance against Sauron (SA 3261-3441).

We already knew that the series would be “compressing” these events into a single period (so “mashing” almost 2000 years of history into maybe a decade or two?). Much more than anything else this is what bothers me the most about the series (so far). But that’s what will be happening. 

The article confirms that the main story-lines will be:

  • (a) The forging of the rings of power (featuring Celebrimbor of course, but with a closely connected story-line involving Elrond and Durin IV); 
  • (b) The rise of Sauron (although it’s not clear whether he will appear in the form of “Annatar”); 
  • (c) The fall of Númenor (apparently with a focus on the stories of Elendil and Isildur); and 
  • (d) The Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

Of course, those are the right stories to focus on – but there are 1500+ years between (b) and (c). Among other things, the slow corruptive work of the nine rings given to “mortal men” almost certainly will be portrayed too hastily (I really hope that the nine don’t instantly become Nazgûl once they pop on their shiny gifts). Dwarven history will also be “compressed,” as Durin III and Durin IV will be father and son in the series (which of course makes no sense, given that every later “Durin” is, according to the Dwarves, a reincarnation of the original).

Another worry of mine concerns “meteorite man” (referred to as “Mystery Man” in the article). It’s hinted in the article that he may be one of the Istari (most plausibly a Blue Wizard, although that does not mesh well with the official lore that the series is allowed to use, namely, that found in The Lord of the Rings, including the appendices, and The Hobbit). Apparently, he’s found and befriended by the proto-hobbit “Nori Brandyfoot” (*sigh*). My own guess is that meteorite man will turn out to be Sauron (perhaps in the guise of “Annatar”?). Whoever he turns out to be, though, I think having a significant character appear via meteorite is decidedly not “Tolkien-esque.”

On a more positive note, I expect that the series at least will be beautiful, given the involvement of John Howe. 




  1. I am reserving judgment until the series comes out. Just keep in mind that Shakespeare wrote bad history for his historical plays but they were great drama none the less. While Rings of Power is not likely to be not as good as the bard but like the plays it doesn’t condemn the being bad for playing around with the timeline of events for something that captures the spirit of the second age stories.

    1. I plan to watch it (at least the first few episodes) and I'm *trying* to remain open minded about it.

      But the time compression just seems so unnecessary and stupid to me. The writers didn't have to do it that way. They've upset a lot of Tolkien fans with this (far more than anything PJ did with the original LotR trilogy). And for what? It seems like an unforced error.

    2. It's doubtless so they can do cutaways between different simultaneously ongoing stories. By jamming everything together they can jump from Celebrimbor in one scene to Elendil in the next and back again without crossing a thousand years of intervening history.

    3. Yeah, I understand why they're doing it. It just seems unnecessary IMO. The periods could be covered sequentially (e.g., have seasons 1-3 cover 1500-1700 S.A., seasons 4-6 cover 3260-3441). There's plenty going on during both periods, and enough ageless characters (the elves + Sauron) to connect them. Elendil, Isildur, Ar-Pharazon, etc. are great characters, but it should be fine for them to appear later.


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).